Twenty years ago, Geelong was a hub for some of the freshest metal and grunge bands this country had to offer. However, as time has passed Sleep Hollow has taken folk music under its wing, and one of our region’s hottest up-and-coming folk artists is Olly Friend.
Launching his latest single ‘Shoulders’ late last year, after already releasing a debut EP titled The Darling EP, it’s been a very busy summer for Friend, who has been gigging relentlessly. “I think it’s important to play shows every week, since it will get you noticed by more people and hopefully lead to supporting bigger acts and playing bigger shows,” he explains.
Some of those bigger shows he mentions include the likes of supporting Marta Pacek last month, as well as sharing the stage with acclaimed folk songwriter Daniel Champagne at his upcoming show at Beav’s Bar on June 26, which is something Friend couldn’t be more excited for. “Daniel [Champagne] is such an inspiration to me as a musician – it’s really hard to not be inspired by his talents. It’s gonna be a great show.”
In the meantime though, it’s clear things are certainly not slowing down since there are already plans to record a second EP in the coming months. “Although we plan to record soon, I honestly have no idea when it will be released or even what songs will be on it just yet,” says Olly. All I know is I’m running out of my old CDs, there’s literally only about 100 left, so why keep looking at the past when we can show everyone the new songs we are now playing at our live shows?”
Working with his drummer Nick Rushbrook on the new EP, Friend has a distinct idea in mind for how he wants the end result to sound: “A good way to describe it would be like Jinja Safari meets Vampire Weekend, which we are very excited to show the world!”
It’s with all of this experience in such a short time that has led Friend to not experience the pre-gig jitters so much anymore. “I only tend to get nervous on occasions such as prior to a competition, since you know every note and lyric is being judged,” he says. “In those situations I usually just back my own abilities because I understand that you can’t afford not to, especially when playing to a paying audience.”
However, Friend admits he couldn’t help but feel embarrassed after a disastrous incident during the final of the City Quarter Unplugged series last year. “My tuning went so far out during my set that I had to stop playing and get off stage, which was also in front of over 200 people.”
Well, thankfully all of that is in the past and a bright 2014 is already starting to shine through Friend’s window, with a number of support slots confirmed – although there are still some he’d like to cross off of the bucket list. “If I could one day share the stage with someone like Matt Corby or John Butler Trio, I think my life would be complete!” he laughs.
When&Where: Beav’s Bar, Geelong – June 26
Written by Brendan Dando