Monday 20 August 2012

Interview with Toner Low

Today on Sludgelord I am interviewing brilliant Dutch Psych Doom/Stoner Rockers – Toner Low

I have been a fan of these brilliant Stoner Rockers for a few years now. And I am quite honoured they are a doing an interview with me. 

Q1 – Hi Guys, Thanks for doing this. For people who are unfamiliar with your band, can you tell them little bit about the history of the band? Where you're from, band members, when you formed?

Hi Steve, we started in March 1998 in the Leiden area, close to the west coast of the Netherlands, and we still reside there. We've known each other for a longer time though, since about 1985/1986 when we were youngsters in the local thrash metal scene. 

Since then we've played in several bands with one or the other later Toner Low member and did some gigs in 1991-1992 with bands that the three of us played in amongst other members. Toner Low is the first serious band that all three of us play in together. Since late 2007 we consist of Miranda (bass, also played in our 1998-1999 line-up before joining retrorockers 7Zuma7), Jack (drums) and yours truly, Daan, (guitar, microphone). In February 2011 Dennis started doing our live samples. 

Over the years we've had several people doing this. In the studio it's Jack who is responsible for the sample sounds and at which points in the songs those samples are placed. He also creates the samples. To avoid the hassle with copyrights we never use samples from movies or whatever.

Q2 – How would you describe your sound.

From the inside it's hard to describe, but we try to make it a heavy experience with parts of subtle repetitive riffing, some straight forward riffs, kind of clean bits here and there and a slightly psychedelic touch to it all. Oh, and of course no verses and refrains, only some sort of vocals when a riff really calls for it. So some songs end up without any vocals at all.

Q3 – Your first album songs seem to have more vocals compared to the second album. Did this change happen after the original singer/bassplayer left?

In the early years we used to have more vocal based songs of which there's still some traces on our first album. Indeed this more or less continued when we wrote the opening -- first -- song for the second album between October 2005 and April 2007, with only a few rehearsals in 2006 by the way. With Deef, our original vocalist and bassplayer, we wrote most of the other songs for our second album during 2007. 

He left the band in November 2007 before there were any lyrics added, except for the first song. So you could say that the change to less vocal orientated songs happens on the second album, right after the opening song. If Deef had stayed in the band i think the other second album songs would have had ended up with more vocals.

Q4 – How has the reaction been like to your music overall. At home and abroad.

The reactions to our albums are very good from most reviewers and other folks. I don't think there's a difference between the Netherlands and abroad, but Germany seems to have the biggest and most active scene. At the moment we're working on songs for our third studio full-length.'

Q5 – Which bands influence you on your music.

There's all sorts of bands that influence the music, most of them are doom bands but some others as well. For instance when we play the instrumental closing song from our first album at our gigs, i sometimes play something that is inspired by the riff of the 13th Floor Elevators song Roller Coaster, although we play it a bit slower and lower. 

Q6 – Are your family and friends supportive of your music.

Basically i have been active in music for so long now that everybody that i know i know through music or because of it or because of playing in bands. I'm not sure about the family members reactions of the other band members, but my mother doesn't like our music very much, haha.

Q7 – You have released some great music in the past. Especially 2008 offering –Toner Low II which confirmed me as a fan. You take your time in releasing your music. Is this because it's a costly affair to do. Or do you make sure you have the best collection of songs before releasing them to the world.

Yeah, we're pretty damn slow with our releases, but we've always hated time anyway, haha. We recorded some more songs in 2008, but in November or December 2010 we decided not to release any of those because we weren't satisfied with the drum grooves on the recordings. 

They were recorded on the final day of the studio session, when the recordings for the II-album were finished, so i guess we were a bit too easy on them. When we decided to leave those extra songs unreleased, basically it meant that we had to abandon our plans for at least one 10-inch and one 7-inch that were scheduled for release in between our second and upcoming third album. 

Because initially we had those vinyl releases planned, it took until early 2011 before we started rehearsing new songs. Then when we write a song it takes three to six months before everything falls into place and sometimes after months we also delete parts of a song and start over with what's left of it. But of course recording an album, endless mixing sessions, multiple visits to the mastering room and having the vinyl album covers printed is all in all pretty expensive. 

For instance, the cover for the vinyl release of II had to be folded manually at the company where it got printed and to get it printed in the first place there was an uncommon sort of technique needed to create that rubberish sleeve design. The cd cover is just a regular print by the way. Besides all this the other Toner Low members also released a cd/lp in 2010 with their grindcrust band Kru$h, have been doing a couple of tours since and still are doing quite some gigs, which of course takes time off of Toner Low as well. And in 2011 we were without a rehearsal room for some months as well by the way.

Q8 – Do critics reviews bother you as a band or do you just care what the fans think.

Of course the people that buy our music or come to the gigs are the most important, but in the underground scene many of the reviewers luckily are those same guys, haha.

Q9 – What is the song-writing process like in the band. Is there one main songwriter or does everyone contribute to all the songs.

We all contribute parts to the songs, but not necessarily to all songs. For most of the songs it is hard to remember who came up with what, and many riffs and songs undergo a lot of changes before they are recorded. In the end i think it is safe to say that our drummer Jack is kind of the director for our music.

Q10 – How is the Metal Scene in your home town or surrounding areas. Are there a lot of places for bands like yours to play at on a regular basis.

There are some places like dB's in Utrecht and Baroeg in Rotterdam, but there's no club that really specializes in doom or sludge. The last two years we don't play very often in the Netherlands, but i think we will make up for that when we have a new album out.

Q11 – What has the reception been like to the band performing live. Any cool or funny stories to tell. What is the most famous band you have toured with.

The reception has been great mostly, sometimes even the cops come check us out, haha. It happened two nights at a row in Croatia that we were shut down by the club at the end of the final song of the set because the cops arrived after a complaint about the volume by one of the neighbours. Was in different cities by the way. 

We never did a long tour with another band, the longest were four days in a row with Heavy Lord (from the Netherlands) in 2008 and four days with El Thule (from Italy) in 2006. We did shorter tours with amongst others Conan (UK) in 2012 and Pombagira (UK) in 2010. 

The most famous band that we played with probably is Electric Wizard who played right after us at the Stoned Hand Of Doom festival 2010 in Rome, Italy. We've also done one-off gigs with among others Acid King, Boris, Colour Haze and way back in 2000 with Karma To Burn.

Q12 – Do you have any more plans to tour abroad.

We just returned from a great three dates tour in Germany and the Czech Republic with Toner Low related grindcrust band Kru$h, which were the final gigs or at least the final gigs outside of the Netherlands for the rest of 2012. When the new album is out we will be doing more gigs again. There's many countries that we still need to go to or haven't played in many years such as the UK. Depending on our jobs and the days off we can get we should be touring a lot in 2013, but we have nothing planned at this moment (August 2012).

Q13 - How do you feel about blogs and websites giving music away for free.

They can be very helpful in making a band known to people that otherwise would never have heard of it. On the whole the internet is a very good medium for bands to spread their music. We've been on a couple of free download compilations released by blogs and e-zines and of course that's totally okay with us.

Q14 - What are the most/least rewarding aspects of participating with the band.

The most rewarding aspect for me is the playing live part and the fact that people enjoy it. The least probably would be that i usually have to wait some hours before it is 'show time' but i just wanna play rightaway, haha.

Q15 – What are the future plans for Toner Low. Is the long awaited album coming out in 2013.

Yes, if all goes as planned there will be a new album out on double vinyl, cd and music cassette in 2013. Preparations for the cover artwork already have begun, but i'm not sure yet what it will look like. It's a mysterious process involving the elements Fire, Earth and Water or something. 

Furthermore there will be a re-release on double vinyl of our first ('orange') album on Berlin based label White Dwarf. Not sure of the release date, but this will be announced on our Facebook and other websites.

Thanks for the time in answering these questions. I hope it all goes well in the future and maybe one day I will see you guys in action.

Thanks for the having us on SludgeLord, we will definitely visit the UK again for some gigs. For future touring plans, the upcoming re-release and other stuff please keep an eye on and

Well I have to thank Daan for doing this interview. And also for including out a link for a free Toner Low Live album from Jamendo. Fucking brilliant album which shows what these guys do brilliantly well.

Check Toner Low from the links below: