Ahead of their show at The Wardrobe in Leeds, singer and guitarist Tom Dougall spoke to the YEP.
As an independent guitar band, you formed later than most of the British acts doing the circuit at the turn of the millennium. Most of these crashed and burned early on. What has kept you inspired and hungry, in a genre that appears to have been written off largely by the mainstream music press and radio?
We tend to see ourselves as independent from any particular scene or genre so we’re less affected by the coming and going of different movements and fashions. We all have a constant desire to explore new directions and try to take our music to new places. We all really enjoy making music together and that’s what keeps us pushing forward.
You are signed to Heavenly, who have quite the roster including Mark Lanegan of Screaming Trees/QOTSA. Would you consider a collaboration/cover album of the like you created with Bat For Lashes/Sexwitch project?
It’s great being signed to Heavenly – they’ve remained faithful to us since the beginning and they give us free reign to do our thing, which we greatly appreciate. Jeff, Danny and all of the Heavenly crew are great people. We are always open to collaborations because they open the doors to different interesting musical avenues.
Who are the bands that are making waves for themselves in Brighton at present?
Prince Vaseline are my favourite band from Brighton at the moment, they’re great friends and are coming with us on tour starting from Tuesday in Birmingham. When tom, panda and I were growing up there we listened to various other excellent Brighton bands such as the Electric Soft Parade, Brakes, Eighties Matchbox B Line Disaster and the British Sea Power.
Your new album ‘Clear Shot’, tell us about it. What influences and what stories make up its core?
We don’t ever take influences directly, so each record is a combination of all the emotions and events that we’ve experienced collectively plus music, books, art and films etc that we’ve been imbibing. I think cinematic music may have been a bit more prevalent in our minds whilst making this, but really what we try to do most is to make something that is takes on its own individual form.
Have you played Leeds before, and if so how do Yorkshire fans compare to fans in the South?
We’ve found Leeds to be a great place to play gigs. We have many friends from Yorkshire and always have a great time up Leeds way. I love it when audiences are raring to go, when you look out into the crowd and everyone is dancing and having whale of a time it makes everything glorious and fun.
If you could go on tour with any band, past or present, who would it be?
The Beach Boys, around 1966.
David Bowie has a very famous unreleased album called TOY. Where did your band name originate from, and do you have any hidden/unreleased work that will ever see daylight?
We’ve been writing a lot of new songs and can’t wait to bring them to completion for our fourth record. We’re going to do a lot of writing and recording after our winter tour in January and February and also have a new EP planned.
Speaking of David Bowie, your influences have been cited as Krautrock, a genre David Bowie heavily used as an influence on his ‘Berlin Trilogy’. Which bands or genres or musical eras do you look to when creating and developing new material?
We really like get our hands on just about everything. There are great pieces of music from every genre and sub genre. On this tour we’ve been listening constantly to a lot of different types of folk music, like the Albion Country Band, Tudor Lodge, and the soundtracks to Blood On Satan’s Claw and Kes. Heron too. And Led Zeppelin.
Sam Riley of the now defunct Leeds band 10,000 Things, went on to star in the remake of Brighton Rock. Who would play you in a film of your life, or which film would you rather star in, Brighton Rock or Quadrophenia?
I love the original Brighton Rock, Richard Attenborough is fantastic.
If you could curate your own Brighton Great Escape festival, who would you have play?
Velvet Underground, Dorothy Ashby, The incredible String Band, Beach Boys, Broadcast, Roman Flugel, Steve Reich.
TOY play at The Wardrobe in Leeds on November 26. www.facebook.com/toy.band/