Toy are a band who, despite the childlike name, have a lot of responsibility on their young shoulders. They aren’t just any trendy new band. They are the band that music industry decided would be the next BIG trendy new band. That was before they’d even released their eponymous debut album.
It is tricky to fathom exactly how these things happen. But, somehow, the sound of late 2012 is set to be motorik-tinged psyche-rock performed by skinny mods with natty vintage shirts and mops of messy hair.
Thankfully, Toy are taking it all in their stride.
They came together following the disbanding of the greatest indie-band that never was: Joe Lean and the Jing Jang Jong. Vocalist and guitarist, Tom Dougall: guitarist, Dominic O’Dair; and drummer, Maxim Barron got together with drummer, Charlie Salvidge and Spanish keyboardist, Alejandra Diez in 2010.
Salvidge met up with the rest of the band after moving from Gloucester to Brighton to study music at BIMM. They were all fans of sixties’ psyche-nights and mod weekends.
“We saw each other at clubs over the years, I moved down on the day after they spoke about putting together a band”, explains Charlie of the band’s early days.
Charlie had been drumming since he was a kid and shared a love of records from the sixties and seventies with a distinctive “dry” drum sound. He cites T-Rex’s Cosmic Dancer as a major influence on his musical style.
Alejandra, on the other hand, was working as an Accident and Emergency Nurse – a career that she maintains even as the band gains momentum. She’s recently been promoted to Senior Nurse, which makes for an admirable and intriguing double life.
Salvidge and Diez walked into what was already a tight unit from the Jing Jang Jong days. Was it difficult? Simply put: no. Toy come across as a band that are as much about friendship as they are the music.
Charlie is philosophical about it: “With any band, there’s always intense moments and there will be people getting worked out. But we are a close band”
After forming, the band spent a year writing and rehearsing before taking the plunge and performing live. It was a decision that gave them room to “get the sound right”.
The album, released in September was recorded back in May 2012 allowing plenty of time for a healthy buzz to develop around the band. A buzz that Charlie is modestly aware of:
“People were really excited about it and it made us feel really good. I couldn’t wait for the album to be released.”
Once the record was out and the reviews started rolling in, the band found themselves in to the odd position of reading their own reviews as well as meeting fans face-to-face:
“It is surreal! There have been a lot of people coming up with the record and congratulating us.”
Praise indeed for a record that was recorded in a cramp and ramshackle studio in Stretton. Toy worked with producer Dan Carey, who they had recorded early demos with. The chaotic surroundings and tight-knit atmosphere fed the mesmerising and absorbing sound of the album.
Then there are the inevitable comparisons. It is hard to read an article about Toy without noticing a refrain of references to bands and styles from the past. And let’s not forget the friendship with The Horrors, which led to Toy supporting them on their 2011 tour.
“The comparisons are a compliment. We listen to new stuff too, but we draw influences from psychedelic rock and krautrock.” Salvidge is quick to point out that the influences are not intentional or pre-meditated.
As for The Horrors, they are considered “mates” and mentors rather than a direct musical influence. They were the guys who gave Toy their first big stage and “showed them the ropes”.
Regardless of labels and comparisons, Toy’s sound is easy to get lost in. It is full of lush, vividly drawn soundscapes and driving beats that build to spaced-out and shimmering crescendos. The languid vocals almost melt into the surroundings, begging the question: do the band ever find themselves getting lost in the music?
Salvidge has a handy ratio for creating musical magic: “I just go for it. Performing is 50% concentration and 50% just letting myself go.”
Whether Toy will deliver on the “hottest new hypesters” promise remains to be seen. For now, they appear to be enjoying a buzz that they have worked damned hard to create. They might be called Toy, but they get up to far more than just play.
Words: Jenny Evans
Check out the bands live dates in the UK & Europe throughout the rest of October and November here.