We caught up with Toto, lead guitarist from Splashh to discuss their new album 'Comfort', the recording process and what it was like performing with (and viewing) the iconic Rolling Stones.
After forming in Hackney the 4 piece (consisting of band mates originating from Australia, New Zealand and England) the band have toured Western Europe, performing at festivals such as: Benicassim, Liverpool Sound City, Best Kept Secret and Midi Festival earning them an impressive reputation from critics and fans.
Splashh, await the UK release of their debut album, Comfort (September 2nd) featuring previously released hits: All I Wanna Do, Vacation and Need It.
CM: How's things?
Toto: Pretty good. Just hanging out.
CM: You're all born and raised in different environments and countries. How did the band form?
Toto: I met Sasha a few years ago when he moved to London and through mutual friends we started hanging out. He spent all his money so he had to go back to New Zealand. About 2 years ago, I went back to Australia to see my parents and decided to have a New Year's party, I hadn't seen him for a while so I decided to invite him over.
We just caught up and he started talking about forming a new band and moving back to London. I was like 'Whatever, you're not doing that' and then he actually just rocked up. He booked his ticket before me and got into London a week before me. When I got back we started writing and were like 'Sh*t, we've got a few songs, let's start the band!' We had our first show booked which was in May last year and we had to get a band together: Tom, is a good mate of mine and we'd been playing in bands together since I got to London so he joined us on Bass.
Sasha had an idea of flying Jake over from New Zealand to be our drummer. I met Jake on Skype two weeks before our first show. We managed to fork out some cash and get a flight for him. On the Friday Jake quit his job and his previous band, got on the flight and got to London on Monday, went straight to rehearsal and had the show on Thursday.
CM: And the rest is history?
Toto: Yeah! It was pretty crazy!
CM: Your album Comfort was entirely self-produced and recorded in your bedroom. What made you decide to produce the album yourselves?
Toto: When we started writing music together, Sasha and I, that's how we did it. It was easy - just the two of us, working from home. That was the easiest way to produce music and finish songs. Instead of rehearsing and going to the studio and going through the whole process. It just works. I've just been a self-taught home, bedroom musician. I've just found my way and it works. If it works don't fix it.
CM: It wasn't down to creative or financial differences between a studio or label?
Toto: No, it was just comfortable. Hence the name 'Comfort'. It was just easy for us and we enjoyed doing it from home. If you're enjoying it there's no point in changing the whole process.
CM: The album was recorded by yourself and Sasha Carlson, what was it like adapting the material for the band?
Toto: Because it was all produced with a drum machine when it comes to live Neil and Jake have had to transform it into something else.
CM: You previously lived in Australia did you move to London as part of your musical career?
Toto: Well my brother moved to London a year before me, I was in my last year of high school and I used to jump on Skype and talk to him, and he used to tell me how good it was, and how many good parties he was going to, and how many hot girls there were, and I was just like: "I don't want to hear this! I'm in my last year of school".
I finished my finals, saved up and a couple of months later I was over here.
CM: I suppose you're playing those parties now?
Toto: (Laughs) Yeah, maybe.
CM: Were you in any bands whilst you were younger, living in Australia?
Toto: No, at the time I was finishing school. Moving to London was also the start of me learning guitar and learning production programmes. It was like a new beginning.
CM: In terms of band's names does that have anything to do with the Australian Surf?
Toto: It's a favourite water park that we enjoyed. Who doesn't enjoy a good old water park in the summer? We're trying to evoke a nice feeling.
CM: You've frequently used Soundcloud as a platform to get your music heard. Has this helped in creating a fan base and thus excitement for the release of the debut album?
Toto: When we started we just finished songs and put them on our Soundcloud and people would write about it or blog about it and that definitely helped us get things moving. The internet's definitely helped. We felt we were capturing the first year of Splashh. In a way the album is the beginning.
CM: Do you like the way the music industry has adapted with the internet?
Toto: To be honest, I like both. I've learnt that through the internet people can find out too much about you. They already know all yours songs. It's great for exposure and it's an alternate way for bands to be more 'do it yourself' and to obtain a following without getting signed but I like being a little mysterious.
CM: The album's been released in Australia and the US. What's the reception been like?
Toto: Yeah, it's been good. We've been to Australia and America - we did a tour in America and a little one in Australia but the receptions been great. It's been nice to hear the crowd sing it back on all the songs but we're pretty much ready to get going on the second now!
CM: Also you recently toured with Blood Red Shoes, what was that like?
Toto: We did a few shows with them at the end of the tour. They're all good and it's nice to be on the road with bands like that and they had followings and you sort of tap into that and play with them, and hopefully some of them fans expand their minds and maybe get into you. That's all part of touring - having a laugh.
CM: You're doing your own festival run including Reading and Leeds. What excites you about a festival performance?
Toto: Festivals are definitely exciting. It's the vibe. Even when you walk up to a festival and you can hear that loud thumping bass, boom across the site.
You get really excited and everybody is running around. Having big crowds who you may not usually play to is an exciting factor. It's a different experience to your usual show. There's more energy - it brings out the best in people.
CM: Based on your music video 'Feels Like You' I'd say you have a pretty impressive live vibe, are you intending to bring that to your October UK tour?
Toto: Yeah, I guess. We had to return the hire suit. We were thinking about keeping the pink elephant and it could appear at one or two shows. It should be good fun, we haven't planned anything to crazy yet but we'll make it fun!
CM: Are there any specific artists who have inspired your sound?
Toto: Deerhunters a big influence! 60's vibes like the Beatles and Velvet Underground. It varies - it can even be electronic. We take a bit of everything we don't specifically look at any genre.
CM: You performed at Hyde Park with the Rolling Stones. How did that come about and what was it like?
Toto: It was a big shock. It was on April fool's day and my manager text me: 'You guys are playing with Rolling Stones' and I said 'You're having a laugh' I thought he was joking with me but it turned out it was real. It was a real experience. Seeing the Stones was awesome - they were so good, they've still got it, that's for sure.
Obviously there's a main stage and three smaller ones. It was almost like a barn on a sweltering hot day, it was awesome and I would do it again!
CM: You're not necessarily commercially viable. Is there any fear when you're not playing a headline set that you won't get the reception you intend for?
Toto: I think you don't really think about it. If you're at the festival, you've been booked for a reason and you've just got to play your heart out and if people like it, they like it and if they don't then they can go listen to Justin Bieber or whatever. You just play for yourselves most of the time and just make it the most exciting show you can possibly create and then if people do get it then I don't think you can worry about it too much.
CM: I don't want to be too premature but you previously released mentioned writing new material. Can we be expecting more in the near future?
Toto: Yeah, definitely. We've been sitting with this album for quite some time now. We didn't know we were writing at the time but those songs Sash and I wrote are on the album. It's been a year, so obviously we've been trying out some other ideas and just being more creative. For the second one it's nice to have time to sort out in our minds what we want it to be. We're looking ahead; I think you need to be prepared!
Thanks for speaking with us, Toto!
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