Interview: OLO Worms (DW is 5! Special)

This interview was originally published in Issue #10, DW is 5! Special, December 2009.

It’s been a long time coming, but DrunkenWerewolf has finally caught up with Bristol mastermind collective Olo Worms. Well, Jamie Atkins did it for us, seeing as we’re not able due to stupidity.

You are on Mastermind. What is your chosen specialised subject?

Gareth: Jeans and T-Shirts 1981-2009.

Over the last few years Olo Worms have provided the more adventurous Bristol music fan with a wholly singular experience; one in which balmy harmonies blend with gaffa tape solos, glitch freak-outs and questionable rapping. They are the kind of band that could truly only exist now, the diversity of influences and ideas reflecting the way in which this age of access to information has blurred boundaries and expectations of what a band could or should be. Winningly, they have managed to pull this off without being in any way difficult or alienating, a pop group who happen to be off-kilter and skewed enough to make that hoary old adage interesting. On a less serious note, they’re a helluva bunch of guys.

What meal would you cook to impress someone who you wanted to kiss?

Matt: Lancashire hotpot.

Olo Worms formed in Bristol in 2004 after bedroom tinkerer Matthew Lacey, beatmaster extraordinaire Mark Hankins and his enigmatic, mysterious brother James joined forces in a bid to create a genre-busting audio/visual collective. However, a mixture of social ineptitude and problems caused by Matt’s unrealistic rider requests prevented them from presenting themselves to their public until a Christmas 2006 gig at Bristol’s premier late night flesh pot Mr. Wolf’s. By this time the boys had bass behemoth Gareth Jones in tow and were ready to unleash their sound upon unsuspecting civilians.

There followed an extended period of sonic gestation in which the boys honed their chops whilst learning more than they may have liked to have known about one another. A mini-album, Bare Foot[1], reared its head and the band soon established itself, supporting the likes of Malcolm Middleton, Wild Beasts and Micachu and the Shapes. 2009 saw activities step up a gear with triumphant sets at the Fence Collective's Homegame festival, a frankly debauched tour with notorious fiends Rozi Plain and The Pictish Trail, and a DJ slot at Green Man festival notable for a crowd pleasing airing of the theme from James' favourite drama Black Beauty.

All the while they have developed a near obsessive relationship with the internet; their blogs provide a comprehensive account of the lives of these young men over their formative years, with podcasts[2], intimate video diaries[3] and, let’s be honest, over-long spoofs of popular television programmes[4].

Do you see yourself shoplifting at any point in the next, say, two years?

Gareth: I'd do it during an Olympic year for a soft toy mascot. But that's past the cut-off, so no.

DW managed to track them down to their Bristol lair (all pedals, cables, discarded fancy dress costumes and sushi packets) during the recording of their first single proper for independent institution, Fence Records. The A side, “Back From England”, currently features the sound of the Clevedon sea air, label mate Francois’ trumpet, the noise of an FA cup 1st round clash and again, suspect rapping. At the time of writing it is unclear whether or not the proposed recording of a choir of striking Royal Mail workers is logistically possible, or indeed wise.

Thematically, “Back From England” evokes a Martin Parr portrait of seaside towns, a discussion of what it means to be young, English and unsure if that’s a cause for celebration or regret. Typically, that’s far from all the song is about, James continues: “dinosaurs stomping through swamps, first memories of the world outside this land, world cup 1986 and the Argentinean fans, racist scum and booze Britain / British people disgracing themselves over and over.”

Favourite member of Take That and why?

James: HOWARD DUCK & YONI WOLF

2010 will see the release of Olo Worms' debut album[5], as yet untitled. There will be a small tour in January featuring special guests, bizarre visuals and no doubt some ill advised on stage behaviour. Quite literally anything could happen; DrunkenWerewolf will see you there!


[1]   Available for free download on http://oloworms.co.uk/yardpages/olomusic.htm
[2]   A selection of messed up mixtapes from the band and some of their celebrity friends http://oloradio.blogspot.com/
[3]   An account of the aforementioned fence collective tour, for your viewing pleasure on http://vimeo.com/6595235
[4]   The Apprentice featuring a cat doing a mean impression of Alan Sugar whilst berating the boys for their lack of commercial progress http://vimeo.com/5074704

[5]   Projected Themes include ‘men's problems, Dustin Hoffman and underdogs, barnyard snakes, who's that girl?, swimming, grand movie and deadly sharks’ (James)

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  1. » OLO Worms and Art Is Hard DRUNKENWEREWOLF - 30/08/2011

    […] from James Hankins – including the front cover of our Bristol Special – led to an interview with the band for our DW Is 5! December 2010 issue, off the back of their tour with Pictish […]

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