Interviews : A chat with Toby Wrecker (Hotel Wrecking City Traders/Daggers Mid Flight)
You may know Toby Wrecker as one half, the guitarist to be specific, from Melbourne’s Hotel Wrecking City Traders, or perhaps from Daggers Mid Flight. And now, if you dig his noisy, free-form style, he has dropped his first solo album. It’s certainly an interesting listen, ranging from big riffs through to ambient soundscapes; it’s a look into what happens when the man jams at home. It’s available over at Bandcamp, but before you head over and purchase a copy, here’s a chat with Toby himself about how this recording came to life…
So, your new solo album is a collection of home recordings and ideas you’ve had collecting dust. Why did you choose to put it all into a release?
I’ve been making music at home since I was maybe 14 or 15 and I still do it all the time. There is something really rewarding about starting with something really minimal like a riff or a beat or even a sound and seeing where it takes you. Often the idea that you had in your head in the beginning becomes something completely different and the best part is it’s totally up to you, you only have yourself to please. I think in the past I come up with a tune and then shelve it along with the others, which is fine because I always enjoy going back to them and rediscovering tunes and ideas that I had forgotten about. But I suppose about a year and half ago after moving into my new house I recorded 3 or 4 tracks that I was really happy with and that’s when I decided I would actually do something with them. I figured if I enjoyed listening to them there would be some other people around the place that might get into them to. Albums performed by one person have always really intrigued me like the first Foo Fighters album or Scott Reeder’s Solo album or Bob Mould‘s album that got dubbed ‘Hub Cap’. I think whether you like those albums or not, you can really feel the passion and you get a sense that the people doing it are really enjoying themselves. Maybe I am wrong, but that’s what I hear and that’s what I feel when I make music in my little room and its nice to share that with people.
How come none of this material ever made it into Hotel Wrecking City Traders (HWCT) or Daggers Mid Flight?
To be honest, I’m not really sure. I never really sit down and come up with a riff and say “right that riff is for HWCT“. I always consider HWCT to be a 50/50 effort from Ben and I. It’s a joint beast and the best way ideas present themselves is when the two of us get in a jam room together have a beer or two and let off some steam for that week. It is something that creates itself from the two of us being together. I’m sure unintentionally many ideas drift between the two projects but I suppose that’s what happens when you involve yourself in more than one thing. With Daggers Mid Flight, it isn’t something we do on a very regular basis. We probably should because we all seem to have a pretty awesome time when we do, but it’s really four good friends coming together to enjoy each others company and play some music together. Also Daggers has always been 100% improvised from both the live setting to albums, which is also similar with HWCT live and on record, where its maybe 70% improv and 30% semi crafted. So yeah the crossover from project to project has never really been something that I have had to give much thought, it sort of just seems to work itself out, which makes it nice and easy for me.
Yeah I love the art, which is another reason why I decided to release the album in the form of a CD as opposed to just a digital release. When I first had the idea of putting a collection of songs out as an album I contacted a friend who I had not seen or heard from since my first two years of high school. I’m 31 now so it was a fair while ago. Anyway I saw his artwork online and it really blew my mind. The quantity, quality and variety of his work is just amazing and I have a lot of respect for him and his talent. I gave him total freedom to do whatever he liked and when I received the final drafts I was really happy that I had gone ahead with releasing ‘Sounds Of Jura’ the way I did. I gave him the first couple of tracks and that’s what he came up with so I was pretty wrapped with that. His name is Mauro ‘Mauro149’ Italiano and you can check out his work at www.truly-design.com. I really hope Mauro and I can work together again, he is a top dude.
On the Bandcamp page you have stated that all money made from sales will go directly into funding the next one. I gather that means you have a lot more where this came from? How does the other material you have sitting there sound in comparison to Sounds of Jura?
Thats the intention for sure. There is certainly plenty of tunes lying around and it grows from week to week. Basically I am not looking at making any money from this release, if I can get back the money I spent packaging this one up I would love to put out another one and so on and so on. If people enjoy listening to the music and I can keep putting it out that would be great. As far as the sound in comparison to ‘Sounds Of Jura’ there is a bit of everything really. I think because I am constantly recording new stuff it is always going to be a bit here and a bit there if you know what I mean. So I suppose it would be safe to say if you enjoy ‘Sounds Of Jura’ you will probably enjoy the next one to. But as long as I keep making it there will always be plenty more room on the shelf.
Did you have a tough time deciding which ideas to include on this first release and what to leave aside?
I thought I would but in the end I didn’t have to tough a time really. And I had space for more, but I think when I came up with the songs I did, in the order that I did, I was happy with the way it sounded and the way it progressed from track to track. I think when it came to working out the songs and the running order it was probably the ones that I was enjoying listening to the most at the time. I sometimes hear other tracks now and think I should have put that one on or that would have worked nice in there. But in the end I am happy with the way it came out and it’s a nice way to get the ball rolling. I think it is a fairly balanced album and it covers some different terrain but in the end it all seems to sit pretty comfortably together.
I’m looking forward to 2013 I think its going to be a lot of fun. HWCT finished 2012 by doing our first tour of Japan with Teratova (JPN) with our really good buddies from Spider Goat Canyon who make up the other half of Daggers Mid Flight. So it was a really awesome tour where we got to see some amazing places, play some great shows and see some incredible bands. I think the final night of the tour was my favorite as we got to play both a HWCT set and a DMF set. It was a cool way to see the tour out and I think it was one of the best DMF flight sets we have probably ever done. With HWCT the main aim for this year is to play a few Melbourne shows, possibly some interstate as well and then get into the studio and do another full length record. Our last few releases have been splits a compilation and a collaboration. So we are going to get the machine nice and oiled and go in and bash out another full length. I cant wait for this one, in the past we have sort of recorded more spur of the moment I suppose, and had to cram a lot in to a short amount of time. So we are giving ourselves some time to knuckle down and create our new album which I have a feeling is going to be something we are very proud of. As for Daggers Mid Flight I am pretty sure another recording wont be to far away and I think we will try throw in a few more live shows this year than normal as well. So plenty to look forward to.
Any other projects in the works?
Nothing else planned really but who knows what could pop up at anytime. I like to leave my options open. There is a Bro Fidelity gig coming up at the Old Bar soon which HWCT were originally going to play, but due to prior commitments I can no longer do. So Ben decided to go ahead with it and is going to be doing a set with Bonnie Mercer (Dead River/Grey Daturas) who is a good friend of HWCT. So it’s not a project of mine so to speak but I think it will be pretty awesome. I’m pretty bummed I can’t go really. Hopefully they do some more. I think they should record something so I don’t miss out entirely. Ben and I are always really open to playing with other musicians, I think it keeps things interesting.
Who are your three favourite Australian bands right now?
Think I will have to go with:
All those bands have been really cool the last few times I have seen them. There are plenty more but there is three for you.
Any last words?
Those are the next shows coming up for each band. ‘Sounds Of Jura’ will be available at both shows along with a stack of other Bro Fidelity releases. Thanks heaps to Mitch and Metal Obsession for the support. Much appreciated, see you soon!