Olly Wills, Jon Berry, Humphrey Astley, Tommy Longfellow,
Oxford, England, UK
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The Epstein began life a few years ago when singer/songwriter Olly Wills started playing open mic nights with guitarist Jon Berry in the back rooms of pubs in Oxford and London.
Gradually developing into a full, country-edged band, The Epstein’s debut, ‘Last Of The Charanguista’s, won the Editors Choice accolade in Rolling Stone, leading them to Glastonbury, various other prime festival slots and ultimately a larger audience.
Since then they have grown impressively, evolving through their modest Americana roots into a more ambitious, adventurous proposition, incorporating ambient electronica, Morricone-style orchestral backdrops and sweeping widescreen blues. Continue reading →
Oxford five-piece, The Epstein, is Olly Wills, Jon Berry, Rowland Prytherch, Sebastian Reynolds and Paul Denley. Their debut, I Held You Once is a mesmerising mix of warm American West Coast-style folk rock, with a spectral cinematic sound. We caught up with Olly Wills, lead vocals and acoustic guitarist in the band, to chat about the revival of the British folk scene, similarities with Mumford & Sons and their EP I Held You Once.
I understand the EP was recorded over 14 months, how did it all begin?
We started by doing a residence in a small pub in Oxford, selling recordings at shows, releasing our first full length in 2008, touring the UK and extensively throughout Germany and Holland. For 2011, we’re releasing a batch of new material, which we’re very excited about.
The EP’s songs interchange between full, rousing anthems like I Held You Once, to bluesy tracks such as Ring On Her Finger – as a band how do you try to explore the possibilities of your sound?
As musicians, we love to create soundscapes that combine our love of good, strong songwriting, both lyrically and melodically, along with the wider aim of creating an almost cinematic widescreen experience for the listener. Another Band Has Gone is a great example of this; we attempted a full band version, but ended up vocals, acoustic and an organ, along with a whole load of reverb. Continue reading →
(THE OXFORD TIMES)
Olly Wills is a happy man. And for good reason. With a record deal for his band The Epstein, a new album in the bag and a burgeoning fan base in some very unlikely places, it has been a great year.
But it has been a long journey for the hard-working frontman; one which has taken this softly-spoken songwriter all the way from the American prairies, to the muddy fields of Glastonbury and the grand concert halls of Europe.
“We have had a really good year,” he says, while taking a day off at his home on the edge of Oxford’s Port Meadow (“it’s a rare thing these days” he laughs). “It has been hard work and we have had to play shows all over the place, but it’s been good fun.” Starting out with a clutch of songs written while Olly was working on a horse ranch in Wyoming, The Epstein have become one of Oxford’s best-loved bands, their lilting blend of country rock, Americana and new folk delighting crowds at festivals, halls and pub backrooms for the past six years. Continue reading →