Pierre Omer, Cully Jazz Interview

From a distance Pierre Omer‘s appearance is reminiscent of a compelling shadowy figure in a Jim Jarmusch film. His attire is dark, well-worn and elegantly dishevelled. His sound is a film noiresque Django Reinhardt meets Link Wray via The Clash.

London-born, Geneva-based Omer spent his youth listening to 80s UK pop, new wave and punk. Then came American roots music, large doses of Delta Blues, Hank Williams, Jimmy Rodgers, Bob Dylan, Shellac records and all things swinging from the 30s, 40s and 50s. Very much a vintage kinda guy.

His first band was a cabaret outfit immersed in the Berlin/Paris tradition. Omer then became a founding member of the Dead Brothers – an infamous funeral band known for their punk garage band ethic of rock’n’roll and other old school styles like swing, Bluegrass and hillbilly folk.

Pierre Omer & Stewarts Garages Conspiracy Crew_lowAfter 10 years of cult status, Omer moved into writing music for theatre, cinema and dance, as well as producing the first Mama Rosin LP, setting up his own label, ‘Radiogram Records’ and bringing out 3 solo albums.

By autumn 2011, a new band had organically come together out of disparate elements. Rob Butler – bass player from LA, now resident in Berne and part of the Voodoo Rhythm/Beatman scene. Christian Aregger (banjo) and Roly Bucher (drums) had asked Omer to play with them once and then automatically became his backing band. And lastly, the free radical, Julian Israelian – percussionist and noise-maker who plays his own handmade ‘Samsonite Orchestra’, (an out of this world lap-steel contraption that fits perfectly into a Samsonite suitcase). Together they produce a bluesy, rootsy, vintage sound with a post punk twist which is quite often dark but never sad.

Last year saw the release of “Stewart’s Garages Conspiracy Crew'”on Radiogram Records to critical acclaim. It was recorded at Space Echo Studios above Stewart’s old red-brick car garage in Fulham. The cockney twang in Omer’s singing voice is ever-present as is the up-tempo, jivey, Pogues-style sense of manic rhythm. Omer describes his guitar style as “raw, strange, dangerous and fun. I like to get people moving nowadays to music which has tragic and comic juxtapositions”. Judging by the full house at The Hundred Blue Bottle Club where Omer was resident this year at Cully Jazz, his filmic cocktail of folk-noir, roots, jive and swing is just what the Blues doctor ordered.

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