It’s just less than a decade since Stevie ‘10 Bears’ Bogan and his fellow musicians in the Irish rock trio ONOFF sold everything they owned and set off for a new life in California.
It was a big gamble, as they had built up a successful career in European, but it paid off and last week they released their latest single ‘Blah, Blah, Blah’.
Born and bred in Dundalk, Stevie moved with his family to Dublin aged 10, having attended the CBS and Faughart NS, and came back to live in Dundalk when he finished school at 17.
He was interested in music from an early age, something he credits to listening to his parents record collection.
"Between them they listened to everything like The Cars, Fleetwood Mac, The Police, Queen, Black Sabbath and Led Zepplin etc. That was a good start I suppose, then I started buying my own records, tapes and CDs when I was older.”
His dad, Gerry, ran The Seanchai (now The Bartender) for a number of years and he used to love watching the bands come in and play.
“I first sat down at a drum set there when I was 11, when a band were coming in to set up. It was the late and great Geno Berrill's kit. A Dundalk legend. He was a gentleman and I had the privilege of knowing him when he was alive. I became good friends with his son Colin. After banging those drums that one time, I was hooked.. My dad then bought me my first drum set from Danny Hughes in Blackrock shortly after that.”
He started learning and playing as an angsty pre-teen and was drawn to music that reflected his interests.
“I fell in love with punk music. The fast tempo and energy gave me something to direct my angst and energy towards. I loved The Offspring, Green Day, Stiff Little Fingers, Bad Religion. I still listen to those bands. They would fill up a sound track of my childhood."
He was jus 12 when he joined first band, which evolved into ONOFF.
The band built up a profile, not just in Ireland but in mainland Europe where they toured for seven or eight years.
“We were touring so much out there that we considered moving to Berlin full time,” Stevie recalls. “It was a toss up between relocating to Berlin and sunny California.. So we did what anyone else would do and sold all our gear, filled our suitcases full of suncream and headed to The Golden State.”
They moved to California in April 2013 and haven’t looked back, even though it meant that they had start from the bottom up again.
“Although we arrived with accolades and impressive touring history, we had no instruments, no contacts in the industry, no van or rehearsal space.. Not even a pair of drumsticks!,” he says.
"We got what we needed within two weeks of landing. Started writing in a space that got to nearly 50 degrees and wrote a full album (REBORN) that put us on the map over here. We got ourselves a van and hit the road and have never stopped since"
Since then, they have played all over the west coast and beyond.
"We've been lucky enough to headline some of the most prestigious venues there are out here, Whisky a GoGo in Hollywood, Slims and Bottom of the Hill in San Francisco, to name a few.”
"We are endorsed by some of the biggest names in the business now: Gretsch, Fender, Orange Amps, Ernie Ball strings, Pork Pie Drums, Gibraltar, TRX cymbals and Roland. They keep us rock ready at all times so big shout out to them all.”
Stevie describes the band as “a three-piece rock outfit that are committed to bringing rock and roll back to the masses. There are no frills, no auto-tune and no nonsense.”
"It’s just three guys who have a love for music and love playing it loud. We play all types of shows. From sold out sweaty ear ringing venues to loud outdoor festivals. We even do the odd acoustic production when we want to take it down a notch."
They also run their own festival annually here in Northern California for the last seven years. "We have bands from all over the West Coast come and rock our two stages over a two-day weekend."
They were in the middle of a tour of the west coast when the pandemic struck.
"We had no idea what would follow in the next 18 months. Everything came to a screeching halt! In a roundabout way, lockdown helped us stand back and reflect.
Thinking outside the box, they even managed to keep their festival going by hosting two two-day drive-in concerts.
“We had a hundred cars each night parked in front of this massive stage and we rocked out with our full stage production. We have a brass section and also a rapper who we did a collaboration with on our last single 'Closer". We pulled out all the stops while adhering to social distancing. People during that time needed something positive, and we were happy to oblige.”
Since moving to The States, the band have attracted a lot of media attention, which continues to grow.
“Our tracks have been played on numerous radio station across the US and we were even voted top fifth requested song on California’s biggest rock station 98Rock, back in 2019. We have also done countless TV appearances on breakfast and daytime TV, performing both on CBS and FOX."
ONOFF have just signed with SRO PR, who are one of the top 5 PR agencies in the US. They look after Ozzy Osbourne, Papa Roach, The Cult, Limp Bizkit.
Last week saw the release of their latest single Blah Blah Blah, taken off their forthcoming album.
"It highlights the power struggle between the people and governments. Especially during the pandemic, there seemed to be a lot of false narratives, propaganda and fear mongering going on, “ says Stevie. “We took notice of what we saw and wrote about it. It is a well-known fact that governments "occasionally' lie the people to try and retain control of the population. It has been documented for years.. After all, propaganda is the earliest form of warfare.”
Blah Blah Blah was recorded in Sacramento and mixed in New York and is available on music streaming platforms such as iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, etc)and also on the band’s YouTube channel- ONOFFmusicTV.
Although Stevie’s home is now in California, he visits Dundalk whenever he can.
"My Dad still lives in Dundalk as well as that whole side of my family. I have a lot of friends whom I also consider family.. I get back as much as I can when my schedule allows. I was back with my wife and her family from California in November. I showed them all around Dundalk, and of course made the compulsory trip to Oriel Park to watch "The Town' play!”