Static Dress: “I don’t have the ‘cool guy’ mentality… I still freak out that I get to do this”

Static Dress have spent the past year charming everyone they meet at home and in the States. For singer Olli Appleyard, there is nothing else, to the point where his dedication has made him ill. But even this can’t stand in their way, or stop him becoming Britain’s next rock icon…

Static Dress: “I don’t have the ‘cool guy’ mentality… I still freak out that I get to do this”
Jake Richardson
Olli Appleyard, Derek Bremner

Olli Appleyard remembers it well. Stood onstage at the Camden Underworld with his Static Dress bandmates – anonymous masked guitarist Contrast, drummer Sam Ogden and then-bassist Connor Reilly – the quartet were playing their biggest-ever London headliner to a sold-out crowd, having released their killer debut album Rouge Carpet Disaster three months earlier. It’s a moment they’d been dreaming of since they formed in Leeds and sharpened their art in the midst of the COVID lockdown. But for Olli, the feeling was hardly celebratory.

“That show nearly killed me,” he admits today. “It was horrific. I ended up in hospital with respiratory issues after we played. After about two songs I started to feel faint, and then later I began blacking out between tracks. I realised my physical state was becoming a reflection of my mental well-being. I was overworking myself and depleting my stocks so much. That show was a big wake-up call for me. I realised I needed to change.”

For the three years prior to that Underworld gig, Olli had been painstakingly building every aspect of Static Dress. Not just a band who play shows and write songs, theirs is an outfit who build worlds to accompany the music; creating art, curating a unique social media presence and even writing their own comic books. The reason for this depth of vision may well lie in the environment in which Static Dress explored their vision, that being the COVID pandemic. For the band’s first years, all this existed largely inside Olli’s head, but it’s now taking flight in ways not even he could imagine.

“At first, it felt like I was posting on a social media account and people were just feeling sorry for me – nothing actually felt real,” Olli says. “Now that we get to meet people who listen to our songs, everything is making sense, and it’s like there’s a reason and purpose for this, other than it just being self-fulfilling art. We created this in the first place with the idea of doing something new that could inspire people. Now it truly feels like we’re doing that.”

That passion for his art has its drawbacks, though, as Olli well admits. The intensity with which he approaches Static Dress’ world-building is a key reason for their success, but so too does it take its toll – like it did at the Underworld. The frontman eats, breathes and sleeps his band, and he’s still working to get the balance right when it comes to maintaining a healthy level of personal well-being.

“I was in a pretty bad place last summer,” he says of the pressures he places on himself. “I wasn’t healthy or looking after myself. I was just working from the second I woke up to the moment I went to sleep, and then there was other life stuff happening as well. I was broken down to the point where I couldn’t fathom being around anymore – it was a really dark time.

“No-one knew because on the surface – sold-out shows, festivals, a well-received album – everything was a success, but the work that went into that was literally killing me,” he continues. “Taking some time away, changing things in my life and acknowledging the trauma that came with losing some family members allowed me to get my head straight. I’d been so focussed on the next success that I hadn’t given myself any credit for all the times we’d already succeeded.”

Last year contained more than a few wins for Static Dress. Things began with a maiden headline tour of the UK, before the release of Rouge Carpet Disaster followed in May. A potent record that leans on the early work of My Chemical Romance, Glassjaw and The Used, it’s a thrilling ride that Kerrang! described as sounding like “some lost masterpiece from the time before ‘emo’ became a dirty word” in our 4/5 review. Festival season – including spots at Reading & Leeds and Download – followed, with Olli, Connor, Sam and Contrast rounding out the year with their first tour of the United States alongside Loathe.

Pulling bigger crowds than they ever expected throughout 2022 was something Olli says made him feel “really proud” of what the band had achieved, but fervent audiences are just one of many things he points to when recounting the year’s collection of successes.

“Our first headline tour was crazy and blew expectations out of the water,” he recalls. “But to also release our debut and play all these festivals we dreamed about when we were younger was just phenomenal. And to then have the opportunity to go over to the States and spend a month-and-a-bit over there was great. That American tour was honestly one of the maddest experiences of my entire life.”

Another high point Olli points to is Static Dress’ appearance at Bring Me The Horizon’s Malta weekender, and the relationship that developed between the bands throughout last year. Heading to the island alongside the likes of Bullet For My Valentine, While She Sleeps and Spiritbox, Olli was invited to join Bring Me onstage for Alligator Blood, and from there a friendship was formed that led to Static Dress also performing at Oli Sykes’ inaugural GREEBO club night.

Having looked up to Bring Me The Horizon, and in particular their frontman, since he was “barely 12 years old”, Olli is grateful to now call the band friends.

“It’s actually hilarious,” Olli says when he ponders the connection between Static Dress and Bring Me. “These are the people I idolised, and now they’re shouting us out and I’m onstage with them. We don’t tend to get starstruck as a band, but there were a good few moments last year when I was sat with them thinking about my music taste and how everything I have is basically because of these people. And then we got to GREEBO and were just hanging out and chilling with them, and I realised they’re just completely normal people who we’re now good friends with. They just happen to be in one of my favourite bands. That whole thing is just really, really nice.”

Static Dress are once more sharing a stage with their friends, having embarked on Bring Me The Horizon’s European tour this year alongside A Day To Remember and POORSTACY. It’s a run of shows that will see the band stepping into arenas for the first time, meaning they’re challenged with upscaling their shows from those that captivate a few hundred to one which can engage audiences of well over 10,000. Olli admits they’ve hit such a high point remarkably early in their career – “When we got offered this tour, there was a conversation where we were like, ‘Are we ready for this?’” he remembers – but they’re determined to use the opportunity to make their mark.

“I’ve only ever been in arenas as a young fan, so I’ve no idea how our songs are going to come across!” Olli says. “But what I do know is we’re going to turn up and give it our best, and try and make a real impression on as many people as we can, because this really is dream-come-true stuff. The funny thing is, I’ve seen some of our peers throwing shade at us for taking this tour – including a few artists I didn’t expect it from – but that’s just made us more determined to go out there and prove everyone wrong.”

Olli also promises that 2023 will be another year when Static Dress are active with their output. He won’t be drawn on specifics, preferring to maintain the air of mystery that’s accompanied much of what they’ve done to date, but he’s adamant that there’ll be plenty of new content for Static Dress’ growing fanbase to sink their teeth into, with the frontman insisting that “this thing never stops rolling”.

“We’re constantly doing stuff for this band,” he continues. “We’re going to be expanding the art world of Static Dress in 2023, there’ll be new material and there’ll also be things for fans to get involved with which will allow them to be creative, in more than one way, which is really cool. We still want to up the live game as much as we can. The Slam Dunk shows are going to be a big moment for me. We’ve got plans in store for that and I can’t wait to make memories there, because I grew up working for the Key Club and the guys at the festival are my friends – so all told there’s going to be a lot of new stuff from us this year. Exactly how some of it is presented is something I can’t go into yet, but they’re things to be excited about, for sure.”

With big plans afoot, then, and knowing he can be so hard on himself when it comes to measuring success, what would ultimately represent a brilliant year for Static Dress? What accomplishments might help Olli continue to thrive as frontman of one of the UK’s most exciting young bands?

“The thing I’ve really been thinking about recently is how, when your band gets to a certain point, you’re supposed to adopt this ‘cool guy’ mentality,” he concludes. “It’s like you have to play off every announcement, every show you get on and every interview you do as just something like, ‘Yeah, that happened – that’s just life now.’ But me, I’m still absolutely freaking out that I get to do this. When opportunities come along, my mind keeps being blown, even when it’s something as little as someone knowing our band. My brain is still getting blown out the side of my head with all this.

“As long as that carries on, I’ll be happy.”

Check out more:

Now read these

The best of Kerrang! delivered straight to your inbox three times a week. What are you waiting for?