What a 2019 it has been for Ollie Wride. Having made his name as the vocalist of FM-84 with songs like ‘Running In The Night’, he made his first steps towards a parallel solo career.
Co-produced by Michael Oakley, the resultant album ‘Thanks In Advance’ was one of the best of the year, a collection of MTV friendly pop, synth rock and colourful ballads.
But with the positive reception for the record and a sold-out live debut in London, a deluxe edition has just been released and two further UK shows are upcoming for Spring 2020. Featuring new songs and remixes by key figures in synthwave, one of the album’s highlights ‘I’m A Believer’ has been given a sympathetic and enjoyable makeover by FM ATTACK.
ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK is well known for not being big on modern remixes but Shawn Ward’s restylings of ACTORS ‘Slave’ and ‘Lifetime’ by KOISHII & HUSH featuring the voice of NEW ORDER’s Gillian Gilbert have demonstrated his ear for enhancing songs electronically without detracting from the tune, thanks to his love of Synth Britannia and New Wave.
This superb FM ATTACK remix of ‘I’m A Believer’ has also been given the honour of its own visual accompaniment, directed by Brad A Kinnan. The final part of a video trilogy with ‘The Driver’ and ‘Back To Life’, it sees our hero all battered, bruised and confused. Caught up with a loony religious cult, he is sent out into the desert wilderness to resist the seductive lure of raven haired temptresses and eventual evangelical brainwashing, before making his escape… or has he?
‘Thanks In Advance’ has proved that Ollie Wride can cut it outside of the FM-84 nest. With a natural energetic on-stage charisma, Wride is not only engaging but also probably as good George Michael when he was in his live prime.
His upcoming shows are not to be missed with the London leg featuring the bonus treat of the German synthy songstress NINA as special guest.
She said via her social media: “I’m so excited to announce that I’m opening the show for my synth brother Ollie Wride on December 5th at Lafayette Kings Cross. Over half of the tickets have already been sold. This is going to be one hell of a party! 🤩“
The deluxe edition of ‘Thanks In Advance’ featuring brand new songs ‘Stranger Love’ and ‘Juliette’ as well as remixes from FM ATTACK, SUNGLASSES KID, KALAX, ANORAAK, WOLF CLUB, LIFELIKE and more is released by New Retro Wave as a double yellow vinyl LP with marble effect, cassette and CD only, available from https://newretrowave.bandcamp.com/album/thanks-in-advance
If BILLY IDOL was punk’s crossover success story into the international mainstream, then OLLIE WRIDE could become synthwave’s…
Although best known as the voice for FM-84 and featuring on the acclaimed 2016 album ‘Atlas’, Wride’s recently released solo debut ‘Thanks In Advance’ co-produced by Michael Oakley proved that the suave Brightonian could cut it outside of the nest.
Channelling his inner Lindsey Buckingham with a dash of Kenny Loggins, ‘Thanks In Advance’ possessed swagger, style and most importantly of all, good tunes. Embracing that Trans-Atlantic friendly sound which was once the staple of MTV when it bothered to play music, OLLIE WRIDE unashamedly partied like it was 1985.
Indeed for his sold out debut solo show at London’s Camden Assembly, that era was effectively recreated and began in earnest with the feisty synth rock of ‘The Driver’. Coming over like a cross between Jim Kerr and Billy Idol, its groovy vibe brought to mind the productions of Keith Forsey who not only worked with SIMPLE MINDS, THE PSYCHEDELIC FURS and ICEHOUSE but also the man born William Michael Albert Broad.
Having also co-wrote ‘Flashdance… What A Feeling’, ‘The Never Ending Story’ and ‘Don’t You (Forget About Me)’, the former Giorgio Moroder apprentice and drummer could in some ways be seen something of an indirect muse in The World of Wride, such has been Forsey’s impact on the cultural landscape.
With a natural energetic on-stage charisma, Wride was effectively off the leash as he posed and strutted along the ‘Miracle Mile’. Following on, the rousing ‘Never Live Without You’ rocked with a fine balance of synths and guitar; backed on the latter by Josh Dally who played with Wride in FM-84, drum duties were conducted by another FM-84 cohort James Cross who did a superb job to compliment the electronically laden sound and crucially, did not overplay.
The TEARS FOR FEARS drive time shuffle of ‘Overcome’ kept the momentum going as Wride played the keytar man but for the gently percussive ballad ‘The Rising Tide’ with its hints of MR MISTER, he walked over to his M-Audio keyboard before settling down Richard Marx style for the appropriately moonlit ‘Luna’.
A nice surprise from the soon-to-be-issued deluxe edition of ‘Thanks In Advance’ came with ‘Stranger Love’, a new collaboration with SUNGLASSES KID which perhaps unsurprisingly sounded like a NINA track but with a male vocal.
However, this premier got trumped by an unexpected cover of Peter Gabriel’s ‘Sledgehammer’ with its classic art funk satisfying the enthusiastic crowd and perhaps summing up Ollie Wride’s ultimate ambitions.
To close the main set, a hypnotising performance of the brilliant ‘I’m A Believer’ saw its synthy cascade point towards Hollywood but what everyone wanted now was an encore.
With chants from the audience of “ONE MORE SONG!”, Wride actually gave them two in the shape of the soulful pop of ‘Back To Life’ and ‘Running In The Night’, probably his best known song with FM-84. With an anthemic state of tension and urgency in the vein of ‘The Boys of Summer’, the response from all those present was nothing short of ecstatic with a mass communal singalong.
One thing that stood out tonight was Wride’s endearing stage craft which was not only engaging but also probably as good George Michael when he was in his live prime.
What OLLIE WRIDE has managed to do is straddle a variety of musical styles and blend them into a melting pot of accessible pop. Some might consider it bland, but others call it entertaining and his aspirational persona is a refreshingly uplifting tonic in these darker times.
So don’t snooze and lose when he next performs somewhere near you. If there is any justice, he will be playing arenas within a few years and it won’t be so easy to get so close to one of the scene’s undoubted stars.
Although best known as the voice for FM-84, Ollie Wride has ventured solo with his recently released debut album ‘Thanks In Advance’, co-produced by Michael Oakley.
And while songs like ‘Running In The Night’ and ‘Wild Ones’ with FM-84 made him more widely known within Synthwave circles, ‘Thanks In Advance’ explores more dynamic synth-led territory with an FM rock flavour, particularly in songs like ‘The Driver’, ‘Miracle Mile’ and ‘Never Live Without You’, although there are more balladic numbers too like ‘Luna’.
A very immediate pop album with a suave presence and that classic MTV friendly feel, the positive acclaim for ‘Thanks In Advance’ has led to Wride announcing his first solo concert in London at Camden Assembly on Saturday 16th November 2019.
With only a few tickets remaining for the Outland hosted show, Ollie Wride talked about his career to date, both with FM-84 and solo, plus his future plans.
What led you to depart the UK for the USA, was it purely musical or was it more romantic, inspired by the films and TV shows of your youth?
Firstly, thank you so much for having me Chi and for your unwavering support. Just to clarify I am still a UK resident! I do however spend a large portion of my time stateside, predominantly due to work as well as some of my closest friends and colleagues are based there. You’ve got to go where the action is! As for being inspired by pop culture into taking the leap – doesn’t everyone at some point in their youth fantasise about getting on a Jumbo Jet and making for the West Coast to go and carve a career in Rock n Roll… or “tech” nowadays?
Who are your key musical influences? ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK can’t help hearing Lindsey Buckingham in your voice but we mean that as a compliment 😉
That’s a heavy compliment to drop, one that I shan’t take lightly. You’ve hit the nail on the head with Buckingham, we’re talking that kind of pedigree generally here. I’m transparent as far as the term “influence” goes, I wear them on my sleeve, I’m sure it would come as no surprise to some reeling off David Bowie, Bryan Ferry / Roxy, Peter Gabriel and QUEEN as key players. I could go on…
You’re best known as the voice of FM-84, the project of San Francisco-based Scotsman Col Bennett, how did that association come about?
The genesis stemmed from when I was first made aware of the retro wave genre by my long time friend and collaborator Josh Dally back in 2015. I don’t recall the precise ins and outs, but he was working with Jordy aka TIMECOP1983 on the ‘Reflections’ record which would later become ‘Let’s Talk’ and suggested I got involved.
I had just come out of a deal in LA, and being candid I was pretty jaded and burnt out… my only real concern was how was I going to make the next rent cheque, let alone get back in the saddle musically! However, Josh twisted my arm and Jordy and I quickly hit it off. ‘Wild Love’ was the result and reignited my enthusiasm.
Shortly after, I started to familiarise myself with the up and coming producers in the scene, one of whom happened to be Col (FM-84) and the ‘Los Angeles EP’, I quickly developed a large affinity with it. So much so, I paired one of my ideas to his instrumental ‘Out Of Time’ before we ever even spoke. The serendipity came when Col approached me to work on the record that would later be called ‘Atlas’, having heard ‘Wild Love’. It was only by chance that we were huge fans of one another’s work! The rest they say, is history…
So how would FM-84 tracks like ‘Running In The Night’ and ‘Wild Ones’ have evolved in the studio, and at which stage would you have been asked to get involved?
‘Running In The Night’ was the first song we wrote together, believe it or not! In that particular instance, Col had a pretty defined template that he had initially worked on with another writer, but to no avail. I took the instrumental and sat with it, reworking at the piano for about two weeks I recall.
Using the verse progression as a springboard, I had the chorus locked in pretty quickly after re-harmonising the chord structure to give it that sense of tension and urgency – it breathed a new lease of life into it I felt, although I was still unsure whether he’d go for it. Still, from there the verse lyric and melody soon emerged soon after. I handed the reins back to Col and he brought his production finesse, we’re lucky to have that song.
A similar scenario with ‘Wild Ones’, an instrumental bed was already established to work from and I was given freedom to rearrange / change the chord structure so I could develop into the song – this dynamic has continued throughout the majority of our work together.
The success of FM-84 and the album ‘Atlas’ had led to you touring the world with them, but what inspired you to do a solo album, has that always been on the cards?
Well, it’s important to highlight that I’m very fortunate to be a part of something that enjoys even a semblance of ’success’ or should I say gives enjoyment to lots of people, particularly in what is still widely considered as a niche market. So honestly, I had no aspirations to deviate from something that I had already invested so much of myself into…
I give 110% of myself to whatever project I am involved with at the time – when ‘Atlas’ took off and the response was so overwhelming, the only desire I had was to continue to build upon the work we had accomplished, making music that we love and inspires us first and foremost.
However, I am a workaholic and I detest prolonged periods of inactivity. I’ve been both marred by bad luck and great fortune, but managed to earn my crust as a writer and performer since I was 19, therefore I am always looking for the next song. Having pitched a few ideas for the next FM-84 record, it quickly became apparent that another thread was emerging, and one that was more in line with my direct influences, I wanted to pursue a concept I had in my head for many years, that occasionally seeps through in the FM-84 world but ultimately this required its own store front.
For ‘Thanks In Advance’, you’ve been working with another Scot in Michael Oakley… a coincidence or do you feel a spiritual affinity? Is there a secret stash of RUNRIG albums in your collection? 😉
Purely owing to Michael’s wonderful nature and sharpened skill set! Well, aside from us developing a great friendship, we share a commonality in that we love melody, sincerity and well-made records. We’ve been working pretty closely for the past year and a half on one another’s records. A sort of services trade if you will… he polished my productions / mixes and I gave him lyrics and melodies where he required. I feel we’ve developed a great understanding of what the other is searching for in our respective fields. Never treading on one another, but enhancing each other’s vision. If that makes sense?
Your solo work has a more synth rock edge compared with the smooth atmospherics of FM-84, especially on songs like ‘Never Live Without You’ and ‘Driver’, please take us through how those two songs came together?
This relates to what I mentioned earlier in that this is a solo record through and through. Turning the lens towards my direct influences and the records that I fell in love with as a kid having raided and studied my Dad’s record collection – like so many others did I’m sure. It’s not a conscious decision, more a natural environment for me.
’Never Live Without You’ was the second song I wrote for the record that was a clear front runner from the outset. I worked through 4 different versions before landing on what you can now hear… I wanted to channel the sentiment of Springsteen and Jeff Lynne, this pulsing rhythm combined with soaring vocal line.
’The Driver’ was the last track I wrote for the record, which emerged from a 32 bar guitar pluck that Chris Huggett sent me in passing. So simple, yet oozing with menace, glam and swagger. I felt so inspired by the riff, I frantically mocked up a demo comprised of verse and chorus, both lyrical concepts are referring to rediscovering or maintaining sense of self / vision. I seldom write that fast, generally that’s a pretty good barometer for a great succinct song.
How involved do you get in the instrumentation process?
Perhaps a common misconception about singers in general? But I’m involved from the ground upwards, I write, produce and arrange all of the material you hear on the record, as well as a lot of instrumentation and arrangement in FM-84, the majority of this I work on in my studio at home. I’m a total perfectionist and proud to be.
‘Miracle Mile’ sounds like it might have been inspired by a moonlit convertible drive? Was it?
That sounds wonderful, but I hate to disappoint, I gave up my car when the lease was up… 😉
I actually wrote the makings of it, when I was hard up, in LA living in an Extended Stay dive, between Ventura Blvd and the 101 for 5 months as part of the accommodation plan my then-label put me in.
Despite the musty marijuana that pervaded the air, cops turning up every other night to address domestic disturbances and an air conditioning unit that hadn’t been serviced since 1997, I didn’t mind it all that much, I convinced myself that I was living ’The American Dream’ or a rendition. The song is loosely a true story about the lengths we go to, in an attempt to find what we seek.
‘I’m A Believer’ embraces the influence of Hollywood-era Giorgio Moroder, do you have any favourite films of that period?
Thank you! It was certainly a modest attempt to evoke a sense of nightclubbing in that era. I assume you’re referring to ‘Scarface’ with the Moroder connection?
I’m a sucker for a Gangster picture for sure. ‘Goodfellas’, ‘Casino’, ‘The Godfather’… however specifically the early – mid 80s? ‘Bladerunner’, ‘The Empire Strikes Back’, ‘Raging Bull’ spring to mind.
Any hopes and fears about how ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ might turn out?
I have a heck of a lot of time for Tom Cruise, simply irrepressible, I have every faith in ‘Top Gun’: Maverick’.
You do love a power ballad, as ‘The Rising Tide’, ‘Hold On’ and ‘Luna’ show but you largely manage to keep the AOR thing in check? There’s a flavour but not too much of it? Any thoughts?
I meant to take you to task on this! Haha! Do I? You can’t have light without shade in my view! I can see why to an extent, slow burners / lower tempo numbers seem to default into that category – however it is not intentionally so… I feel ‘Luna’ is the only true embodiment on the LP.
Simply as it was intended as an open letter about two lovers who meet over the internet on opposite sides of the world with contrasting lifestyles, in the face of adversity and external pressures they reconcile their feelings to try and realise a future.
As far as AOR goes… well, I don’t consciously steer towards or veer from anything stylistically. I approach each song from the stand point of, what is the message? Does it make me feel anything? Is it truthful? If those ingredients aren’t present then I think labels are irrelevant, the song will invariably not make the grade!
Which have been your own personal favourites from the album and why?
That’s like trying to select your favourite child? Perhaps it’s unspoken? 😉
Well, ‘The Driver’, ‘Miracle Mile’ are stand outs for me, but ’The Rising Tide’ is much more of a luscious contrast for me, untethering myself, a ROXY MUSIC homage come blue eyed gospel moment in the spirit of Peter Gabriel.
Without dissecting the message here, all I will say is lyrically the pen is turned directly on myself, an acknowledgement of the pitfalls and facing them with a grin come what may – vocally I went to town, it’s definitely not a “sit back and relax” moment, I’m giving everything I’ve got in the tank which is both liberating and a real challenge I put to myself, I’m really pleased with the result.
‘Thanks In Advance’ is almost made to be performed live, was that something that had been a consideration during its production?
That’s an excellent observation. Honestly it’s never a conscious decision until after the fact… Songwriting and the studio is the factory, the stage is the test track and I adore that environment, it’s a fight or walking a tight rope I feel to an extent. It’s a privilege to be able to do and have the responsibility to ensure you have it nailed. Although, initially at least, I seldom consider the challenges of delivering half of my songs live! They’re certainly a work out, but I do a huge amount of prep and rehearsal.
So how will your solo show in London this November differ from when people saw you fronting FM-84?
Well, it’s imperative to highlight that I am always myself… authentic and sincere, what you see is what you get up there – it is my job to entertain you for an hour and a half for the price of admission. Aside from the glossy veneer, I’m looking forward to showing more of my chops as far as playing live goes.
I teased this on the recent FM tour we just wrapped with rolling out the Keytar during our cover of TEARS FOR FEARS, this will be an extension – yes you’ll get the synths but it will be a live show, with real musicianship from real musicians, something that I am a huge advocate of and feel is lacking in the scene at least.
Synthwave, synthpop, popwave… do these terms and classifications matter, surely it’s all pop music? 😉
I am by no means an arbiter of other people’s tastes / views etc. I’m well aware, labels go with the territory, whilst I don’t shirk away from them and I’m grateful to be even considered a member of any ‘movement’ – it is my personal view that rather than rush to create so many different sub genres and factions – why don’t folks simply concentrate on the meat and potatoes here… creating the best possible music they can muster in the first place?
What’s next for you musically, either solo or with FM-84 or anything else?
It’s still early days for my debut LP, having only been released last week, the reaction has been overwhelmingly positive, exceeding my expectations… far more receptive than I expected truth be told. It’s a pretty daunting prospect stepping out of the spotlight of an entity that so many people love and may associate you with – so first things first, I am likely going to be performing a few select shows starting in the UK and US subject to the album’s trajectory of course! I already have tracks lined up for a possible second record… where they eventually land, we shall see.
FM-84 has been the main focus since I became a part, however it requires a huge team effort to see the second record across the line, so when the time is right and Col is ready, I will be there to play my part – if I’m still needed! In other news, I’m due to begin work with Michael Oakley on his follow up to ‘Introspect’ shortly, as well as working with a few of peers within the scene with a possibility of the long awaited duet on the cards! 😉
ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its warmest thanks to Ollie Wride
The stylish figure of Ollie Wride could become popwave’s own Bryan Ferry.
Just as Ferry had a parallel solo career alongside ROXY MUSIC, the suave lead vocalist for FM-84 on songs like ‘Wild Ones’ has been partying like it’s 1985 on his enjoyable debut long player ‘Thanks In Advance’.
Co-produced by the Toronto based Scot Michael Oakley with guitars by Chris Huggett, Los Angeles based Englishman Wride uses the opportunity to channel his inner Lindsey Buckingham.
There are certainly flashes of FLEETWOOD MAC’s synth assisted ‘Tango In The Night’ album within opening song ‘Never Live Without You’, a number fashioned with a fine balance of synths, guitars and MTV friendly vocals that is better than anything which THE KILLERS have fashioned in the last ten years.
Rhythmically swung, ‘Overcome’ is rocky but avoids the dreaded AOR indulgences often found within synthwave circles. Meanwhile the muted funk guitar and sparking synthlines of ‘Back To Life’ offer sunny soulful pop, with Wride’s voice superbly anthemic and likely to induce swooning. Plus there’s even an unexpected key change and sax thrown in!
With gently percussive World Music overtones, ‘The Rising Tide’ offers a colourful ballad in the vein of Tom Lord-Alge’s work with Steve Winwood but with the threat of MR MISTER looming, this won’t necessarily be for everyone.
Offering some big love, it all gets back on track with ‘Miracle Mile’, the pulsing triplet providing the backbone to a wonderful open top driving number. The imagery conjured may be a cliché but the fact that the song produces pictures for the listener at all is a fine achievement for any artist.
Coming over like Richard Marx, Wride dons his balladeer hat again on the appropriately moonlit ‘Luna’, before the sun rises for the filmic bass synth laden cascade of ‘I’m A Believer’, which embraces the hypnotic Hollywood influence of Giorgio Moroder as well as utilising some rousing layers of vocals.
‘Hold On’ reimagines what a slowie for the soundtrack of ‘About Last Night’ would be like in the 21st Century, but ending ‘Thanks In Advance’ is ‘The Driver’.
Putting into dynamic realisation as to what SIMPLE MINDS might have sounded like had Moroder-graduate Keith Forsey produced the 1985 ‘Once Upon A Time’ album instead of Jimmy Iovine and Bob Clearmountain, the superb grouchy FM synth rock of ‘The Driver’ see Wride successfully cross Jim Kerr with Billy Idol!
So is this a synthwave album? Well no! Is it good accessible pop record with a melodic synth aesthetic that invokes memories of Brat Pack movies, aviator sunglasses and designer stubble? YES!
Ollie Wride has proved with ‘Thanks In Advance’ that he can cut it on his own outside of the FM-84 nest. While there might be too many power ballads for some listeners, this is an impressive debut long player that will be likely to gain further momentum once it is carried into the live arena by Wride’s charismatic stage presence.
Although best known as the lead vocalist for FM-84, the San Francisco based vehicle for Scotsman Colin Bennett, Los Angeles domiciled Brightonian OLLIE WRIDE has been working with another Scot Michael Oakley on solo material.
And while ‘Running In The Night’ in 2016 with FM-84 made him more widely known within Synthwave circles, Wride’s ‘The Driver’ explores the synth assisted pop rock of BILLY IDOL and SIMPLE MINDS with a dynamic production from Michael Oakley, who himself could potentially develop into the next Keith Forsey, a one-time protégé of Da Maestro Giorgio Moroder.
Directed by Brad A Kinnan and filmed in Los Angeles, the visually accompaniment captures Wride as an outsider driving an open-top Buick who is living in the shadows of his past life and performing in seedy clubs.
With guitars by Chris Huggett who also co-wrote ‘The Driver’, the song follows up Wride’s previous popwave solo singles ‘Never Live Without You’ and ‘Overcome’. Also featuring THE NIGHT HOUR, the track shows how a Trans-Atlantic aesthetic can be applied effectively without wholly submitting to the insipid overtures of AOR.
Wride will be back in the UK with FM-84 for a sold out gig at The Garage in London on Saturday 16th February 2019, while Oakley has just released a new single ‘Control’ which will feature on his forthcoming debut album ‘Introspect’ and which was also co-written with Wride ?
‘The Driver’ is released by New Retro Wave and available from the usual digital outlets