A Chat With: Toothless
"Even toothless, she can still bite off a boy's head." This is the quote that inspired Ed Nash of Bombay Bicycle Club's newest project, Toothless. Following the project's inception, 2017 has already been a whirlwind for Nash. After releasing the collaboration-laced debut album from Toothless, The Pace of The Passing, back in January, Nash has already followed up with a six song EP, Palm's. The project has also been constantly expanding the live show, playing festivals like Secret Garden Party and the upcoming Reading and Leeds Festivals. Before Toothless hits the road to tour the UK and Europe, find out more about the inspiration and influences behind Toothless...including more on the quote that started it all. Nash also talks new music and his collaborations with the likes of Marika Hackman, The Staves, and Liz Lawrence. Get to know Toothless now!
ANCHR Magazine: When did you first decide to branch out to your own side project and start working on Toothless?
Ed Nash: I have always written and recorded my own music, and had intended to release it long before I got 'round to it. My commitment to Bombay Bicycle Club kept on growing over the years as the band got bigger, and as a result I didn’t have the time to put into my own project. It was only at the end of 2014 when we decided to take a break after touring the last Bombay record that I finally had enough time to do it! I had the name and a lot of the ideas beforehand just not the time.
AM: The story behind your moniker is quite interesting, with the inspiration stemming from a Raymond Pettibon drawing with the caption “Even toothless, she can still bite off a boy's head.” When you were writing for the debut Toothless album, The Pace of the Passing, did you find yourself drawing inspiration from different forms of art, and are there any particular influences that stand out?
EN: Absolutely! All of the album and single artwork was inspired by a Charles and Ray Eames show that I saw at the Barbican in London. There was a video called "The Power of Ten" that was my main focus. A lot of the songs on the record draw from Greek myths and The Odyssey. I like using preexisting stories in my own songs to help get my own points across.
AM: The album also featured a few different collaborations, like “Palm’s Backside” with Marika Hackman and “The Sirens” with The Staves. How did these working relationships with these artists come around and what was your favorite part about the collaborative songs?
EN: Most of the features on the album are people that I was lucky enough to have met through touring and playing shows over the past ten years, Liz Lawrence sang with my band throughout 2014, and we played multiple shows and shared studio time with Wild Beasts. That's not to say that I used these artists only because I knew them personally, they couldn’t be gratuitous or for the sake of getting cool people on the record. For example Tom from Wild Beasts has a beautiful baritone voice, the opposite to the way I sing, and the part he recorded really needed that style of singing.
AM: Who else would you love to work with in the future and why?
EN: I really want to work with my favorite producer Dave Fridmann. The timing’s never been right so far as he’s a busy man. I’m not going to stop trying.
AM: You just released the EP “Palm’s” earlier this Summer, following the debut LP released earlier this year, which is quite a quick turnaround! Have you already started writing for the next album or EP?
EN: People keep saying it's a quick turnaround but to me it feels quite slow… As this is the only thing I do I think I get very impatient. I’ve started writing and recording the next full Toothless album and hope to get that out at some point next year. I’ve also got an idea for another EP, I haven’t told anyone about that yet though!
AM: Taking the songs to the live sense then, what is the usual band setup for your shows and what are some of your favorite songs to play out live?
EN: It's taken the best part of a year to get the live show to a point where I’m fully happy with it. As I played almost everything on the record, it was very hard to adapt the songs to work with a live band. The live show now consists of a 5 piece band with two guitars, bass, keys, drums and a hell of a lot of singing. I absolutely love playing "Sisyphus" live, not only is it the most upbeat song in the set but we have added a Kraut Rock style outro that gets pretty wild!
AM: You’ve got some shows in the UK and Europe this fall, but any plans to tour stateside soon?
EN: We don’t have any plans to head to the US at the moment unfortunately, though I am incredibly keen to get back soon. We played two shows in New York and Los Angeles at the beginning of the summer which were some of the best shows we have done.
AM: On the same subject of tours, you’re playing a Sofar Sounds show on September 20th to support Amnesty International and Give a Home, which is such a great cause to be involved with! Are there any other charities or causes that you’re passionate about?
EN: Yeah, I’m really looking forward to the Amnesty show! Over the years I have done quite a lot of stuff for Amnesty International and I love the Sofar Sounds shows too. It’s going to be a great event. With Bombay we did quite a lot of shows for the Teenage Cancer Trust. They are a truly fantastic organization. I will always continue to support them.
AM: What new music are you listening to lately that you’d recommend to your listeners?
EN: This week I have been listening to the new Grizzly Bear record. I love it, though, I am probably biased… I fucking love Grizzly Bear.
AM: Anything else coming up in the next year that you’re looking forward to?
EN: I’ve decided I want to paint my next record cover which I’m super excited about. I painted the cover to the Bombay record Flaws but haven’t done anything proper since then. I have been painting small portraits over the past few months to get my technique up to scratch for the real thing.