TORONTO BLESSINGS (from l-r): Dale Evans (guitar/vocals), Rik Whitehead (vocals/bass), Richard Murray (drums/vocals)
INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN
How did the band get together?
We used to be in a band called Cavorts, but our old singer left to move to Germany, so we were vocal-less. We still carried on writing and rehearsing, and during one rehearsal, Rik decided to pick up the mic, and we were blown away.
We then wrote an album, but it sounded too much like Cavorts, so we fucked it off and wrote another album that was less metal / hardcore. (If anyone is reading who wants an album worth of tunes that sound like Cursed / Cancer Bats, then give us a shout, we can sort you out)
How did the band name come about?
My uncle is a vicar, and he came to see us perform in our previous band. He said we looked like we were receiving a Toronto Blessing. When I asked him what it meant, he told me about the church in Toronto where people get blessed and go fucking nuts with the power of Jesus.
I’m not a fan of religion, so I thought it would be a nice “fuck you” to all that nonsense.
To someone who has yet to listen to your music, how would you describe it to them?
We’re quite noisy. In amongst the obnoxious volume are plenty of hooks and catchy earworms to feast on. Our sound is like the lovechild from a terrible coked-up three-way between Hot Snakes, Gary Numan, and Saxon.
What are the band’s musical influences?
Pixies for me. Black Francis, aka Frank Black, aka Charles Thompson III is an all-time great songwriter. Everything about Pixies shouldn’t work but does, they’re such an oddball collection of goofs, and I’m thoroughly in love with Kim Deal, always have been.
Sonic Youth are also heroes, as they make songs that are super catchy and cool, and then throw in the big swathes of pure noise. If you don’t know about Sonic Youth, then watch 1991 – The Year That Punk Broke. There’s also Nirvana and Dinosaur Jr on there.
What would you say was your approach to songwriting?
We all contribute to the process. One of us will bring in an idea, and we will then just jam it out. Lots of the time, the process is really quick, and we have the majority of a song there and then.
What we like to do is to trim away as much of the fat as possible, so the songs are lean and taut, avoiding unnecessary length to keep things moving. What we always do is have recording facilities on hand at practice, and Rik’s phone is great at recording loud noise.
That way, we can all go away and keep what we’ve just done in our minds. If anyone has a structural idea, we can all reference it easily.
What inspires the band lyrically?
The world is in a crazy place, the downfall of Western civilisation is in full swing, and we all have the pleasure of bearing witness to it.
If it’s all going to shit, you might as well have fun, so we sing about making sense of it all, taking positive action to guard yourself from being broken down by the constant tirade of fear from the media, and being nice to each other.
Bill and Ted had a good point, even though they were thick as fuck.
Last month, you released your second single, ‘Give Nothing’. How has the reaction been to that so far?
The reaction has been great so far from the people that have heard it. It marked a shift change for us, in terms of our sound and direction. There’s a healthy dose of synth on there, which is new for us.
All we need is for more people to listen to it, so if you like it, then give it a share. Much appreciated, pilgrims.
How is the experience, for the band, of playing live?
Sheer volume, some arse-loosening sub-bass, sexual arousal, and the overwhelming urge to dance. It’s like being raped by an angel.
What have you got lined up in the near future?
We’re playing live over the summer a little bit. We’ve been concentrating on writing the most since forming, but we’re at The Parish in Huddersfield on the 14th June, the Barnsley Live festival on the 16th June, and the Coalfields Festival on the 14th July.
Then later on in the year, we’re hoping to put together a tour.
And finally, what is the band’s long-term aim?
To have fun, because I can’t stand fucking goal setters. I remember once having a conversation with a mate who runs a label, and a band had come to see him with a business plan.
They’d mapped out where they’d be in a year, then five years, and it was laughable because they were good at planning, but not so good at writing songs, so they didn’t achieve any of their objectives, because they were fucking balls.
That being said, there are no plans as such. We’re just going write and release music, and play gigs, and have fun doing so.
‘GIVE NOTHING’, THE LATEST SINGLE FROM TORONTO BLESSINGS, IS NOW AVAILABLE TO STREAM, DOWNLOAD, OR PURCHASE FROM SPOTIFY AND BANDCAMP.
FURTHER INFO ON THE BAND CAN BE FOUND THROUGH THE FOLLOWING SITES: