Toothless: "I couldn't bottle it, I had to follow through"
Ed Nash may be releasing his debut album, but he's been around the block before - and he's all the more confident for it.
Published: 11:03 am, January 30, 2017
"No one expects the bass player of a band to do that much." Ed Nash, aka Toothless, is breaking away from this idea by releasing what will surely be one of 2017's highlights. A walk through indie-pop soundscapes and melodies that infect with complete pleasure, ‘The Pace Of The Passing' is not only a strong debut, but it also marks Ed's full immersion since the hiatus of his previous band, Bombay Bicycle Club.
Ed is ready to make sure everyone knows this is where his future lies - and that bass players can have bloody good ideas. "I don't want to come out and have this as a Bombay side project," he ponders. "I want this to be my own thing. I also don't want to alienate people that enjoy Bombay's music and say, ‘Oh, that's nothing!' It's a huge part of my life. I've been trying to tread that line; I don't know if I've done that well or not, trying to stay away from Bombay but also not disassociate myself."
The success that Bombay Bicycle Club found gave its members invaluable knowledge that they can each bring to future projects. In Ed's case, it enabled him to develop a wise and expecting persona. "I don't feel vulnerable at all. I know the industry," he affirms. This wasn't always the case, as you can imagine, starting out in music as a teenager. He remembers with a sly fondness: "I had no idea what was going on then, we were fifteen and not particularly savvy to it. I know some young people can be savvy… it took a couple of years to work out what was going on."
Bombay will always be a massive part of his story, but this new record he's written has so much to say. "I only started properly writing the songs for it when Bombay was nearing an end. I recorded and wrote music, and I just kept that going in the background with the idea that I would do it myself. There's always the excuse of ‘the band' and the time spent doing other stuff," he explains. "In my head, I was like 'I can do this, I want to do it, but when the time is right.' Then the time came, and I couldn't bottle it, I had to follow through. Hence the band name of course, and that's when I started writing the songs for it."
The first look into his solo project, ‘Terra' - a "slow burner" by Ed's own admission - may not be an instantaneous revelation but fear not, the album is inundated with delicious melody and lyricism. From the catchy refrain in ‘Palms Backside', to the euphoric and horn-laden crescendo in ‘You Thought I Was Your Friend (I Want To Hurt You)', Ed has crafted and honed his debut to make a statement in the "saturated world of indie pop".
His level of dedication and craft is taking the idea of songwriting back to its roots. "You can really tell when a song's a song, and what I mean by that is, if you strip it back to just an acoustic guitar and sing it, would the song exist?" Ed muses, pondering music's current place. "The art of songwriting isn't gone, but it's changed into something else. I think a lot of people do just hit buttons and rely on melody, but when you strip it down there's not so much meaning or thought behind it. I listen to some band's lyrics, and I'm like, ‘What? How did they get away with that?!'"
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He loops back around to the bass player's place within the standard band setup. "I've always been a big advocate of people having roles. People don't need to prove themselves, you've just got to make it work. I did that with Bombay, but this is what I want to do now, this is my full-time thing. When it came to two years ago and I was like, 'I have to follow through with this idea otherwise I'm going to regret it', I was quite used to playing music, writing on guitar and recording, but I'd never really written lyrics before that people were going to hear," he divulges. "I found an easier way in was to find other stories that I could relate to and use them as a starting point. I'd find metaphors or ways around writing about my life in particular. There are bits and bobs, and ideas that I've collected. All of my playing and thinking about stuff has been over the past fifteen years I've been playing.
With ‘The Pace Of The Passing' about to take its place in music libraries around the world, it's time for this bassist to take his ideas out into the great unknown. "Had I not done this, people wouldn't have noticed," he asserts. "It would be more normal not to do anything. I still get people coming up to me and going, ‘I can't believe you did this!'" Well, get ready to believe - Ed Nash is here to stay.
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