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Stornoway Biography

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Stornoway In-depth Biography

The folky indie pop band Stornoway takes its name from a town in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides, but the group hails from Oxford, England. Singer/guitarist Brian Briggs, keyboardist/string player Jonathan Ouin, bassist Ollie Steadman, and drummer Rob Steadman (a pair of brothers from South Africa) formed the band while they were attending Oxford University; the well-studied band includes an ornithologist and a Russian translator among its ranks. The band debuted its jangly, largely acoustic sound -- which has drawn comparisons to James, Belle & Sebastian and XTC -- with a self-titled EP that included the song “Zorbing,” which was inspired by and named after the sport of rolling down a hill in a transparent sphere. Another early single was 2007’s “The Good Fish Guide,” a musical list of which fish are plentiful to eat and which are endangered; its profits went to the Marine Conservation Society. Stornoway continued to refine their sound and had a breakthrough 2009: they headlined the BBC Introducing stage at BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend that May and officially released "Zorbing," which included Briggs’ brother Adam on trumpet, as a single that July. That summer, they also played festivals including Glastonbury, and wrote a tour journal for the Daily Telegraph. Their second single, "Unfaithful," which featured violin courtesy of touring member Rahul Satija, arrived that September, a month before Stornoway’s first headlining tour of the U.K. The band closed out the year by making the longlist for the BBC’s Sounds of 2010 poll. ~ Heather Phares, Rovi
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