Static Dress have reworked and reimagined the songs from their debut album on ‘Rouge Carpet Disaster (Redux)’.
Frontman Olli Appleyard talks us through the entire creative process in the latest edition of The Album Story.
Get yours now at SHOP.ROCKSOUND.TV or by clicking the image above.
Read Static Dress, ‘Rouge Carpet Disaster (Redux)’ below:
(Click ‘View Fullscreen’ for the digital feature or scroll down for text only version)
TEXT ONLY VERSION BELOW
Static Dress have had a hectic few years. Since the release of their debut single in 2019,the Leeds-based band have never really slowed down when it comes to touring, writing and promoting new music. Following 2021’s EP ‘Prologue…’, their first record ‘Rouge Carpet Disaster’ dropped in May 2022. The record was an instant hit, catapulting Static Dress far outside of their previously cult following. In May this year, they announced a reworked version of ‘Rouge Carpet Disaster’ and signed to Roadrunner Records.
“It’s been a nonstop haul since it came out,” lead singer Olli Appleyard tells us from a van, perpetually on the road. “I don’t think anyone expected it to do as well as it did outside of our camp.” While ‘Rouge Carpet Disaster’ was released independently, and with major success, the band realised they might need more support than they’d first thought. “I was really struggling with a lot of things personally, but the weight of everything on top, I just couldn’t cope. It was either let this product sink after seeing what it means to so many people, or try and move forward,” says Appleyard. After doing their research, moving forward with Roadrunner seemed like the best shout.
While ‘Rouge Carpet Disaster’ was only released a year ago, ‘Rouge Carpet Disaster (Redux)’ offered the band a chance to revisit old tracks and introduce themselves to a whole new audience. “I wanted to give it a new lease of life, just as a kick up the bum. We wanted to be like, ‘here it is’ to all the people who’ve just found out about us now,” he says. It was also a chance to see what they could do with major label support in addition to their DIY attitude: “We’ve already proved that it works and we can do it. It’s additional to what we can achieve alone.”
We caught up with Appleyard ahead of another three month touring stint and the release of their kinda-sorta second album to dive into all things ‘Rouge Carpet Disaster’.
With ‘Rouge Carpet Disaster’, Static Dress wanted to show off their “stars and stripes”. “I wanted to prove that we’re a solid band and we can make solid rock songs,” says Appleyard. In putting on such a good showcase of what they’re capable of, however, they found that some people were missing the band’s more experimental tendencies. “People were missing the edgy, weird side of us pushing the boat out sonically,” says Appleyard. “’Redux’ allowed us to do that. We learned a lot from that record in terms of what we can pull off,” says Appleyard.
With ‘Redux’, they got a rare chance at a do-over. “There were so many different things that we wanted to include. We wanted to reshape songs, rewrite, remix,” says Appleyard. “You sit on these songs for about a year and then you want to change different parts. You very rarely get the opportunity to do that.” They approached the songwriting differently, too, writing in-person together to find the right sound, which gave them room to be more playful. “I wanted the opportunity to show the experimental side of us as musicians and artists. If you don’t like it, that’s cool, because there’s the 12 tracks of the original thing that you are here for,” says Appleyard. “There are a lot of songs on this ‘Redux’ where if you were to remove the vocals and the lyrics, it’s a completely different song. Maybe it’s in the same key, maybe it shares some of the same progressions, but some of them are completely different.”
There’s only one feature on ‘Rouge Carpet Disaster’, but for the ‘Redux’, Static Dress wanted to make it a truly collaborative effort. Featuring artists like Loathe, World of Pleasure and Ryder Johnson, the band have taken the opportunity to spotlight people that they respect. “These are people that we all collectively care about or fuck with a lot in terms of what they do, what they make and who they are. It’s just paying homage to everyone in our circle who we really dig,” says Appleyard. “We’ve gone back to being resourceful and made something cool with our friends and people we respect.”
On the reworked version of ‘Welcome In’, Creeper’s Will Gould features as a kind of manic circus ringleader introducing the track. “Will’s feature was done about two weeks ago. We went round to his house and spent about two hours chatting absolute shit, not getting anything done,” laughs Appleyard. “I was like, imagine you are a circus ringleader and it’s the most over the top thing you could do in your entire life. Boom, he just smashes it out first time.” That’s the version you hear on the track: “Reflecting on the rest of Redux’, it just came out the way it should have been done. There wasn’t pressure on anyone. It’s been a good time.” They wanted the opportunity to pay tribute to their true friends: “Being able to do this with people we really know has been a nice experience. It’s not a numbers exercise. We don’t want to do the A&R trick of pulling in everyone you know to make a song bigger.”
‘Rouge Carpet Disaster’ is an ambitious first record. It’s narrative-driven and complex, with a story that demands attention from listeners. Meticulously written by Appleyard, he’s the first to admit that he’s a bit of a control freak–and he relished the chance to go back and polish the lyrics for ‘Redux’. “I think it is weird going back to them so soon, but it’s allowed me to edit and change. Where I’ve thought I’m not happy with a lyric or something doesn’t make sense, I’ve now had the opportunity to cut it or change it and rehash things. I’ve been able to polish up the edges,” he says. “I don’t think anything has lost meaning, I think we’ve been able to elevate what was already there lyrically.”
Appleyard explains his creative process. The songs are “around 30%” about something that has happened to him, and then he creates a story around that. “Sometimes revisiting these stories and these moments, I’d think about it differently and sometimes I’d see it from a new perspective. I’m all about personal growth and making sure that creatively I’m growing as an individual, but that I’m also growing as a person,” he says. For Appleyard, revisiting his work has been a way of ensuring he doesn’t ever believe he knows everything. “As soon as you think that, you’re the stupidest person.”
Last year, shortly after the record was released, bassist Connor Reilly left the band. There are no hard feelings, though, Appleyard reassures us. “I care about him dearly and he’s a close friend and we still talk on a daily basis,” he says. “This life is not for everyone. As things get intense, we’re starting to realise that,” he says. As the original artwork for ‘Rouge Carpet Disaster’ featured Connor jumping up and down on a bed, Appleyard wanted to find some way to involve him in the release of ‘Redux’. Reilly features in ‘Redux’ again in the artwork, with his body as “the vessel”. “We wanted to reference earlier stuff by having the knife in the phone and use ‘Redux’ to be the final page in a book,” says Appleyard. “What I’ve found interesting about redoing the artwork and everything is that people who are getting the album now having two completely different covers.” Appleyard adds that he’s glad he found a way to include Reilly in the record: “Cheesy as it is, it’s that ‘School of Rock’ thing. Just because you’re not in the band doesn’t mean you’re not in the band.”
The theme of ‘Rouge Carpet Disaster’, says Appleyard, is “death in Hollywood”. “Like, the glitz and glamour of ‘80s cinema and Los Angeles. Death on the red carpet,” says Appleyard. A comic book released alongside the EP precedes the events of the album, a rare level of foresight for a band so early in their career. Along with the comic and a booklet that came with the original versions of the album, an immersive tale around two characters in a hotel unfolds. “It’s a story of a death with a ‘Cluedo’-esque delivery on everything. It’s very detailed,” says Appleyard. The title of the record came from that story, he adds: “It was a flashy, LA in the ‘80s kind of vibe. Like a sequin dress flowing with blood.”
If the last few years have been relentless for Appleyard and his bandmates, the next few are likely to bring even more chaos. “In just two years, we’ve gone from playing tiny rooms to being on tour supporting mental bands I never thought we’d get close to,” he says. They could never predict they’d wind up here, and they can’t predict the rest of the future, either. Besides, Appleyard keeps his plans pretty tight to the chest. For now, he knows that they’ll be touring for three months, then doing an arena tour with Bring Me the Horizon, while working on new music. Above all, though, “as a band, we just need some time,” he confesses. “It’s been three years nonstop.”