Times are changing in the music industry. With the rebirth of electronica, the synthesiser and vinyl we decided to catch up with the genre's next big thing; Belfast natives Oppenheimer. Already having their music used on various popular TV programs, touring all-over with some big names and generally taking their music to greater heights, Oppenheimer are set join the likes of Snow Patrol, Ash and Duke Special as the next big thing to come out of Northern Ireland.

We got together with band member Rocky O'Reilly to have a good old chitchat and ask him to shed some light on his fantastic band and their remarkable brand of electronica.

R13: Tell us how it all began, where did Oppenheimer originate?
Rocky: We started right at the end of 2004, in Belfast; initially recording some songs and playing around with keyboards.

R13: The name's quite interesting, where did that come from?
Rocky: It's just a name that we liked the sound and look of, nothing deeper than that really.

R13: I remember a time when bands consisted of, stereotypically, four members, but now there are duos, octets and whatnot emerging all over the place. You were once in Torgas Valley Reds. Have you found any advantages of being a duo over, let's just say, a larger numbered band?
Rocky: Oppenheimer's the first real band I've ever been in, so it seems like the logical way to do things, the band is about the two of us looping and building melodies and ideas. It seems a lot quicker and easier than four or five people in a room playing round loops coming up with new ideas, although that's not to say that it would be right for everyone. Practically, it's easier for us to tour, the only downside is we have to carry a lot more stuff!

R13: You guys love Synthesisers. What's to love?
Rocky: What's not to love? From the first time I heard a filter sweep on a synthesizer I was hooked. They sound incredible, look great and their invention has changed the world of music.

R13: RockSound described you as "fantastic fuzzy noise", and Drowned In Sound said you were "Pop Disco For Electric Punks", but how would you best describe your sound, for those who haven't heard you?
Rocky: I saw it described as "Blip-pop", which I think suits it perfectly.

R13: What was the inspiration behind your debut album, "Oppenheimer"? How long did it take to write it? Tell us all about it.
Rocky: It's a collection of songs from the first year of the band; "Allen died April 5", "Breakfast In NYC", "This Is A Test" and "Saturday looks bad to me" were our first tracks, we weren't even sure if it was music or not. Then we got a call from [record label] bar/none and all of a sudden we were making an album, so it was a rush to piece together all these tracks and make it sit as an album. It was a really exciting time for us; leaving our jobs, touring the states. It was crazy.

R13: You guys are just overflowing with great songs. One of the ones I really like is "This is Not A Test". It's a really good song, how did it come about? Can you remember the day you wrote it? What were you thinking about when you wrote it?
Rocky: It was a saturday morning, it started with the bass line, I can remember we went to a local music shop to buy a wood block to put it there, it didn't make the final mix!
I can remember distorting and panning the drums at the start and doing all the fuzzy guitar bits; just thinking, is this music?

R13: Your music has featured in some high-profile television shows; "How I Met Your Mother" and "Ugly Betty". What were your feelings on that? How did it come about?
Rocky: It's quite an honour to have our music involved with such productions and exciting that our music reaches out to so many people as a result. It's surreal to think that in Hollywood there's a director sitting there saying, "This is the track we have to use"!

R13: You've toured with so many bands, Regina Spektor, Architecture in Helsinki, The Chalets and The Bravery? Any funny memories?
Rocky: Too many! I kept my tour diary well updated, it's linked off our website. From our soundman almost getting arrested for letting off 300 fireworks in Atlantic City, to a random Scottish man threatening our lives in a motorway hotel at 3am, we've been through a lot. We've got to play with a bunch of amazing bands and meet so many great people and see amazing things, we've experienced most of the tourist sites of America at three in the morning after playing shows.

R13: You played South By South West [SXSW], which I hear was amazing. Describe the experience for you, as a band?
Rocky: Like being at Disneyworld for indie-rock. For the band it was a really exciting time. In 2006 it was our first time meeting the record label, and our performance, as it turned out, lead to us releasing an album in Australia, getting our music on TV and a lot more. It's difficult going out and thinking about those things, so we've always tried to have fun. This year was a chance to hang out with all the people we've been working with, and meet old touring friends. Hanging out watching as many great bands as we could, and cramming six shows into three days.

R13: You guys are going on tour in the U.S. in the near future. What stuff will you be playing in the tour-bus?
Rocky: The Bronx, Genghis Tron, we're in a real rock phase at the moment too. I was planning a day of listening to all 7 Sleater-Kinney albums in order - I am sure no one else will let that happen!

R13: You featured in Room Thirteen's "Northern Ireland - My Space Musical Maze Feature (Part 2)". We got talking afterwards and we were discussing the whole differences between the Mainland British Scene and that of Northern Ireland. How Northern Ireland is deprived of substantial music venues and festivals, and how it's not as easy to get signed when you are from N.I., as opposed to mainland Britain. You mentioned about a relatively new project in Belfast that you guys have got in on, the "Oh Yeah" project, and how you hope it's going to improve matters in the Northern Irish scene. Tell us a bit about it. I understand members of Ash, Snow Patrol and Radio One's Colin Murray are also endorsing it.
Rocky: It's a three floor building in [Belfast] city centre that aims to open a venue, rehearsal space and rent units to people in the music industry trying to start something creative. They hope it will be a meeting place and breeding ground of proactive ambition that centralizes the creative output from Belfast's music scene. The board are made up of music journalists, creative designers and Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol. Oppenheimer were the first people to complete a project there. We hired space to record our new album, and we're so happy with the experience. I will be opening a recording studio there this year, in an attempt to make records with acts from Ireland, there are not a lot of studios geared towards longer projects, where the producer is actively involved in shaping the recordings. I hope the studio turns out to be like Chem 19 in Glasgow or Jackpot or Inner Ear studios, where there's a community, a collective of like-minded people focusing on the positives of themselves rather than putting other people down.

R13: Not many bands can say they have their own mob of fans helping them move up in the world, but Oppenheimer can. The "Oppenheimer Street Team", plug the shit out of the Belfast band, getting them played on the radio, reviewing them and whatnot; what's it all about? Where did they come from?
Rocky: They do? The street team was set up by a couple of friends, who wanted to do just that. It's amazing that they are there at shows collected email addresses, it really helps you reach out to people, we've been so lucky since we started the band that a lot of people have been so friendly and kind to us, by coming to shows, listening to the same two minute pop songs for so long, it's nice we are playing out new stuff to them. The people at Queens Radio, and the students union (Queen's University, Belfast) have been our biggest friends, though we've been lucky to receive support from BBC ATL Radio/TV, Electric Mainline, the Belfast Telegraph, Alternative Ulster Magazine... It's amazing that we have, for the most part, bypassed the cynical hate-filled side of the Belfast music scene.

R13: You guys are yet another 21st Century band that are really into vinyl. What's the big attraction?
Rocky: It looks awesome as a package, you can be more adventurous with the artwork, like the hand made stamps that made our first single. For me it's not an issue of snobbery, I buy most of my music on CD because I do think it sounds better, I am a fan of the Hi-Fi. Not only is vinyl a means of hearing music, it's a musical instrument; check out bands like Ugly Duckling just to hear that.

R13: What's your stance on the whole downloading issue?
Rocky: I think it's the new taping songs off the radio, but with the potential to bankrupt everyone making music. It's like the invention of the gun; we can't undo it, and so we have to make our lives work around it. The positives are that more music is making it out there, and people can seek out your band much easier, they don't have to listen to the media about bands they should like as much anymore. The downsides are that record labels, big and small are going out of business, and as a means of staying afloat are starting to make it normal to take money from bands touring and merch earnings, which means that not only are artists not making money from record sales, but they are losing money on tour, which is so expensive anyway. It's not about money, but if you can't pay your rent, then you can't be in a band. It's changing the way people will release music and be in a band; you've just got to keep up.

R13: What was the last album you bought or alternatively downloaded?
Rocky: I've been searching for new music, and can't find any I like! It's killing me. I just got the last two Matt Pond PA releases that I've been meaning to pick up - they are fantastic. Asides from that I picked up Mars Audiac Quintet by Stereolab, which I keep losing; it must be my fifth copy.

R13: Who have been your biggest Influences as a band, and why?
Rocky: We actually don't agree very often on bands that we love.
I think we both like bits of Stereolab, Kraftwerk, The Beach boys. Outside of that Shaun's into ambient electronica like Eno, and I like indie pop bands like Headlights and Mates Of State, but we take little things from the strangest of places. We both love the Bronx and Genghis Tron, that's mostly what we're listening to right now.

R13: Are there any bands out there that you're really into at the moment?
Rocky: Headlights and the Bronx - I can't get enough of them!

R13: Who are your Favourite Local bands, and why?
Rocky: In Case Of Fire are pushing themselves harder every time I see them - It's ferocious music and I love it. There are so many great acts from here, We Are Knives, Tom McShane, The Delawares, Fighting With Wire, Tracer AMC, Kowalski, Jane Bradfords, The Answer, Duke Special... all making music they love.

R13: What was the best gig you've ever been to? Tell us a bit about it?
Rocky: We got to play with a band called the like young from Chicago last year, I've been waiting so long to see them, one of the biggest reasons I started playing short pop songs, so that was an amazing night. Mina and to rococo rot - in auntie annies, Belfast, two German bands, two different nights in 1999, that started my love affair with synthesizers.

R13: The Last Gig you went to? Your verdict?
Rocky: The last gig I went to, without playing at was Au Revoir Simone and Metronomy at South Street Seaport in NYC this month. It was rainy, and their music needed the sunshine. I left early. The best show I've been to recently was Ted Leo and The Pharmacists in Belfast - it nearly blew my head off, amazing. I've been lucky enough to see a lot of great shows this year.

R13: Your Favourite Venue? And Why?
Rocky: There's a venue we play a lot in Brooklyn called Union Hall, we just played there with "A Camp", its run by the best staff, has a great atmosphere and we've had so many good nights there. I've seen a lot of shows in Auntie Annies [Belfast] that have changed my life, so it'll always hold a spot as my favourite.

R13: What does the future hold for Oppenheimer? What happens next?
Rocky: We have Electric Picnic and Bestival coming up, and then it's a three-month US tour with "They Might Be Giants". We're completing our second album right now, which will be out next year, so it looks like lots more touring!

R13: Thanks for your time!
Rocky: Thanks!