Published Sep 24, 2012What advice do you give a teenager stuck playing in a buzz band called Joe Lean and the Jing Jang Jong? Quit, take the rest of the members with you (save the "buffoon" of a singer) and form the band you always dreamed of fronting. That's what Tom Dougall did.
"We were 17 when we started doing it," says Dougall, now the frontman of TOY. "It took off quite quickly, and we got signed. We were just back-up players, and it wasn't our thing at all. We always wanted to start our own band and were even talking about doing this while we were still in the Jing Jang Jong.
"I don't think any of us really had a good time in that band," he adds. "It was a really low point in our lives. We all felt pretty oppressed for a couple years, but everything's back on track with this band."
Originally from Brighton but now based in London, UK, Dougall and company quickly found themselves in a similar scenario, as TOY built up hype in the British press before they were ready for it. This time, however, it felt different, knowing they were earning praise for making music they loved.
"It was never our kind of music when we were playing in [the Jing Jang Jong]," he explains. "We would listen to other kinds of music, like '60s psychedelic music, Can, Neu!, stuff like that. Doing TOY is the first time we've been able to write the songs ourselves."
TOY's self-titled debut album is the collective sound of five music lovers uniting and paying homage to their influences: the phantasmagorical noise of psych-rock, the motorik rhythms of Krautrock and shoegaze's blurry melodies.
"I think people can find a place where you can escape to with our music," says Dougall. "[And find] a feeling of otherness and something that's disconnected from the real world."
Surprisingly, the standout on TOY is an orchestral ballad teeming with Britpop hooks and tenderly named "My Heart Skips A Beat." Dougall says that was the song they spent the most time on.
"We like pretty sounds and melodies, if you treat the song in the right way," he admits. "We tried to be careful not to make it sound too slushy because obviously it's a romantic song. If you have something odd going on and combine otherworldly sounds with what could be seen as a simple love song, you can end up with something interesting that isn't too sentimental."