Punk Poetics: Opus Kink’s Angus Rogers In Conversation

The frontman on his new poetry collection, and more...

With a hat-rick of talents broadening across art, music and now poetry, Opus Kink frontman Angus Rogers tells Clash about his new poetry book Dog Replica and what 2023 has in store for one of London’s most interesting bands. 

Coming straight off tour with Warmduscher and managing to squeeze this interview into a diary full of festivals, gigs, poetry nights and pints with pals, Opus Kink are one of the hottest names within the gig circuit right now. If you’ve had the pleasure of seeing them live, you’ll recognise their deceptively chaotic presentation covering their precise performance. This is emulated in Rogers’ demeanour this evening as he sits with me out the back of a cold pub in Brixton. His responses are articulate, honest and relayed with nothing but precision.

He’s a gentleman that not once complains about the freezing-cold setting for our interview; he buys me a beer and even rolls me a cig whilst I pop to the loo. He’s bending the stereotype that comes around punky frontmen but is honestly everything you’d expect of a poet (but minus the note pad).

Talk me through the reasoning behind wanting to release Dog Replica. Is releasing a book of poetry something you’ve always wanted to do? 

If you write, it’s often in the back of your mind. But, as with many other things in my life, it takes a kick up the arse. I will have these things in my imagination but then it took the publishers Ned and Will, to give me the kick. 

Ned is the guy I’ve been liaising with?

Ned is one of the hardest working men in showbiz (laughs). But I don’t think ‘showbiz’ is the right word. He will probably cringe at that word. He’s in a band called Legss. He’s a poet as well. I met Ned through poetry things before we started bands. We drunkenly discussed this kind of thing but then after a while we were like ‘we need to stop mucking about’. When I’ve got a deadline to work to and if someone’s cracking the whip…

You thrive well under pressure?

It’s often the only way to get that fire under my ass. [The book] was always an ambition, but in my case, it needed other people to help realise that. I’m very glad that they did that.

Did you write all the poems for the book? Or did you have loads of poetry lying around you to which you were like ‘fuck it, let’s put these together’?

The start of it, and when we started being more excited, was we floated the idea and then I wrote the bulk of it. Then you either have a creative dip or you kind of forget about things and you’re like, ‘Shit, I need to go and trawl through the mines all the all the notes’

Do you ever throw away poems? Because I don’t think you should throw away any art ever.

I don’t. But I don’t often write things out by hand; I do it on my computer.

That’s not very ‘classic poet of you’

(laughs) No, everybody’s carrying around notebooks. God forbid, they’re posting pictures of themselves with a typewriter or even worse, posting pictures of poems on a typewriter- but that’s just me being a wilfully grumpy c*nt. But I write on the computer, because it’s there and it’s easy, and you can print it out. Also, if you do get bored of something you can just shut it down. Most of my hard drive is taken up with like two line abandoned things. But those two line abandoned things, which you think are shite, you may come back to a few years later and go ‘oh, now I can take that or take that or build on it’. So there’s no one process really. But to answer your question, the bulk of it was written for the book. For me, it’s important for a new project to write new whether it’s musical or words or whatever.

Punk Poetics: Opus Kink’s Angus Rogers In Conversation

Okay, boring question now, which poem would you say is your favourite in the book? Because I’ve got two. 

What are your ones first? 

My two favourites are… but, you can’t just say the same as me. My number one is Sonnet Of Urgency.

That’s the newest one. It was the last one I wrote. 

And the, A Kiss And So And Wait There For Me.

The two newest ones! That’s fucking great to hear! And those are two of four love poems.

I thought they came across quite grubby…

They are grubby! It’s hard to step out of being grubby when I go to write, whether that’s inherent or maybe a defence mechanism. But I’m glad you said those two. Sonnet is definitely up there for me. Because it’s the only one that’s written to a fairly exact form. Which is in the same way as someone telling me what to do and working under pressure. Working in the framework, sometimes things happen quicker.

So you like having rules to abide by?

Yeah. Which is also not a very ‘poemy’ thing. But if I had to choose a favourite one now, and it will change with the hour or the day, ‘Sonnet’ and I keep coming back to ‘Honey’ which is one of the most scatterbrained ones and I don’t know what it means. I defy anyone to even try and find out what it means. When I read it aloud its a nice web of imagery.

I’ve always argued that the best musicians are just poets with guitars. I know it’s really cliche, but like with Alex Turner and his lyrics. I’m not sure if you agree?

I don’t agree or disagree.

As well with Pete Doherty. It is literally just poetry over melodies.

Yeah, well I think, as a self-important, poet-frontman myself, I often find issue with that. [Opus Kink] have been asked a few times ‘are you a literary band?’ Well, no. Same as you saying ‘poets with guitars’. I mean, Leonard Cohen being the foremost example. He’s maybe just about the only person who could fully credibly be called that and was a full on poet. I would never want to proffer myself as a ‘poet’ fronting a rock band. But I suppose in the sense that lyrics are very important- you’re right. Yeah.

Is your approach to songwriting the same as poetry writing?

Very different. Songwriting- the sound of the words is often more important than the content. Poetry and lyric writing are very different things in my opinion, and I’m glad that they are. I’ve said this before, but a good poem doesn’t necessarily make a good song. And a good song lyric written down on the page might look like absolute dogshit and wouldn’t read very well.

I was reading an interview earlier about where you guys got your band name from. I read that you were playing gin rummy and…. wait, is this bullshit?

It was bullshit, yeah. (smirks) That came from me being really sick and- this is the most ungrateful thing ever because we haven’t been going for that long- but you know, it doesn’t take long to get a bit jaded with certain things. Every interview we do, it’d be like, ‘how did you meet? Where does the name come from?’ If there’s one interview saying that you don’t need to ask.

So you run a monthly poetry night called Blue Shout Poetry at The Social, how do you choose your performers and what does it entail?

It’s open mic, anyone can read and it’s completely free. The whole ethos of it was to not have any kind of elite, cherry-picking going on there. Which is, for me, the funnest and most fruitful thing.

Do you still get nervous when you read poetry? Surely it’s a very personal thing.

It depends. Because for me, you know, I’m, a natural born show off if you hadn’t guessed already

No shit!

(laughs) The performance of it kind of overshadows the the content a lot of the time. I won’t be reading and particularly thinking like, ‘God, this is real for me right now’. I save that for the the chemical readings at six in the morning. It’s more nerve wracking for me to host the night because I’m thinking ‘Is everyone having a good time? Is there enough people? Has the running order been good?’ and looking around like ‘Jesus Christ, is anyone funny, because this this is all incredible yet depressing?’

And what is coming up in the way of releases for Opus Kink?

Err, I can’t give you any dates yet.

Can’t or won’t?

Both. On a personal and business level, I refuse. But we recorded something and have a collection of songs- things are being mixed and mastered. We went and made something very quickly and it’s very raw and live sounding which is what we’ve lacked in the studio. I think we’ve hit a good nerve. So, I’m very excited about it.

The tour is called Written In The Stars is that a hint to the EP name?

It’s a lyric from one of the songs which may or may not be the first release. But you know, when you’re trying to naming a tour, it’s kind of an arbitrary thing. It was just a spur of the moment thing.

Right, I’m not blowing smoke up your arse but…

No please do!

I genuinely think you guys are one of the best live bands I’ve ever seen and – I don’t use this phrase lightly – quite groundbreaking.

Groundbreaking is lovely but I don’t particularly think that we are.

When I’ve compared you to other artists, something that I’ve always referenced is The Clash. Is this something you’d agree with and what other artists do you take inspiration from?

To name few Ian Dury and The Blockheads, not directly The Clash, but we all listen to The Clash. The Birthday Party, a big one. Yeah, very kind of jarring, angular, goth music. I’m a goth in disguise.

A very good disguise…

The disguise of having no hair. But also Fela Kuti Africa ’70, James Brown. Initially, we were strung between those two worlds. So there was a vague attempt to kind of reconcile them even though you can’t and you probably wouldn’t want to.

My final question, and you’re probably gonna hate me for this, but I’m gonna do it anyway. Open up your Spotify right now and tell me the last thing you were listening to as well as your last three searched songs. No cheating.

Okay, I have no idea what this is going to be. So, last listening is ‘Tezetea’ by Mahmoud Ahmed

Last searched are, Langkamer, ‘Idiot Prayer’ by Nick Cave as I was trying to find a specific song…

did you find that specific song?

Yeah, it was ‘Sad Waters’! And then the third search was Insecure Men.

Ah, annoyingly they were all quite cool answers

Yeah, imagine if all my answers were Opus Kink…

Dog Replica by Angus Rogers is published by Toothgrinder Press. Angus’ monthly poetry night, Blue Shout Poetry is hosted at The Social (Peckham) here

You can also catch Opus Kink on tour across the UK here

Words: Jazz Hodge
Photography: Will Reid

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