Fresh off a flight from Austin, Texas, bleary-eyed musician Oliver Taylor steps through the door of his Liverpool home. He answers the phone as he settles in at home, a whirlwind week at SXSW Festival behind him, and admits the whole thing’s a bit hazy. To some extent, though, that’s his own fault. “I was watching too many shit films on the flight, when I should have been sleeping, really,” he says with a laugh. “Rom-coms and that…”
It’s perhaps unsurprising to hear that Taylor has a taste for the world of romantic comedy. As frontman of Trudy & The Romance (formerly solo project Trudy, before legal shenanigans forced him to add the fitting suffix), he’s peddled a type of cinematic indie-pop that’s as reliant on those lovelorn tropes as rom-coms themselves. From happiness to heartbreak, and all the way back again, each of Trudy & The Romance’s songs feels like a Richard Curtis vignette, delivered with a doo-wop bounce that wouldn’t feel out of place in a dusty, backwater drive-thru cinema.
In one of those so-good-you-couldn’t-write-it coincidences, their first show as the Trudy & The Romance of today fell on Valentine’s Day 2015, Taylor tells me. And this 14 February just gone, they played a special show alongside similarly loved-up newcomers Her’s. He laughs when I suggest that they’ve inadvertently begun marking their timeline with Valentine’s Days. “I never really do much for it!” he says of that commercialised excuse for chocolate and flowers. “But yeah – it’s very lovey-dovey! I think it’s a good band for that – for someone to bring their girlfriend or boyfriend too. Have a little swoon.”
The swooning, doo-wop vibe of Trudy & The Romance came from Taylor’s obsession with film, first-and-foremost – something you can see in their latest video for "Doghouse", which we're premiering below. “I grew up bingeing films a little too much, I think,” he says. “I write songs in that way – I see them as like a film. Some people see colours and things like that when I write, but I see more of the telling of a story.” That cinematic influence takes more literal forms, too. “The first time I ever saw a guitarist was in Back To The Future,” he laughs, “when Marty McFly’s shreddin’ it! It’s funny – he does “Johnny B Goode”, and that’s the first song I ever learnt, but then he does “Earth Angel” as well, which is a doo-wop number. It’s quite a coincidence.”
He doesn't just owe his love of doo-wop to Michael J Fox, admittedly – his dad and an old-school friend both played a part in Taylor’s appreciation for the under-represented Americana offshoot. That exposure to a less-known genre that made a mark. “I’ve never really seen myself as having much of a British identity – Union Jack and all that stuff,” he admits, “Most of the films I’ve watched are American, so I’d be proud if it sounded quite American – I think that’d be cool.” He’d love Trudy to make an impact Stateside, though he admits, “I’d probably go mad. Eat too much. All those long drives...”
Thankfully, SXSW was a success story. The sound engineers “just seemed to understand it a bit more”, Taylor says, while the crowds appreciated his sweaty, soulful style. “There’s just more of a campness to America, and American music,” he says – something that fits in with the glitz and glamour of Trudy’s own live show. Trudy are a beguiling presence in the flesh, due in no small part to Taylor’s voice – a grizzled croon that he warps by flicking, pulling and shaking his own throat. It’s a cartoonish slant on indie that’s quickly set them apart from others on the UK toilet circuit. “I think the Hard Rock Café sort of vibe – where you’ve got the memorabilia, and it’s very cartoony and kiddy. I think we fit into that, a little bit,” says Taylor.
Now, Trudy are readying their debut album Sandman, a record centred on a tale of lost love and that titular dream-stalking ghoul. Based in part on his first ever teenage love, and in part in the world of filmic fiction that he holds so dear, Taylor’s looking to blur the lines between reality and imagination even further. “Too much is definitely autobiographical,” he says with a laugh, “but it’s definitely over-romanticised. I don’t really dream about the Sandman, but obviously he existed in 'Mr Sandman',” he adds, referencing The Chordettes’ genre classic, “which is actually in Back To The Future as well!”
“It’s quite funny,” Taylor notes, “cause in the concept story of the album, the band’s making it really big, and trying to keep it together.” It’s a reference to David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust days, he says – “I just thought it’d be funny to pretend that we’ve made it big!” If this script goes the way it should, they won’t have to pretend for much longer.
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Trudy & The Romance’s debut album ‘Sandman’ is due out on 24 May via B3SCI Records.