“No one really expects that much from a bass player”

Ed Nash, bassist from British indie tribe Bombay Bicycle Club, is putting people’s theory on bass players to the test with his new project Toothless. With the release of his album the The Pace Of The Passing on January 27, we asked him about what inspired the project, life post BBC and potential touring plans to HK.

(Photo Credit: Toothless)

I understand you’ve talked about Bombay Bicycle Club being on hiatus and it seems it’s not a ‘never again’ more a ‘not now’. I’m interested in what inspired the beginning of Toothless? With a break in the band, what lead you to start your own project and was there anything else on the cards you thought about doing after having being in a band for 10 years? Pottery or gardening interests you thought to pursue perhaps?

I’ve always written and recorded my own music and had always thought I would put it out at some point. As Bombay got bigger and bigger I had less time to pursue my own music. When the hiatus finally came it was my chance to do something so I took it. I’ve got big pottery and gardening plans yes but they can wait until after this...

Toothless the name - what’s the backstory/significance?

It was kind of a joke to myself!! No one really expects that much from a bass player after their main band. I’m sure many people will see it as Toothless (although I don’t think it is).

What aspects are you loving about doing your own solo stuff vs the band plug?

It’s fantastic to have complete control and creative freedom! Everything lives or dies by me whereas with Bombay it was very democratic, everyone had a voice. Sometimes it’s nice to be selfish.

I hear you built your own recording studio. Correct me if I’m wrong but is it in your backyard?

Yeah at the beginning of 2016 I converted a preexisting breeze block shed at the end of my garden into a studio. It took about three months to do because I didn’t have much money and did a lot of it myself.

What inspired you to build your own, and how did it feel recording in something you built by hand vs somewhere with no personal significance, like a place you would go to rent for a week that's used by plenty of other bands?

It really came from wanting a place to work. Up until then I had been writing and recording in my living room which I absolutely hated. I wasn’t able to remove myself from the day to day headspace and just had to be creative. It was also very hard to record with the traffic sounds outside and other housemates etc. It also means I am totally self sufficient now. I have a place to record and rehearse with Toothless and I can use it anytime I want. I’m in there everyday now and I’m not sure what I’m going to do when I eventually leave this house.

How do you think having your own studio helped the creative process of the record?

As I said it’s really important to have a space where I could remove myself from everyday life and fully concentrate on being creative.

Do you have any plans to rent out the studio in the future? Or any interest yet?

No plans to rent it out. It’s such a personal space now that I am not sure I would feel comfortable with that. It would be like renting out your bedrooom with all your things in it. I have however started recording and producing other people’s music in there - that’s something I would love to do more of in the future.

A lot of the songs you’ve released are said to have been written while touring with BBC, are all the songs on the album ones you’ve been sitting on a shaping for a while or were some new ones added just before recording?

I only started writing whole songs for this about two years ago when we stopped touring. All the bits that came before then were snippets of songs, stuff like guitar riffs and lyrical ideas.

Can you give us a bit of insight as to where your head was at with the album? Is there a theme you were focusing on or moments or times your were trying to capture? Perhaps it was some sort of therapeutic process for you to go through?

I was very concerned about time passing by and not making the most of it- it’s a theme that runs throughout the record. I’ve used stories and metaphors to help me verbalise that.

How do you feel before releasing this album compared to just before any of the BBC albums?

I’ve grown a thick skin having put four albums out. Bad reviews used to really get to me. I’ve realised that you can’t please everyone though and that with the internet and social media you are going to get some negative stuff said about you. I’m very happy with the record I’ve made and there is not much else I can do.

Do you have any favourite tracks on the record or ones that really stood out when doing the recording?

I am especially please with how The Sirens turned out. It’s a song that play out the ancient greek story The Sirens from the Odyssey. I really wanted The Staves to sing the part of the sirens in the songs because they are literally modern day sirens! I’m amazed that it all came together in the end.

Do you have any touring plans for 2017 in the works?

I’ve got a UK tour booked for February/March and I plan to get to as many places as possible over this year… I really miss touring.

Have you thought about putting HK in the itinerary?

I would absolutely love to come back to Hong Kong. I had such a good time there when I played with Bombay years ago. There are no plans at the moment as it’s very early days for Toothless but if there is an interest, get in touch on Twitter and if there is enough demand hopefully we can work it out!

This interview was conducted before the release of the album. The Pace Of The Passing is out now - go get your hands on a copy!

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