Well by now you might have read the bad news that the Hostess Club Weekender scheduled for this Saturday 14th June has been CANCELLED. A real pity because I was really looking forward to seeing TOY. In any case, here’s my interview piece with drummer Charlie Salvidge which was slated for TODAY before the unfortunate cancellation – revised accordingly. Damn.
English quintet TOY burst onto the indie music scene in 2011 with a buzz-worthy single “Left Myself Behind”. The hype surrounded that debut release earned the band a place in NME’s prestigious ‘100 New Bands You Have to Hear’ in early 2012. Since that accolade, the band has grown from strength to strength releasing two well-received albums in quick succession. Consisting of Tom Dougall (vocals, guitars), Dominic O’Dair (guitars), Maxim Barron (bass), Charlie Salvidge (drums) and Alejandra Diez (keyboards), TOY has been praised by music fans and critics alike for its ability to compress the influences of 60s psychedelic-folk-rock, 70s electronic krautrock, 80s post-punk and 90s shoegaze into a refreshing and invigorating mix that allows the band to stand out from the faceless modern rock masses.
Speaking to drummer Charlie Salvidge over the phone, it’s clear that one of the factors behind TOY’s success is the band’s lack of artifice. Salvidge is often pragmatic and down-to-earth in his responses and it’s comforting to know that rock ‘n’ roll authenticity still exists in this age of inflated egos and over-exposed amateurs. Yes, it is good to know that the simple things still matter. Like building a fan base through playing your music to as many people live (as opposed to from your bedroom via YouTube). To that end, TOY has been supporting its excellent sophomore effort – Join the Dots – with European and American tours.
According to Salvidge, the response has been good thus far but the key takeaways relate to the band fine-tuning its setlist for maximum impact – a hallmark of a band that is always improving itself. “The set has been pared down to the really good ones,” explained Salvidge, “we have revised some of the songs off the first album like ‘Lose My Way'”. The fact that that that is one of the band’s most popular tunes reflects TOY’s willingness to overturn the cart, even slightly, to expand its art – all in service to the music first.
TOY lovers have found that on the longer songs (e.g. “Kopter” and “Conductor”), the band excels in exploring the upper limits of its craft. Salvidge concurs – “playing the longer songs is good fun. We are able to let loose a little bit. As a drummer, I can be careful and play very tight or go totally mental. On these songs, I can just let go and thrash around!”
It’s obvious that Salvidge and his mates enjoy the live experience (as all rock ‘n’ rollers should!) although the monotonous routine before and after a concert can present its own unique challenges. “Usually we travel the entire day, arrive and soundcheck at 5pm and then wait backstage for the show to begin. That’s a long time to wait around and there’s nothing to do but drink,” Salvidge elaborated, “And when the show’s finished, we’re on a high and so we go out for clubbing and get really really drunk – then it starts all over again”.
Despite the routine nature of touring, Salvidge recalls memorable highlights of life on the road. “At Glastonbury, we did an unannounced show after our set at a little tent. The pressure was off and so it was more like jamming – that was a highlight for us,” Salvidge added, “there was one show, recently at New York, I enjoyed as well”. Salvidge also recounted a somewhat less memorable experience at the East End Live Festival. “We got on at about 4am and when we got on, we were not in a good place and we simply thrashed it out. A microphone stand was thrown over my head and there were various missiles flying during the performance!”