It’s not every day you hear something like Sex on Toast. I don’t remember where I was when I first heard “Takin’ Over”, because I was too overwhelmed by the sass pulsating through my headphones. Once I regained control over my body, it was clear to me that the music needed to be heard.
Back in June of last year this blog shared "Takin’ Over", with the resulting sexual miasma leading to the 2013 UK Baby Boom. It was clear at this point that the boys had a big hit on their hands.
Since then the band have been busy: gigging; releasing several music videos; finishing and releasing their self-titled album; and hiring lawyers to fight the plethora of UK child benefit cases.
In between all this, I was lucky enough to grab a digital chit-chat with two of the Sex on Toast throng: head honcho Angus Leslie (AL) and head of guitars Louis King (LK). What lies within includes details of the sacred S.o.T gig setup, life within Melbourne’s multi-faceted music scene, and the A1 bakery.
For those not familiar with Sex on Toast, who and what are you? Where do you all come from and how long have you been playing together?
Louis King: Sex on Toast is a 9-man piece of meat who like to play dirty sounding music in Melbourne, Australia.
Angus Leslie: The band all comes from different places. Louie, Zak and I went to high school together. Louis was my guitar protégé and I basically taught him everything he knows (about drugs). Zak was my soul mate from day one. James Bowers comes from Ivanhoe, Bovril is from Sydney (Bondi Beach), Gary T’s from Geelong, Al*n’s from Adelaide, Ph*l*p used to live in Perth & Johnny Bassoon is from Cairns. Party Tricks spends a lot of time crying in Japan. He also makes beautiful solo albums. I started this band in year 10 when I was 16 years old to piss my music teacher off.
What’s Sex on Toast’s path been like up to this point?
LK: 10 years of just about every gig you could imagine, playing music for weirdos (by weirdos), rolling around in the nude, playing to 1000’s of pinging teenagers on New Year’s Eve and to four old men on Christmas morning.
AL: It’s been a slow progression from being everybody’s least favourite band to everybody’s favourite band. Since I’ve been at the helm of this thing since day one, I’ve just been chipping away at it and trying to make the project more concise. We’ve finally crafted an album I was happy with, with the best damn line-up the project has ever seen! In that time we’ve managed to start selling out venues in cities we’ve never been to and live shows better than ever.
What about the name! Where did that come from?
LK: I dunno but I’ve always got crumbs in my undies and I don’t know where they came from.
AL: Sex on Toast was actually named by our ORIGINAL bass player, Michael Goldsworthy who incidentally, now plays in UK-based band Years & Years. He made up the name to describe a small section of music in our first ever song that was kinda weird… we never changed it.
What’s your position within the whole soundscape of Australian music? As an outsider, it seems that the scene there is taking off in a whole range of genres…
LK: There’s an incredible breadth of amazing music in Australia, and there has been for a long time. It’s great that there’s a bit of a spotlight being shined on the Melbourne music scene at the moment, prompted by our friends Hiatus Kaiyote and their beautiful music. The so called ‘beats’ scene is wonderful and there’s a lot of great music coming out of it, but there’s also incredible rock ‘n’ roll, jazz and improvised music, music from Indigenous Australia….
AL: Louis put it pretty succinctly. There is a tendency to see only what is coming out of Australia that might be more easily aligned with what is going on elsewhere, especially with more ‘beats’ oriented stuff that is currently quite fashionable in the US/UK with the growing popularity of things like Fly-Lo or Hudson Mohawke. I think the difference here as exemplified by Hiatus is that I think Australians put a spin on things that is kinda unique due to our extreme isolation from the rest of the world.
A band like Laneous and the Family Yah for instance could ONLY ever come out of the Brisbane’s West End! Just as the Barons of Tang could have only ever existed living out of someone’s smelly caravan in Northcote, Melbourne, us middle-class musically educated jerks in SOT decided that we really liked FM synths, Mr. Bungle’s chaos, Zappa and Steely Dan’s wry wit and vocal writing and our mum’s Gloria Estefan albums.
Do you get much love on the internet? Or do most of your fans tend to be local?
LK: Well it seems to be swelling since we’ve released the video clips (for Takin’ Over and Hold My Love), and the album, which is really heart-warming. It’s really uplifting to get comments on videos or on the Facebook from people who are from London, or Dublin, or the States, and also other cities around Australia. The local fan-base is great, and they really get out to see us and keep the vibe strong. Notably Monday and Tuesday night gigs at The Evelyn and our launches at the Northcote Social Club have been really well attended and the audience are fantastic.
AL: We have gotten a surprising amount of love from overseas fans that is really cool! I am in regular contact with fans from Europe and the mail-outs for the CD are including more and more weird places… Locally, and on tour here, our reputation is that if you bring your daughter to the show, she may go missing for a few hours afterwards… but it ain’t nothin’ but a party, ya know?
Describe to me, in three words, the Sex on Toast live experience.
LK: Tonay, Tonay, Tonay…..
AL: Tightness Choreography Ladies
Now how about a bit more detail?
LK: We are very proud of our live gigs, we’ve played a shitload and we hope they’re good. On a good night it seems like just about everyone in the audience goes home with one another and fuck like wild cats…..
AL: At any given live concert I am known to catapult off the stage, spin, grab my knackers, kiss girls in the front row (not anymore though ladies, I’m spoken for, sorry!) rip a guitar solo and end up on top of a table thrusting. Sometimes James Bowers and I sing very tender duets on talk-box and vocals. Bovril’s trumpet solos are transcendent. Gary T smokes bags of trees. Al*n plays incredible fills. The bassoon is now audible. Good god we wanna come and make love to you and all of your women, Great Britain!
When I first heard ‘Takin’ Over’, I was instantly taken back to the Zappa vocal harmonies (especially at “here I gooooo”). Is he a conscious influence? Who else plays a part in the soundtrack to Sex on Toast?
LK: Prince, Steely Dan, Roger Troutman, Fngn…
AL: YES, Frank Zappa is one of my many musical obsessions. I’m glad you mentioned that section of music because whilst I was NOT consciously referencing Frank in that pre-chorus, I feel like his vocal writing is so deep in my compositional DNA that it must have just come out like that.
Though it might not seem obvious, Brian Wilson is also a strong influence on me as a producer, songwriter and vocal arranger. He is kinda just the best, really. Also the Michael Jackson/Quincy Jones collaboration is a big one as well as Teddy Riley, the king of New Jack Swing.
I’ve only first impressions from your debut album so far, but it sounds great! Is there anything particularly standout from the process, or with getting into a studio and releasing your music to the world?
LK: We put in a lot of hard work for a long time and were treated very generously by our wonderful friends in Melbourne. The standout for me was ripping a bong (I’m a very moderate person and did so only after being called upon by my infantile band mates) into a nice condenser microphone (you can hear it at the start of the second verse of ‘Somethin’ Special’).
AL: All I will say about the record, is that it sounds a lot more expensive than it actually is… Oh and that our mixing engineers Jean-Paul Fung & Andrei Eremin are very different guys…
Andrei is partial to a bit of A1 Bakery on Sydney Road, whereas Jean-Paul is more of a trail mix from the Supermarket kinda guy!
You’ve spoken about the Hiatus Kaiyote guys before… what’s your relation to them?
LK: We have played with Hiatus since they first started playing gigs in Melbourne and were absolutely blown away. They are the real deal! They are also good friends of ours and we have had quite a lot of cross collaborations between band members; Paul Bender played and still sometimes does play bass in Sex on Toast. As they became successful they always extended opportunities for us to play with them in Melbourne, notably at the Hi-Fi bar in Melbourne in 2012 (on the bill was also the genius of Kirkis) which is a pretty big venue and when I heard they had booked it I thought it could be a little ambitious. The gig was pretty much a sell out from what I can remember which for me was like an affirmation of the power of that band and a testament to the strength of their music.
AL: Hiatus are our funky little friends. I love them very much. Bender is my beard-faced soul daddy with hairy arms who takes me to eat Lebanese food late at night. Naomi is a fresh-faced bird-loving faerie-wizard-woman with time for everyone and has been known to finance my entire evening. They love us and we love them. It’s just a game of musical spin the bottle every time we play together. Also my alter-ego Goldrick (karaoke champion) may or may not be on their next record…
What’s next for you and the band?
LK: More touring in Australia, recording new music, hopefully getting over to Europe or the States some time!
AL: I have two EP’s in mind with vastly different material on each. Sorta like a “double EP” idea ala the antiquated “double album” thing that never happens anymore. The first EP (Rough) will showcase our more TONAY side (new jack swing, 90’s hip-hop) and the second (EP Ready) our more RICKY side (yacht-rock, piano ballads).
I’m keen to get working on that ASAP. Meanwhile we’d love to tour this album more, wherever the hell we can… Any promoters out there got some ca$h? Get us over there willya! Bovril wants to get to LONDON!
Thanks for your time guys, and best of luck with the album and the gigging. Any shout-outs?
LK: A1 Bakery, Cheese pies for life.
AL: Yes! What up Christian, Andrew Bruce, Timbales Magic, Salty Noah, I hate you Shniel and I love you Bbgil!
Sex on Toast’s debut album, Sex on Toast, is available now from their bandcamp.