Huey, Dewey, and Louie Duck on the loose again
Oxsmá released a 3-track 12 inch, only less than 9 minutes long with the title “Rip Rap Rup”, or ‘Huey Dewey and Louie Duck’ after the Disney comic, in 1985.
One of the rare photographs of Oxsmá performing live on ‘Laugavegur’, the famous shopping street in the capital, back in 1985. The band often busked in Reykjavík. From left to right: Hörður, Kommi, Jón, Seli, Skari and Keli. The surrealistic poet & lyricist Sjón (a.k.a. air guitar guru Johnny Triumph) was captured wearing some cool shades between Seli and Skari.
B2. Rip, Rap & Rup
Dr. Gunni wrote about the whole history of the band in RVK Grapevine Magazine (2010):
The rise of ‘Killembilly ’
Oxsmá was about the most exciting thing in Iceland from 1982–1985. The group had formed in the Reykjavík Art School in 1980, but didn’t start to play live until 1982. Hrafnkell “Keli” Sigurðsson sang, Axel “Seli” Jóhannesson played guitar, and Óskar “Skari” Jónasson occasionally blew a sax and behaved like an idiot. When drummer Kormákur “Kommi” Geirharðsson was added to the equation the band finally clicked. Kommi had played with a cool new wave group, Taugadeildin (“The Neurotic Ward” – one fine EP released in 1981), and punk group turned new romantic band Q4U. Lead by singer Ellý this fine group released a 12″ EP in 1983 and is in the midst of a comeback right now.
Oxsmá took their cue from The Cramps and the other punk rockabilly acts of the early eighties and at first tended more to their looks than to their music. After doing ultra slow versions of “Fire” and other rockabilly classics, original material started to pop up in Oxsmá’s program. They called their music “Killembilly,” and tellingly their lyrics (written by Keli) were tongue in cheek funny, often about horrible stuff and sex with titles (in Icelandic) like “Bibi’s Tits” and “Bits of Elsa.” More members joined, Danny Pollock fresh from his Utangarðsmenn stint played guitar for a while, and bassist Jón Skuggi and Hörður “Popcorn” Bragason on Hammond organ became steady members.
“Clever Kitty, drunk in a bath tub”
The Oxsmá guys were multi talents. They made two films, first the sci-fi horror short ‘The Oxsmá Planet,’ followed by the ambitious feature ‘Suck Me Nina,’ a drama comedy that was set in the Icelandic hippie years. The “feel” of this film would some years later be repeated in Óskar Jónasson’s much loved Sódóma Reykjavík comedy. Besides “normal” concerts Oxsmá would stage arty theatre shows and make environmental sculptures.
Oxsmá released a cassette in 1983 entitled ‘Bible For The Blind.’ It had sixty minutes of exciting lo-fi killembilly, including a song sung by an uncredited Bubbi Morthens, who just happened to come by the rehearsal space. A cassette of the ‘Suck Me Nina’ soundtrack was also released (Oxsmá doing their own take on Icelandic hippie rock). 1985 saw the band’s only record, a 3 track EP called ‘Rip Rap Rup.’ On the A side Keli sang once more about a girl, this time she was called Kittý (in Icelandic, of course): “Thirteen years old / kinky costume / what a perfume / clever Kitty / drunk in a bath tub / chocolate.”
Oxsmá’s final concert was at Hótel Borg in July 1985. Soon afterwards, Keli and Skari went to London to attend art and film schools. The coolest looking Icelandic band ever hasn’t returned since, and unfortunately none of their music or films are available to the general public. You can hear some of it on YouTube, though.
The Icelandic music lover Jeff Obermeyer wrote the following words on his blog back in 2013:
This was another pickup from the Dr. Gunni collection on our recent trip to Iceland, and a album (more like a 12″ single, really) I’d be interested in for some time because Oxsmá is described as rockabilly punk (note some sites spell the band’s name Oxzmá because of the backwards “z” used as an “s” in the name on the front cover… but on the reverse it’s clearly spelled with an “s”). I’d been scared away by the price, mostly – spending $40-50 on a three song, eight minute single isn’t my cup of tea. So when I found it for closer to half that price, I figured I’d better pull the trigger.
The band was formed by students at the Reykjavik Art School in 1980, similar to the trend in England of punk musicians coming from art school backgrounds. By the time Rip Rap Rup was released in 1985, the band had already reached it’s popularity peak and they broke up that same year. The album is pretty funky, and it’s not hard to tell these folks came from art school. The songs are all over the place. Not sloppy per se. Just sort of everywhere. It’s hillbilly-rockabilly-new wave-punk with Flock of Seagulls hair. It feels like it’s more about performance than music, if that makes sense. Plus it has the word “rap” in the title, which is slightly ahead of its time.
I wouldn’t suggest going out of your way to buy this, unless you’re way into rockabilly or Icelandic music (or of course unless you find it for a great price). It’s fun, but it’s also short, though to me it’s actually the right length – anything more and I’d probably start getting sick of it.