The Winter Olympics Story
Ten years is a long time. For boy bands and mice, ten years is a life.
1) Your 2013 Winter Olympics are (from left to right) Neil MacKay (bass) Agatha Mlynarczyk (keyboards) Simon Oldham (drums) Andrew Wagstaff (singing) and Martin Bowman (guitars). Pippa Wragg Smith (not pictured) sometimes sings along.
2) Martin met Andrew at college. Andrew met Pippa in an indie disco. Simon used to be the band’s sound engineer, Neil they found in a pub. No one really knows when Agatha started turning up.
3) The band first formed six or seven bass players ago in 2002.
4) At the time Andrew was trying (and failing) to be a music journalist. His writing might not have won him any prizes, but it did give him a wealth of ideas about what a PROPER band should be like. He started telling Martin all about it in the pub, and is still doing so today.
5) A proper band should be AMAZING. In a proper band, every note should be played like you’re headlining Reading. Even if you can’t really play. In fact, especially if you can’t really play. Being able to play isn’t actually that important, being AMAZING is. In proper band’s songs the words should mean something. Even when that something is stupid. Proper bands might be funny but they’d better not be joking. Proper bands should never apologise for rocking. Proper bands should never say “this is a new song” until they are at least as big as The Stones. If you‟re just Dermo from Grumblebuggy playing to three drunk dudes and the lady who does the coats, don’t you dare mumble something about your new song. Just do the hits. The coat lady deserves better than your sorry shit. Proper bands shouldn’t worry about being successful. Being AMAZING is success in itself and it doesn’t really matter if no one knows it. Proper bands should be punk rock but also punctual and polite. It might be nice if they bought you all a drink for the effort you’ve made in going out to see them too… That really would be amazing. A proper band should…. (you get the idea).
6) Partly to try and achieve this vision (and partly as an excuse to be allowed out on a school night) Martin agreed to start a band. It was originally called (against his wishes) Bowman.
7) The band changed their name to The Winter Olympics in homage to the unheralded sportsmen and women of the winter games. People who put in four years’ of back breaking, heart-aching, training and toil, a lifetime of painstaking preparation, sacrifice and compromise, for just four breathless minutes of lung-busting glory or grisly defeat.
8) After eight years of their own back-breaking training and toil, the Winter Olympics released their debut EP, The Winter Olympics I on their own Office Rock imprint. It featured Feeling European, a song all about the ups and downs of a holiday romance; sex and the City Break set to a mile high beat. The track featured on the cover cd of The Word magazine.
10) All three were recorded and produced beneath a pub in Streatham and at ‘the other’ Abbey Road in Croydon by cosmic scouse alchemist Paul Hollingsworth who has worked with with a host of top names and band-favourites such as Roots Manuva and Ride.
11) The eps’ sessions were overseen by real-life 70’s guitar hero Luther ‘Ariel Bender’ Grosvenor (Mott the Hoople, Spooky Tooth and Stealer’s Wheel) the man who played the guitar solo on Gerry Rafferty’s Baker Street (I know what you’re thinking, Baker Street has a guitar solo? Listen to it again, it’s phenomenal).
12) The Winter Olympics’ next single I Miss The Nineties was the band’s most chart-friendly work to date. It was released on download, CD and (fittingly) cassette and garnered some great reviews, a brilliant support with band-heroes Art Brut and, very weirdly, a freak radio smash-hit in Slovakia. It later appeared on the debut Keep Pop Loud compilation CD, getting a five-star review in Artrocker magazine.
13) Nineties was accompanied by a world-class video directed by Chris Curtis (Cornershop, Elvis Presley) and produced by the great Passion Pictures (Gorillaz, Of Montreal, those Compare the Meerkat adverts). It was filmed in Martin’s kitchen and shot on a budget consisting solely of beer and pizza.
14) Curtis and Passion are teamed up again to produce the just-about-safe-for-work video for the I Prefer The Early Stuff which was released on 28 May by punk-as-fuck (and thoroughly lovely) Exeter-based label Freakscene Records.
15) The band’s patiently-awaited debut album Profit and Loss is finally finished and was released on vinyl, CD and download by Freakscene Records on October 1 2012. The highs and lows of its lengthy gestation period are skewered by the band with on the album’s lead-off cut and call-to-arms Regional Showcase. The album is preceded by one last single (there were seven singles on Thriller, right?) Fags and Girls released on 24 September 2012.
Thanks for your time, it’s really appreciated.
The Winter Olympics x