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Sometimes, music just comes from out of nowhere, and bowls you over. Take Laundomat’s first single Humans for example, a wonderful tune with lots of inventive melody and a little bit of krautrock. Humans appeared around Christmas time, with no discernible press coverage and little social media, other than a bit of footage of the band playing at a low-key gig. A quick bit of googling revealed just one article on them, mentioning that there would be an album released in the new year.
It looked like this album would be released in March, but then the band announced that it would be an EP coming out. Humans disappeared from the streaming platforms and then re-appeared. Another quality tune Slow Clap followed a week or so after, and today sees the release of the full ‘Blue’ EP with the addition of my personal favourite Off. I got in touch with frontman Toby Hayes, to find out what on earth was going with this mysterious project…
What was the deal with Humans? Humans was the first track I released. Released it twice actually. I put it online late last year just to get things rolling, and then gave it a proper release in March with some press n that. Made a big difference! I think press stuff is kinda hard to gauge, but yer, not expecting too much at the moment, it's a totally new project. That said, I've had a good bunch of radio play, which has been really exciting, never really had that before.
What about the album, what happened there? These songs were written as an album, but we thought it best to release them as EPs to get things rolling as nobody knows Laundromat. Hopefully I'll still get to release it all as it was originally intended.
Photo by Caroline Lessire
The thing I love about the three tracks on this EP is that there’s so much going on. Lots of melodies working in tandem, bursts of percussion and clever little twists and turns as the songs flow. You get the impression that each song has been created, disassembled, put back together, refined and then refined again. Toby doesn’t think that he’s a perfectionist ‘just trying to get it into the ballpark really’ but he certainly makes interesting music.
'The writing process sends me nuts if I am honest. I am demoing new stuff at the moment, been at this computer since 9am chipping away at a track. Basically, I come up with a beat or a groove, and if that's feeling good then I start jamming it round coming up with other parts. Slow process, but I've found some interesting stuff happens when you let repetitive ideas like this gestate a while - like vocal rhythms that lock in with the groove really naturally. I'll get random ideas pop into my head when I am in the shower, but only if the tune has been going round in there long enough...!'
The press release that accompanied the release of the Blue EP makes for pretty interesting reading too. Lyrically the EP explores the end of the world, panic attacks in the workplace, political figures that don’t represent the people that elected them, the preciousness of friendship, binge drinking, mental health and the time Toby got ‘catfished’ - for nearly 7 years. I asked Toby to elaborate on these topics, and whether the panic attacks in the workplace were based on personal experience:
'I guess a lot of the subject matter is slightly tongue in cheek, but probably just as a means to hide a bit. Definitely a bit flippant on the topic of 'the end of the world' - again, probably more just about general anxieties and frustrations of what we as a species are doing to this place. The workplace thing is for real though, I have a very real fear of the work environment and employment in general. Not work shy in anyway, I keep myself extremely busy, but I've spent plenty of time hiding in the toilets at work over the years. Tough thing to manage that'.
Given the political angle, does Toby feel that the government’s are handling of COVID19 well? 'Ah sort of, its more about the frustration of it all really. I think this COVID19 situation is a tough one. There's certainly been mixed messages, and I'm sure that's caused untold damage. Equally, I didn't take any of it seriously at first either. But maybe that's because of the lack of clear guidance. Heck knows. Proper wild times. I wonder about the long-term effects of all this'.
Laundromat started life in China, and Toby seems to have travelled around a lot, taking in stints in Berlin, London before settling in Brighton: 'A lot of the travel I've done in the last few years was with my ex-partner. We were looking to find a home somewhere else, kinda got sick of this island so we packed up and left. We were gone almost a year I think before I came to realise just how much I needed to be here making music with my people.
We covered a lot of ground though, found some mad little places. She did a good job at settling wherever we stopped, while I was hunched over my laptop working on tunes. In the end it just made sense to come back and try again. I'm glad we did it though. Been in a bunch of bands since early 00s. Some a bit more noisy, and some really stripped back. Proud of all the projects but not sure how relevant any of them are to Laundromat. I've removed a fair bit of it from streaming services as it doesn't feel good having it floating around. Dusty skeletons. Like to think that I will always be fond of this new stuff though. Feeling good about it'.
What about the muted presence on the live circuit? We were just getting the live side of things up and running when Armageddon hit. 'Obviously, everything is cancelled now so we'll just have to start again on the front when everything goes back to normal. We had one show in November, here in Brighton at The Bee's Mouth. Was incredible. Tiny basement show, such a good vibe. Everyone was dancing. That was always the goal for this, music you can dance/nod your head to'.
When can we expect to see the other EP’s? More EPs will follow soon as possible. Wanna try keep the pace up, but obviously it's hard to tell what is best at the moment.. just feeling all this out really.
And finally, what about the future - If you could plan out a perfect career for Laundromat, what would happen in the first three years? Haha big question! I think more than anything I would love to play a stack of live shows. It's been years since I have felt confident going on stage with a band. Just wanna get busy with this really, travel a bunch. Still not been to the States, that’s a big time goal of mine. Would love to play Japan too. Just the usual stuff. There's a few people I would like to collaborate with, that kinda thing. But mainly just play. I've spent so bloody long sitting at my desk with headphones on. Desperate to take this out into the wild..!
The Blue EP is released today on Brace Yourself Records. You can listen of the entire EP here.