Opus Kink: “We weren’t good enough to be a jazz band, so we became a rock band with trumpets”

Angus Rogers talks meeting Kiss on the M1, the beauty of a good sticky floor, and why Opus Kink will never, ever get TikTok

Whatever time and place you’d expect to see Opus Kink in, it definitely wasn’t the quiet little tent next to the painted sheep at Latitude festival. The buzz reached the Alcove stage before the band did so there was a decent crowd stood right at the front – who all quickly took a few steps back as soon as the speakers started exploding. 

Sitting somewhere between punk and jazz, Opus Kink play the kind of music that can level a good-sized festival – either through feet on the dance floor or sheer volume. Building barnstorming tracks out of brass, anger and solid confessional storytelling, the Brighton six-piece hit the scene looking like they already owned it. 

We caught up with frontman Angus Rogers (shirtless, even on a Zoom call…) ahead of the band’s upcoming UK tour

How was your summer? 

Busy, actually. A lot of festivals. You? 

Just back from Download actually. 

We were just driving back from a gig in Birmingham and we stopped off at Watford Gap services (great services, they’ve got a Leon…), and I saw some old guys walking ahead of us wit leather jackets and badly dyed hair. They looked like they’d just played a wedding or something, so I was feeling a bit superior, like I was a proper rock musician because I just played a gig to seven people. Then I noticed that they had quite a big entourage, and I turned around and everyone had their jaws on the floor. It was Kiss, and they’d just headlined Download. And now they were getting a Big Mac. 

I guess they’re less recognisable without the makeup. 

Yeah I wouldn’t have noticed at all if everyone wasn’t pointing at them. Did you see them play? 

I did. It was pretty special. Pretty surreal seeing a band zipwire over the crowd and fly around on exploding platforms too. Can you ever imagine doing that in one of your shows? 

No. I’m trying to think of a way that might be viable, but I think spiritually, culturally, financially that might just be the end if we ever considered that. 

Can you imagine still making music in your 70s though? 

God knows. Thinking that far ahead is a fool’s errand. I’d like to do it for a long time. I’d like to make money from it for a long time. Not that I’ve started yet… 

How have the shows been for you this summer? 

We’re at the stage now where each show is getting bigger, you know? We’re moving at a glacial pace, but it still feels like the snowball’s getting bigger! It might crumble at any point, but for now we’re collecting snow. And that’s a nice feeling.

Opus Kink - Wild Bill (Official Video)

Take us back to the beginning. How did Opus Kink get started? 

Most of us knew each other before. Sam, Finn, and Jazz were in a few bands. They were in an awful indie rock thing, which I say scathingly but obviously I have a soft spot for it because they’re my friends. That’s a genre unto itself, isn’t it? Your mate’s music? It’s a bit like your own music – you think it’s f*cking great when you’re in the middle of it! Anyway, I digress. I became friends with them at various junctures and we decided that we wanted to be a jazz band. I’d kind of given up the pipe dream of being in a band, and then suddenly it emerged again. We were going to be a jazz band. And then we realised we weren’t good enough to play jazz. And also it was quite boring to try and learn. So we became a rock band with trumpets. 

Do you remember your first gig? 

I think we the first show we played was a place called Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar, in Brighton. 

Such a shame that place closed down. It was great venue. 

It really was. Adhesive Michael’s Toad Cafe. Another casualty of the landlord infestation in Brighton. That place was a dream though, wasn’t it? Sweaty, low ceiling. The perfect sh*thole that we all kind of love. Our first gig there though we were unfortunately still hankering towards those jazz pretentions, so I think we played for about an hour and a half. The cheer still sends a shiver down my spine. You could single out everyone in the room. My mum. Sam’s mum. And about two of our mates who had gone upstairs to have a fag. That was the start of a big learning curve. 

You’re in an industry that loves to put people in boxes. What’s the worst one you’ve been put in? 

There’s this constant seedy line of calling us a ska band. I like ska, but not everything with a trumpet in it is ska. I’m gonna start sounding like the most ungrateful bastard around, but I think in the past we’ve maybe trodden on people’s associations of certain influences we have, or styles that they hear. You know, there’s a fine line between someone on a unicycle with a purple top hat playing the accordion, and quite interesting folk-edged punk. The difference between the Pogues and the steampunk comedy tent sometimes hangs by a thread, you know? But I’m being picky. If people really like white dreadlock ska and they start to like our music, then fine. I’d like to not see it in writing anymore though. Leave no trace. Take only memories!

Who are you listening to at the moment? 

There’s a guitarist called Mark Ribot. He played a lot in the 80s with the Lounge Lizards, with Tom Waits. And he hates his instrument. He’s mastered it, but he hates it. Watch a video off him playing live and he’s just a master of tension and release. Also Modern Woman – I keep going back to their record. Keg are always fun. 

How does the writing process run between everyone in the band?

There’s no one process really. It depends on who’s got the fire under their ass at any given moment. But usually it starts from something in soundcheck or in a rehearsal room. It’s organic, most of the time. And then at some point, we’ll have a tantrum about it and write some lyrics. Everybody has their talents and their own staminas in the band. And eventually they snap into orbit. I write the lyrics and the melodies, but other than that, it’s anything goes.

Opus Kink - Mosquito (Official Video)

There’s a great sense of storytelling to your lyrics. There’s a real sense of history too – I can’t ever imagine you singing about TikTok or Netflix…

The modern world does interest me. I do live here. The words I write don’t seem to me as much of an escape from modern life as people might think. I’ve been asked this quite a lot, and I’m really glad, because it didn’t really occur to me. It’s a bit of an instinct I think, to write in an overly grandiose or biblical or tongue-in-cheek way. And I think I need to not be so subconsciously afraid of writing explicitly about now. Everything I write is just about me and us and today, but the paintbrush ends up being f*cking cowboys or Roman emperors or people dancing the Tarantella. Imagery and symbols are easy to weave together, so it might be more of an instant gratification thing. But TikTok? That won’t happen. 


It won’t happen. People keep telling us that we need it, that we’d do so well on it. If I ever see a band I love having cheeky hijinks in the green room, or pretending to hold up the Eiffel Tower, that’s it for me. I do not give a sh*t about someone putting their jeans on their arms. Unless I do it, and it’s really funny. But then it doesn’t need to be documented. We’ll probably get TikTok next week now. 

What song are you proudest of? 

At the moment, the first and last songs on ‘Til The Stream Runs Dry, not counting the intro. ‘I Love You Baby’ is quite an old one for a young band, but I think it’s held up fairly well. It’s very fun to play too. I like that the lyrics have a good amount of self-deprecation, so there’s a little sting every time I sing it. And then there’s the tight title track of the record, which was the most ambitious one. It has a baseline that we were trying to utilise for years that never quite worked out, but I think it sits okay in that one. But the nature of the beast means that however you might feel about a song or record one day, you feel utter contempt for it the next week, depending on your mood. 

Does that relationship to the songs change when you play them live too? 

For sure, but live is another animal. Playing on stage doesn’t often feel like playing the same songs. It just feels like a template or a mould to pour a particular performance, or terror, or jubilation. On record, I very quickly become overly contemptuous of our own work. And then you wake up six months later and say, it wasn’t so bad. I think micro dosing contempt and self-loathing is what creativity is all about. 

Opus Kink are playing dates throughout the UK from 28 September to 11 November. Tickets are available here.