I did some studio stuff and bumped into Stacy Heydon. We did a couple of CDs that were called Garden which were actually some local Virginia singers and things like that. We did that and we fell into the songwriting bit and so that was about five or seven years ago. Something like that. We started the Toast project which basically started out as a songwriting project. Me and Stacy would collaborate on stuff and we worked on the first Toast CD for probably about two years and it came out real good. We got a little bit of radio play out of it so we put a working band together of it with some of the players on the CD. Some of them were local studio guys from here. We had played a couple of years around and that's when we fell into Robert Winston and ended up getting the gig at Carnegie Hall. He had actually found us on the Net but he was trying to find a Virginia band to do some gigs around here. He liked to stir up the classical world by mixing alternative rock with classical music so we did some gigs here with the Virginia VYS symphony. Those went over real well because he liked the Pavillion and the Virginia Beach oceanfront. We ended up going to play Carnegie Hall with the Metropolis symphony out of Chicago which was a really big thrill gig for us. Then the All In CD we've actually been working on, it took maybe another two years to do. While we were playing and stuff, we were still writing tunes. We just released this one in January. It's definitely picking up a lot better radio play. We released it through Howard Rosen Promotions. We released the song "Faded" to C.H.R. Pop and we're just getting that going. We've been picking up sometimes one, two, or three stations a week on "Faded".
I've got a Deep Purple album with an orchestra and the Metallica one with the orchestra. I think that sounds really cool. Rock music with an orchestra. It seems to go well hand in hand.
Yeah, Moody Blues was real successful with it too. They would hire local symphonies and do the Moody Blues things. It was different but it was definitely fun. I haven't talked to him in a while but we're talking about going up to Chicago maybe and doing it again with the symphony up there.
You're a singer/songwriter and Stacy was a guitarist for David Bowie.
Yeah, he played with him on the Station To Station Tour. He also played with Iggy Pop. They're all kind of the same group. He's actually from Toronto. I think that's where he hooked up with them but he was running a studio down here in Virginia. That's where I hooked up and we became fast friends. We've just been collaborating pretty much ever since.
It took you two years to do your All In CD. Can you tell us a little bit about it?
It's the same kind of thing. Basically when we do a CD, I just start writing a bunch of songs and Stacy and me feed off each other. A lot of times I'll write the main things and he'll throw in his little weird view on it and we'll come out with it. Chuck Freeman sings on it. He's a buddy of mine I've known for a long time. Chuck and I do a lot of harmony work. It's basically a writing project more than anything. We don't really try to write for the radio or write for anything but just get the ideas. We wrote 30 songs and picked 12 out of that for this album. It was weird because it came out that the better songs seemed to be on the mellower side where the first Toast CD was a little heavier. That's pretty much how we do it and then when we do gigs, I'll put together some of the players from the band, some of the players on that stuff, some studio people, and I'll just fill in. Right now I've got a live band going with a drummer, Adam Sherry. On a lot of the studio stuff we use Josh Hauser and a guy named Teak. They were studio boys out of L.A. We basically try to create a piece of art I guess you would call it without worrying about what's on and what's good and what's cool.
What some people think is cool, other people might not.
Right, believe me. We've been getting a lot of good reviews. I've had a couple of reviews that weren't so hot.
That's bound to happen.
Yeah, that's music. Some you like, some you don't. We try to do it a little different. A lot of the stuff coming out and they're real good bands, I like them, but a lot of them are trying to find Blink 182 clones. A lot of the music coming out. We try not to do that. Actually use keyboards and things like that which in rock music, rap and stuff like that is using them, but rock music ain't much.
They've kind of gone away from that. Back in the 80's they used keyboards.
There are a lot of instruments out there and I don't understand why, it's probably the stupid record companies more than anything else, they're looking for one sound and if you want to do something different you're not going to get signed. That's why basically we've been turned down by probably every record company in the world 500 times. Finally I said screw it, let's go independent, do what we want to do, and take it from there.
If you go independent, you're basically in control of everything you want to do rather than someone else.
Yeah, the only thing you've got to fight is, when you're on that level, the clout that the record companies have on the radio stations. Let's face it, radio is your biggest form of advertising you can get. To sell some CDs, at least if you're doing pop kind of music, you definitely need to get some radio play and that's where it gets tough. They're like "who are you?" It's not like you're locked out. You have to have a good promoter that knows what he's doing and knows the program directors.
You said you managed to get one of your songs on the radio. How did you do that?
The fourth song "Faded", it's on a lot of college. College is hard to verify though because basically we just send out 500 of them to college stations and it's hard to verify what's being played and not. Half the time the DJ's going to school, comes in for an hour, and splits so it's hard to verify your spins. The fourth song is "Faded" which the whole album is not really C.H.R. Pop but Howard chose that one and we're getting close to 38 commercial stations.
In different states?
Oh, yeah. We're stating to get invited to do some of the summer festivals. Like Virgin Islands is playing it. They're giving us 40 spins a week which is up there getting into heavy rotation. KISR Ft. Smith, Arkansas, KCDY Carlsbad, Arizona, WALV Cleveland, Tennessee, KQIDL Alexandria, Louisiana, KBNT Montrose, Colorado, WQGN New London, Connecticut, KKNB Blythe, California. They're playing it in Terre Haute, Indiana and they invited us to do I guess their Pepsi Spring/Summer kickoff. Something else I better plug too is we were actually recording in L.A. We go there two or three times a year and lay down tracks but we ended up hooking up with the producer from Pine Wood Studios. Me and Chuck were down there recording and that was in November. She was filming a movie called Goal. It's actually going to be a trilogy but it's coming out in August/September. She invited us to come down. We gave her our CD and she liked it. She invited us to come out. I guess it was March 22 we were in a scene from the movie and we didn't realize it when we were going there. We figured we'd just be extras. We didn't have any speaking roles but they had us as the main extras at this bar room scene but we're in a scene with Brian Johnson, the lead singer of AC/DC, which is cool. I didn't know he was going to be there.
Seems like you guys are getting along there.
Well, we're trying. Right now we're rehearsing, trying to get practiced up for spring. There are a lot of festivals coming out and we'll be out playing them.
Any other thoughts or comments?
We're working on a third album. It'll probably be January or February I'd say. We've laid down about 14 or 15 songs so far. I like to lay down a ton of songs so I've got something to choose from. There are still a few off the second CD that might have been something a little wrong and we redo it and maybe put it on the third one.
You use some of the stuff on another album that you didn't use on the previous one.
An album is kind of what you pick. In two years we did about 30 songs and there are probably four or five of them that maybe needed a little rewrite. They might end up coming out on this other album.
You said the first one was kind of heavy and this one is kind of mellow.
It wasn't real heavy but it was kind of pop heavier. We got a lot of college play and we only picked up a few commercial stations. When you've got promoters, some of them are on top of it and some of them are sitting on their couch sleeping. I think this CD came out better though anyway. We keep getting better I think. I hope. We'll find out on the third one.
What direction do you see the third one going in?
It's hard to describe. I just sit down and write songs. Sometimes I'm writing too many mellow songs and I'll make one a little heavier. I just write.