Tuesday, 9 September 2008

O children

Toby from O children and Bono Must Die! Who also wrote songs for Girls Aloud tells us about why he hates festivals, gets arrested for criminal damage and what he thinks of Girls Aloud

Toby and I were already quite drunk when we met and he agreed to do an interview, we headed back to my tent to grab some Gin and whiskey to have a bit more to drink and a chat before Metronomy started their set.

TR: so you were gonna work with Metronomy?

Toby: It was just a girl called Cumbolt kid who works a lot with her, and they said write a single for her, and I still haven’t gotten around to doing it. It’s just lack of communication and me being kinda busy.

TR: before O children you were in Bono Must Die! Right?

Toby: Bono Must Die, was the crutch of the whole thing, where we started off, we were making silly songs about celebrities and what have you, but at the same time we were more serious than that. With Bono must die! We got press in the tabloids which was kind of cool but the infamy you get with it doesn’t really work in general because you then have to prove yourself as more than a fash band where people see maybe because of what you wear, what you talk about, whereas O Children are more laid back and on the musical side of things as opposed to just songs about nothing.

This is more the direction you wanted to be going musically then?

Toby: Definitely, with bono must die it was cool, we had a lot of fun, but it wasn’t my kind of music, it just came out from nowhere as a project that I got a few band members into and then we did that. With o children it’s more stable because I’ve got a million ideas about where we’re gonna go, what we’re gonna do. It’s just better I guess.

So your new crooning vocal style, is that an influence from Ian Curtis ? or where do you get it from?

Toby: I wouldn’t say it was an Ian Curtis influence, we get a lot of people coming up to us and saying “hey you guys sound like joy division, you and your low voice” but in all honesty, Ian Curtis did not invent the baritone vocal, its not like no-one else sang low until Ian Curtis came along.

Is it just because of the aesthetics of the music you wanted to use baritone vocals, or is there anyone who influenced your vocal style?

Toby: I spent most of my music making career singing really, really high and trying to be like my heroes if you will, the people I listen to always have high voices; Radiohead and a bunch of other bands who sing in a very high frequency, but it really tires my voice out.

It’s natural for you to sing low?

Toby: It’s more natural, I have a very deep voice, and with my deep voice I thought I could have more range by using it in that way. We never said, we want to sound like joy division; we want to sound like Bauhaus or anything. We are influenced by post-punk but that doesn’t mean we aspire to be joy division or any of those bands. Its cool they’re getting a second wave, what with films and movies going out, and everyone is calling us new grave, but that’s not we decided to be it just turned into the sound we have which is definitely influenced by the post punk bands, gothic as well but were not trying to be like them, we’re just trying to be a good pop band with darker elements.

How do you expect the listener to feel when hearing O children

Toby: Personally, I’d like it to be like as if I was molesting them, it sounds really bad but I want it to be like we’re all hanging out at a party and I’m the guy that wants to turn you on, I want it to be to the point where you almost feel really turned on or horny by the sounds that we make, but not so much by force. I don’t want it to be a rape scenario where I’m raping the listener’s ears, I want people to understand the stuff I say, get turned on by it and also enjoy it. It’s very much lust based, there’s a lot of lust and seduction in the lyrics and the sound. We want people to have a good time, but when we get on stage we want people to feel like they need to get laid. It sounds bad but that is what it is!

Well at this festival I think that’s what a lot of people are thinking anyway

Toby: Well at festivals everyone is apparently trying to get laid, myself I hate festivals, I think they’re terrible, but this has been good because its more about the love of the landscape and scenery

How come you hate festivals?

Toby: I’ve just never had a good relationship with them, I went to Reading last weekend, and it was cool but the only reason it was cool is I got to see my favourite band, Queens of the Stone Age. I wasn’t hanging out with everyone else, festivals to me is just a bunch of people, in a place trying to get as drunk as they possibly can and although it’s a very endearing thing because we all need to kick back once in awhile and just let loose, at the same time its very much just not my scene. Getting drunk and happy is good once in awhile but when you get other people in there I feel very claustrophobic. When I’m at a festival, there are so many people, but it’s like I’ve never felt so alone.

I see what you mean, there is a unique atmosphere at festivals. So what kind of intentions do you have for the future of the band?

Toby: We want to make good pop songs, all this scene stuff now, like you got this post-horrors thing with loads of bands like ipso facto blah blah blah all those other bands

Pretty girls...

Toby: They are pretty girls but that’s besides the point. Musically what we want to do is make sounds that people can really enjoy but not get too caught up in our sound. We can go from doing the darkest most gothic song in the world to making a really nice pop song which is why I see us ultimately as a pop band. We’re just kind of making music that works so that everyone can enjoy it. We don’t wanna have an exclusive thing where people say “I like oh children but you don’t as well” we want everyone to enjoy it, because if you don’t want people to enjoy it, then it makes no sense.

One of toby’s friends, a small girl passes by and then offers to tell me the story of how Toby was arrested for criminal damage.

TR:So is she gonna tell us the story of how you got nicked for criminal damage?

Toby:Yeah go for it, I just wanna add this was a long time ago

Girl: It wasn’t that long ago it was a year and half ago or something, basically we went to this party and we thought the whole house was the same thing, you know sometimes theres a different flat. And we were just like lets find somewhere to sleep cos everyone else had passed out so we find this house and were like woah! where did that come from? Who’s room is in here?

Toby: I thought the guy we were staying with called Med, I thought was place was just a massive house and it was all his but it turned out….

Girl: he was like “oh amazing we can sleep here, shall we watch a DVD? Sure! Like rummaging through, finds one, puts it on, lies on the bed, stays awake for about three seconds, then passes out immediately, gets woken up by these police people…

Toby: I woke up with all these policeman at the place and we saw two girls cowering in fear like “what the fuck is this guy doing in my house?”

Girl:apparently they got home and got really scared, and went out and immediately called the police saying “people have broken into our house!” if we had broken in and tried to rob them, did they really think we would turn the TV on?

Toby: They shouldn’t have left the door open.

TR: was that your defence to the police?

Girl:Eventually they got it, at frst they were like “what?” but eventually they understood, didn’t they?

TR:So how did you get away without getting charged?

Toby: it was a caution as opposed to a formal charge, I still don’t know how we actually got in there.

Girl: we never got invited back to the house of course.

TR: is there anything about the festival you’re particularly enjoying?

Toby: I’m happy to be in the vicinity of Gang of Four, because I’ve loved them for so long, I met the guy from Gang of four outside the dressing room, that was kinda cool! I said to him you basically gave me the inspiration to start music and he said “oh….ok” and walked off. At the same time I feel its been a good time in general, good vibes, I get to hang out with people I haven’t seen for a very long time. This festival is really cool, its been more about seeing people that you know as opposed to actually playing. Our set was good but we woke up really hung over.

It didn’t show man, I guess that’s the benefit of the wayfarers, they hide the criminal eyes.

Toby: I know! The reason I wore these on stage is more as a defence mechanism than anything else. And when I was up there I was like, I don’t want to make eye contact with anyone because if I do I might be sick all over myself.

Do you get anxious about being on stage?

Toby: All the time, every time, I’ve been making music for a long time but while we make live music, I also feel really strange being on stage with all the focus on me and the rest of the band. It’s like again with the exclusive part of things, it’s just very weird, I don’t know how to put it into words, the fact that a bunch of people will come down and see us play for 25 minutes and then be happy with it.

You’ve not got used to the idea of people enjoying your performance?

Toby: Really I haven’t! I wish I could go “you love me, you love me! Everything’s good” but it doesn’t work like that with me.

You did songs for girls aloud right?

Toby: I did a few things for zenomania, girls aloud, which went really well.

Did you get a lot of money?

Toby: It was ok yeah, I would have wanted more, but then again who wouldn’t?

How did they hunt you down for that?

Toby: No, that was just me doing remixes on Universal/polodor and after that I got an email saying do you want to write some songs for Girls Aloud, and I said yes, and that’s what happened.

Have you ever hung out with those girls?

Toby: Once. We went to a place, fuck what was it called? It was a very nice hotel, I can’t remember the name, I have trouble with short term memory in general, but if you go into the lift it turns into a galaxy of proportions.

What were they like? Nice girls?

Toby: They were cool! Good people, that Cheryl chick is really cool, that Nadine is probably the only one who can really sing but apart from that it was really good.

You don’t mind writing pop songs for other bands then?

Toby: Of course not, I think music should be for everyone, I can write some pop songs, then I can go back and do my own thing, which is, you could say, darker and very much influenced by old bands but at the same time I feel like if I’m gonna write songs for other people, it’s not a problem. I try my best to be as creative as I can with everyone from all scales from your most underground band in the world to general pop bands to….well fuck I wanna work for Black Sabbath but I guess that’s never gonna happen.

They’re kind of old now

Toby: I still feel I could put some stuff into them.

Wouldn’t you be more interested in taking off where they finished?

Toby: No I don’t wanna go with Black Sabbath’s legacy! I’d rather be better than Black Sabbath to be honest. At the same time it’s very hard to do in this day and age where everyone’s in a band and every one is hanging out doing band stuff. I just wanna make music that people think is worthy enough to be played on their compilations and DJ sets.
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