TOY band webFri 17th August, Green Man Festival

A Friday made up largely of rain, and an opportunity to take some time out in a porta-cabin with the members of super new and super fast-moving TOY. If you haven’t heard, they produce a sort of pop soothed with a gentle amount of psychedelia and often placed under the strange idea of ‘motorik’, devised to address the steady tread of the hypnotic beats that replicate the cognitive process of bumbling along in your auto-mobile, I guess? The two fellas kind enough to talk to me about it all are Dominic O’Dair (Guitar) and Maxim Barron (Bass), though listen (read) out for some of the others to chime in later on in our hot conversation about inane TV.

Only festival of the summer, or one of many?

Maxim: We’re doing quite a few actually, we’re off to Japan in about six hours to do Summer Sonic. We did one in Marseille, we did Latitude, we’re doing Rock-en-Seine, and Reading and Leeds.

Have you managed to go to any so far in the UK where it hasn’t rained?

Maxim: We’ve been lucky a few times, at Latitude the sun came out just as we started which was nice. I think this is one of the wettest ones we’ve done, I mean there’s even a small pond forming out there; the heavens have opened.

Do you think that with playing festival shows, there’s an added pressure?

Maxim: You don’t get as much preparation as maybe you do at your own show, but we quite like the fact that you can jump straight on stage, and start playing. It is different but I don’t think there’s more or less pressure really either way, they’re both really fun.

I know all of you, or some of you, were in previous projects, so what was the mission in you all coming together, and starting it?

Maxim: We’ve known each other for a long time and we all share very much the same taste, and we often hung out together so we wanted to start playing together, because it’s something we all really enjoy doing.

Dominic: The bands we were in before, we weren’t always with people who shared our same tastes, so we wanted every person in the band to contribute and feel the same about our music. I think before we felt, not session musicians as such, but that we just didn’t feel as part of it as we could have. Us two and also Tom were in that band; we were just young and got asked to do it, so we did it. But this definitely our own thing that we play and fully believe in.

Is the album debut (self-titled, out 10th Sept) very much a collection of songs from day zero, or is there unheard material on there too?

Maxim: Yes, there is some unheard material, our first single is not on there because it had been out so long there wasn’t much point putting it in, but I think it’s a good documentation of what we’ve done from the start until this April (when recording began).

So I assume that means they were written over a very disparate time-span?

Maxim: Some of them were finished in the studio, just in the ten days we had to record.

So do you think you still manage to get a sense of autonomous conception over the span of the album, despite being written at such different times?

Maxim: I think so yes, the album works really well as a whole, and everything does seem to make sense I think. To be honest, we haven’t really been going that long, so it’s not like there’s any massive gaps in the writing process.

As you look forward, past that album coming out, and as you sit down to write that new album, is there any area you’ll look to progress from?

Dominic: We want to have an EP out next September, because we want to release a record every year, at roughly the same time. So we would like to have an EP where we’re free to be a bit more experimental and maybe have a bit more time if we do it ourselves, and it won’t be tied down to any particular approach. Making the album, it was a case of putting down the songs that we had been playing live that we hadn’t recorded yet, whereas with the EP we’d like there to be a bit more of a spontaneous element.

Maxim: We’d really like to use that opportunity to educate ourselves about the tools on offer in the studio, which will hopefully inform our making of the second full-length that will come out the year after. We’re definitely interested in being as prolific as we can be.

Dominic: Yeah definitely, because when you have a band that’s doing fairly well, you have this great opportunity to use it as a platform to get stuff out there, so I think if we didn’t it would feel like a real waste. I think as well, the first album was only ever really able to do one kind of thing, and it was recorded live in a couple of takes to try and quickly capture ourselves as a band, we’d like to maintain that energy but also explore elsewhere.

I suppose in the first record you have to define yourselves and set your stall out, and so you can’t be too varied in that?

Dominic: Yeah, we had a time limit on it as well, about ten days, so we’d like to be able to utilise being in the studio a bit more.

Maxim: I actually think I’d like to do it in a similar amount of time with the next one, because then I think you’re compelled to do it in the most natural way, going over it and picking it apart takes you to a stage where the song loses that unique energy of originality. That’s something that I think people can hear in music, that sort of pressure.

As a festival punter, however long ago that was, what would be the first thing you made sure you brought with you?

Dominic: I would have brought some better boots. That’s not a very interesting answer, I’d bring a little house to live in, a wendy house maybe, where we could all sit and drink tea.

Then you might attract a lot of jealousy from fellow campers, maybe develop a ‘Lord of the Flies’ type situation?

Maxim: Yeah, we’ll just shut our curtains, our net curtains, and put all our doilies away.

What was your favourite childhood TOY?

Dominic: I had a red plastic violin, it didn’t have strings, but it made an electronic noise, it was really good.

Maxim: Yeah, it was a bit like ‘Guitar Hero’, you could tell we wanted to be Guitar Heroes from an early age.

What do you think is more important, work or play?

Dominic: Play.

If your band was a member of the cast of FRIENDS, which would it be?

Dominic: Yikes, I’m not sure we can answer that.

Charlie (Salvidge): Probably the bad tempered neighbour upstairs.

Maxim: Or maybe the Janice woman.

Dominic: I don’t even know who that is!

I was toying between that or the Simpsons…

Alejandra (Diez): Then maybe the hillbilly couple, with that guy who carries the shotgun and the woman who keeps on having babies and cats. Cletus is it?

Maxim: Yeah, he’d probably be us.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.