Ooberman - The Magic Treehouse

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Biography

Image: Danny

Danny

Image: Andy

Andy

Image: Stevis

Stevis

Image: Sophia

Sophia

Image: Jaymie

Jaymie

Ooberman founders Dan Popplewell and Andy Flett met over a piano at their school in Bradford, 1988. The first band they set up was The Forestry Commission, with Andy's younger brother Steve on bass. The band's life soon ended when Dan moved to Liverpool, but the three friends kept in touch.

Steve moved to Liverpool in 1992, and Andy later joined him in 1997. Ooberman was then born, complete with Sophia Churney (keyboards and vocals) and Alan Kelly (drums). The first Ooberman gig was in June 1997, and their eccentric live shows and quirky demos won them the 1997 BT Merseyside Arts Award for Best Newcomers.

Their first release was the Sugar Bum single, a 7" on Graham Coxon's Transcopic label. They then released the critically acclaimed Shorley Wall EP on Tugboat Records. The band then whipped up a major deal with Independiente, on which they released their first proper single; the Top 40 hit Blossoms Falling.

By spring 1999, the band had finished work on their debut album, The Magic Treehouse. The album got great reviews, including an 8/10 in the hard-to-please NME. The reviews sadly didn't turn into sales, though, and after a few singles missed the Top 40, Independiente and Ooberman parted company.

The band had had enough with the music industry by this time, and in mid-2000, they started work on their second LP. During this time, tension within the band caused original drummer Alan Kelly to leave the band, but he was replaced by Paul Walsham.

After more than a year working on new material, things started to heat up. The band announced that they would release their second album - Hey Petrunko - at the start of 2002. A mini-album, Running Girl, preceded it in October 2001. As well as getting a new drummer, this time Jaymie Ireland, Dan Popplewell also set up his own record label, Rotodisc.

A 5-track EP - Bluebell Morning - and a single - Beany Bean - followed, but Hey Petrunko was delayed over and over again. After nearly three years working on the album, it was finally released on the 3rd March 2003, to widespread critical acclaim.

A tour and another single followed, but all was not well at Oober HQ. The break-up of Danny and Sophia's relationship strained the band too far, and in May, Danny announced that they were both leaving the band. Rotodisc was shut down, and planned releases and tour dates (including festivals and foreign gigs) were scrapped. The Oob rolls no longer...