"We were running to stand still, and the vortex which is London sucks you in the minute you step outside the front door."
- Cosey Fanni Tutti, Throbbing Gristle
10 Martello Street or The Death Factory, as it was better known in the bleak days of '79. A place that harboured the industrial sputtering of Mancunian kids Throbbing Gristle. Rumour has it that the town of Hackney still looks how it used to sound: the clang of urban decay. A few streets down and a couple of decades past, in an apartment filled with moving boxes, Maxim Barron can stare at what is left of the infamous Death Factory through his window. Or at least he could. "They (Throbbing Gristles) did loads of weird records," he informed me of his neighbourhood history. The same could be said for the band of which his fingers do all the bass-work. Weird, shoegaze, motorik, psychedelic, rock, krautrock - TOY has been called it all but as most musicians like to point out (including said bassist), "the necessary evil of writing about music is that people have to identify with something" and as it happens (in this case), Barron is right. Words like levitating ostinatos and unlit riffs mean one thing to me and another to you. "We like it when people label us as something and then they come and see us play and they go ‘woah’ that wasn’t it." He says this with an unruffled attitude, similar to how he takes his coffee: instant out of the tin at 10am. Onstage the crowd is superfluous: this misfit group plays with hair mangy and shoes that are apparently all too engrossing (maybe there is some truth to the shoegazing name tag) but it isn't shy and it's not rude either - it simply is what it is, just like he says. In-between now and then: the industrial sound wave faded, Throbbing Gristle broke up, the factory shut its doors and Barron has since up and left what was then his home.
What do you make of this whole Daft Punk craze and its reflection of music today?
It's got a lot more colourful certainly than it has been in a few years,. Daft Punk - I mean it's not really my cup of tea, but certainly kind of interesting ... Their idea. The thing that got me is that I’m not really a big fan of collaborations and it's sort of an album full of collaborations that were kind of lacking. I guess they’re looking back on that album as well. It’s not in my mind the most futuristic thing that’s come about. I think there’s a lot of really interesting stuff at the moment. There’s a lot of stuff, that’s another thing, there are a lot of bands. It's an interesting time for music, it's all available. They watch something for five minutes then they know about it. So it's maybe lost in a way because it is more available but maybe that will spark more ingenuity.
The band has such a live nature to the sound, how did you compress the energy into a record without losing that power?
What it comes down to is the production of it. We work with someone who is a friend of ours and has been for quite a long time. He’s really good at getting us in the mood. One of the first things he did for the first album was get a smoke machine and quite a few lasers so when we played we recorded in darkness, in a weird psychedelic box.
Yeah it takes you out of yourself. It’s not like concentrating so much on the take of a song, you're kind of more immersed in it and feel it a bit more. Probably blindfolding is next, like martial arts.
What are your influences?
We’ve all known each other for quite a long time and we’ve grown up listening to music together. Usually when we’re drunk we listen to the classics like The Velvet Underground. When we’re at home we listen to all kinds of weird stuff – Alejandro, our keyboard player, is into all kinds of earlier music: kind of experimental, kind of weird, like radiophonic. Throbbing Gristle, they’re really cool. It varies though, we’ve been listening recently to this early American twentieth century folk.
And so obviously being a bass player, do you have a favourite bassist?
Lemmy. I don't listen to Motörhead very much but the other band that he was in beforehand, Hawkwind. I liked him in that. He was pretty cool.
What do you like about him?
I like that he’s got a good moustache.
Apart from moustaches, what are your obsessions?
I’m actually obsessed with what to do with our videos and we always take an interest in finding stuff - well ideas anyway. We’ve been looking at some weird animations. Definitely want some kind of TOY animation.
Do you feel like there is a sound of this age?
I think, maybe. I cant really tell until … There’s definitely some quality sounds going on. A lot of bands that I listen to sound completely different to each other but maybe collectively they’ve got the same outlook.