Hi Pol, thanks for taking the time out to answer some questions for the Planetmosh readers.
PM. I believe you had held the album launch back in late November 2013, with the lead single ‘Get on It’ released shortly before, so why this re-launch?
The single “Get On It” was released as a taster for the record and we did some gigging at that time including a few small shows in Germany. All was going to plan when we had a couple of publishing deals put infront of our noses so we held off releasing it, deliberated, naturally, and after doing some homework we found that it’s better to be unsigned than signed to a stinking deal. That left us up “sugar” creek with no paddle and we found ourselves without a label or publishing deal and still hadn’t released the album. As all this was going on, Stevie (the drummer) became a father, Andy (the bassist) joined GUN and I was diagnosed with Thyroid cancer and had to go for major surgery, radiotherapy and there was doubts as to whether I’d ever sing again. So you could say it’s been an eventful year and hopefully justifies why it’s taken so damn long!
PM. Most bands would be writing there next album, did you feel the debut wasn’t supported enough at launch and you felt it needed to be out there, to be heard?
The writing process never stops, truth be told. Granted, there’s days and weeks where you don’t write, but from a personal point of view I never write sitting down with an instrument. The songs always come when I’m boiling the kettle or walking to the bus stop and I grab my phone and do a voice tag. It’s bizzare, because for a good while there was nothing happening in terms of new material, then this last while…BOOM…lots of new stuff. So album #2 is gonna be a huge step forward for us. We’re a much better band now than we were in 2013! So again, the release didn’t happen..this is it! The scheduled release was postponed about six times for the reasons above, which were pretty much out of our control.
PM. I think the album is great, was the whole recording process made easier by working with Nick Brine and Dan Hawkins?
Thanks! Yeah, of course! Working with those guys was amazing! A very steep learning curve, you know, it was like having Messi and Ronaldo join your 5-a-side team. They have great ears, great ideas and helped us see things more clearly. Nick has become a dear friend and mentor of sorts and Dan…well, i learnt to play guitar playing along with “Permission To Land…”, so that was like a childhood dream coming to fruition.
PM. Part of the production process involved the band going to Rockfield Studios in Monmouth, Wales. Queen, Sabbath, and Robert Plant have all used it. What was your reason for going there?
Nick is based down there in Monmouthshire. We had it in our heads that we didn’t want to record in Glasgow. We wanted to remove ourselves from our normal scene and immerse ourselves in the work side of making an album. Rockfield is just an amazing place and we were there in springtime. We also had Monmouth on our doorstep so we…hmmm….made the most of the pubs!
PM. Some of The Toi songs are very complex with multiple guitar parts and Keyboards, how difficult were they too record and did you bring in any outside musicians?
The whole process of making a professional sounding record was very demanding. It was highly pressurised, time was tight (we only had 10 days) and when you spend the first day trying to get a drum sound (we used Cradle of Filth’s drum kit!) it’s really intense. We didn’t bring anyone in – everything was played by us and Nick and a couple of beautiful ladies did BV’s on a couple of tracks.
PM. Songs like ‘Get on It’, “The One” and “Cold in the Night” are very catchy, easy songs to sing along to, however after a few listens you ( the listener) starts to really listen to the song’s lyrics, and realise they have a deeper meaning, a strong lyrical story runs through them, especially on the almost hateful ‘Get on It’ and the regretful “Cold in the Night”. Is the band that unlucky in love, or are these observations on “friends” relationships?
I think primarily, you have got to get peoples attention so you need in some respects that “neanderthal” chorus. Big, bombastic…lots of hooks. Converesly, you know once you have peoples attention you want to then tell them a story, give them something of substance. I’d say all writing is personal to some extent but, yeah, there’s some observations about other people and their troubles and triumphs.
PM. Which is your favorite song on the album and why?
It’s hard to pick a favourite. Everyone that’s heard it so far has their own favourite, which is good because it shows the album is strong from 1-10. Some records you hear and the singles and maybe one other track are strong and the rest is filler. We made ten killer tracks! Gun to my head, though, I’d say “Down By The River”. It’s inspired by two people very dear to me and is a huge song that always goes down well live. The message is a bit Springsteen, a bit Tommy ‘n’ Gina, you know: times are tough but if you love somebody then it doesn’t matter what life throws at you. Fidelity, love, faith…those things are important.
PM. Talking of songs, you seem to pick difficult vocal songs to cover, Black Velvet and Jolene spring to mind, why those choices?
If I remember correctly, it was Stevie who loved Alanah Myles so we jammed it and it sounded cool, like it had a whiff of Whitesnake about it with our arrangement at the chorus. Then Ilearned the lyrics and it’s pretty cool for a guy to sing up there. It’s pretty high. It was leftfield, a bit like Jolene.
We were in with Dante from GUN at their studio the other day doing another “leftfield” cover. We’re gonna do it as a free download for the kind souls who buy the album. Baring in mind thatI’ve had major surgery on my throat just a few weeks ago, you’d expect us to pick an easy song for a change but, no, the hardest bloody song I’ve ever sang! It was Andy’s idea. Thanks pal!
PM. Are you writing a follow-up album, or will you be touring this one and seeing which road the band ends up on?
We’re writing new material. Hopefully things go to plan and we have the chance to make album number two. We’ve had really shabby luck up until now. We’re getting amazing reviews for the album and anytime we play live we blow people out of the water, so we just need someone to take a punt on us and hopefully enable us to get some good support slots/festivals. You know what, I dare someone to let us open for them because we’re ready to blow everyone away. If you have us on first, you’d better raise your game cause we’re the real deal. No samples, no miming, it’s all real, balls-out and we’ve worked damn hard to get to where we are. Nothing has been handed to us, so we’re ready to do the same again for album two and beyond!
PM. I am assuming you all work day jobs, what do you all do?
Stevie works as a Foreman for a big construction firm. Andy was a Chef and is now a Fitness instructor/part time superstar with GUN and I’m fifteen years working in kitchens, although I’m off until I finish my treatment.
PM. And finally, tell the readers why they should go to a Toi live show?
Come and see us because, unlike the stadium bands, we give you value for money and we’ll usually buy you a drink if you come and chat with us! It will also give us a chance to thank you in person for downloading the album multiple times and keeping a roof over our heads! Thanks for your time guys!
Members: Lead Guitar & Vocals – Paul “Healy” Healy Lead Bass & Lead Backing Vocals – Andy “Pumba” Carr Lead Drums – Stevie “Dog” McLay