Bombay Bicycle Club’s Ed Nash Talks Solo Project, Toothless
Bombay Bicycle Club’s impact on modern indie rock is undeniable. The four boys from England were part of the modern day British invasion that saw the rise of bands like Arctic Monkeys and Kaiser Chiefs. After four gold certified records, the band decided to take a hiatus in 2016. While he deserved a break, bassist Ed Nash isn’t taking a vacation; he chose instead to embark on an endeavor all his own.
Thus Toothless was born, Nash’s solo project that proves bassists deserve way more cred for their musical prowess. His album, The Pace Of the Passing, debuted in January. The record, both fresh and familiar, incorporates elements of the artist’s own distinct sound along with allusions to Greek mythology. We caught up with Nash to talk about his new album and what song he would cover in Radio 1’s Live Lounge.
Vinyl Mag: The Pace Of the Passing is a phenomenal debut. How did it feel to finally get your solo work out in the open?
Ed Nash: It’s fantastic, actually. I’ve been planning on doing it for five or six years, but I never had the time with Bombay Bicycle Club. It’s quite scary as well. I didn’t realize how nervous I would be putting something I created alone out into the world. But mostly, it’s a relief.
VM: Do you feel like you approach the creative process differently for Toothless than you did for Bombay Bicycle Club?
EN: I guess they’re quite a similar process, but the roles I played are very different. For Bombay Bicycle Club, the songs were very much Jack’s songs. He’d write the song, and we’d give him pointers. With Toothless, all the songs start with me and are written by me.
VM: Do you think that being in a successful band prepared you to take on this solo project, or is it like starting all over again?
EN: It prepared me in terms of like writing music and how the business works. You learn tricks. I don’t think anything can prepare you for taking a step forward and taking on the lead role. Certainly I learned how the business works—like what’s a good deal, what’s not a good deal. The only thing I wasn’t fully prepared for was becoming a frontman …
When I say frontman, I mean the main focus of the group. In Bombay, there was very little attention or pressure on me, whereas with this project everything lives or dies by me, and I am the person that needs to interact with people and get across what the band is about. For example, talking in between songs is always the job of the frontman. I found this very hard at first, and I don’t think it’s something you can really prepare for; you learn by doing it. I can happily say I feel much better with all the frontman duties.
VM: [Who are your artistic inspirations?]
EN: I love Sufjan Stevens and Nick Cave. What I took from them was to tell stories, and to use your own experiences to talk through the music. With Toothless, that’s what I wanted to do with the songs. I wanted to tell stories through Greek mythology and things like that.
VM: Can you give us any details about a potential US tour?
EN: Actually, I literally just got my American visa. Hopefully in the next couple of months I’ll get to come back. I love coming to the states.
VM: [Bassists are often underestimated. Why do you think that is?]
EN: I don’t know. Bassists do really have a bad reputation. That’s kind of why I started Toothless. I needed to prove it to myself that I could play music and write music outside of playing bass. Everyone has an opinion. The name Toothless came out of he idea that nobody really expects anything out of a bass player. It’s quite unfair. Hopefully I can change that.
VM: Any music you’ve been listening to lately that you’d like to recommend to our readers?
EN: I’ve been listening to sir Was. It’s kind of like hip-hop and kind of like indie. That sounds like a weird description, but it’s very good.
VM: Do you have any artists in your library that might make you lose your indie street cred?
EN: One of my favorite records ever is Ozzy Osbourne’s debut Blizzard of Oz. It’s incredibly lame. When I was like 12 learning to play guitar, all I would do was listen to that album and learn how to play the guitar solos. That one would probably make me lose my indie cred.
VM: Bombay Bicycle Club played Radio 1’s Live Lounge a couple times. If you played the Live Lounge as Toothless tomorrow, what would be your potential cover song?
EN: I think about cover songs all the time. I really would like to cover “I Really Like You” by Carly Rae Jepsen. I’d like to make it a guitar song. That’d be fun.