The Cassette Years: 1983–1989
Ozric Tentacles formed at the Stonehenge Free Festival in 1983, where the brothers Ed and Roly Wynne, along with drummer Nick "Tig" Van Gelder and keyboardist Joie Hinton, performed as a group originally known as Bolshem People. After playing a six-hour jam session, the group was asked the name of their band, to which Ed Wynne replied, "Ozric Tentacles". The name being one of the suggestions given in a humorous conversation about possible names for alien breakfast cereal, hence the references to breakfast cereal in several album titles and covers. According to Wynne, "'Ozric' is an old Viking name meaning 'divine energy', and 'tentacles' is a silly word to put on the end." The music scene in early-mid 1980's England allowed for the band to make use of the re-emergence of free festivals to spread their music. Underground attention for their style of psychedelic rock -- which makes prominent use of synthesizers, guitars, and samplers -- allowed the band to surge. Notoriety spread mostly through the circulation of bootleg cassettes in the early years, which were welcomed by the band.
has remained the only original member of the band.
Gigs were often spontaneous during this period, for the lineup of the Ozrics was incredibly fluid. Shows often consisted of whoever was available to perform that night due to the large number of people within the band. Granted there was power available, the band would often perform for a long duration of time, sometimes until sunrise. It was not uncommon for members of the Ozrics to contribute to other musical collaborations. This practice has stayed with the band since its origination, and has allowed many members to come and go. In 1984, the first major lineup change occurred when second guitarist, Gavin Griffiths, left the band to form The Ulluators with fellow member Joie on keyboards.
The following year saw the first official cassette release of Erpsongs, which originally did not have track titles. This was possibly due to the album being a collection of songs recorded over three years. The next release, Tantric Obstacles, was released the same year and was intended to be more of an album. These early recordings were sometimes consisting solely of Ed Wynne playing the guitars, bass, and synths. All were recorded on a TEAC 4-track reel-to-reel at their attic studio in Rushmere, a converted farmhouse on Wimbledon Common in London. Some tracks on the cassette albums are performed with a drum machine, due to the studio lacking the necessary soundproofing. As a result of two official releases, the band's popularity began to rise. This led to fans sending in blank cassettes with the intent of them being filled with live or unreleased music. The Ozrics obliged. Eventually, the demand became too much for an independent band to manage. This resulted in the third release, Live Ethereal Cereal, being a live compilation album of concerts between 1985 and 1986.
The band's sound began to adopt a wider repertoire of music towards the end of 1986. This is especially illustrated on the fourth cassette release, There is Nothing. Songs now began to highlight a space rock vibe, with flavors of reggae. This, Wynne says, was not intended, but was the result of seeing the band Here & Now perform live. The addition of more world music (through sampling and performing) was the result of Joie Hinton traveling to India and Ed traveling to Thailand. There is also a noticeable rise in quality on the 1986 release of There is Nothing, due to the purchase of a new 8-track tape machine. This allowed for more synth overdubbing and real drum tracks.
More lineup changes than ever before occurred around this time, most notably the addition of the front-man, "Jumping" John Egan and the departure of keyboardist Tom Brooks in 1987. This created a sonic gap for Ed Wynne to fill. Coincidentally, earlier in the year, Ed was busy writing "chill-out music" with his side-project Nodens Ictus, so the idea of improving his own synth skills inspired him. Despite more changes and collaborations, they managed to release Sliding Gliding Worlds in 1988, shortly before drummer Tig Velder departed from the band and was replaced with 21 year old Merv Pepler. 1989 saw the last cassette release by the band with The Bits Between the Bits, which was a collection of unreleased recordings between 1985 and 1989. This was a filler album while the band was preparing for its first vinyl release the same year.
Dovetail Records: 1989–Present
In 1989, the band started their own label, Dovetail Records, with its first release, Pungent Effulgent. The album was originally released on vinyl, but saw a CD release the following year. The band also began to receive commercial recognition around this time. Most notably, the performance with the singer-songwriter Donovan at the Glastonbury Festival on 18 June 1989. This was followed by Erpland in 1990, a double album. According to Ed Wynne, Erpland was recording almost entirely under the influence of psilocybin mushrooms. Next year the band reached their first #1 recognition in the UK Indie Chart with their single "Sploosh!" from Strangeitude. In approximately 1992, the band decided to create their own recording studio to cut down on the costs of recording an album. The studio, coined "The Mill," was refurbished from an old water mill.
By 1993, Jurassic Shift album reached the Top 20 of the UK Albums Chart and #1 in the UK Indie Chart, spending a total of three months in the charts.
The band has gone through myriad line-up changes, with Ed Wynne being the only constant presence since the beginning. In early years, many members left to pursue similar musical projects. Nevertheless, throughout the 1990s and 2000s, the band has released albums with a prolific rate, continues to tour extensively and has maintained its identity and trademark sound. The band is famous for their live performances, in which they have long taken an audiovisual approach with elaborate lighting and projections. Currently, the band features Ed Wynne with his wife Brandi on bass guitar, their son Silas Neptune on keyboards and Hungarian drummer Balázs Szende on drums and percussion.
In June 2012, the Wynnes' house in Colorado was destroyed by wild fires that had ravaged the area for over a week. The band was on tour at the time. Archived material was destroyed as was their studio and some instruments. After the fire, the band reached out to fans to help rebuild the archive.