Going Underground :: Oxygen Thief

“…I’m gonna use a proper horrible picture of him, wankered!” – Ian Critchley

Hailing from Bristol, Please select your region, United Kingdom (or so says his MySpace page), Oxygen Thief is quite possibly going to become a name synonymous with re-inventing acoustic music the world over. Having recently come off a U.K tour with, Moon and Back bum-chum, Ben Marwood – with whom he has released a three way split  EP with and Jim Lockey – and made the bill for this years 2000 Tree’s Festival, we, and by we I mean me, (I just like the pretend I’m the Queen from time to time) thought it a bloody fantastic idea to write a little about the cardboard box wearing maniac (he doesn’t wear it on stage unfortunately).

When listening to the three songs I own by Oxygen Thief, along with a handful of cheeky tracks available for a listen on his MySpace, the first thing I noticed is the utter intensity of the music. At times it feels like he’s not just “one man and his guitar” but in fact a full orchestral movement of fan fare trumpets and allegro string sections. Well maybe not that much, but there definitely is a full, wholesome sound within each track.  A welcome change to the often empty concert hall feel of some acoustic artists.

It’s both hard and easy to compare Oxygen Thief to other artists. The obvious choice is, of course, Reuben (R.I.P). However, to say this is an observation with very little depth. Oxygen Thief does have the same awkward, angry, yet somehow melodic, elements the Surrey three piece were known for, but he delivers it in his own unique fashion. This is often in a bizarre, but completely mellifluous, way that seems to only increases the vehemence of this bearded boys guitar shredding.

So check out Oxygen Thief. Do it, or I’ll break your nose!

Oxygen Thief has many a date upcoming in the next few months, so go watch him bang about a stage with his orange Doc Martens. These dates along with a selection of his songs are available on MySpace. He’s even got a free (donations recommended) gig in Manchester that Barlow and I are putting on!

The Ben Marwood, Jim Lockey and Oxygen Thief split is available for consumption, free of charge, on Spotify.

And you can ‘like’ Oxygen Thief on Facebook

Oxygen Thief gets 4.5 out of 5 special brews, because we split the last one.

Interview :: Ben Marwood

“How can you give up music? I’d rather give up food. food costs more!” – Ben Marwood

Ben Marwood could be described as many things: Talented. Lovely. From Reading. The truth is, he’s all of these things! He was in Leeds earlier this month, touring to promote his new album so we went over to bother him in the upstairs room of a pub. We find out his secret to great touring, how much he owes Frank Turner and what will happen if you don’t go and buy Outside There’s A Curse.

Anthony Barlow: First night of the tour tonight?

Ben Marwood: Yeah, pretty well! I’m excited and tired, but not as tired as Barry [Oxygen Thief] should be, because Barry’s driven for hours and hours to get here.

Barry Dolan: I feel fine!

BM: Barry feels fine! I sat there eating digestive biscuits and singing stuff from the Karate Kid soundtrack and I’m knackered! But, I’m excited to start, because I think its going to be a good tour and I haven’t been on tour for a while.

AB: From what we’re hearing here it sounds like it’ll be a good tour!

BM: Well yeah, should be, I’ve got some really good company.

AB: The banter just sets it off straight away.

BM: *Laughs* Tonight should be quite important because its the first night of the tour, and other highlights, I can’t wait to play an ice cream parlour in Oxford, that’s amazing! And obviously we’re doing reading for the proper album launch.

AB: You’re playing with Oxygen Thief tonight, is it good to be on tour with someone you’ve know for a long time?

BM: Oh yeah definitely, its always really good to be on tour with Oxygen Thief, I have to call him Oxygen Thief because he doesn’t like me calling him Barry, his name is Barry! It’s good because he’s a great laugh and he’s a good driver, and he’s doing the accounts and he’s done all the merch.

Ian Critchley: You’re just kicking back?

BM: *laughs* I’m sure gonna put on a guitar, that’ll be it.

OT: I do all the work and Ben gets all the glory basically.

BM: I don’t even know what I’m doing here, it should be him headlining.

IC: Have you heard about Frank Turners plan of getting you and Tim Barry on tour with him?

BM: I heard rumour of it, when did he tell you that? I heard about that in December but haven’t heard anything since. But I’ve been busy with getting the album out, but yeah, I’m waiting for the call, Frank, I’m waiting for the call!

AB: How many times as he said he owes you a tour?

BM: He’s told me like a million times! But we still never tour. He’s a man of his word and we’ll get there eventually.

IC: When you’re old and grey?

BM: Yeah, he’ll ring me up when I’m 62 and be like, “Ben I’ve got this opportunity…” and I’ll be like, “Yeah sure, I don’t remember any of my songs but sure, also, Frank who?” But yeah, who wouldn’t want to do that?

AB: We’ll be there!

BM: Yeah, me too!

IC: Lexapalooza lite next month, are you playing?

BM: I’m not playing, its the first time I’ve not played in ages. I’m touched, they have this thing where you can’t play two in a row but I’ve played three in a row and they invited me to play this one but I’m not in the country. So, I can’t do it and I’m absolutely gutted. Its always a good show

IC: Last time, I kissed a bar maid for a pound! The guy just kind of, got two of them and was like, which one? Like it was a cattle market!

BM: You kissed a barmaid? Was it worth it?

IC: Yeah, I mean, it wasn’t like (tongue kiss emulation face) but it was a nice peck!

BM: *laughs* but yeah, Lexapalooza is for a good cause and its always good fun! Where is it being held this time around?

AB: We’re not sure.

BM: Make sure you find that out! Obviously it’s not the Flower Pot, because that’s not there anymore!

IC: Everywhere you guys go, you just seem to destroy!

BM: Everywhere that Frank goes! It’s terrible what happened to the flower pot but its great they found somewhere new!

IC: You have some interesting merch on sale tonight…

BM: Yeah yeah!

IC: Can you see Ben Marwood FTW hats being in Topman by next summer? They did cash in on the Ramones…

BM: *laughs* I guess that depends on how the album goes, if both of you want to go out and buy 10,000 copies of the album….

AB: Your new record is coming out on the 24th….

BM: Actually its the 31st now! They put it back a week. Due to, I dunno, VAT rise, I’m not sure! It’s delayed a week for pressing the mass amount of units for recycling.

AB: Can you tell us about the record? Why should people buy it?

BM: Because otherwise Xtra Mile are gonna come round and break my legs. That’s reason one. Reason two is, its a good album I’m proud of it, especially for the budget. It was recorded for under a grand and mastered on that too! It was all done on an 8-track in my bedroom and other peoples houses. But yeah, it took about a year to put together and another 9 months to get out, but if you like your folk music, which you all should! Go out and buy it, because otherwise I’m gonna be killed, its gonna be like the wickerman.

AB: Who are the Xtra Mile heavies?

BM: They’re all heavies, they’re all shady types. No, they’re all nice people, I went up to their offices and was thoroughly wowed by the fact they even had an office. With my record label its just me in my bedroom, but with Xtra Mile they’re right in the money because they’re a press outfit too and you can see with the work they’ve done with Frank and Chris TT.

IC: You have a lot of freebies out there, would you consider doing a Ben Marwood compilation?

BM: I don’t know if I could if I could release a compilation of what I’ve given away for free. I don’t know if I’m that cynical. I could do like, Ben Marwood up until now!

IC: Just make as much money as possible!

BM: Well yeah! I’m actually selling copies of the tour poster for a pound, that’s how desperate we are to try and break even on this thing! I still work a normal desk job Monday to Friday, its not very entertaining. Sorry if anyone at work is hearing this. It makes touring quite difficult, but its the only way I can make money back, because there isn’t much money in music these days!

IC: This Is Not What You Had Planned was released to critical acclaim, what would you have done if everyone had slagged the fuck out of it?

BM: What would I have done!? *laughs.* I tell you what, I’d have been, not surprised. No, I was really happy that it went well, but, up until that point I’d gotten such bad reviews for everything else I’d done, I would have just carried on, maybe have done the album on a smaller scale.

AB: Like released on a  tape?

BM: Release one copy on a cassette tape and instead of buying it from a shop you just paid to borrow it from me for a day and record it onto another cassette tape and there would be no art work there’d just be a stick figure! So yeah, if it had not done very well. I wouldn’t of quit, because quitting is for quitters. A lot of my friends have given up on music, that’s a bit depressing. How can you give up music? I’d rather give up food. food costs more!

IC: We have two more questions, do you think the band Reuben failed financially because Jamie Lenman spent too much money on stupid suits and tash wax?

BM: *laughs* He didn’t have that tash! That’s like a hobby he’s taken up since! But yes, I definitely think so, okay yes, and shampoo.

IC: and finally, true or false Pavarotti had two stomachs, one for food and one for drink?

BM: *laughs* he had three stomachs didn’t he? One for food, one for drink and one for singing? He’d just drink loads of singing. Then he just belt it out, open his stomach up and go OOOOOORRRRRR!

IC: What orifice would singing go into? The mouth?

BM: Yeah obviously, its not like a suppository, your disgusting! Who would win out of a fight between Jamie Lenman and Pavarotti? Seeing as Pavarotti is dead now?

IC: I think Jamie Lenman, because he’s alive. He’d just kick his bones and that’d be it.

BM: Definitely the winner of that one.

Album Review :: Ben Marwood – Outside There’s A Curse

“I guess that I could be the next big thing, but that would just be weird” – Ben Marwood

To many Ben Marwood will appear to be the latest name to fall under the banner of ‘new folk’. The fact is, Ben was one of the few that instigated this musical phenomenon, and this latest effort could take him from working behind a desk to performing in front on thousands.

It’s taken about seven years, but Ben Marwood’s first proper full length has finally surfaced. The, Reading-born, singer/songwriter/folk hero has garnered quite a lot of attention whilst paying his dues in London’s thriving folk scene. After the release of This Is Not What You Had Planned – a seven-track ‘mini album’ – and a split with Jim Lockey and Oxygen Thief, many are anticipating the arrival of Ben’s first proper album.

Marwood’s, often self deprecating, tales of life, love and loss tug on the heart strings and will resonate with almost everyone that listens. Combining the banal and macabre with fantastic turns of phrase, it’s clear, that Ben is doing this because he loves to do it. At the same, time he proves that the art of songwriting is far from dead, “I’ll play until my fingers hurt and grit my teeth trough every word, like I’m the only introvert who wants to seize the day,” being a prime example.

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t an album filled with dourness and depression. There’s sing-alongs and seriousness in equal measure lead by Ben and his acoustic guitar. It came as a surprise to hear him being backed by a full band on some of the tracks, but it’s a great addition that gives the album a richer and more diverse sound. Granted it can get a little sketchy in parts, but on the whole it’s fantastic.

Ben has worked his arse off to make this album happen and it’s paid off. Outside There’s A Curse is a fantastic collection of songs from one of Britain’s finest singer/songwriters. Ben’s ability to combine poetic turns of phrase and pop culture references is fantastic and makes his latest effort his best and most complete. Go and buy this quick, before the Xtra Mile heavies break his legs*

* Yes, that’s a joke!

Video :: Dicking Around In London (Featuring: Ben Marwood, Abi Thommes, The Leano, Kill Chaos, Jim Lockey & The Solemn Sun And Chris T-T & The Hoodrats)

“I thought we were getting underground tickets, not waiting for the Pepsi Max”

After the success (maybe?) of Dicking Around in Southsea, we’re back to bring you some more music from another city. Dicking Around in London was filmed on October 9th in and around Lexapalooza – an all day gig in aid of Breast Cancer Campaign – and features the likes of Ben Marwood and Chris T-T. There’s even a cameo from Jamie Lenman (formerly of Reuben)!

We’re going to cut the performance videos out and release them separately for your viewing/listening pleasure. That’s right, the video looks and sounds great this time. Awesome! Check it out below.

We’d like to thank Evan and everyone on the crew for organizing the event, Frank Turner for letting us know about it, all of the bands for being apart of it and the people of London for putting up with us.