Interview: Olympians

No, it's not Michael Phelps or Usain Bolt. It's even better. Meet Norwich's finest musical export, Olympians.

Despite their name, Olympians will not be competing in the London Games this summer. Instead they will be working on the remaining volumes of their book club (more on that later) and hopefully playing some top notch rock 'n' roll gigs - which might not win them gold medals, but will certainly win them some new fans.

Olympians are signed to Barely Regal Records, which are a delightful little indie label based in Cardiff. They’ve released one EP to date in the shape of To Our Wives and Sweethearts, which is incredible. They’re currently doing something a little different in getting their new music to fans though, and that’s by creating a singles club. For more info on what the ‘Book Club’ entails or to subscribe go here.

Olympians, much like Pulled Apart By Horses, are a band who don’t take themselves too seriously, but do take their music very seriously; fusing a blend of math-rock with electronica, soaring vocals, pop hooks and clever wordplay to create a brilliantly unique sound. I spoke to Dan and Ben from the band and made them answer some questions. Here’s what happened.

For the people that have never heard of Olympians, how would you describe your music?

Dan: Complicated pop. Prog in miniature. Ballads with Parkinson’s. Heartfelt sounding but ultimately nonsense.
Ben: Like a host of angels that got pissed. Swaggery-blurry-shouty-kingoftheworld-pissed.
 
Are there any bands/artists that you admire and wish to emulate?

D: Yes, Prince.
B: Van Gogh. Emulation probably not an ideal option there though. 
 
When did you decide to form a band, and what were your motivations behind it?

D: We wanted to excuse to leave Norfolk more often. Chris and Ed enjoyed it so much they've left Norfolk permanently.
B: I didn't decide anything. I was absorbed into an already existent band, like phagocytises of annoying bacteria.
 
The book club is a brilliant idea; where did the idea come from and why did you decide to release your music through that as opposed to conventional EPs or albums?

D: The idea of a singles club was to be able to release things in dribs and drabs so we got to show them to people when we were still super excited about them, rather than waiting ages to get a whole record together then being bored of it by the time we released it. We've got to record single 3 and then record the video 10 days later, and it's ace having that quick turnaround with things. The idea of the books was to make sure that our record was the widest most visible thing in your music collection.
B: Agreed. I am annoyingly vocal about my dislike of the way most CDs are packaged - jewel cases are bad enough (has anything ever been more inappropriately named?), but little cardboard slips that get lost as soon as you get them home? No thanks. So having all our volumes together in a book keeps them in easy reach. Plus you get to keep our CDs stashed away and it's your little secret, which is exciting, isn't it? Your mum will never find out.

What albums are you looking forward to being released this year?

D: Tall Ships and Among Brothers, if they both get a move on.
B: Clock Opera. Might even be out by the time you read this. (It is - Ed)

You’ve got the tour with Kutosis as well as three more volumes of the book club to release, what’s next?

D: We're holding our cards pretty tight to our chest with that one. I'd like to think that we'd do a more conventionally packaged release so we wouldn't have to stay up late into the night desecrating further Z-list biographies, but I'm sure that'll fall apart fairly sharpish.
B: This question always comes up and we never know the answer. Our attention spans are way too short to be able to see further than a month into the future. I'd have thought that was pretty obvious from the kind of music we make... Whatever comes next, it will be fun, disorganised, and probably fuelled by gin, and that's all you need to know.

What’s the best ‘On Tour’ story you’ve got and can share with the Internet?

D: A very kind girl put us up for the night in Scotland. Chris thanked her by drawing a penis on her floor in crayon. Sorry.
B: There was this one time, right, where we all drank some beer, and then we were drunk, and then we went to sleep. Chortle.

Can you tell some interesting facts about the people who make up Olympians? 

D: Ed has a three-legged dog.
B: I can fart the national anthem.  We're actually releasing it as a B-side to our next single, so you can look forward to that.

Three in one now. Gigs: What’s the last gig you went to, the best gig you’ve ever played and the best gig you’ve ever been to?

D: Last one was Tall Ships in Norwich last week, best gig we’ve played was probably a weird mixture of all the shows in January with Tubelord that I’ve mixed up in my head, and the best one ever was either the Flaming Lips last year doing Soft Bulletin, or Brian Wilson doing Smile about 8 years ago.
B: Too many to mention. This would be a really great time to make use of my well organised scrap-book with all my neatly labelled gig tickets chronologically stuck down, each on its own clean, soft vellum page. Alas all I have is a shoebox full of paper that I left in the rain once, so I'll take a guess... Tall Ships (missed them actually play), the Weezer show we did was pretty rad, Adem comes to mind; when he played with his band though, not when he played alone and couldn't remember any of his songs. Oh and seeing The Bad Plus is always a nirvanic experience.

 

Olympians are going on a UK tour in May with label mates Kutosis and they’re sure to be incredible nights of lively musical based hijinks. The tour starts in Norwich on May 6th before heading to Cambridge, Brighton, London, Nottingham and finishing in Cardiff on May 11th.

'The Great Gatsby' is the first song from their Book Club and is available to buy here.

Or if you like value for money check out the free download of the phenomenal ‘Everything's Amazing! (Nobody's Happy)’ available here.

All Photos © David Drake 2012