Introduce us to Oh Romance, and your musical history.

Alex Campbell: I’m the vocalist and rhythm guitarist of Oh Romance. I started learning guitar at 13, self-teaching at 15, and then playing in a band in high school but it didn’t really go anywhere. Just a bunch of boys playing music in their pal’s front room, but what an experience! I played in a few bands when I was living in Aberdeen but they didn’t really go anywhere, and for the most part, they didn’t have the drive or ambition to go the distance. I started Oh Romance to break away from that and it’s been a rollercoaster ever since, but that’s got us to this point and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Blair Russell-Simpson: I’m the drummer of Oh Romance. My Dad plays the guitar and my uncle plays the drums, so I’ve been around music from a very young age. I remember going to my uncle’s home studio at the weekends when I was 10 years old, playing his electronic kit and getting a huge buzz from it! 

Alex Cameron: I’m the bassist of Oh Romance. I began my path as a performer in musical theatre and soon began playing in bands through my love for being on stage. I started by playing guitar and singing along, but have in more recent years come to appreciate the bass guitar and the fun that can be had on stage whilst playing that instrument. Several bands have led up to being in Oh Romance, and I think it’s fair to say that it’s quite the final destination to end up in.

Jamie Hamilton: I’m the lead guitarist of Oh Romance. I started teaching myself guitar at 14 years old, learning songs by bands I liked such as Arctic Monkeys, The Amazons, Catfish and the Bottlemen and Circa Waves. After being tired of only playing songs in my bedroom, I noticed the boys were in need of another guitarist, I reached out and joined Oh Romance in September and it’s been an awesome journey so far.

What attracted you to pursue music?

Alex Campbell: For me, it was going to my first gig at 15 at the AECC in Aberdeen. It was only around that age that I started actually listening to music. Thinking, you know, if people can do this for a living then that’s the dream. So I started writing terrible music, as you do when you’re first finding your footing, and now I’m here. 

Blair Russell-Simpson: I always remember my Dad playing the guitar along to music in the house when I was 7 or 8 years old. It seemed to be a pretty natural step to fall in love with music as I was constantly involved with it from a young age. He also took me to my first gig which was, surprisingly, an acoustic act – a guitarist called Tommy Emmanuel.

Alex Cameron: I gained an appreciation for rock music at a fairly young age after being introduced to Green Day’s “American Idiot” in my aunty’s car. My love for music continued to grow after this, and when this took an unlikely pairing with my love for performing in musical theatre, I picked up a guitar and started learning to be a frontman.

Jamie Hamilton: During high school, I wasn’t great at subjects such as science, math, and English but the only subject I truly excelled in was music; I realised I had a knack for it and I’ve kept playing ever since. I went to my first gig at the O2 Academy, and after seeing a band called Milky Chance I was hooked.

What are your 3 favourite records?

Alex Campbell: “Revolver” – The Beatles, “Everything You’ve Come To Expect” – The Last Shadow Puppets, “Disintegration” – The Cure

Blair Russell-Simpson: “Metallica” – Metallica, “Blue Weekend” – Wolf Alice, “Royal Blood” – Royal Blood

Alex Cameron: “Opposites” – Biffy Clyro, “Rumours” – Fleetwood Mac, “Sempiternal” – Bring Me The Horizon

Jamie Hamilton: “The Balance” – Catfish and the Bottlemen, “How Will I Know If Heaven Will Find Me?” – The Amazons, “nothing’s on but everyone’s watching” – Daytime TV.

What was the first song you heard that steered you into a music path?

Alex Campbell: 12:51 – The Strokes

Blair Russell Simpson: Metallica – Enter Sandman

Alex Cameron: Holiday – Green Day

Jamie Hamilton: Flashed Junk Mind – Milky Chance

The music industry is the hardest industry in the world to progress in, how do you feel you are doing?

Alex Campbell: Just happy to be part of it. Of course, it’s brutal, but you can’t want something so badly and not do anything about it.

Blair Russell Simpson: We really enjoy it which I think is the main thing, it can be very tough and competitive but that’s what makes it so enjoyable for us as we’re all very up for a challenge. I think we’re doing great!

Alex Cameron: I think as long as you’re having fun, you’re doing pretty good. Too many bands I’ve seen within the industry are far too focused on portraying a certain image and chase trends. Whilst these are important aspects of being a musician/band, the fun and love of it should come first, and in that respect we’re doing pretty great.

Jamie Hamilton: I think we’re making good progress getting into the music industry. Each time we play gigs the crowds are getting bigger and more exciting, and we’re playing in well known venues which we feel so lucky to get the chance to play in. We’re having great fun and feel happy that our hard work is beginning to lift off.

More women are speaking out about feeling unsafe at music gigs not feeling safe at music gigs, any thoughts on what we need to do to help?

Alex Campbell: Gigs are about creating a safe space for people to come and enjoy live music, we should be cultivating a positive culture around that. If you see something, do something about it. Speak up, take action. If it’s a stranger or even if it’s your pal – everyone’s accountable. 

Blair Russell Simpson: More security in venues would help prevent this behavior I reckon. People use live gigs for an escape and it’s horrible to hear of others feeling uncomfortable in what should be a safe and friendly environment for everyone. 

Alex Cameron: I think more effort needs to be put into having some sort of monitoring in place at gigs to ensure that anyone who is making women feel unsafe is removed from the venue immediately. It shouldn’t be something met with a slap on the wrist and should never be taken lightly. There should be clear rules informing crowd members of what will happen to them if they are caught hassling anyone. I’m also in complete agreement with Alex’s statement, KEEP YOUR PALS ACCOUNTABLE. Don’t be afraid to say something just because it’s your pal.

Jamie Hamilton: I feel horrified that a lot of women don’t feel safe at gigs as this should be a safe environment for people to let loose and enjoy themselves. More measures should be put in place to ensure that every venue is a welcoming environment.

As a growing band, can you share some tips on how to use social media and digital platforms to bring your music to larger audiences?

Alex Campbell: We just hassle people, in the politest way possible! You’re never going to be heard without spreading the word as much as possible. The most important tip I’d give anyone starting out is to network – speak to people!

Blair Russell Simpson: Chat to as many people as you can, but not just at gigs – you never know who you’re speaking to! Make sure to exchange social profiles because you never know when they might get in contact for an opportunity. Remember to keep your feed looking smooth and professional.

Alex Cameron: I think the importance of having a good team surrounding the band who help out wherever possible cannot be understated, whether that be our photographer (my brother), or our very talented graphic designer friend, Liam. I realise not everyone is as fortunate to be surrounded by creative people from the get-go but this is where getting out and meeting people in creative spaces comes into play; they’re usually teaming with everyone you could possibly need to help raise the profile of your band!

Jamie Hamilton: Reach out to as many people as you can, this could be people you watch on Instagram or Facebook or just people with interests and tastes similar to yourself. Ask as many questions as possible and show a great interest.

Tell us Two truths and a lie about you.

Alex Campbell: Terrible at bowling, great at pottery, fantastic at landscaping.

Blair Russell Simpson: I’m better than Alex Campbell on Warzone, I’m a multi-instrumentalist, I have a cat

Alex Cameron: I have a pet snake called Fluffy, I cried to Biffy Clyro playing “Machines” at T in the Park 2014, I eat marmite on toast every morning for breakfast.

Jamie Hamilton: I hate Irn Bru, I play bagpipes, and I am late for work every day.

What’s your thought on Spotify’s monopoly on the music industry?

Alex Campbell: I don’t feel I could say anything that hasn’t been said already, we know how unfair it is. 

Blair Russell Simpson: Royalties is very unfair, especially these days. Very low CD sales, vinyl… It’s now so disposable unfortunately. It does have its pros though, it’s very ideal for an avid music listener out and about.

Alex Cameron: As a consumer it’s fantastic. As a performer It is frustrating to see how the music industry has changed. When I hear stories of my dad saving up his lunch money to buy a new record each week there is some sort of nostalgic longing to go back to a time before Spotify when it would seem music meant more to people.

Jamie Hamilton: The fact that Spotify is a platform where most people will stream music pays the lowest royalties is a joke.

Do you believe in conspiracy theories?

Alex Campbell: Too many to count; there’s no dust on my tinfoil hat.

Blair Russel Simpson: Indeed, it’d be rude not to

Alex Cameron: Only that all people in power are actually lizards.

Jamie Hamilton: I believe in too many, to be honest.  

Did you buy anything you don’t need during the pandemic?

Alex: A lot of rum

Blair Russell Simpson: A lot of beer

Alex Cameron: A lot of wine.

Jamie Hamilton: A lot of music stuff.

What was the best/worst experience on stage?

Alex Campbell: We played a gig a few months ago, the sound was spectacular, the moon was right, and nothing could have ruined the night. End of the set I break a string from bashing about my guitar mid-song, so I chuck it down and grab my other one, only for it to completely cut out 10 seconds later. I finished the set with my absolutely stellar Morrisey impression.

Blair Russell Simpson: Playing a sold-out Sneaky Pete’s in Edinburgh to strangers along with my family and friends. It was our most lively set yet I reckon.

Alex Cameron: At the end of 2023 we played to a sold-out Sneaky Pete’s. It wasn’t even the fact that it was sold out that made the night special to me, it was looking into the crowd and seeing my friends mingled with complete strangers all just enjoying our music. I won’t be forgetting that feeling any time soon.

Jamie Hamilton: I’d say playing to a full room at King Tut’s with new songs I couldn’t wait to play live.

Tell us something about you/each member that you think people would be surprised about

Alex Campbell: Blair does incredible impressions.

Blair Russell Simpson: Alex Campbell does Mark Corrigan impressions better than anyone I’ve ever known.

Alex Cameron: Alex Campbell loves nothing more than to be curled up in front of the fire in his dressing gown with a good romance novel.

Jamie Hamilton: Alex Campbell is the goat.

What makes you stand out as a band/artist?

Alex Campbell: Oh Romance. Original name, original sound. Charming individuals with undeniably good looks and great patter.

Blair Russell Simpson: Different sound and an unusual band name.

Alex Cameron: It’s a cop-out answer but come and see us perform live… You’ll see.

Jamie Hamilton: Having a city’s-worth of guitar pedals.

You just released a new single, “Animals”; tell me about it!

Alex Campbell: It’s definitely our BIGGEST and LOUDEST tune to date, and I think that it may have taken folk by surprise a bit. It’s heavier and punkier than anything we’d had out before. It’s an undeniable banger for sure.

Blair Russell Simpson: We’re so proud of it! It was not only made to showcase our abilities but also for the end of our set to fully go for it and leave everyone wanting more. It’s such a belter and goes off!

Alex Cameron: I think it’s a perfect song for us to release to show that we’re changing up our sound. It really goes against the grain of the poppy, indie tunes that were previously associated with Oh Romance. Animals is the new and improved Oh Romance and it’s meaty, in your face and only going to get better from here.

Jamie Hamilton: It’s definitely a song that shows the sound we are trying to achieve. We are very proud of it, and I’m really looking forward to what we have coming next!

Talk me through your songwriting process

Alex Campbell: Most of the time the lyrics come before the music. I usually find inspiration late at night and chuck something in the notes or voice memo app on my phone, which is how “Animals” started. Just a few lyrics and a melody written down and then I brought it to the practice room. It’s usually how most of our tunes go, but there are times where we get a wee hook going and work around it.

Blair Russell Simpson: Usually we come up with a riff/drumbeat and work from there on how the song should be structured. Alex usually has lyric ideas already written down so we see where it takes us during our practice/writing sessions.

Alex Cameron: For Oh Romance, usually Alex will come in with an idea he’s had and I’ll help to build on that with a bass line, occasionally helping with lyrics as this is where my previous experience lies. As someone who, before Oh Romance, was used to only strumming out a chord pattern and singing along to some half-baked lyrics, the challenge of writing tunes with Oh Romance has been a particularly rewarding one.

Jamie Hamilton: I like to record the rest of the band playing during a rehearsal, go home and listen to it over and over then start to think of what lead parts the song needs. Then I’ll play it through my speaker and play stuff over it until I’ve written my part.

What is the recording process like?

Alex Campbell: There’s nothing I look forward to more than studio days.

Blair Russell Simpson: Love studio days, it allows full creativity and is an all-round a very wholesome time with your best pals.

Alex Cameron: Sweaty, tiresome, full of nagging and draining. There are bad parts too though.

Jamie Hamilton: It’s just awesome, great fun!

What was the biggest learning curve in writing the new tunes?

Alex Campbell: It’s important to try to escape your comfort zone a bit, otherwise you find that you’ll start writing songs that just sound like your other songs.

Blair Russell Simpson: Try anything to see if it works! It keeps things fresh and you may come up with something very unique. That’s what happened with “Animals”, we knew we were pushing ourselves musically and it’s turned out to be our favourite so far!

Alex Cameron: Don’t be afraid to change your sound, whether that be something as simple as playing through a new guitar pedal or as drastic as exploring an entirely new genre. The best way to create interesting music is to keep the writing process as open as possible.

Jamie Hamilton: If you have a part for a song in your mind immediately record it so you don’t forget it, even if it means your humming or whistling it. Go home and experiment with it and have it sound just how you like it.

When you finish writing, recording and then putting your songs out there, is there anything you want to change about them?

Alex Campbell: For “Animals”, absolutely not! I’m well and truly satisfied with the result. We recently took down all our old tunes. Some of them might make a return, and in that regard “an artist’s work is never done”. I was never really content with the result, and the old tunes don’t represent the vision of the group as it is now. I did a whole thread for it on Twitter.

Blair Russell-Simpson: Nothing at all. When we play live I’ll sometimes change a part up to keep things interesting, but overall I’m very happy with the result.

Jamie Hamilton: Sometimes I’ll listen to “Animals” and think “that would of been cool if that was in there” but you can’t beat yourself up over it. There’s a million things that you could think of that could be put in a song after it’s been released. It’s what was originally wrote that is special.

Is there anything else you would like to share with the world?

Alex Campbell: Our debut EP, “Kiss & Tell”, will be released this May. We’ve got a huge announcement to make for it coming very soon which we’ll be posting all over our socials. Just make sure to keep your calender open in June.

Blair Russell-Simpson: “Kiss & Tell”. In the meantime give our new single “Animals” a listen and keep an eye on our socials for a monumental announcement!


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