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Interviewed by
Courtney Sanders
Monday 9th December, 2013 9:40AM

Toy are an English band who formed from the ashes of short lived stylized indie rockers Joe Lean & The Jing Jang Jong. The group reside in East London and form part of a strong, similarly-minded shoegaze-oriented music community alongside bands like The Horrors. They release their sophomore album Join the Dots today, and UnderTheRadar caught up with bass guitarist Maxim "Panda" Barron to discuss the musical past that led them to form Toy, what they've learned from that and what they hope to achieve through their current project.

Hey there, how are you?

I’m good thank you, it's nice to talk to you.

You too. What are you up to at the moment?

I’m currently in a hotel in Norway. We’re on tour supporting Placebo at the moment. We’ve done about 15 dates and we’ve got quite a few more to do.

Supporting Placebo must be a pretty amazing experience, right?

Yeah they’re really nice guys and they’re playing to quite a lot of people so it’s fun.

You’re obviously playing new material at these shows?

Yeah we’ve played quite a lot of new stuff. By the end of the tour we’re trying to have played every song on the record, which is a really fun experience for us.

Tell me a little bit about writing Join the Dots: when did you start working on it and what was going on at the time?

We started working on it as soon as we’d finished the last one. The last one came out in September 2012, so we started working on Join the Dots around Christmas last year. They are all songs that were written after the first record, and we went into the studio in June of this year. We had a little bit longer to record and mix this time, so we had the opportunity to make things more interesting. We did the last one in ten days so it is more like a live record. It was nice to have a bit more time to expand and learn new stuff and play around with things, and to mix as well and get involved in that. We were much more immersed in this one I think.

Was there anything that you wanted to achieve on this record, particularly in comparison to the first?

Well, like the first album it came pretty naturally. We wanted the sound of a jet plane taking off so we put a microphone on a car and recorded that and put it on the record...We went into the rehearsal studio together and just kind of thought about what sounds we were interested in on the day. We definitely don’t work in a preordained way – everything comes about pretty naturally.

Now that you can view the album as a finished body of work, is there anything that you notice that weaves itself across the album?

It’s called Join the Dots so the whole point it to figure it out for yourself. There is loads of stuff in there but you have to figure it out for yourself…

Ah, OK. There’s a lot of information about your previous bands online, but not a lot of information about how you moved from those projects into Toy. Can you tell me a little bit about the circumstances that created Toy?

Well, we’ve all known each other since we were kids. Before our previous bands we always knew we wanted to do music together and we’ve played a little bit together before. We’re just five good friends and when we started writing for it we didn’t have any plans; we just worked together to see what would come from it, and we’ve kind of just moved forward from there.

Did your previous experiences – some of them good, some of them not so good – inform what you did and did not want to do as Toy?

Definitely. I think one of the things we’ve enforced in this band is to release things quickly. In the last band it was so frustrating because we had to wait over a year to get a record out, which essentially made us completely disinterested in the whole thing. We like the fact that our record label let us put out records when we want, which is the most important thing. It makes sense for us to be releasing this record now because now it’s done and we can move onto the next thing and stay pretty interested.

As well as just releasing albums you have been pretty specific about releasing everything on vinyl, or with a tactile, physical accompaniment. Why is this important to you?

Yeah, we really like vinyl. It’s such a nice thing to have. It would be nice to actually get more vinyl; it seems like every time we get a vinyl printed they only make about two so only about two people have each vinyl. It’s just a nice thing to have: if you’ve got a collection of records it’s nice to be able to add to that with modern releases.

It seems like you’re part of a tight-knit similarly-minded music community in London, right?

There are lots of bands around our part of town in London. The Horrors are good friends of ours who are just finished their record. A band called Johnny Voyeur and the Voyeurs is very like-minded, and a band called Telegram are amazing. We got out with all of those guys and they’re all great musicians.

You have been in bands in London for a while now. Does it seem like it’s a particularly fruitful time for bands there right now?

I definitely think guitar music is getting more interesting in London, and there does seem to be a shift toward more interesting guitar music internationally. I guess there is a movement through bands like Tame Impala who are guitar bands making interesting sounds.

You’re on tour with Placebo until the end of the year: what are your plans after that?

We’ve got loads of stuff on the horizon. The album is out next week and then we’re going to America for the first time in January. We’re doing a European and English tour next year. We’re just playing a lot of shows which we’re really looking forward to and are playing in clubs as opposed to the arenas we have been playing this tour which are quite impersonal, so we’re looking forward to the smaller venues. But the focus is on the album, and we hope everyone likes it.


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