STATIC DRESS don’t believe in conforming to the narrow expectations of genre or image. As they rework tracks from their debut album ‘Rouge Carpet Disaster’ into new, radically different statements, they’re raising the bar for everyone. Check out the latest cover story for our New Music Friday playlist edit The Cut.
Words: Ali Shutler.
Photos: Olli Appleyard.
“Even if you don’t like the music, I want you to see what we’ve created with Static Dress and be impressed,” says vocalist Olli Appleyard.
With a revamped take on ’90s hardcore and ’00s emo, alongside a commanding use of visuals, it’s little wonder the Leeds four-piece have become one of the most visceral, admired rock groups around. “I don’t want people to think it’s about appeasing others, though,” he adds. “If we wanted to be the biggest thing in the world, I definitely wouldn’t be screaming all the lyrics. All I want to do is create, inspire and have fun with it.”
Sticking to that ethos, Static Dress approach things differently. Debut album’ Rouge Carpet Disaster’ was available to listen to months in advance if you could solve a series of clues, while they’ve also been known to share tracks via VHS tapes. It means fans can really dive deep into the world of Static Dress. “When I originally started this band, I wanted to get people invested and give them something entertaining, rather than being background noise for someone else’s conversation,” says Olli, explaining that he always wanted to focus on every small detail of the group.
But in recent months, it’s become apparent the Static Dress are so much more than a cult concern.
Take their last-minute addition at Download Festival earlier this month, where the band had the unenviable task of opening the festival’s massive outdoor second stage shortly after midday when really, visceral rock like theirs is typically suited to dark, intimate tents. “People were going harder than I would, and it’s my band,” laughs Olli, reflecting on the masses of circle pits and crowd surfers. Alongside the dedicated fans, the set was one of those magical festival moments where the crowd gets caught up in the chaos despite clearly not knowing what was going on. “It was incredible, and I’m not going to forget it in a hurry,” admits Olli.
Still, there’s a lot more of that to come. Next year, Static Dress will join Bring Me The Horizon on their Nex Gen UK arena tour alongside breakout hardcore mob Bad Omens and Cassyette. “They’re going to be the biggest shows we’ve played, which is crazy, but we’re just going to turn up and play our best,” says Olli, having already supported Bring Me in Europe earlier this year. “That was overwhelming, but we know what we’re getting into this time around. We’re just a better band now.”
However, Static Dress’ latest track couldn’t be further from an arena rock banger as the reworked take on ‘Such.A.Shame’ from ‘Rouge Carpet Disaster’ sees the snarling guitar band go jazz.
“If we wanted to be the biggest thing in the world, I definitely wouldn’t be screaming all the lyrics”Olli Appleyard
“The original song was written when we were listening to bands like Kings Of Leon, and you can hear that dusty, Americana vibe. It’s almost gospel in places, but there’s also a darkness and a moodiness to it,” explains Olli, with the lyrics talking about heartbreak, regret and emotional warfare. For the redux version, though, Olli had the idea for the video first, inspired by a local jazz club that champions intimacy and the actual music over anything else. “I imagined what this nice, relaxing place would be like if it was in this sick, twisted world where everyone is decaying.” Of course, the perfect soundtrack to that is a song featuring nothing but stripped-back jazz piano and vocals.
‘Such.A.Shame (Smoking Lounge Redux)’ is a million miles away from what you hear on ‘Rouge Carpet Disaster’ but makes perfect sense considering how every song on that record sounds unique. Static Dress’ debut album confidently pulls influence from the likes of Taking Back Sunday and Paramore but takes it one step further. “We didn’t want to be a replica band, doing something that had already been done,” says Olli. “We wanted to make the most diverse, current record we could.”
Lyrically, they also cut the known with the unknown. “Rather than writing something basic like ‘you left me, and I’m upset’, I wanted to write about something which has meaning, metaphor and people can pull their own ideas from,” says Olli. Typically songs start with a real-life situation, and he’ll create a character, a plot and a narrative from there. “It means our songs can be aggressive, upset or violent because they’re not just about us.” He says that distance is also important for the fans. “If I told you a song was just about me not being able to get home one night, it’d completely ruin everything that the song means to you.”
“It comes across in the performance as well,” continues Olli. “I really want to make sure people actually feel it. Everything about Static Dress is about evoking emotion.”
“Everything about Static Dress is about evoking emotion”Olli Appleyard
‘Such.A.Shame (Smoking Lounge Redux)’ is the second redux version of a ‘Rouge Disaster Carpet’ track to be released, following on from’ Courtney, Just Relax’ (featuring World Of Pleasure), with Static Dress planning to release reworked versions of the entire album in the coming months. “There are some songs that do not sound anything like the original,” Olli teases with the decision to revisit the album driven by the feeling that there was “just more to be explored.”
“We’re not the best at promoting things, and we’re not the sort of people who will shout about how good something is,” says Olli. So instead of dabbling in TikToks or making reels for Instagram, he wanted to create something “familiar but different.”
“It also allows us to experiment and incorporate sounds that we’ve never gone near before,” which will help the band navigate where they go next. “I don’t want to give too much away because things always change but going forward, I think we want to do more collaborations – either musically or visually,” he explains.
“It’s interesting that we live in this time where a band can look heavy, but not sound it, and it still works. I wonder if you can flip that on its head and make something that doesn’t look heavy but actually is,” he continues. “We just want to keep branching out into different sonic and visual territories to make something interesting.”
That’s been the band’s mission from day one. Formed from the ashes of various local bands, Olli had planned on using Static Dress like a portfolio, so that when it inevitably failed, he had something that would show off his talents as a videographer, musician and world-builder. However, three hours after he uploaded debut single ‘Clean’ to Youtube, all his expectations had been smashed. “From there, it was thinking on our feet,” with COVID providing a blessing in disguise as it allowed him the time to nurture and shape the project into the force it is today.
“Without wanting to sound big-headed, I want to be making people want to try harder”Olli Appleyard
In those early days, Olli would talk about pulling from the stylised worlds of hyper-pop and rap instead of being just another band dude in a t-shirt and had no issues calling out how “lame” the rock scene felt in places. It gave him a reputation as an antagonistic force, out to cause trouble whatever the cost.
“I have no problem saying that we’re tired of how things operate, and it got painted into me being this very argumentative person, who was angry at everything. That’s really not the case,” he explains. “We do want to be a force to be reckoned with, though. We put so much effort into every single element of this band, and we just want to let the art speak for itself. If someone feels threatened by that, maybe they should up their own game. “
“Without wanting to sound big-headed, I want to be making people want to try harder,” he adds.
Despite everything that’s happened since those early days, Olli doesn’t believe the core ambition behind Static Dress has changed. “Ultimately, we just want to be putting out art that makes people go ‘wow’, whatever the format,” he explains.
“I don’t think arena headline shows are the end goal, really,” he ponders. But if they were to happen, he already has the staging in mind. That’s Static Dress for you, always creating, never standing still. ■
‘Rouge Carpet Disaster (Redux)’ is out on 15th September. Follow Dork’s The Cut Spotify playlist here.