These British lads were the hype of the music media just 2 years ago. Their debut album was one of the best albums that year and everyone seemed to be talking about them. During the last year, Toy have been experimenting with lasers and smoke machines in the studio, while preparing their second album, Join The Dots ([PIAS], 2013). The feeling is that they’ve shaken the initial pressure and now they’re ready to show what they’re really capable of. The sound expands and shows varied influences, making it difficult to classify them.
ROCKAST talk to guitarist Dominic O’Dair to find out more about their impressions on the new album, their record label boss, and of course, the smoke machines.
You’ve released the new album Join The Dots just a year after you’re debut. Did you feel it was just the right time?
We were quite keen to release soon after the first album. We write all the time whenever we have the chance. We write in-between touring. For us it made sense to release at that time, we didn’t feel like we needed any more time. If we had released it after a longer time frame, we would have just been waiting with a finished album.
How did you approach this new album? You made it while you were touring I guess.
We made it in-between tours. We don’t actually write that much on tour. There’s not much time on tour. We like to make it in or own houses especially. Whenever we got the chances, we are writing stuff and recording it in our houses. We started to find time to rehearse and develop them more. As soon as we thought we were ready we started recording.
I’ve heard you took it like a full time job, working on the album from 9 to 5PM is that right?
No, schedules are really unpredictable. We found the time from wherever we can. Daytime or night.
How is the writing process?
We did individual songs, but other times we all sit down, and someone will come up with quite a small section and we all develop it together. We have a varied approach to write songs and we’re open to different methods. It keeps us fresh.
“It’s important for us to feel that we can go to any direction”
And what’s that story about lasers and smoking machines in the studio while recording?
Well we set it up a long time ago, before the first album, we don’t use it the whole time, just while we’re recording, as it creates a cool atmosphere in the studio.
Was it easier to make than your previous album and EP?
Well we have slightly more time for this album, so it’s cooler in that sense. We were able to experiment with different kind of instruments and sounds. We had a day of playing mellotron, and experimenting with effects and stuff. So it was really cool. So I think both of our albums were really enjoyable process to make, and we enjoy the recording process.
And you’re working again with Dan Carey (Bat For Lashes, Hot Chip), what does the producer add to the sound of the band?
He works with us on both albums. He’s a really good friend of us. He is really open to exploring and experimenting. Is very funny to work with him. After we make the songs, when it comes to remix them he’s able to discuss everything and all the different mixing points. We have a cool balance relationship, where we can get the sound as close as possible to the sounds of our head.
What do you need in order to make a band work?
The main thing is that all of the people in the band they must get on really well, we’re friends anyway. You also need to have the same vision for the kind of music you want to make, because without that, there is never going to be fun, never going to work, never going to be enjoyable.
“The music industry is being as creative as possible, playing shows and producing records”
Some people talk about psychedelia, some about post-punk, but the thing is, that is a bit difficult to define your sound, I guess that’s a good thing right?
Definitely, we don’t see ourselves as one specific type of genre at all. We’re often asked to describe our sound, but as soon as you start trying to define your sound, you start to categoryze it, and that’s something we don’t ever want to do. It’s really important for us to feel that we can go to any direction and explore any musical direction. Even on an EP or one album. It seems very limiting for us. We just wanna have the freedom to sound whatever way we want.
You’re releasing the album in Heavenly Records, which is one of the most talk about labels in UK right now. How is it to work with Jeff Barret?
It’s really great. I really like Jeff, is a really music fan. We had a really good time together and he’s been very good to us. It’s nice to work with him. He’s got a heritage of music behind him. He likes the same bands as us and he works with a lot of bands.
Maybe some years ago it would take more time to say this, but in 3 years you got to release a couple of albums, be on the Top lists albums, have shows in some of the best festivals in the world… Do you have the sensation you grow up as a band too quickly?
No, I don’t think so. We have always been playing music, and we’ve played in different bands before. We were jet keen to play really hard and keep going.
Any song your particularly proud?
I’m really proud of the songs we get here, I think they really good. Songs are really enjoyable to play live.
How do you see the music industry from inside?
For us the music industry is probably a different experience to other people. The fact of being in an independent label… for us the music industry is being as creative as possible, playing shows and producing records.
And last question, are you happy?
Yeah I feel incredibly lucky where we are. I’m very excited about how we are progressing and how we are creating so yeah, I feel very lucky.