University metal band make a play for the big time

7 May 2024
Five piece rock band in studio. Four long-haired young man and girl drummer with short hair

A University of Winchester rock band is making a name for itself and has reached the quarter finals of a competition in which the prize is the chance to play at a top music festival. 

Dead Man’s Pistol have claimed a place in quarter-finals of the ‘Metal to the Masses’ roadshow competition at Oxford’s Jericho Tavern on May 11. 

If they keep up their winning ways, they could land a 30-minute spot at rock festival Bloodstock at Catton Park in Derbyshire in August. 

The band has played several professional gigs but Bloodstock, which attracts crowds of around 20,000, would be their biggest show by far. 

The five members Oli Spring (bass), Johnny Stilwell (rhythm guitar), Matty Wylie (lead guitar), Holly Seabrook (drums) and Stig Price (vocals) were put together as a ‘covers band’ as part of a project for their Music Performance course. 

“It spiralled into something more when we started to write our own music and thought his could really work,” Matty, 19, from Bath. 

Oli, from Verwood, described their music as “a love letter to various genres of metal” and the band cites Black Sabbath and Pantera among their influences. 

All were fans of heavy metal except Johnny who has since become a convert. 

“I used to hate it but now I love metal,” said the 20-year-old from Shrewsbury, who has also grown his hair long since joining the band. 

Dead Man’s Pistol has also been new territory for lead singer Stig, who always thought of himself as a guitarist.  

“I wasn’t really a vocalist but our lecturer Paul Rutter thought he could hear something in my voice, so he persuaded me to do vocals and has kept encouraging me,” said the Londoner. 

Stig, at 33 is the ‘old man’ of the group and has returned to academic studies after working as among other things a veterinary nurse, a gamekeeper, a carpet fitter and a mechanic. 

The fifth member of the band Holly, from Northamptonshire, said she has no problems being the only female in the band and added: “I keep them in line.” 

The versatile 21-year-old also fronts another band, Fruit Punch which will be among the University groups playing at Bandfest at the city's Railway Inn on Sunday evening (12 May).

Pictured: Dead Man's Pistol (from left): Matty Wylie (lead guitar), Oli Spring (bass), Holly Seabrook (drums), Stig Price (vocals) and Johnny Stilwell (rhythm guitar).  

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