Shiny Toy Guns aren't the pinnacle of coolness. They're friends with Fall Out Boy, dress like "emos" with a hint of gothic and most of their fans are based on Myspace.
They do however pack a punch of easily digestible snyth based electro pop. So dodgy image aside, I checked them out in Colchester UK and had a chat with Keyboardist and electro hot head Jeremy Dawson. We talked about machines, pop music and the murder of Kate Nash.
Backstage at the Colchester Arts Centre basically means stepping into the kitchen-come-lounge area of a converted church. The room is stuffy beyond belief and packets of wafer thin turkey, amongst other things, litter the floor. The questionable sofa we are invited to sit upon is soon whisked from mind as the lanky Californian passes us a couple of cold beers. Birmingham based Indie rockers Midas, replacement for Does it Offend You, Yeah? look on with lead singer Kris dressed in a Shiny Toy Guns T shirt.
After discovering that the new wavers have already played in Colchester three times, we get onto some more serious stuff. Shiny Toy Guns are a band who have really risen through the ranks in the online music community. Despite only reaching 94 in the UK charts with debut single You are the One, the same song had had over a million plays on their Myspace page.
I have to ask you about your internet appeal - which is phenomenal. You topped the itunes chart and everything.
Yeah there was a moment in the UK when we beat Amy (Winehouse), the Arctic Monkeys, Linkin Park.
So how much would you actually credit your growth as a band to the internet and myspace? You seem to acknowledge it on your website by making your album available to download at the click of a mouse.
Well its like this. You have to have EVERYTHING working for you. You have to have some half decent music but you can have all the technology in the world but that doesn’t stimulate growth or a fan base or people enjoying your music. But what sucks for a bunch of bands is there’s is great music and that’s all they have, great music. And they just lay around and play gigs and expect the world to be fed-ex’ed to their door. Its just logic.
You can still have screaming guitars and amps, bad hair, big tits and beer – just, why not be half machine too? Why not market your band beyond a stupid photocopy that's stuck to a tree that no ones going to look at, that no one’s going to see and that someone’s going to rip down the next day? Why spend 200 quid making photocopies to spread round a bar that’ll just end up on the floor? When you can have technology and reach 2 million people in Australia in less than two seconds.
We've just walked past throngs of "emo kids" dressed in clumpy Vans, tight fitted shirts and straightened hair and so I feel I have to mention the age of the majority of STG fans
A lot of your fans seem to be young people too, people that use myspace a lot.
Well that’s what you think. If we played a show that was 18+ to enter it means a whole load of people over the age of 18.
So they're out there. We moved on and asked Jeremy about Does it Offend You, Yeah?, why they pulled out of the gig and about his own role in the electro scene
DIOYY got a massive record deal in America. They called up the studio and they asked us a few weeks ago if it’d be a massive problem if we pulled out of Colchester.
There’s actually a ton of remixes out there. There’s seven Rainy Monday remixes that are about to come out. Yeah we’re sort of mixed up in that world. We love messing with all that stuff because we’re ex dance guys.
So you’ve done remixes of other people’s stuff then?
Yeah we’ve just finished Tiesto’s new single. We remix the dance, like the Ibiza stuff that you’d go see at Gatecrashers or whatever. Those guys call us because we’re a rock band who understand electronic music and say “we want to be in that scene too. We want them to not make fun of us any more and want you to work on our record”. We’re writing for Paul Oakenfold for his new album to try and give it something different. Its fun because we can go back to real dance music again which keeps us sharper.
We move from dance and on to the undeniable (and quality) pop sound of the band.
You guys have a genuine pop sound which I think is a really good thing. Though there’s a lot of negative connotations surrounding pop artists today. Is that something that bothers you?
Well I listen to Radio 1 you know. Like even Dizzee Rascal I thought that was kinda cool. Kate Nash, that's a great song and Jack Penate. If i hear it another four times I’m not going to like it but right now its okay.
Yeah well I think its good you have this pop sound. A lot of bad things are said about pop artists but I see it more of a fun way of making music.
Yeah well we’re not pissed off. I don’t hate my mum. I don’t do heroin. I don’ t throw chairs through windows.
Its about having fun.
Yeah we love to play music, hang out with people, get to know people and have a good time. I don’t have a bone to pick with life. Unfortunately its real easy to get into NME and sell records America or the UK by being pissed off, by having issues, by reflecting those issues and being crazy.
Its like a soap opera in a magazine...
Yeah its like he said she said Pete Doherty killed Kate Nash with a baseball bat
Its two years and a couple of remodels since debut LP We are Pilots was first recorded. We asked Jeremy if the band were still in the process of promoting the album or if work had begun on some new material.
We’re going to be on this record for a while. Version one and two were just demos. Some of the older stuff that didn’t make the cut I think was actually better.
Did you find you didn’t get that much control then over the track listing and stuff?
No we had complete control but you know when someones been doing it for 20 years and says this song should be track number three I’m going to really think about what he says. I mean our A & R guy (Artist and Repertoire, responsible for selecting songs from a pool of prospective material) is the guy who A & R’d Razorlight. Now i’m not a massive Razorlight fan, I don’t know if you guys are...
...no they have one good song and that's a cover of an old song.
Really? Well they sold three million records on this Island. So i’m going to listen to him you know!
With Midas kicking up some racket next door we decided to rap it up. Jeremy tells us Shiny Toy Guns are hitting Reading and Leeds this year and also that he's DJing in a club after the show. With much thanks, we leave him to get ready.
With plenty of smoke and glow sticks abound, Shiny Toy Guns took to the stage, with front man Chad resembling one of the Scissor Sisters with a cowboy hat and handle bar moustache. The band fired straight into things with You Are the One and Le Disko before powering through most of the tracks on the album, much to the rapport of the Colchester faithful.
The band, who sprinkle their songs with electronic beeps and high impact punchy synth sounded a little more "emo" and a little less electro pop with a lot of the electronic effects lost in the noise of the performance. Vocals were very much up to scratch however, and an otherwise quality set complete with a two song encore meant their point had been proven.
A formidable pop act for 2007, Shiny Toy Guns are likely to go from strength to strength. Just bring on some new material!