Toy – Kendal Calling – live review and interview

Toy
Calling Out Stage, Kendal Calling, Cumbria
28 July 2012

Toy are making waves with their blend of Krautrock and psychedelia that is presented as a wall of sound live. We caught their set on the Calling Out stage on Saturday at Kendal Calling and then grabbed the band for a chat about their sound, their album and tour plans as well as where they stand on the music piracy debate.

It’s early evening on Saturday at Kendal Calling and it’s quiet in the Calling Out tent. People lurk around in the shadows at the edges and tentatively pick their way across the mud and debris in the centre. There are few people in fancy dress, more in wellie boots, anoraks and floral crows, neon face paint smeared across cheeks and chins.

By the time Toy take to the stage there is a knot of people behind a solid line of those along the barrier. By the end of the first song the number of people has doubled, the sounding bringing in those passing or hanging around just outside.

The sound. A pure wall of sound. It resonates out from the stage, building in intensity then crashing over and around you. The solid beat in the back with keyboards swarming above, a melting come-down to the guitar freak out happing centre stage.

It’s all hanging hair and cranked up volume. Distortion as each song unravels, a frantic pace at which to play without rushing a single number. There are touches of The Horrors later works but plenty from further back in time too – aesthetically channelling the laid back dirty glam of the late ’60s with psychedelia and krautrock. This is noisy but it’s approachable too.

More people arrive, dancing begins but there is a distance between the band and audience which cannot be crossed tonight. They are here to play, no small talk please, just down to business and getting lost in the music.

Recent singles Motoring and Left Myself Behind bring in even more and by the time the set comes to a drawn out, blistering crescendo the tent is nearly full. Pulsating lights, wavering vocals, scuzzy guitars and a glimmering keyboard melody; Toy took psychedelic indie rock to Kendal and the festival took it to their hearts.

After their set we caught up with Panda, Dom and Charlie from the band for a chat at Tim Peaks Diner. 

LTW: That was a great set – how are you enjoying Kendal Calling?

Panda: “It’s a great setting and good crowd at Kendal Calling. The crowd seemed to grow as our set went on and people were getting into it. There was some dancing down the front.”

Dom: “We’ve really enjoyed what we’ve seen of Kendal Calling so far but we have to get off tonight so we’re not getting to hang around or catch any other bands, which is a shame.”

Charlie: “We’ve been playing lots of festivals over the last few months. We did Latitude and Port Elliot, this little literature and music festival, that was really nice.”

Panda: “We’re looking forward to the Number 6 Festival at Portmeirion where The Prisoner was filmed. They’ve got a great line-up – Primal Scream. New Order – we’ll definitely be checking out other bands that weekend!”

Dom: “We played Tramlines last week as well, in Sheffield. That was good.”

Panda: “Yeah, these urban, inner city, festivals, like Tramlines or the Great Escape in Brighton are really nice way to do a festival. Get lots of small venues really packed out and then move around the place to see the next band.”

LTW: You’ve released an album teaser track this week and the album itself is due in September. Has it been a long process to record the album? What can we expect from it?

Charlie: “It didn’t take that long to actually record the album. I think it was about 11 days in the studio, with Dan Carey who has also produced The Kills. We recorded it pretty live.”

Dom: “It’s a happy sounding album and I think it reflects the sort of band we are and how we play live.”

Panda: “We just can’t wait for people to hear it now.”

Dom: “I think live you get a wall of sound from us and the album is a bit cleaner sounding. You can hear the different elements of what we play and the songs more clearly on the album.”

Panda: “It’s definitely a wall of sound live. Particularly at a festival you want to play as hard and fast as you can. The album is a good reflection of that but we’re perhaps louder live!”

LTW: For those that haven’t managed to catch you live yet or checked out your previous releases how would you describe your sound? 

Panda: “It’s quite hard to describe our sound. There’s definitely elements of everything we like in there – you can hear a bit of Sonic Youth, My Bloody Valentine, a bit of krautrock, some psychedelia.”

Charlie: “When we first got together we spent about nine months just holed up together trying to work out how we wanted to sound.”

Dom: “I think the fact we’ve known each other since we were kids, and known we all like similar stuff meant we started with the same agenda, the same ideas.”

Panda: “Yeah, we all tend to think the same thing at the same time.”

LTW: What’s the dynamic in the band? How does the songwriting process work? Does one lead or is it very much a group thing?

Panda: “Oh, it’s completely collaborative. Any person can come in with any idea. We can all play other instruments so we tend to swap around as we work ideas out.”

Dom: “It’s a really fun way to work actually.”

Charlie: “Yeah, the album was probably so quick to record because we all agreed on the ideas and work well together.”

LTW: And the album ‘Toy’ is due on 10 September through Heavenly – what’s the plan after it’s released?

Dom: “We want to get on with recording stuff for the second album as soon as possible. We want to release an album a year. So, yeah back to the studio as soon as possible really.”

Panda: “We’ll be touring the UK and hopefully Europe as well but as Dom says we want to get back to the studio as quickly as possible. As well as an album a year we’d like to put out some EPs too – maybe with more experimental stuff on. We work hard and play hard, we want to release as much stuff as possible really.”

Charlie: “We like the idea of releasing loads of stuff. Like Stereolab did. They just released loads and got a sort of cult following because of it.”

Panda: “When you like making records you sort of want to make as many as you possibly can.”

Dom: “And if you’re into a band it’s really nice to have a huge amount of material to delve into and discover. We want to give people that.”

Panda: “It’s good to be signed to a label who will let us record and release this way. I think if we were on a major label then we’d end up in that traditional cycle. That just wouldn’t work for us. Doing it this way is definitely something that is important to us.”

LTW: You’ve released your singles so far on vinyl. Is format something that’s important to you as a band? There’s been a lot of debate again recently about the impact of downloading on the music industry – what are your thoughts on this?

Dom: “In some ways I think downloading is damaging music but in another way it’s great that you can get into stuff.”

Panda: “YouTube is a great medium. You can loads of music. it’s available to everyone and it means it’s easy to get into bands from other countries. As a working band it’s hard when people don’t pay for your music but if you’re willing to work hard at playing live you can still make it work.”

Dom: “And everyone knows MP3 is rubbish format. You might download something for free to try it out but if you really love something you want to hear it better quality and vinyl gives you that. The vinyl resurgence is great.”

Charlie: “True music fans always go back to vinyl.”

LTW: What have you all been listening to recently? Do you have similar or different tastes within the band?

Panda: “I really like Tame Impala. And Charlie Boyer and The Voyeurs, sort of wonky weird pop.”

Charlie: “Death in Vegas, Deerhunter.”

Panda: “I’ve been getting into CAN The Lost Tapes as well. That they had so much stuff lying about is just amazing.”

Dom: “There’s definite overlap between our tastes but plenty of differences too. I think it all feeds into our own music. We tend to listen to stuff while we’re travelling around. We spend a lot of time on the bus so we all load up our iPods and then just work our way through them all during the millions of hours on the bus.”

Toy have announced a UK headline tour for autumn.

Dates are:

  • Fri 19 Oct Sheffield, Plug
  • Sat 20 Oct Birmingham, HMV Temple
  • Tues 23 Oct Norwich, Waterfront Studio
  • Wed 24 Oct London, Heaven ”“ The Fly presents show
  • Thurs 25 Oct Southampton, Talking Heads
  • Sat 27 Oct Brighton, Green Door Store
  • Sun 28 Oct Manchester, Ruby Lounge
  • Mon 29 Oct Newcastle, Cluny
  • Tues 30 Oct Glasgow, Sleazy’s

The eponymously-titled debut album will be released on 10 September through Heavenly.

All images by Andrew Allcock.
All words by Sarah Lay. You can read more from Sarah on LTW here or follow her on Twitter.

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