My cousin Ollie Birtill formed the band Ormondroyd in Sheffield in 2001. They recorded a demo tape which they sent to DJ John Peel who played it on his BBC Radio One show. At its conclusion he said: “that’s really rather lovely”. Ormondroyd were named after footballer Ian Ormondroyd but for the uninitiated, the name itself has a wonderful quality, it sounds like a 2000AD character like Strontium Dog or Zenith.
As well as a brilliant band name, Ormondroyd also had brilliant song titles: Given Time Those Hearts Will Crack, Perfect Designs, If I’d Known It Was the Last Time I’d Have Opened Both My Eyes…
Ormondroyd 1-0 Demo review here.
I played a couple of gigs with Ormondroyd. We played together at the Brook Cafe inside the old Quiggins on School Lane and also at The Picket on Hardman Street. Ormondroyd released their debut album ‘Hit and Hope’ on Hackpen Records in 2007. For fans of The Flaming Lips and Mogwai, Hit and Hope contains a number of strong songs but my personal favourite is ‘Perfect Designs’: melodic distorted pop like early Radiohead fronted by Stuart Murdoch from Belle and Sebastian.
I wrote about my cousin’s band for Gigwise.com in 2003:
Sheffield based anti-cool merchants Ormondroyd were formed just over a year ago at Uni and have been making a name for themselves peddling their own brand of (what I like to call) Dream Rock. John “Champion of the Underdog” Peel was playing their first demo on Radio 1 when they had only played a handful of gigs. “It was rather bizarre to be honest” says singer Ollie Birtill. “My mobile rang and it was John asking me if he could play our track on his show. He’s a good guy that man.”
Having heard the demo in question it’s obvious to see why Peel is so taken by the band known by their fans as the ‘Droyd. The songs are dreamy laments; even the happy ones somehow manage to sound sad. This is due in no small part, to Ols’ beautiful fragile vocal performance. You get the impression that if Ol was to sing happy birthday at a Childs’ party he would be besieged by angry mothers wanting to know why their kids were in tears.
So, what have Ormondroyd been grooving to recently then? “‘I’m in hoc to Spiritualised up to my eyeballs my man” enthuses Ol. “The ‘Pure Phase’ album is fucking brilliant! Otherwise Mogwai, The Beach Boys, that kind of stuff.” So with labels starting to circle like vultures, a British tour planned for the summer and members of the opposite sex actually talking to them for a change, are the ‘Droyd enjoying life then? “Yeah” says Ol, “before all this our single biggest achievement to date was getting Steve Lamacq back to our halls of residence for a post-gig cider drinking session. He had a ‘what the hell am I doing here look on his face the whole time he was with us. We let him go after a couple of days.”
According to Drowned in Sound:
“….as debuts go, this is a strong effort searching for the right stars, but falling short in finding exactly which one the Sheffield lads are looking for. I suppose with extensive touring and another few recordings under their belt, their search will succeed”.
Sadly extensive touring and further recording did not occur – but Ormondroyd left the world with a fine piece of work to remember them by. Listen to their finest moment, Perfect Designs, here:
Appendix: Here is Ormondroyd’s biography from Last.fm:
Taking their name from a cult early nineties footballer and inspiration from the likes of Mogwai, Spirtualized, the Beach Boys and Super Furry Animals, Ormondroyd make widescreen, atmospheric pop songs punctuated by bursts of epic noise.
Formed after meeting at Sheffield University, the band have existed in one form or another for four years. The current incarnation – Ollie Birtill (vocals, guitar), Ste Mills (guitar, vocals), Rob George (keyboards, vocals), Nick Portus (bass) and Gash Hill (drums) – spent the most part of 2006 making their debut album ‘Hit & Hope’. Most of the tracks were recorded at Sheffield’s 2Fly Studios with Alan Smyth (Pulp, Arctic Monkeys, Richard Hawley) and the 12-track LP was released in March 2007 through Hackpen Records.
The band’s early demos were played by John Peel on his Radio 1 show and Channel 4 Teletext Planet Sound proclaimed their demo as the best of the year – an accolade previously afforded to Hope Of the States. The Droyd were also ranked above The Strokes and Muse in their weekly chart.
Ormondroyd’s live show, which has been known to include guitars played with vegetables, group hollering and unreasonably crowded stages, has seen them play across the country, including shows at the In The City festival in Manchester and at Club Fandango nights in London. Along the way they’ve played with the likes of The Futureheads, We Are Scientists, Kristin Hersh and iLiKETRAiNS and have also recorded a live radio session for the BBC.
The band realised a major ambition when Ian Ormondroyd (the lanky footballer they took their moniker from) played ‘Perfect Designs’ during his ‘Sticks In The Mix’ radio show. Proof, if ever it were needed, that dreams really can come true. Other highlights for the band included having a song used on BBC Midlands Today to soundtrack a report about kayaking and being named the 43rd best international song of the year on a Spanish radio station. Recently, the band’s album cover shoot was interrupted by both the police and the fire brigade after they were reported for suspected arson.