Oppenheimer - Oppenheimer (June 6, 2006)
Oppenheimer - Take The Whole Mid-Range And Boost It (June 3, 2008)
Oppenheimer - This Racket Takes Its Toll (July 31, 2012)
Picture two young friends, Rocky O'Reilly and Shaun Robinson, toying with synths and playing with ideas in a bedroom in Belfast, Northern Island. They decide to call themselves Oppenheimer and start sending demos to all of their favorite labels, including Bar/None in America. Bar/None wound up releasing Oppenheimer's self-titled debut in 2006, followed by releases in Australia, Japan and Thailand. What followed was hundreds of shows, sixteen weeks of touring in the states and another sixteen in Europe, all of which helped Oppenheimer hone their lush electronic pop sound. At the same time their tracks began finding their way into television shows like How I Met Your Mother and Ugly Betty, as well as commercial campaigns for Fujifilm and Nike, switching even more people onto this Irish two piece. Oppenheimer would go on to release two more critically acclaimed albums for Bar/None in 2006 and 2012.Oppenheimer and Bar/None. Where does one start?
Well, Rocky and I had gotten together in October 2004 to mess about with ideas that were, musically, purely synth driven. Every band in Belfast seemed to be rock driven and we wanted to try something different. We had just gone to see The Album Leaf play live in a very small random Belfast venue and we both thought “Fuck it, let’s try and do this”. The first couple of songs were recorded in a cramped spare room in Rocky’s then house. No real drums. No mic stands. Holding a mic to an acoustic guitar was the way forward. Because of where Rocky worked, a recording/post-production studio, we had the luxury to add and add and add overdubs and flush out any ideas that we had. Inside about 3 months we had four or five finalized ideas of songs.
Bearing in mind, these were the glorious days of MySpace and the days where you still sent a physical copy of a demo to labels that you thought might pick you up. Rocky was a fan of a band called Mosquitos who were already on Bar/None and he sent a copy to the Bar/None HQ in Weehawken. We were just plodding along, like any new band, recording and writing but then everything changed.
I was on holiday, in the summer of 2005 in Tokyo with my then girlfriend Beth (who gave Oppenheimer their logo, designed their first two album covers, and was involved with the ‘Breakfast in NYC’ video), when I received an email from Rocky telling me about a record label in New Jersey, specifically a guy called Mark (Lipsitz), that was interested in Oppenheimer. I was over the moon but was thousands of miles away and in a completely different time zone to get involved with the early communication.
Once I got back to Northern Ireland it was all systems go. Rocky and I worked hard over the next few months to complete what would become our debut album as Oppenheimer.
My favorite story though, about how Oppenheimer became involved with Bar/None, comes from Mark himself. Bar/None had an intern working for them during the summer of 2005 (his name is Ray) and he was given the task of listening to the hard copies of demos that came through the Bar/None mail box. As the story goes, Ray listened to the Oppenheimer demo one night and then turned up the next day and said to Mark, “I think this is shit but I think you’re really going to like it!” And that is how Oppenheimer came to be on Bar/None. Thank you Ray, thank you Mark, thank you Glenn, and thank you Rocky.
Catalog: Oppenheimer on Bar-None.com