Let's kick off straight away and tell us a bit more about the second record 'II' which has just been released.
The songs were written in the last two and a half years. We recorded the record in June last year and fiddled around the months after with samples and adding more and more stuff. The process of writing was slow but the recording went smoothly within four days. We recorded eight songs and released four now on the new album. The rest will be used for split albums we guess. In June, July and August of 2008 we complete the four songs on the album and the mixing and mastering also took quite some time. The titles of the songs are just the place of numbers they were created in. So the first track we made was called 'I', the second 'II', etc…
The unreleased songs… Can you enlighten a bit about them?
We recorded the basics like drums, bass and guitar of two brand new songs, one jam session and a cover of The Velvet Underground. We did not complete those songs yet because we wanted to concentrate on the four tracks on the new album.
Listening to this I guess you guys are slow writers? Is that because ordinary life is too busy to rehearse a lot?
When we have gigs planned we tend not to rehearse that much, you are correct. Also we have lots of breaks from the band that doesn't help speeding things up, hahaha. And we did not rehearse or write new songs in the entire two and a half years. It comes in waves : sometimes we are on a break, sometimes we rehearse a couple of times a week, for instance when we do not play live a lot.
The biggest part of the songs are written by drummer Jack. Is that the way songs are written?
He did write the greatest lot of this release, but I contributed some ideas and the complete songs are molded from ideas in the rehearsal room. We record it during a rehearsal using two microphones on a tape recorder, so we can hear what we would like to change the following time in the song. The songs ripe like over time you know. We tend to change a lot in songs. One song we already played for over two years but the original doesn't sound at all like the end result on the record. The arrangements are constantly changing, making songs sometimes last very long! We had to cut down on one song because of time! But that normally doesn't scare us. When a song takes a certain amount of time, it takes that time. We have to be satisfied in the end by what the song does. There is an older and longer version of the first track on YouTube, under our first name Jonas. Jack is also responsible for the titles, the design of things and such.
There are less and less vocals on the record, compared to the first LP.
The first track has the most lyrics because that is a song that we wrote with our previous singer/bass player who liked to sing more on the album and write lyrics. But he split in the end and was replaced by a bass player we started out with. I think the main reason we do not have loads of vocals is that we are not that well developed writers of lyrics. And we do not like to sing. The vocals have to be an extension of the song, so fully in function of the song or it does not contribute. And we thought it not necessary to use a lot of vocals on this record. We have noticed we want less and less vocals.
Is that the new direction of you guys, less vocals?
I think so. In the beginning we were more stoner minded with vocals of course, but that becomes less and less. Since the previous singer left we had a choice : to find a new singer or continue without him. We chose the last option. When we were in the studio to record we had no idea where the vocals had to be fitted in yet. We truly think of those thinks at the last minute because we think them not urgent or important. Yes, that could mean that the third album might be completely instrumental, with some spoken samples incorporated I guess, but very little singing, like a couple of lines of ideas, thoughts and words that sound well in that particular place in the song. The previous singer/bassist wanted to create more happy music, so he went on and he actually does play happier music now! More electro stuff with lots of vocals and melodies that catch on. We wish him well.
Who is the new bass player
She is called Miranda and we started out with her like ten years ago. She moved on to 7zuma7 but that band split up some years ago, like in 2000 or so. She did some other bands but when we asked her she was available and eager to join. I think she contributed to the album with a great riff, but as you know one riff in this band is a great song in the end.
What do you think is the biggest difference between album 'I' and album 'II'?
I think 'II' is less spacey and a lot darker, the samples are more harsh. It surely more doom and drone, this album 'II'. Also the songs on the first album are a lot faster than what we play nowadays. It just developed that way, it was not a conscious decision to play slower and darker. In the rehearsal room we do not use samples. They are added later and they turned out to be heavier in atmosphere than we could have expected two years ago when we started to write the new songs. Jack the drummer did all samples and he wanted to create a certain atmosphere. He succeeded! We also used other amplifiers and other guitars and that adds to the different sound. A bit more Acid King like as you said!
Are there other influential bands that might have contributed to the sound of this record?
Acid King for sure but they have a more dry sound. And bands like Electric Wizard on their last album, High On Fire and Sleep during their 'Jerusalem' period have had an influence on us. For Toner Low we hardly have influences that have not been metal. We are from Katwijk of the eighties Scum-generation (an infamous concert hall in the Netherlands-red). That has had the biggest impact on our sound.
How is Toner Low live? I guess it is hard to play live?
As long as I know how the arrangement goes, it is not problem. But it always is a challenge. We do use samples but there are tiny differences that nobody notices I'm sure. Sometimes samples just don't do it live because of them being overwhelmed by volume or the conditions of the concert hall. That's why we always have somebody along who does our sound engineering. Our 'fourth' man! Last year we did like ten gigs in Germany, Austria and Croatia last year. We took along the Dutch band Heavy Lord for some gigs. Soon we will be headlining in Belgium, Netherlands, France, Norway, Sweden and Denmark. In Scandinavia Ocean Chief will accompany us besides local bands. We do 'trade' live performances. We arrange gigs here and friends arrange gigs over there. True eighties D.I.Y. mentality! It is not a big scene but a faithful one that helps out each other! Croatia was great! On a Monday evening a full packed hall and the music and party kept on going! So even it is doom we play, we have a great time and we hope to see you soon on one of our gigs!