Back when they took to the stage at London hipster-centric festival Field Day in August 2011, TOY were near-complete unknowns. The event’s website didn’t even have a photo of them. The only snippets of information you could find on them were variations on ‘They know The Horrors’. Fast-forward twelve months and the quintet were one of the capital’s hottest prospects, just weeks away from releasing their self-titled debut album following their signing to indie stalwarts Heavenly. Oh, and there was the small matter of us discovering – then getting over – the fact their members were once Joe Lean’s long-suffering ‘Jing Jang Jong’.
In a world where it’s possible for just about anything to postpone an album’s release (or – cough – make it disappear altogether), TOY’s story is as remarkable as it is swift. They signed to Heavenly this spring, and by September the album was out. That was no accident, as vocalist Tom Dougall explains to us as we speak to him just days after the band’s latest UK tour comes to a close. It was planned all along.
“It all happened quite fast, I suppose,” he begins. “I think it was something we wanted to do consciously, to try and record as quickly as we could. We had the songs and before we’d even signed to Heavenly we’d already started organising release dates. We wanted to get it out as quickly as possible after we’d recorded it. And record it in a short amount of time – we wanted to get it out while the songs were still fresh.”
It took the band ten days of recording – they worked with producer Dan Carey in his south London studio - and a further “five or six” to mix.
Then came the plaudits (including, of course, 9/10 from us). It was one of the records most often cited as “missing out” on a Mercury nomination this time around. But it doesn’t seem like TOY were anticipating any reaction in particular to the release. “None of us expected anything, really. I mean, we knew it was a good album, and on the whole it’s had a really good response from people, and that’s nice. It kind of feels a long time ago since we did it. It’s not really, I guess, we did it in May, but we’ve moved on to writing the next album so we’re really concentrating on that at the moment.”
Yes, two months after the release of the debut, six months after it was recorded, and TOY are already hammering away at the second record. But wait – if we’re such fans of this one, are we running the risk of missing them being performed live again? Fear not. “We will be touring these songs for quite a long time, but the new songs we’ve got, we’ll be dropping them in the set as well, just to keep mixing it up.”
And for those who’ve not caught the band on tour just yet - is there a marked difference from how the songs are played live to how they sound on record? “We definitely want people to come and see us and hear songs from the album as they were recorded, but I think there’s also another side to us live which maybe isn’t captured on the record, which is something a bit more loud and in your face, I suppose.”
TOY’s self-titled debut is at number 9 in DIY’s Albums Of 2012. Find out more here.