An Interview With Carl Toeski
With the release of Carl Toeski's Absolute Nipples EP, we got to hear a whirlwind of heavily energized rock in several styles from garage to punk to alternative along with deep synth grooves and more.
There is something different about this EP and the way it was compellingly free and completely fun.
You can read our full review of the EP HERE.
With such an untamed release, we wanted to have a chat with Toeski to find out where this all came from and what's next for the artist.
Here's what went down.
TSWS: Okay so let's start off with the Absolute Nipples EP. This record is packed with fuzztone garage rock, synth-driven alt-pop, and plenty more. Where did this EP come from?
Carl Toeski was born from the ashes of my old band Curly Toes. We were briefly active around 2015-2017 when I managed to convince a few of my friends to join me and become Curly Toes. It was all purely for fun. I had just built my first little home music studio/rehearsal space at the time and was over the moon I could finally play, record and jam at home. I always loved garage rock, punk, all things indie so the music came out completely naturally. I have a few other music projects and originally CT was meant to be just a side project where I could do whatever the heck I want... If you listen to some of my old stuff you'll see I also dabbled in country, blues and even rap (although I only released a few snippets from my rap songs on my Instagram, I haven't finished these tracks yet), but the common element here is the humour and the overall 'tongue-in-cheek' vibe... country song - check, rap song - check, etc . But, over time I became more and more invested in it and eventually started treating it as just another one of my serious music projects.
Eventually, the band ceased its existence. Our drummer Mandy left to live in Lanzarote and the rest of the gang focused solely on their own music. It was a short-lived, super fun band, where we had a lot of laughs.
But I never really left the project, I changed the name to Carl Toeski and under this moniker, I've been writing new music till this very day. And that's how the 'Absolute Nipples' EP was born.
TSWS: I'm certainly hearing a number of gritty styles on this record. Who are some of your actual biggest musical influences?
My absolute favorite band of all time is The Velvet Underground. I still remember when I first heard their debut album and was completely blown away. It was, I think, the early 2000s and we had just gotten the dial-up internet at home so I was like: 'What on Earth is this stuff?', 'Are they allowed to say this?', 'Why is it so rough and why do I like it so much?'. Please remember I was in my late teens so I was very naive...the record shocked me and I was so intrigued by this Lou Reed character. The more I learned about him and the band the more obsessed I would become. And then they'd open the doors to Bowie, Iggy and The Stooges and the rest is history
I just love 60s music, love the Beatles, Stones, Kinks, etc...even some hippie stuff as well Also the timing couldn't be better - around the same time garage rock/indie rock was in its absolute revival. The Strokes and The White Stripes just emerged, The Datsuns, The Hives...god there were so many great bands at the time. It's definitely my favorite indie-rock period. It was heavy and edgy, and I just couldn't get enough of it. And then I discovered QOTSA (SOTD just came out) and they completely blew me away and sent me down the stoner/desert rock rabbit hole...this is where my love for fuzzy guitars was solidified (Kyuss is also one of my top favourite bands). VU opened up whole lotta doors for me and I just love all things fuzzy and noisy. Lou Reed is my favourite songwriter - I just love the way he wrote his music, every single album has at least one or two absolute gems on it. His lyrics hit home for me too, I always feel very close to his view of the world. Just listen to 'Man of good fortune', it's one of my favourite pieces of lyricism ever.
TSWS: Songs on this EP hold almost nothing back lyrically and all boast an almost humorous undertone. Was this a way to just let out some pent up thoughts for you?
Some lyrics were written on the spot when I would jam to a new idea. For example 'Monster Cruncher' was inspired by a pack of Monster Munch crisps (not sure if you’ve got that on your side of the pond) that my girlfriend brought with her to the studio when she came to hang out with me (I rent the local studio sometimes so I can play very loud or record some drum parts, etc). And then I'd just spit out rhyming words and take it from there - play around with these words and make them work like puzzles, once fitted together, reveal the meaning behind them. But that's all I'd like to say about this song in particular and leave it for everyone's own interpretation Hobo Pope is about, well...Hobo Pope - a cartoon character I came up with and maybe one day we'll bring him to life.
It's just like I said earlier - having this freedom to sing about whatever I want results in me creating something with a meaning and then something totally ridiculous the next day. Perhaps 'Soup' is the one that has a rather clearer meaning. I grew up in a small town and I only felt free and noticed so many great opportunities once I moved to London. The song is about all these people who don't ever leave their caves. They spend their whole life slouching on the couch and only leave when they need to go to the liquor store. I know many people like this in London and there's never anything interesting you'll hear from them. I'm not trying to mock them though - it's all from an observer's point of view really.
I'm your President' is perhaps the one where I let some pent up thoughts out...I wrote it back in 2016 but never managed to record it until recently. So it's also one of these 'late to the party' songs. I still decided to include it on the album as it's not necessarily just about the obvious character...we all live on this messed-up planet and see what is going on around us. This song is a quick summary of my thoughts on the leaders of the world.
TSWS: Songs like "Ooh Yeah!" have so much killer percussion going on and all the songs have a great energy. Are you performing everything on the whole EP?
Thanks! Yeah, I play everything. Drums were the first instrument I learned and I consider myself to be a drummer above anything else. This gave me a huge advantage as a musician. It's just easier to compose, play or arrange songs when you start with the rhythm.
The first half of 'Ooh yeah' is all bass guitar and drums. There are 3 tracks of bass but it kinda sounds like guitars, until the actual guitar comes later in and then you can hear the difference. It was just an experiment. You can do so much with so little and I've always tried to not overcomplicate things. I love simple songs, or very repetitive ones (I'm looking at you again VU). The simpler the better.
TSWS: Would you put a band together to perform live at all?
Absolutely yes. I might try and put a band together again after this pandemic is over...hopefully soon goddamn it! We've all had enough of it, right? f-off you stupid corona already!
TSWS: Some songs like "Soup" and "Monster Cruncher" have some great videos! Did you put these together yourself as well? Will there be more videos for other releases from this EP?
Thank you! I'm not very good at filmmaking so it's very kind of you to say that! I just figured I have a good HD camera on my phone so I may as well try and shoot something haha. There might be another one for Hobo Pope if I manage to find someone crazy enough to buy my idea for the cartoon. I want to make an animated series or at least an animated video (well, I guess I should actually start there) for the song. So if there is some animator out there who likes a little bit of twisted humour, like adult swim or monty python, give me a shout! I've got a great idea for the whole Hobo Pope universe ready!
TSWS: So, what are you doing when you're NOT working on music?
I'm into science, new technologies, politics, true crime and serial killers stuff (obviously haha) and everything unbiased and interesting. I'd actually like to take this opportunity and give a shout out to some awesome YouTube creators here - VSauce, Cold Fusion TV, 8-Bit Guy, SpectreSoundStudios, Trash History, R'n'R True Stories, LEMMINO, Tom Scott, RealLifeLore, Atrocity Guide, 66Samus...these are just from the top of my head, I missed many great channels here. I also like movies, especially classic stuff but there have been so many great films that came out during our existence and I just wouldn't really know where to start :) I like a good book every now and then too, currently I'm reading 'Humankind' by Rutger Bergman
TSWS: Who are you listening to right now?
Apart from 'ol good stuff that's constantly on my playlist like Bowie, Lou Reed & VU, some Hendrix, Black Sabbath, Queen, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin (I love some classic rock) I still try and look for some new music and one of my greatest discoveries of the last couple years is John Maus...I was floored when I first heard him. But also Drab Majesty, Lebanon Hanover, Dead When I Found Her (as you see I love some post-punk, electro, goth). Also, one of my most beloved punk band Cosmic Psychos has just released a new album, which I'm super excited to check out! I strongly recommend this crazy ozzie-punk band!
TSWS: What's next for you as an artist?
I'm currently working on my synth-pop/new wave debut album. I always loved the 80s electro scene and I've been dabbling in it for years and we are finally planning to release it later this summer (a few of my friends helped me with it). I'll let you know once it's about to come out ;)
TSWS: This EP is quite an undertaking or at least feels that way. What sort of advice would you have for other up and coming artists out there?
Yeah, it was a bit overwhelming at times and I'd get stuck here and there and I actually scrapped one song entirely as I didn't quite feel it... I don't really like to give any advice but if I had to I'd say this - don't force it. When you feel like the song is not going anywhere just scrap it, don't push it. I believe it should all come out naturally, say when you all of a sudden feel inspired by some great song and feel like you want to grab the guitar. At least it works for me. I used to spend endless hours on songs that were total crap, but just because I already spent so much time on it I'd carry on and get more and more frustrated. Nowadays I'll just leave it if I feel like it's not going anywhere. It can be a bit tricky because you'd have this awesome riff but you cannot do anything interesting with it. You have to involve your intuition in your work a lot.
TSWS: You wake up in the middle of the night starving. What's your go-to midnight snack? (a question of character here).
Haha! I don't really raid my fridge at night anymore but sometimes I like to have a bit of gazpacho at night when it's this hot outside. I friggin love gazpacho! And Im sometimes a total monster muncher of ice cream when we watch a late-night film...I can sometimes destroy the whole tub of cheese cream Haagen-Daz
TSWS: Before we go, what would you like to say to fans of the music?
I just want to say thanks to anyone who enjoyed the album! Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more music in the future. Love and sweet sausages! xxx