Having recently discovered the sultry sounds of Ostrich with the two sharp singles they’ve already released, we’re very much looking forward to hearing what comes next. In the interim, we spoke to the band about their music, living through lockdown and their local haunts in Liverpool. There may also have been mention of brandy and ostrich racing…
Hello, introduce us to Ostrich – who’s involved and what’s the story behind your name?
Will McTaggart: Hello Breaking Glass! So we’re Ostrich, a five piece from Liverpool. We have Stuart Wilson on drums, Lydia Thomas on sax and keys, Will Bowman on bass, Leo Watkins on guitar and myself doing the crooning. Sadly, there’s not really an interesting story in regards to the name ‘Ostrich’, apart from that I look like one with my long legs.
You started performing together last year, how did it feel when things came to an abrupt halt in 2020?
Will McT: It was a real shame to be honest. We played our last show in March and I’m sure it was our best to date. We were getting really tight as a band and had quite a few dates in the pipeline. Not to worry though! We’ll keep ourselves fresh, ready to go again!
Lydia: It feels like we jinxed it with that gig! I really miss rehearsing as a band. Luckily, Will McT’s been churning out tunes and sending us demos. I can’t wait to work on them and add some saxy bits.
You’ve taken the opportunity to release two singles this year, that can’t be so easy in current conditions, how did you make that happen?
Will B: Way back in the distant past – 2019 I think it was – we flew to Prague and recorded 4 tracks in 4 days. It was wild. We drank more Old Fashions than any humans should, became regulars at the local jazz club, and razzed around on scooters ‘til our hearts were content. Those were the days, and listening to these tracks really brings it back. We really want to go back to record some more, but given that we’ve not been able to do that, we decided to release some of them instead. Releasing was a lot less fun than recording, but hey ho, it kept us occupied through lockdown!
The tracks both have quite a different feel, I love the 80s electro leaning on Inside Out (Got No Doubt) and the change up to One Man Band – do you set out to make a particular sound on a song or just see where it takes you?
Will B: I’d definitely agree – Inside Out is all mellow and warm, whereas One Man Band is bitter and angsty. I wouldn’t say that we ever start out with a fixed idea. For us, it’s definitely a case of getting the bare bones of the song, feeling it out a little bit, and then building the sound around that feeling.
Despite restrictions, you’ve picked up a solid amount of interest and airplay – how does it feel hearing your songs on the radio?
Stuart: Hearing Inside Out on 6 Music was a surreal moment for us; we all listen to 6 constantly and weren’t expecting it at all. It’s a shame any interest we have can’t be translated to gigs yet, but we’ll wait as long as it takes…
How are things with you currently, what’s been the reaction to Liverpool being back in local lockdown?
Will B: At the time of writing, fleets of army vehicles are rolling up the M6, coming to swab each and every one of us. A total, mass test of the Merseyside region. A UK first! News outlets herald a new technological breakthrough, but we fear something more sinister this way comes. We’re the last Labour stronghold and BoJo hates us for it. And we can only wonder – why us? What does he want from us? Is it our DNA? And then what next? Will he build huge steel walls around us, cut us off from the mainland, and strip us of our freedoms and our citizenships? We hope so, because quite frankly, this country’s gone to shit anyway.
Lydia: … my Animal Crossing island is thriving.
Tell us about your home city in better times, there always seems to be loads going on creatively, where are your favourite places to go?
Leo: In ‘normal times’ Liverpool is just the best place. It’s small, but there’s a lot happening, so it’s super concentrated. 24 Kitchen Street remains probably the best venue still going in the city, despite becoming surrounded by faceless student accommodation, it champions diversity and supports local causes. The Grapes on Roscoe Street is probably my favourite pub in the world, it has live salsa infused jazz on Sunday nights. Petit Café du Coin is just round the corner if you’re feeling fancy (their boozy Irish coffee is liquid crack). We’re also blessed with some incredible art galleries: The Walker and The Tate to name but two. Other than that, get yourself out of the city centre. Sefton Park is completely unique, and huge, and always inspirational to me.
Whilst none of us are likely to be popping off to a desert island any time soon, what would your picks be to keep you happy if you did – favourite albums or anything else you couldn’t live without?
Will McT: I’m a bit obsessed with Joni Mitchell at the moment, especially her album Hissing of Summer Lawns. I’m just in awe of her songwriting. I’d take a few of her records and a massive bottle of brandy.
Lydia: I feel the same about PJ Harvey’s album, Let England Shake.
Will B: I’ve recently taken to obsessively refreshing the BBC News app, drinking lots of brandy, and crying. It really does get me through the day and is not something I would recommend under any circumstances.
Can you plan ahead right now, have you anything in the pipeline for more new music or playing live again?
Will McT: We’re sitting on a couple of singles that are ready to hatch once the time is right. Just seeing how things go with the Covid situation. We should have a video coming out for One Man Band in the next couple of weeks too. At the time of writing I’ve been filming something that involves an overhead projector, jars of beetroot, and shower gel – so I’ll leave that to your imagination.
And lastly, because it feels important to end with a serious question, in some countries people race each other on the backs of ostriches – if you were the ostriches who would win the race and why?
I think about this all the time. I’d say Will McT, he’s already got the hang of those lanky legs. Then again, Stuart has a real competitive edge… it could get messy.
Catch up with Ostrich here and have a listen to the singles below
Interview by Siobhan
Band photo © Daniel de la Bastide
5th November 2020