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The Olivia Tremor Control

The Olivia Tremor Control
Olivia Tremor Control live in 2005 (reunion)
Background information
Origin Ruston, Louisiana
Genres Indie rock, experimental rock, psychedelic pop, neo-psychedelia
Years active 1992–2000 (hiatus)
Labels Cloud Recordings
  • Official Website
Members Will Cullen Hart
Eric Harris
John Fernandes
Peter Erchick
Derek Almstead
Past members Bill Doss
Jeff Mangum

The Olivia Tremor Control is a psychedelic rock band that was prominent in the mid-to-late 1990s. It was, along with The Apples in Stereo and Neutral Milk Hotel, one of the three original projects of The Elephant 6 Recording Company.[1] The band was founded by the remnants of the group Synthetic Flying Machine (Jeff Mangum, Bill Doss, and Will Cullen Hart) in 1994. The band went on hiatus in early 2000,[2] and later reformed in 2009.

An announcement revealed that Bill Doss had died on 31 July 2012, with The Olivia Tremor Control confirming his death on their official website. The cause of his death has not yet been revealed.[3]


  • Synthetic Flying Machine 1
  • Sound and History 2
  • Other projects 3
  • Reunion 4
  • Members 5
  • Discography 6
    • Studio Albums 6.1
    • Other Albums 6.2
    • Compilations 6.3
    • EPs and singles 6.4
    • Compilation appearances 6.5
  • References 7
  • External links 8

Synthetic Flying Machine

Synthetic Flying Machine was an early project of Will Cullen Hart, Bill Doss, and Neutral Milk Hotel's Jeff Mangum. The band later went on to become known as the Olivia Tremor Control, with Hart and Doss remaining members while Mangum eventually left to focus on Neutral Milk Hotel. The band had only one official release to their name, Heaven Is for Kids, but there are several other tape cassettes of music distributed among friends and collaborators. Many of the songs performed by Synthetic Flying Machine later became songs by Neutral Milk Hotel ("Arms So Real") or Olivia Tremor Control ("Shaving Spiders", "Opera House"). Jeff Mangum wrote a song about the band of the same name, which became "Up and Over" and finally "The King of Carrot Flowers Pt. 3" on In the Aeroplane Over the Sea.

Sound and History

The band's distinct sound is a mixture of Doss and Hart's pop and experimental tendencies. This chemistry is evident in their albums given that some tracks are 2–3 minute songs, while others are electro-acoustic collages ranging in length from 2 seconds to 10 minutes, and differing in content from vibrant horns to near silence.[4][5][6] Furthermore, the band released a record of experimental electro-acoustic music, The Late Music, Volume One, under the name The Black Swan Network, in 1997. Another Black Swan Network release, a 7" EP on the Happy Happy Birthday to Me label, appeared in 2000, though it did not feature Bill Doss. In October 1997, a "collaborative" LP between The Olivia Tremor Control and The Black Swan Network was released, originally as a tour-only item, and later put out as a CD by Flydaddy, which gave the record the title, The Olivia Tremor Control vs. The Black Swan Network, though the band had never wanted the record to be named as such.

The band is influenced by the odd quality inherent in dreams and asked their listeners to send in tapes describing their own, examples of which can be heard in the final track of Black Foliage and the OTC-BSN collaborative LP. While their debut album Dusk at Cubist Castle focuses more on complex vocal harmonization and upbeat Beatles-esque melodies, Black Foliage is more noise-oriented, with more feedback samples and tape loops.

Other projects

The members of The Olivia Tremor Control embarked on a variety of different projects before and after the band broke up. Eric Harris released a record under the name Frosted Ambassador and later two CD-R releases under his own name on Cloud Recordings, the label founded by Fernandes and Hart in the wake of OTC's demise. Pete Erchick released three records, Individualized Shirts, Special Fanfare For Anything and Lost in the Pancakes, under the name Pipes You See, Pipes You Don't. Bill Doss followed OTC by putting out records as The Sunshine Fix, a name he had used years before. The Sunshine Fix has evolved from a recording project to a formal working band. Hart's post-OTC project, Circulatory System, has taken a similar route. The self-titled 2001 LP continued the melding together of pop and experimental traditions the OTC had worked on and won high accolades from the press. Jeff Mangum followed OTC with Neutral Milk Hotel, releasing On Avery Island and In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, as well as a few "underground" acoustic demos.

Signal Morning, Circulatory System's sophomore LP features the reunion of Will Hart and Bill Doss singing harmonies on its opening track. Signal Morning was released on 8 September 2009 on Cloud Recordings.


In 2005, the Olivia Tremor Control temporarily reunited, solely for live shows, at the behest of the Orange Twin Conservation Community, as well as gigs in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and L.A.[7] In the fall of 2008, all members of the Olivia Tremor Control toured with other members of the Elephant 6 collective as part of the Holiday Surprise tour. In May 2009, Will Hart said in an interview that the band had recently re-entered the recording studio: "We've got two songs for the next Olivia record, in my opinion. They're on Bill's hard drive."

In March 2011, Elf Power drummer Derek Almstead confirmed that he was engineering and playing percussion on the new record and that new material would be debuted at All Tomorrows' Parties later in the year.[8][9] In addition to this, they have released a song titled North Term Reality under Olivia Tremor Control for AUX Vol. 2.

In September 2011, the band released the single The Game You Play Is In Your Head, a 3-song suite. It is unknown whether or not the song is a single from their new album. More live shows are planned including an appearance at the ATP Curated by Jeff Mangum festival in March 2012 in Minehead, England. On January 17, 2012, it was announced that OTC would play the fifth Austin Psych Fest April 27–29, 2012 at Emo's East in Austin Texas. OTC performed at the Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago's Union Park on July 13, 2012.

On July 31, 2012 the band announced the death of Bill Doss. The cause of death was not specified.[10]


Current members
Former members


Studio Albums

Other Albums


EPs and singles

Compilation appearances


  1. ^ a b PitchforkMedia News
  2. ^
  3. ^ ,Bill Doss of The Olivia Tremor Control reported deadBest Fit News: The Line Of Best Fit, 31.07.2012
  4. ^ Optical Atles
  5. ^ PitchforkMedia Review
  6. ^ PitchforkMedia Review
  7. ^ PitchforkMedia News
  8. ^ Faix, Thomas (March 25, 2011). "Elephant Six Bring Spring To Philly". Elephant Six Bring Spring to Philly. Square Cotton Candy. Retrieved March 29, 2011. 
  9. ^ New albums on the way from Circulatory System...and the Olivia Tremor Control? | The Music Mix |
  10. ^ Andre Gallant (July 31, 2012). "Olivia Tremor Control's Bill Doss dead at 43". OnlineAthens. Retrieved August 2, 2012. 
  11. ^

External links

  • Official Website
  • "The Olivia Tremor Control" at
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