THE guys of Overdog have been…
talking with me about their new cut, Question Mark, and what it was like working at Decimal Studios with Chris Coulter. The band talk about their formation and the sort of sounds they are influenced by; whether there is more material coming down the line – I ask whether we can catch them on tour this year.
Overdog recommends some upcoming artists to look out for and tell me how they chill away from music; whether, in their view, Alternative sounds are coming back to the fore; what their favourite career memories are – they provide some useful advice for artists coming through.
Hi, guys. How are you? How has your week been?
Sam: Good, thanks! We’re all pretty busy preparing for our first tour and a new round of recordings, as well as lots of non-musical stuff.
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourselves, please?
Olly: We play intricate, melodic Rock music, with an emphasis on vocal harmonies and layered guitar parts.
Rob: I usually describe our sound as something of a fusion of Jimmy Eat World and Fleetwood Mac…
Sam: Maybe with some Biffy Clyro thrown in.
Adam: But there are some Post-Rock influences too.
Steve: It’s complicated...
Question Mark is your latest single. Is there a tale behind the song?
Olly: A certain relationship made me reflect on the limits of storytelling, and literature in particular, as a metaphor for understanding my own life. The characters of a book can’t change how their story ends. People, to varying extents, often can. I wrote the song in response to those feelings. But, hopefully, people can find their own meaning and have their own response to the song.
What was it like working with Chris Coulter and recording at Decimal Studios?
Rob: Working with Chris was a pleasure. He’s a chill guy but really knows his trade. He took the nebulous, half-formed ideas we had for the single and quickly turned them into tangible, awesome little additions.
Sam: He had exacting attention to detail, especially with all things guitar. I think he pushed us to a higher level in that way.
Rob: Decimal Studios is great; set up on a private island in the middle of the Thames near Hampton. When you amble across the bridge onto the lot, you feel like you are stepping into your own little private world. The surroundings really let us get into a great creative headspace.
How did Overdog get together? Was that an instant spark between you?
Olly: Most of us met at university and played in various bands together but, when this band got going in 2011, I invited Rob to join us - I’d played with him in a band at school. So, there was a pretty good set of musical relationships there already, but something definitely ‘clicked’ when all five of us played together the first time.
Your music has a great Indie/Rock sound. Do you think guitar music is evolving and coming back to the fore right now?
Sam: Personally, I think we have to talk about music evolution differently in the streaming age. I think that while there’s still a ‘mainstream’ of sorts, the easy accessibility of so much music opens up all these niches. I think people are listening within all these little genre bubbles and, you as a musician, you can do whatever you want and find your niche.
Adam: I think the distinctions between different styles such as ‘guitar music’ are becoming less important as time goes by as artists are incorporating ever more diverse sounds and instrumentation into their work. There is now so much cross-pollination between different genres the lines have become blurred.
Sam: I would say, though, that people still fundamentally want to see bands with stage chemistry and who take joy in performing – as well as having some original twists.
Is there more material coming from you guys? What are you working on?
Absolutely. We’re into a new phase of recording now and there will be more singles coming over the next few months, eventually leading to a full-length album. Watch this space.
Are you all inspired by the same sort of music? Are there particular artists that helped you find your own sound?
Olly: There are a few bands we all enjoy - Jimmy Eat World the most obvious example – but, really, we’re a very eclectic bunch. Rob listens to a lot of British and Irish Folk alongside bombastic Heavy Metal, whilst Adam has a background in Jazz, for example.
Rob: I think these broad and often contrasting tastes in music help us to write in unexpected or unconventional ways.
What do you hope to achieve before the end of 2018?
Sam: it would be great to get a touring slot and/or summer festival slot for next year. We’ve played a couple of urban festivals and are doing a short tour this month - but the full-on tour and festival experiences would be great.
Have you each got a favourite memory from your time in music – the one that sticks in the mind?
Rob: Our gig at 93 Feet East on Brick Lane (in London) was memorable for me personally. Being a five-piece, we can often feel quite packed in on smaller stages but there we had room to really get in the zone and perform with a bit of swagger.
Olly: For me, it was the whole process of making The Breeze That Hits Your Ear, our E.P. from 2016. It was the culmination of a drawn-out but inspiring creative process and only possible thanks to the generosity of family and friends who supported our crowdfunding for the recording costs.
Adam: In a different vein, one of my favourite memories is when we all went slightly mad during an extended practice session in an underground car park in Zürich and invented a game called ‘Flangeponce’. I’ll say no more…
If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?
Rob: If they ever got back together, I’d love to support My Chemical Romance. I feel like Rock today is sorely lacking in genuine frontmen and women but Gerard Way is one of them. He’s one of the best Rock entertainers from the last twenty years and wants to put on a real show, rather than just play a gig. Sharing a stage with him and the rest of M.C.R. would be a blast.
Steve: I've always thought Muse put on a great live show - each of them are brilliant musicians and I love the range of sounds and influences that Chris Wolstenholme plays with. So, I'd love to play a show with them.
The rider would consist of lots of pain au chocolat…
Adam: …and lots of pasta and pesto…
Olly: …and hummus.
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
Sam: Not to underestimate how important it is to keep developing your craft, your performance skills; your core music abilities. There have been times when I lost sight of this and felt like ‘we’re ready; we just need to get noticed’, when, really, there was still work to be done in honing my skills as a performer.
Adam: I don’t feel wise enough yet to give any advice…but, I guess the important thing is, if you love what you do, then you’re already successful.
Where can we see you play? Do you have any gigs approaching?
Olly: We usually play in Central and East London but we are playing in Leeds on Tues, 31st July, Manchester on Wed, 1st August and Oxford on Fri, 3 August alongside some great acts from the States. Come!
IN THIS PHOTO: Those Handsome Animals
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
Sam: Some of the best acts we’ve played alongside so far include Those Handsome Animals (major-key-punky, melodic Rock); Acrylic (spacey, Scottish Indie) and Andy Ruddy (singer-songwriter; unforgettable voice).
IN THIS PHOTO: Acrylic
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
Rob: Well, I’m an avid video gamer. But, I’d say video games are equal parts relaxation and irritation! Especially where competitive multiplayer games like Overwatch are concerned...
Adam: Usually, I like to read a book or listen to podcasts. I just finished reading the wonderful Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman which I’d especially recommend to anyone living in London, and my favourite podcast at the moment is the surreal and hilarious Athletico Mince.
Sam: We all chill out in different ways but I think we’re all highly aware of the importance of time off. You’ll produce your best stuff when you have that balance.
Finally, and for being good sports; you can each choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
Rob: I’d love if you could play Sam Kelly & The Lost Boys’ Chasing Shadows. Sam Kelly was a finalist on Britain’s Got Talent years ago and, since then, he’s gone on to become one of the most exciting young artists in British Folk!
Sam: Adam introduced me to the Dutch band The Mysterons and I’ve been obsessed with Turkish Delight for the past two or three months
Adam: Please could you play Compendium by Elder (from their album, Lore)
Olly: Phoebe Bridgers’ version of The Gold by Manchester Orchestra
Steve: I've been enjoying a lot of Frank Turner recently as a nice Rock/Folk mix. It'd be great if you could play Peggy Sang the Blues; mostly because I really like the bassline.
PHOTOS OF OVERDOG: