Originally published on Genjing Records
As most of you are aware, Genjing rung out the year that was 2014 with a shit hot split pitting our two favorite bands of brothers, Tonstartssbandht and Hot & Cold, against each other. The result of this most natural pairing of musical siblings turned out startlingly well, so well, in fact, that after a little piece from our friends at Noisey hit and Tonstartssbandht set off on a lengthy December/January tour of Australia and New Zealand, them little handsomely packaged 7” records became quite scarce. Subtle Hint: if you don’t own this thing, you’d best make a move over to our shop, like, right now and snap one up before that becomes an impossibility. Anyhoo, promotional skew aside, wanna know more about the inner workings of Tonstartssbandht? So did we. So, we dusted off/fired up our Commodore VIC-20 and contacted one half of the ‘Bandht, Andy White, who was kind enough to discuss all sorts of shit with us. It’s a good, dare we say, “informative” read – and no, we don’t bother him with any questions about his day job as Mac Demarco’s guitarist. We’d like to think that Tonstartssbandht’s, erm, “artistry” should stand on it’s own, ‘cuz…it does. Super stoked I could fit the term artistry in there! Whew, that felt good. Check out Andy White’s mind after the jump.
So, you gentlemen are originally from the Sunshine State. Surely the Spring Breakers-esque take on Florida being a criminal haven with 5 years olds twerking in trailer parks while their parents look themselves up on Floridaman is bullshit right? What’s the scene like, back “home”?
Florida is a bizarre, beautiful, boring, buzzing place. We are blessed to have had the opportunity to grow up there, and lucky to still have friends and family there.
You’re both living in Brooklyn now, right? Before that you were living in Montreal and NYC? Was that due to day jobs? School?
We both live in Brooklyn now. Ed moved to NYC almost ten years ago for school, and I moved to Montreal almost 8 years ago, also for school. We each stayed in our respective adopted cities for work after school, occasionally staying with each other for brief or extended periods. We’ve been living in the same house now in Bushwick for about 3 years.
You probably get this all the time, but what was the writing process like with the two of you living in different cities? Upsides/downsides? Feel free to cut and paste an old Postal Service quote or whatever if you’re sick to death of this question, not that you dudes sound even remotely like ’em…
We would email stuff back and forth, or just individually take on writing/recording duties, or we would write and record in person when we visited each other’s hometowns to play shows or just hang.
How often, on average, did the two of you meet up in person and hash things out, whether that be practicing or working out new material?
I would wager that we probably saw each other maybe once every 6 weeks, often times more frequently. Depending on work, school, and touring.
How has your process changed now that you’re in the same local?
We’ve been a live band since the beginning, but our gear and arrangements and styles certainly evolved and adapted over the years to fit the long-distance-relationship lifestyle. Since we’ve been living together, we’ve become a much tighter live unit, certainly more comfortable improvising or jamming out longer sets, and also more dynamic in our self-control.
Is there a primary songwriter in Tonstartss or do you both bring ideas to the table? Lyrics?
We both write pretty much half and half.
How large a part does improvisation play in your live set?
A big part!
Do you (collectively) consider Tonstartss to be your primary musical outlet or do you simply consider it one of your many projects at this point? What projects are you both actively involved in at the moment?
I think we tend to think of it as our primary musical project. We’ve each focused a bit more on solo projects (Andy Boay for Andy and Eola for Edwin) in the past and we may in the future too. Tonstartssbandht feels more like a comfortable thing we can happily pick up or put down for any period of time, whenever the fuck we want :^)
Andy, what kind of axe are you wielding in Tonstartss to achieve such a lush sound live? Specific pedals? Feel free to get nerdy…
I’ve been using a Danelectro 12-string electric, the model they started making in 2012 I think. I like using it in the two-man band set-up because I can fill the range of low-to-high frequencies well, especially if I can write tunes with finger-picking figures that have a bass and high end. Before that I had been using a Coral Electric Sitar (a newer cheaper knock-off of the old Jerry Jones ones), mostly to the same effect. The droning sympathetic strings helped fill out the live sound.
I’ve heard you guys are all about pizza. Where’s the best slice to be found, like, the world over?
I don’t really know. It’s all just food to me :^) Eat with a friend and enjoy it. Or eat it alone and think about things.
While we’re on the subject of food: Bagels – Montreal or NYC? Personally, I think Montreal is tremendously underrated.
I think I can safely say, if we had to choose, life or death, Montreal bagels are good enough.
Tell us about how “Peace In the Valley” came about? My parents, who are hardcore Southern Baptists, think it’s the jam!
I first heard the tune on a fantastic home mixtape I found at a junk shop in Syracuse when I was in high school, someone in Syracuse in the 80s just set up a tape recorder and captured an hour of a spiritual radio show. You can hear this woman like shifting in her chair or quietly speaking to someone else in the room. Two people just listening to the radio. It’s a pretty magical tape, I am grateful we crossed paths. Anyways on that taped radio show the DJ played the Tennessee Ernie Ford version of the tune. Then I got obsessed with the Sam Cooke version, and then the really short snippet of the million dollar quartet playing it. It’s been a favorite tune of our’s for a long time.
Have you boys had a chance to hang out with the Bros Frank of Hot & Cold fame? The two of you definitely have a lot in common, at least on paper?
We are old friends. Actually that’s how we ended up putting out the split record with them on yall’s label! Both Josh and Simon are consistently inspiring, calming, and interesting dudes. None of us live in the same city anymore, but any chance I get to hang with them and catch up is a cherished day for sure.
Tips for staying healthy on the road?
Eat well, exercise (its not that hard to get in a run or do stretches every single day, even if only for a little bit), and get actual sleep at night as often as possible. Drink lots of water all the time. Wash your hands.
What’s ahead for Tonstartss?
We are both home for a little while right now, so we’re just jamming, writing new songs, recording, and also hanging out a lot doing things that have nothing to do with our music, which is very refreshing and fun. Who knows? We’re down for whatever, as long as we can keep playing when we feel like it.