"We could drop everything and conform to what is expected, but then we are just another band in the dishwasher."
Static Dress are seeing 2021 out in an incredible position, one that sets the next 12 months up to be absolutely fascinating.
They have also just released 'Prologue...', a soundtrack/comic book hybrid that not only sets up the story they have been building up to over the last two years but also the lengths that they will go to in creating something tangible, special and ahead of the curve. Plus, the songs attached to it are, of course, fucking tremendous and further cement them as one of the finest young bands currently fizzing around the underground.
To debrief what has taken place over the last year and dissect where 'Prologue...' actually fits in with his bigger plans, we sat down for a catch up with vocalist Olli Appleyard who in all honesty is still surprised by the number of eyes that are currently on them...
Was where we are right now always the intention, is this piece of the story something that has materialised along the way?
"So this is the funny thing. The comic and everything surrounding that was something that I was going to do way down the road, probably by the time we have done a second or third record, and the concept is fully realised. And the songs on ‘Prologue…’ were demos that were never actually meant to come out. We put them on a disc and started selling them at Slam Dunk just as a, ‘Look, we’re making music, and we will be doing some more things very soon’. Then people started hearing it within our team, and everyone was like, ‘You’ve got to release this’. I was the last person to say ‘Yes’ to that, just because it still felt like a demo project to me. But seeing the reaction to ‘sober exit(s)’, I realised that people still want songs from us rather than the perfect product. I strive for perfection in everything I do, so I wasn’t fully satisfied with it just being music on its own. So that’s how we brought it into being a part of a soundtrack, which allowed us to play a little bit more with sound design. So I can start the story for what is about to come now, and it will fall into it. So it’s become a stepping stone for people rather than overwhelming all the people who haven’t invested already with what comes next. It’s become a running start.
"The music on this release is very experimental because of that. There are a lot of moments where you probably wouldn’t expect what’s about to happen, but then there are others where I have catered to people who comment on our videos comparing us to people. We finished recording and mixing the original versions of these tracks in just two weeks in terms of the music side. Then after people were hearing it, that’s when I started working on how to make it much cooler. So that’s where the comic book came back into it, and this became the soundtrack more than an EP. It now encompasses everything that this band represents creatively and artistically and done in the form of a package that I don’t think had been done by a band of our size before."
And a prologue is a prologue for a reason, so it’s not there for people to get too wrapped up in…
"Absolutely, like there is so much still to come. The thing is that we have a visual storyline and an audio storyline that I never want to allow to cross paths. We never want to be singing about a dancefloor, and the video shows someone on a dancefloor. That’s just so lame. I want someone to enjoy something they are watching no matter what they hear and vice versa. That will be the way it is for the entirety of our career. So for the visuals for these tracks, I wanted to create almost bootlegs of ourselves. This prologue is the spin-off series to everything you have heard and seen so far. So these are our original characters looking at ourselves through tiny holes in the wall and seeing what we look like and what could have been because this is all a product of what could have been. It’s things we have toyed and played around with, but it’s not the final thing."
Rarely, things that you never meant to be a part of the plan end up playing such a massive part in how these songs are now playing. But being back out in the world and seeing how people have reacted to it all, it must feel pretty amazing to know such a thing is possible. Especially when the rest of the building of this has been predominantly online…
"Personally, it’s been kind of weird. In my head, we are still this tiny thing that nobody gives a shit about, and that’s it. It’s cool to people in America and people on the Internet, and that’s it. So to be turning up in places and there are people wearing shirts that I made in my bedroom, that’s pretty mad. There were moments when people sang along so loud I didn’t need to sing anything. I’m coming from a position where I never thought anything like that would happen. And this is only after our second tour. We thought we would still have to play to earn stripes at this point. It’s still a lot having people coming up to me and saying that everything we were producing helped them through lockdown. But at the same time, knowing that going over every post we made and hiding things in there has been worth it. I’ve learned to take that because I now know that there are many people that we did a lot for without even realising. Yet, there are still moments where I feel like a fake. It’s an alien thing when so much of that has been done from the comfort of our rooms for it then to be transposed into people coming up to us in real life."
The fact that it was a process that had to be forced on you because of everything else that was going on in the world makes it all the more polarising and poignant…
"That’s the thing, though. It shows that the things that you do on the Internet do have longevity, rather than people who find value and shares and likes and comments. I used to be wrapped up so tightly in the numbers and digits that when it would or wouldn’t transpose to the real world, it would throw me off. But now there are people there, and that feels amazing."
So within the bigger picture, where were you pulling from to produce the comic book component of this prologue without giving too much away?
"So the things that are still to have always been in my head have never changed. So then all I thought was that if this was a series, what would the pilot episode look like? So the things that we have made here all came very naturally. I’m all about movement and travel, so let’s incorporate how we could be running into the scene that is coming. It’s guiding the course whilst also having fun. The characters are introduced, we find out the route we are heading. There are inklings and sprinklings throughout what the next stage could be. There is so much hidden that you will be at least three months ahead constantly if you crack it. If you put the time into looking at it, you can be so far in the future.
"I like to think of ourselves as artists rather than musicians a lot of the time. And I know that the level of care that we put into everything we do will never diminish or fade. I wanted to put as much care as I could into all of this so that whoever finds this at whatever point in the timeline can be engaged, impressed, or inspired. That’s the biggest part. To find something and say, ‘This is sick’, rather than ‘This just exists’. We could drop everything and conform to what is expected, but then we are just another band in the dishwasher."
You mentioned people coming and saying how much the band helped them over the last 18 months. But how has it been for you to become a figure in all of that? That’s a lot to take on, especially when you aren’t used to it…
"I think it’s weird because with them coming up to me and telling me those things, that is me. I am still that person with people that I like. I make what I want to make, and then it’s out there. But for people to then say that it resonates, it surprises me. I’m so grateful, but I can’t process it. Sometimes I want to turn around and say, ‘why?’ Here I am sitting alone in a garage holding up lights with broom poles to make a shot happen, and you’re encompassed in this world? Just crazy. I still can’t wrap my head around it working."
It comes from you still being that much of a fan of what you’re doing, of creating something that means something to you…
"And if I’m not doing that, there isn’t any point in any of this. There are countless others bands formed every day. There are countless songs written with the same chord progressions by those bands. That’s all that flies out. But if you’re willing to somebody who has no money but is ready to go all out just for the sake of wanting to improve art as a whole. That should always be the point of it. Unfortunately, that’s not always going to be the case. But if you’re not literally breathing what you’re doing, then what are you doing? There have been merch drops that we have done where we have spent more than we’ve made, and that money that we do have is going into making the next video as amazing as it can be. Purely because I want all of these things to be the most incredible thing they own and digest."
A scene becomes a scene when people make something selflessly in order to help it progress. It’s not about looking back. It’s about moving forwards. It’s about making somewhere as comfortable as it is inspiring. And that is only possible with a certain mindset. Otherwise, it fades away….
"It will also fade away if everybody has the same ideas or copies of before. Then you’re going to end up with no scene and nothing new. As much as people want to support their scene, you’re not going to stand there and watch a band that are shit or don’t inspire you and tell people to support it too. You can’t have it all."
As we look towards 2022 and what it is set to represent for you and the band, what does that mean to you as a place to be stood?
"For this release and what is about to come, I hope people see it as a flex that they were here before it all happened. It’s why we cap our merch numbers. It’s why we delete things after they have been live for a while. I like seeing where people have jumped into this. It’s really sick seeing where they have joined the journey. And I’m excited to see who else joins it too. And they should know, the time off between releases is over now. It’s going to be coming thick and fast now, so you better strap in.”