Frontman Olly Taylor talks Disney, sentimentality, Phil Spector’s Wall Of Sound and his Dad’s record collection
Elli Chappelhow

16:03 26th June 2019

Tuesday 21 May was a big day for Trudy & the Romance. Not only was it the first night of their UK tour promoting their debut album Sandman (released Friday 24 May), it was also the very first time they had played together as the brand new line-up. We caught up with frontman Olly Taylor before Trudy took to the stage at Hackney’s Oslo, covering everything from his Dad’s record collection to Disney movies, being sentimental, and making music that ‘sounds like a jumble sale’.

Gigwise: Your debut album is out on Friday and you’re playing in Leeds - do you have any plans to celebrate the release?

Olly Taylor: No, not at all. We’ve got a show in Liverpool at the end of the tour, and we’re probably gonna throw a housewarming party at our house and celebrate there.

GW: Your live band has now doubled in size, and it’s your first show as this new line-up. How’s it been working with other musicians?

OT: We recorded the album with a choir, a pedal steel guitar player and, like, 800 guitars. So we felt like we had to match it and do up the live set so that it would sound a bit like a jumble sale of music. Phil Spector does the Wall of Sound where he puts loads of instruments in a room, and they’d all play at the same time and it will just create this magic. We kind of want that live vibe. It’s only finally clicked about two days ago and got really tight. It’s been great - it makes playing the songs a lot more fun, as you can do less and it sounds a lot like the records I’d listen to I guess. I love the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds and big sounding albums that my Dad would have in his collection.

GW: Has your Dad been an important musical influence for you?

OT: Definitely - there are obviously things I like and he doesn’t, but yeah I’m mostly made in his image. There were always Doo-Wop compilations lying around, and the sort of Phil Spector girl group thing feeds into that as well… The Shirelles, The Ronnettes, The Shangri-La’s and obviously The Beatles, The Beach Boys and 50’s Elvis and Rock ’N’ Roll - yeah, he’s really paved the way for me. 

GW: Do you think it’s harder for people who haven’t had that early exposure to music through their parents in terms of music discovery in later life - do you reckon they have to work harder at discovering earlier stuff, as much as finding new music?

OT: I think so yeah - a lot of people do manage it and find their own voice, but I feel very lucky to have had my Dad’s record collection always there and always playing in the background. When I was younger, I never really took any notice or particularly liked it so it took me a while to come back round to it. I remember being in the car when I was like 12 and putting on a Bacharach CD and I was really surprised I knew all the words.

GW: What age were you when you came back round to it and realised how good all this music you’d grown up listening to is?

OT: Probably 16 really. You still like the stuff your friends in school would listen to and you follow those sort of trends cause you can’t escape it. But I remember at 17 really discovering The Beatles and The Beach Boys and understanding how special they are - they’re like saviours for me. My Dad’s a very cool guy.

GW: How has the recording process gone for you for the album - was it a natural progression from recording singles and EPs to an LP?

OT: No it wasn’t. It was definitely more prepared than we’d ever been before. A lot of the time recording earlier stuff we’d just go straight into the studio - I remember going in hungover which was really stupid - we were still students in Liverpool just trying to fit in I guess. But this time around we had to be really prepared and set with the choir, get all the band really tight with the songs and just get into the mindset of recording a full body of work. We only had just over two weeks as well - it was three or four days at a time we’d go in and really blast stuff, but you felt like you’d be going nowhere at first as you’re just recording overdubs and pianos and guitars - but if you’re doing that on every track, it finally does come together.

GW: So, guessing you didn’t have much room for experimentation in the studio?

OT: I wouldn’t say we had much time to do anything crazy. But I guess that’s a different aim - if we save up our pocket money we could have a few days in the studio where we do crazy stuff. But yeah it was all very prepared and set out - it was the most prepared I’ve ever been, ever! I just felt like it was all or nothing; the debut is very important, and I feel like we couldn’t have done it any better.

GW: Have you always wanted to write a concept album?

OT: I didn’t always know about it, but when the idea of an album came about I thought it would be a cool idea to write a concept album. That’s when we did the Junkyard Jazz record, ‘cause that was all new songs to give us more time to write the album. The concept came over time, it took a lot of songs we already had and put them together with this theme of heartbreak, and put some other characters in it that has a narrative to it. 

GW: Talk us through the narrative?

OT: It’s a coming of age heartbreak tale - a breakup album. Little Jonny and the Original Doo-Wop Spacemen start in their hometown called the Blue World, and after the breakdown of Little Jonny’s relationship with his high school sweetheart they head to the big city to dream big and escape. But they can’t forget about first love - it’s the dream of success versus heartbreak, an overly romanticised amalgamation of all the films I’ve ever seen.

GW: So, there is that cinematic element running throughout. Are there any films that particularly inspired you for this record?

OT: I’d say David Lynch’s Blue Velvet is a good one visually.

GW: Where do you feel you fit within the current musical landscape, do you feel part of a scene?

OT: We’ve never really been part of a scene too much, we had a little bit of a scene in Liverpool for a while but that faded out. We’re kind of lone wolves - our label is American based so I guess there’s no scene around the label based in the UK. Maybe one day - there’s a few bands knocking about doing the 50s/60s thing, like Fur and Honey Moon. Maybe we’ll just have to make friends with them a bit more.

GW: The title of your debut shares its name with your 2016 track ‘Sandman’ - how did that come about?

OT: There are 2 older tracks on the album ‘My Baby’s Gone Away' and ‘Sandman’, that open up the concept and make up the narrative. One’s about the heartbreak and the other is about the dream of running away, and then the other tracks we wrote just slot into this storyline. The newer versions of these previously released tracks are a bit more grandiose and Disney film score-y, while the originals were more stripped back. 

GW: What’s your favourite Disney film?

OT: Pinnochio. Visually and sonically, it’s the best. I just love Disney films because I love the idea of all these different stories, and they’re all so colourful and well packaged. 

GW: Your sound has an almost dreamy nostalgia to it - what’s one thing that makes you feel nostalgic?

OT: I’m very sentimental person. Every time I go home it makes me feel nostalgic, and so does listening to old demos. I always try and take inspiration from old stuff to find the start of it all and use it as inspiration. It puts it all in perspective really, makes me really appreciate the ‘now’. So do old family videos - we need to do that more I think, photo albums and all that. It’s all on your phone now, on the ‘cloud’ but I’ve never been there before…

GW: What would you take into space?

OT: My iPod Classic - I’d do it all up, spend weeks on it. And I’d stick Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds, The Strokes’ Is This It and Richard Hawley’s Coles Corner on it, and I’d be sorted.

GW: What do you want people to take away from the album?

OT: If I’m feeling lost I’ll always turn to certain albums and it really helps me cause it gives you that certain feeling. So I’d like people to turn to this record and find comfort in it. I’d love for people to dig into it, grow up with it, and always have it there. 

GW: Thanks, Olly!

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Photo: Press/Chloe Sheppard