The four-piece ensemble, known as Olly Friend have only been together since May. But when they play, these four unassuming lads from country Victoria have you swept away in a fierce current of heavy bass, hard-hitting drums, and hopeful, determined lyrics at just the right tempo. They formed when Oliver Friend, enjoying life as his own musician, met drummer Nick, and lead guitarist Tyler at a time when he was really wanting to head in a new direction, stepping away from the indie-acoustic vibe that his voice seems perfect for.
Young Nick, who is fresh out of school, has talent far beyond his 5 years of drumming. At their first ever NSW gig, in a bar in Wollongong, it was Nick's gung-ho drumming that had your feet moving before you knew what was even happening. Don't even get me started on the drum solo that ended the performance...
Tyler, who looks like he could have found a career on the sports field due his sheer height, lends some backing vocals that create the kind of harmonies that seem to strongly contrast the band's hard hitting style, you could almost overlook them. And then there's Brady. Every band needs a good story, and the story of how they acquired Brady kicks them off on the beginning of their adventure as a four-piece band. When I first got in touch with the boys about doing an interview and coming to one of their shows, Olly Friend was a three piece. Three weeks later, there's a full-of-life bass player added to the mix. He jumped in just in time to drive ten hours overnight from Warnambool, Victoria, arrive in Wollongong at 3am, for their first ever NSW gigs. Tyler did all the driving; the four of them, along with Olly's girlfriend were packed in 'bloody tight, gear stacked all around us'.
Talking to Olly and Brady before the show, they can't remember the exact details of how it happened, but the gist is, there was a drunken night, they woke up, and Brady was in the band. And it works. Brady, who was working on his own solo project, loved Olly' songs and believes in what he's doing, so much so that he couldn't not be a part of the band. The four of them on stage are easy to watch. Plenty of energy, stunning vocals... and entertaining. The thing about spending time busking, is you really learn how to work a crowd.
Playing good music and having an adventure is paramount to these boys. They're not interested in air time or talent shows. They really want to earn their place in the music industry, without the politics, just enjoying themselves and making music with their mates. They'd rather have a legion of fans 'paying to see their small gigs, than play at Wembley. Brady looks at Olly, gob-smacked, then bursts out laughing. 'Nah man, it'd be awesome!' For now though, the boys want to rough it in the commodore, 'get a shit load of stories and just have an awesome adventure with mates', beams Brady.
There is no doubt that the boys are still green, however the live shows point to a future sound that will step away from their first offering as as a foursome. Listening to Olly Friend live, their talent is unmistakable. Their sound, indie-rock. Loud, indie-rock. When you step away and listen to their EP, 'As We Grow Older', you can appreciate the lyrics and subtleties of great music composition. The EP though, is a slightly softer sound from their live performance. The boys aren't worried about that though. Their sound is coming together, and it's one of the reasons they only wanted to release a four track EP. 'You're first debut album is a stamp of who you are,' says Olly, about the decision. 'We really need to make sure our debut album is us.' By getting their sound out so early, they'll have a great record of the bands arc.
Whilst Olly said he's had trouble letting go of control, his trust in not only the boys' musicianship, but also in their vision for the band as a whole, ultimately outweighs any concerns he has. It’s paying off. Having the pleasure of listening to Olly's solo album, and enjoying his solo efforts, there's no doubt the cohesive effort of these four Victorian lads is anything less than exciting. Whether you're driving a little too fast as you listen to 'Runaway', or reminiscing throughout 'Let It Go', you can't help but get excited about what the boys are going to do next... and if their cover of 'Big Jet Plane' is anything to go by, they're going to do whatever the hell they want, really bloody well.
Image: Ainslie Daniels