Boy on a Dolphin Band - Sheffield – England.

JOHN REILLY Lead Vocals/ Acoustic Guitar/ Lyricist.
PETE HILEY Lead Spanish and Electric Guitars
JAMES JARWARDANA Piano/Keys (Joined Oct 2005)


Melodic, Moving, Sublime, Poignant, Personal, Ultimately disarming, Human, Unaffected, Witty, Timeless……

“Songs! Songs! THE SONG! That’s all there is for me. I’m not interested in all the rest of the stuff.” Says Dolphin front man JOHN REILLY, who then goes on to quote Charlie Parker. “Music is your own experience, your thoughts, your wisdom. If you don’t live it, it won’t come out” He continues, “So it has to be real or it’s just spitting out nuts and bolts…….maybe that’s my excuse for being less than prolific.
How do you describe BOY ON A DOLPHIN?.......Well now we have a problem that has dogged their whole career. Ok, mmm, acoustic based –yes. Melodic, er definitely. Warm, moving, intimate, personal, yes personal! They have an uncanny way of making you feel that a song is directed at you personally. My advice is to switch off your phone, sit in a dark room and listen to the track TRAPEZE from their new album BARKERS POOL to THUNDER BAY. You will leave the room deeply moved and aware in your own mind of whom and what BOY ON A DOLPHIN are.

In the early nineties Reilly was training and riding Dolphins at the world renowned Tibshull Aquatic Centre and playing with Sheffield band Ministers of Inspiration, when together with Bassist ANDY NEEDHAM he decided to form a new band, adapting his own nickname, Dolphin boy to BOY ON A DOLPHIN and creating their new band name. They very soon added two of the very best players around to the line up. PETE HILEY, a guitarist with his own distinctive style and in demand drummer DARREN FORD.
For the next year they wrote and played incessantly, quickly building up a strong following who hungrily swallowed up the bands demos which they were pushed into putting on sale.
Without the knowledge of the band, one of their songs was entered into the British and International songwriters award. When it reached the final 10, the culprit had to come clean and the band insisted on using another name, the flippant ‘Expresso Bongo’ not being comfortable with music being a competition. They went on to win and to be fare were grateful for the money which helped to fund a trip for John, armed with new song demos to go to the Juno awards in Vancouver Canada where they had found a great fan and ally who owned a hotel there.
“Self promotion has always been my great failing. I just find it very embarrassing bulling up my own work so basically I just handed out as many demos as I could to the great and good and hoped that the music would do the talking” recalls John.
Two days after his returns, a steady stream of positive faxes started arriving but one call in the middle of the night from Canada’s biggest agent and co manager of Bryan Adams, SAM FELDMAN changed everything. Heading up to Whistler ski resort he heard the Boy on a Dolphin demo and had to pull the car over. He was moved (that word again) and excited, which led to the call in the early hours to John and the decision to fly to Britain to see if it was all real.
The band performed at the down at heel but well loved Sheffield venue The Pheasant and plans were soon made to fly the whole band to Vancouver to play and showcase. In the months that followed an uncanny bond between the band and the people of Vancouver grew and grew as they took BOY ON A DOLPHIN to their hearts. The band signed with Atlantic and began recording back in England with producers KEVIN BACON and JON QUARMBY on their album debut WORDS INSIDE. The recording was completed and mixed on the SSL desk in Bryan Adams house over looking the beautiful West Vancouver bay. The album has a very special vibe of positivity and a spiritual element that has endeared it to so many. Billboard magazine urged all music lovers to dive in, which they did just as the band did with an extensive tour of The US and Canada. BOY ON A DOLPHIN are at there best live and they brought Paul Carracks brilliant Sax player STEVE BEIGHTON along with them as well as COLIN ELLIOT (now with RICHARD HAWLEY) on percussion. The band were stunned, though, to learn that the album was not being released in the UK were they already had a strong following who bizarrely had to pay over the odds to get their favourite British bands music on import.... and thousands did.
The song FIRE was at one stage the most played non-Canadian song on radio and other songs from the album were used in the movie Tokyo Cowboy, Neon Rider and TV shows Due South and Dawson Creek. The band then did lots of TV, including MTV, MUCH MUSIC, and MUSIQUE PLUS etc and 2 half hour specials on the band were aired and produced by BCTV. They toured and sold out every major City in Canada then moved to the U.S. where they played TOWER RECORDS On Sunset Boulevard and worked their way down the West Coast of America and after a sell out show at THE GREAT AMERICAN MUSIC HALL in San Francisco the band were told of a massive change of personnel from top to bottom at Atlantic Records.
They immediately lost their A&R man Scott Smith and their fans and allies in the New York office had gone too, right at the time when they were outselling PAUL MCCARTNEY and GEORGE MICHAEL in places like Colorado which was to be part of the next leg of the tour.
An uncomfortable manager/Label battle followed with FELDMAN doggedly battling on behalf of the band with people who had different agendas and had other acts to push as they came in from different labels. The band that had been riding the rapids full speed ahead was now sitting on the riverbank waiting for something to happen.
Bass player ANDY NEEDHAM recalls,
“I have never felt so frustrated in my life and we all felt so much for Sam who had shown so much belief in us. But that’s how brutal it is! The cd continued to sell without the financial backing of the new regime but the money for tour support seemed to be an endless negotiation so the rest of the band returned to England and just John and me stayed to promote the band on radio and performed with 2 acoustic guitars. Then I returned to England and John stayed on in Vancouver for a while.”
And so ended the first part of their adventure in a tortuous and long period of contractual limbo. An awkward and frustrated gap followed with bemused stateside Dolphin fans writing and asking when the band were to return and the band doubting whether they wanted to be in involved with a major label again.
For the next 2 years the band fragmented with John being invited on a song writing tour of the U.S. and Canada by Canada’s biggest independent publisher where he co wrote with great writers such as Jim Vallance, Bill Henderson and Nashville writer Daryl Burgess; all experienced multi million selling writers and then with young up and coming Canadian artistes such as Annette Ducharme and Kim Kuzma who went on to have great success using the songs. Meanwhile back in Sheffield, Andy Needham joined forces with Geoff Barrowdale (now manager of Arctic Monkeys) in the band Seafruit which gave him great experience in quirky and imaginative writing which is now visible in his co writes with Reilly on songs such as ‘Perry Como sang to me last night in my sleep’
John Reilly returned to England and conscious of having not played live for a while, he joined up with the best session players in the area including guitarist and Chrysalis guitarist/writer/arranger Cary Baylis who had written massive hits for Take That and The Spice Girls and Dolphin drummer Darren Ford, Bassist Marcus Axelby (who played Bass for Dolphin during Andy’s absence) and Sax player Steve Beighton. They began to play live and one night Pete and Andy from Boy on a Dolphin were at the gig. The audience recognising them as Dolphin members began to urge them to get up and do some Dolphin songs. Some of the other players stepped down and for the first time in over 2 years the band BOY ON A DOLPHIN played and brought the house down. It was obvious that they had to make the effort to get back playing.
Over the previous few years, the music industry had changed beyond recognition with production costs dropping, online sales and for the first time ever, a band, if good enough, could make its own way without being swallowed up by major labels or constrictive contracts. The band, still bruised by the Atlantic nightmare decided to just play and record and not approach any labels or publishers. It was 2002.
In their hometown of Sheffield within 18 months they went from 350 at The Boardwalk, to 500 at The Memorial Hall, then 900 at The Leadmill and then became the first ever totally Independent band to sell out the 2,500 seater Sheffield City Hall, which they have now achieved 6 times. Sell out shows at The Borderline and Ronnie Scott’s in London have also followed after the release of their cd ‘Treetalk’ which was made up of previously unreleased tracks and live tracks from The Leadmill. An EP with the emotive title track ‘Life’s a blast’ followed and is now on it’s 5th pressing. The song was adopted by various Women’s movements all over the world as its theme offers genuine strength and hope to women in abusive relationships without being sentimental or trite.
Slowly but surely it became obvious from the online sales at and the amazing acceleration of iTunes downloads that the bands US, Canadian and South African fan bass where beginning to find them and after buying TREETALK and LIFE’S A BLAST it was even more obvious that everyone was desperate for a new full studio album. In 2005, pre production began with producer/Engineer - Mike Timm (Richard Hawley & Jarvis Cocker) at Sheffield’s Steelworks Studios. The band where determined to fill the CD with great songs from start to finish. Spiritual, magical and brave songs such as TRAPEZE. A song, which has the most amazing effect on a live audience, and songs with the wit of PERRY COMO (Sang to me last night in my sleep) The CD was mixed and then Mastered at The Town House in London. The band have brought in ART music an ally for funding and expertise and the cd goes out for reviews from October 2006 and the first single with unreleased B sides will be released at the bands hometown Sheffield City Hall concert on Friday 15th December 2006.

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Boy on a Dolphin

boy on a dolphin