Ed Nash is back where it all started. He’s currently assembling the live band for his new project Toothless in the Tottenham rehearsal room Bombay Bicycle Club used to frequent in the run-up to the release of their debut album ‘I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose’.
“I literally haven’t been here for ten years, and there’s pictures of us as kids on the wall, it’s so strange,” Nash remarks. “The area has changed so much since we were here, there’s so many fancy new flats around and it’s barely recognisable from the space we used back in 2006.” Building the four-piece live band, which includes Bombay drummer Suren de Saram (“I could never start a band without Suren - it was one of my conditions”), and heading back to the old haunt presents a good opportunity for Nash to look back on the decade he’s spent with Bombay Bicycle Club, and the solo career he’s skirted around for years and is finally making work.
“It’s something I’ve always done, I’d just never intended on showing it to anyone. It was only when we knew that the band were going to take quite a bit of time off that I started to take it more seriously,” he explains. “It was good to have motivation to finally get the music out there.”
“It’s just Bombay Bicycle Club in a different capacity”
— Ed Nash
Nash describes the band's current hiatus as less of a conscious decision made at one point, but one that the band all knew would come after finishing the tour for 2014's 'So Long, See You Tomorrow', ending a decade of constant touring and releasing.
"Everyone knew it was going to happen, because we'd been doing it for ten years. It sounds like we weren't enjoying it - we absolutely loved touring and recording and everything about it - but it was coming to the end of our fourth record, our most successful record, and we hadn't really done anything else in that time, and you could feel people itching to try and do other things."
Speaking of all four of the band's new projects, Ed refers to them as "just Bombay Bicycle Club in a different capacity," with all members involved in each others' new ventures to different extents. "The band's not making music at the moment, and not being a band, but in terms of our personal relationships and the work we do together, everyone's very much involved. Jack's doing some production on my songs, Suren's playing drums in the live band, and I literally live in the same house as Jamie, so everyone listens to the work each other are putting out, and all have opinions on it. With regards to feelings Bombay fans might have about the projects, Nash thinks it "might be good for people, because there's a far greater output from us at the moment."
Despite working closely with the other members of his band on Toothless, Nash iterates a clear different between the styles of music of Toothless and Bombay Bicycle Club, if not the personnel. "I can't try and write songs like Jack, because I'm not Jack, and if people want that from me, then they're not going to have a very good time with it, but if they want something different, that's what I'll give them. I can only write the songs that I write."
"If they want something different, that's what I'll give them”
— Ed Nash
The first Toothless single, 'Terra', is the track Nash describes as the slowest burner of the tracks he's written, and how he therefore made a brave choice to release it as the first taste of the project. "I think it's the most low-key one, so it's only up from here."
The majority of the album has been written and produced by Nash, with five of the tracks being mixed by Chris Cody, who's worked with the likes of TV On The Radio and Beach House, in Los Angeles this month. Guitar riffs and lyric ideas for Toothless date back years, but the meat of the work was put in during the second half of Bombay's tour for 'So Long, See You Tomorrow' and since.
Despite being something he's been involved with for years, making the first step towards making Toothless a reality gave Nash a shock, stepping away from the close support network he'd always been granted as part of a band. "it's a lot more difficult than I thought it would be, doing it by yourself without the really strong support structure I've always been part of. I'm not saying it was worse or better, just quite hard. You need to be challenged."
"With the band, it feels like a machine. I was a part of it, but everyone else pushed it along as well, and when you don't have that, it's all down to yourself, and I'm thriving with that pressure and motivation."
After Toothless makes its live debut in May, Nash plans to finish recording the album with Steadman, tentatively suggesting a late-2016 release date. For now, though, he's just overwhelmed with the support its garnered in the first few days of Toothless being public, and isn't putting any pressure on its future.
"Even if it's a small little part of my whole career, I'm really proud of what I've done over the past year. Even though it's quite scary going out on my own, it's been unbelievably rewarding."
Bombay Mix - Ed Nash fills us in on all his bandmates’ new ventures
Jack Steadman has always been productive, with many a remix of his popping up on Soundcloud. As well as coproducing the Toothless album, he's working on a solo album. Remaining tightlipped, Nash says: "I can't speak too much for Jack obviously, but he's making an album now that he's wanted to make for a long time."
Suren de Saram
Trying out as a drummer for hire, it looks like we'll be seeing Suren popping up here, there and everywhere in the next few years, beginning with a stint behind the kit for Toothless. Oh, and we're all still waiting for the solo jazz album he tweeted about making.
The guitarist seems to be the one member of Bombay Bicycle Club not venturing into music making in his holidays. Instead, he's swatting up and going back to University. He also recently made a radio documentary for BBC Radio 1 about modern protest songs. Clever boy.
Taken from DIY’s May 2016 issue, out now. Subscribe to DIY below.