The Mountain Goats, in particular “All Hail West Texas”
I’d be pretty remiss if I didn’t mention The Mountain Goats. They’re not mine, or our, favourite band, but their influence on us is undeniable. For much of their music, they manage to turn quite simple guitar chords and ideas into these sort of epic, life-changing songs through the way that they’re played and also by the urgency with which the songs spring to life. That kind of urgency is what I’ve always aimed for in songwriting: just getting it all out as fast as you can and hoping not to think about it too much.
Another huge influence on our songwriting have been Shit Present. They’re just a brilliant band with really honest and catchy songs about some pretty depressing things, which is always what we’ve been trying to channel. If you’re not somehow getting something halfway true or real into what you’re doing then I’m not sure what the point is.
Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
Along with the Mountain Goats, this is a pretty white male choice of an influence, which I can accept. I also can accept the massive, massive flaws of this book and of DFW as a writer and of the sort of people who appreciate his work. However, I do really like Infinite Jest and it’s ok to have problematic favourites, if you can acknowledge and absorb those flaws. In terms of inspiration, it’s just some of the sentences that sort of unveil the lurking, latent horrors that exist behind our everyday modern existence and that’s had a pretty huge influence on the songs, lyrically speaking.
ONSIND and Martha
Both ONSIND and Martha, in their own separate ways, had a huge influence on the band. ONSIND, both sound-wise and lyrically, are a band we’ve taken a lot from, me and Max having watched them for the first time while quite hammered at the Deadpunk All Dayer after the 2015 General Election. This was at a pretty formative time for us as a band (we were only really writing songs together and playing them to no one) and so it’s hard not to thank them enough for the innumerable, tiny ways their music influenced us.
Ursula K Le Guin
This probably has no musical analogue that I can shoehorn in but one of my favourite novelists, Ursula K Le Guin, passed away this week and I’ve been thinking about her work ever since. It’s kind of everything I think good art should be: imaginative, political, feminist, expansive, good-hearted and warm. Also, science-fiction and fantasy as a whole have been pretty influential on me in the last few years and all influences seep into what you do somehow or another.
While we were recording Call in Sick I hadn’t listened to any Camp Cope, but they’re influencing what we’re writing now pretty damn heavily, which is unavoidable because they’re one of the best punk bands going right now and just utterly inspirational humans.
Jake & the Jellyfish
Without getting sentimental, growing up around my brother’s music had a pretty huge influence on what Toodles ended up becoming (which people have noticed). Not just their music but the bands they played with ended up being bands I heard, which then got me into the punk and DIY scenes and so on. And they’re getting better and better and their new record is probably my favourite yet. Also embarrassingly my younger sister is the person who recommended almost every band I’ve ever liked to me. Family is good!
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
This is the book that woke me up to reading and then by extension art and music. It’s funny and sad and simple. Also as a person I’ve found Kurt Vonnegut more interesting as I get older. Our heroes end up disappointing us, and there’s plenty to dislike with Vonnegut, but something I always think about is in his collected letters he so frequently talks about how he perceives himself as failing; how he believes that he’s probably never going to produce anything good ever again; how he, for so long, wrote novels in evenings after a grueling and uninspiring job. And he only went on to be recognised as one of the great American novelists. I find that heartwarming.
The Bristol Scene
We would not be the band we are or maybe even a band at all without the Bristol community, specifically the community surrounding the Exchange and other independent venues, and labels like Specialist Subject Records and Invisible Llama Music. It’s easy to forget that creating a welcoming scene that encourages young musicians and music-lovers from all kinds of backgrounds — to not just come and watch but to participate and make their own art — is the only way that the music scene and venues as we know it are going to survive and grow. This isn’t specific to Bristol, but that’s just where we happen to live, and the community that have taken us under their wing are pretty much the only reason we’re doing anything and sometimes it feels like they contribute more to the music we play than we do.
Checkout Toodles & The Hectic Pity on Bandcamp here and like them on Facebook here.