Local one-man band Ollie Twohill is rapidly gaining the attention and admiration of anyone who enters his stompboxing, pedal-looping musical radius. Having honed his chops on the streets of busker-dom, the twenty-one-year-old Northern Rivers local has successfully transferred his street savvy sound (gritty and raw while infused with an upbeat and melodic core) to both the studio and to performance venues, culminating in the pending release of his powerful new single, ‘Stone Cold Killer’, which was recorded on the Gold Coast.
The song tells the tale of a bank robbery gone wrong and channels a dark and moody acoustic-noir bent while simultaneously delivering a memorably catchy chorus. You can check out our review of the track as part of Zac Fahey’s March New Music column.
To celebrate the launch of ‘Stone Cold Killer’, Ollie will be performing a very special show within the spectacular confines of the newly refurbished Regent Cinema in Murwillumbah on 27 March, where he will be playing two of his self-professed ‘heavy acoustic’ sets, followed by a special premiere screening of the film clip he recently made for the song, together with videographer Trevor Worden.
Read on for all the background on the clip as well as gaining an insight into Ollie’s background and where he’s looking to take his music.
Congratulations on your new single, ‘Stone Cold Killer’. Can you put us in the picture on the inspiration behind it?
Thank you so much! I took big inspiration from watching the opening scene in ‘Batman, The Dark Knight’, where the Joker and his goons try to rob a bank.
I was approached by filmmaker Trevor Worden who attended my previous single launch late last year. Trevor took the storyline to another level in directing a video that captures the intent and storyline of my song perfectly. Obviously I don’t condone violence or crime but the song is written and narrated in third person by the victim being robbed and him reliving the crime and the unnecessary horror of the loss of an innocent life. The perpetrator initially celebrates and glorifies his deed, however soon realises that it’s a big mistake that will ruin his life forever, let alone the victim’s family. The video was shot over two days in Murwillumbah and featured two Gold Coast actors, Josh Lacy and Bridgette Armstrong.
I understand that you started out busking prior to becoming a venue performer. Was there a defining moment or influence that set you on your musical journey?
I grew up in a house that played lots of music, which twigged my love and taste for music and right away I knew that’s what I wanted to do. I then attended lots of music workshops and guitar/vocal tuition from around nine years of age. My Dad also took me to a number of festivals such as Woodford and the Mullum Music Festival, which sparked a deep love of live music.
Busking was a great tool for me in the early stages of my career because it gave me an outlet to perform whenever and wherever I want. Busking helped me fine tune my guitar playing, singing and helped in developing my stage presence. Over time I was approached to play at events such as parties and weddings as well as a few venues, from people just walking past and stopping to have a chat. It was also a platform to road test some of my originals and get instantaneous feedback. Although I don’t busk as much now, it enabled me to develop my skills to be the solo one-man band that I am today.
How do you go about things when it comes to recording and producing your songs?
I generally start playing a guitar line and develop lyrics around the song and melody. I have the song arranged in terms of guitar and vocals and I have a rough idea of the rhythm section before I enter the studio. I send that demo to my producer, in this case Dylan Smith, to get acquainted before entering the studio.
In this case we recorded three songs in one hit over two days. I had quite a clear image in my head of what I was wanting these songs to sound like. I then let my friends Blair and Lawson Hamilton on drums and bass add their creative input. In combination with Dylan, they smashed it out of the park – I was very happy with the end result! Once the recording was complete Dylan mixed the songs before sending them to industry legend Leon Zervas (Studios 301) to master the tracks.
What’s made you go down the one-man band pathway rather than the more traditional group set up to now?
I’ve always wanted to be in a band, however it didn’t work out so I took matters into my own hands and got an acoustic/electric guitar, learnt a boat load of songs and then took it to the streets. Over time I have developed a full acoustic heavy sound which includes a stomp box, high hat cymbal and I play lead guitar over my looping rhythm guitar.
I’m now rehearsing a band with a couple of mates, which is still early days. I expect that we will be playing together at larger venues in the second half of 2021.
Are there any other instruments outside of your current repertoire that you’d like to incorporate into your sound?
I’d love to incorporate some ambient sounds and some strings and brass sections… maybe even some trap beats into my music. It all just depends on what I feel will best fit the song really, but I’m very open to exploring and experimenting with new ideas and sounds. I’m also dabbling into the world of keyboards when writing songs at the moment.
You’ve got a single launch scheduled for the Regent Cinema in Murwillumbah on 27 March. Will you be performing solo or with your new rhythm section? And are you looking to lock in a permanent backing band or are you happy to work with an array of session musicians as the need arises now that you’re playing bigger venues?
Yes, I’m extremely excited about my single launch at the Regent as it has been recently refurbished and is such a beautiful and iconic art deco building. It’s lovely and has a very different vibe compared to a traditional music venue. I’ll be playing my solo acoustic heavy music that will feature two sets of 45 minutes of originals and I will end the night showing my new film clip for ‘Stone Cold Killer’ on the big screen.
Moving forward I’m looking to play with a rhythm section at larger venues in the second half of 2021 whilst still playing solo at venues that don’t suit a band.
Where would you like to take your music for the rest of 2021 and beyond?
I’ve got so much planned for 2021. I’m going to be releasing five singles this year to build my song catalogue. I will continue to play solo in the interim until I’m convinced that my band is really tight before performing then I’ll be ramping up playing live gigs around the Gold Coast and Northern Rivers.
I’ll also be heading into the studio with Dylan and the Hamilton brothers to record three more songs to release in the second half of 2021. I’ll continue to do heaps of song-writing so that I have a back catalogue of songs to select six single releases in 2022.
Ollie Twohill’s impressive new single, ‘Stone Cold Killer’, is available here, whilst the striking video for the track will premiere on the big screen at the conclusion of Ollie’s launch show for it, at The regent Theatre in Murwillumbah on 27 March.