electro-rockers weather a lineup change and come out on top.
BY GIL MACIAS
Not too long after the end of a successful tour and the
Grammy nomination of their debut album, We
Are Pilots, electronic indie-rockers Shiny Toy Guns faced a not-so-shiny
predicament. The band parted ways with lead female vocalist, Carah Fahey, who left
to pursue other interests, and it’s not every day a band loses a key member
after such a strong debut and high amount of success.
No matter though. The guys are survivors, go-getters, and
they remained optimistic and quickly accepted the change, moved forward and
found a second voice for the band. With them now is Sisely Treasure, a vixen and
old friend of the band who came onboard as they were gearing up to record Season of Poison. It’s been 6 months
since Season of Poison was released
and the band is currently on the road supporting their latest album as well as
the release of their new single, “Major Tom,” a fantastic cover of the Peter
Schilling ‘80s classic. While the band stopped in Los Angeles to play a show at Club Nokia, we
managed to catch up with keyboardist Jeremy Dawson to discuss Carah’s
departure, the fans’ reaction and acceptance of Sisely, and the future of their
BLURT: So after We Are Pilots got nominated for a
Grammy, did that add a lot of pressure to the recording process of Season of Poison? Did you feel you that
had higher expectations to meet?
We had no idea what to do. We were so fried from touring. We didn’t care either
way, really. I don’t know if a bar would’ve been set, had we had more time off
and stuff, maybe it would’ve effected us more. I definitely think it was a
positive thing, but we were just so tired.
So if Season
of Poison doesn’t get nominated for a Grammy, you’re not going to feel like
you put out subpar work, right? Is this Grammy nomination thing really going to
matter to from now on?
It matters, but not
in the world of creating music. It just matters in the materialistic world.
So Carah Fahey left the band while you were
recording this album.
Not on her own will,
but we are no longer in the band together. Carah didn’t quit the band.
So how far in the recording process were you
when she left?
Nothing was recorded
There was no version of Season of Poison with Carah? Not one song recorded with her at all?
Never. Nothing whatsoever.
That’s part of the reason why everything happened. She wasn’t around at all.
And we took that as her not wanting to be in the band anymore. Much later on,
after we began to reconcile our friendships with her, we found out that wasn’t
necessarily the case. We were just all tired. It was a bum deal. A band is a
relationship. You have to learn to respect and give space to each other.
There’s all these things you have to do when you’re crammed together in a van,
in an RV, a bus, airplane, train, and all that for four years-there’s all these
boundaries and patience things you have to learn in a band that works as hard
as we do.
Being in the same band together for years and years, hence
Chad and I have been in the same band together since we were 13-years-old, I
think we’ve gotten into two or three arguments in 5 years, that were mild. But
there’s never going to be an ego issue, because we just don’t bump heads
because we’re bonded together like that. And Mikey [the drummer] is the kind of
guy we’re close with, we know him, we hang out all the time. Carah-we were
bonded together, but with the tour, things unraveled between all four of us.
Mostly between the three of us and her. It’s not either side’s particular
fault. There’s no particular incident or issue. It just became unbound and we
were unable to revive. Somebody could’ve intervened, sat us down and slapped us
and everything could be completely different right now, who knows. But that’s
the gist of how the whole thing went down.
So you replaced Carah with Sisely. What is it
about Shiny Toy Guns that feels the need for a female presence?
Think of it like
this. Think if you had the ability to write a song where both sides of the
story are equally shared and argued, even within the same lyric of the song.
There’s the yin side and the yang side, the hot and the cold. If you take a song,
and the male sings it to another male and another female, there’s a chemical
way you accept that song into your head when you listen to it. The same song,
sung by a female or split in half between, is going to have a different, more
rounded color to the ears. You take something differently when a girl says it
to you than when a boy does. Same with a female, that’s the way it is. We feel
it gives us a spectrum of creativity. We can do anything we want if we have the
power of both members of sex singing.
If Sisely ever decided to leave, would you
replace her with another female?
In two seconds.
Do you have other singers in mind?
[Male lead vocalist CHAD PETREE
PETREE: Savage-our tour manager. [Laughs]
He’s good, really good. He does Celine Dion like you wouldn’t know. [Laughs]
On some of your tracks, it’s just Chad singing,
others are just Sisely. How do you choose who is going to sing what? Do you
ever record two versions of a song with each lead vocal?
DAWSON: Yes. Sometimes we pre-aim something.
Some melodies are too high or too low for Chad or Sisely to sing. Sometimes a
song sounds better in a certain key, so we’ll sometimes go back and rewrite the
lyrics from a female perspective-because it sounds better with Sisely. Again,
that’s part of the whole dynamic of songwriting with two people. We can adjust
and move things around.
The new single, the cover of “Major Tom,” was originally sung by Peter
Schilling. What made you guys choose Sisely over Chad?
We were going to have
do it. It all started out as a 30 second T.V. commercial. We didn’t know we
were going to make a whole song and that it was going to take off on the
internet. But Lincoln-Mercury wanted a female to voice for it. They were very
specific. And I think the vehicle was kind of aimed at a female demographic.
That’s probably why.
How do you feel when you see comments online
or overhear fans say they aren’t into the band anymore because Carah left?
Like shit. Think
about it-you have hundreds and thousands of people that are like, ‘What the
hell are you guys doing?’ Nobody likes change. Change only works in certain
ways. Unfortunately, people aren’t getting used to it yet.
Even to this day? The album has been out for 6
months. Do you feel fans have accepted Sisely yet?
That’s a good
question. When people see the band live, they think ‘That’s cool.’ But people
who aren’t online, blogging all day, and they’re actually listen to the album
and formulating their own opinion, and we put ten of those people in a room-I would
actually wonder what those ten people would think. But kids online, bless their
hearts, if you screw with their music, they’re like ‘What are you doing? Are
you out of your mind?’ They just get mad. Music is not supposed to be screwed
with. You go to music because something else in your life got screwed with.
Before the internet, you couldn’t talk about it anywhere. What were you going
to do, write to your friend and mail it? You had to deal with the fact that
Anthrax got a new lead singer. And pretty soon, people just dealt with it. And
they show up to the show, they enjoy it, and pretty soon, they’re cool.
Nowadays, if I take a shit the wrong way and someone didn’t like it, people in Belgium
are pissed off.
What was the first show with Sisely like? I
imagine a lot of intensity and pressure since some fans weren’t quite over the
Carah thing. Did she fear not being
Sisely is a very
confident girl. She gets up there and just, bam-she
fires. She’s been in several bands, she’s been a friend for years. We’ve known
her forever. She went right in and went to work. Our first show, however, was a
complete disaster. Some of our equipment blew up because we had just unpacked
it from a tour 8 months before, but she did good. We were thinking some bad
reaction to her might happen, and that would’ve been totally normal. I would’ve
been shitting my pants if I were her. But she did fine.
Sisely was your original choice for singer
before Carah came along, right?
Years ago, but she
was signed to Dreamworks at the time. She was not able to record with us. She
was locked into her old deal with her band that was on hiatus.
So I imagine there are some fans that are
oblivious about what’s going on they have no idea you even changed vocalists.
Has anyone ever gone up to her and called her “Carah?”
amazing how many people don’t know. “Carah, will you please sign right here?” [Laughs] They look nothing alike. It’s
ok, some people don’t know. I mean, my favorite band right now is White Lies,
but if I saw the lead singer walk by right now, I wouldn’t even know who he
was. The way music is now, you buy it on iTunes or maybe you copy it from
someone, you listen to it, fall in love with it, but you don’t have a CD
booklet, no CD art, no jacket, you just have these tracks. So you just have
like “Track 05” and you’re listening to it over and over again, meanwhile, the
guy from White Lies is sitting behind you at Denny’s and you have no idea even
though you’re obsessed with the band’s music.
I don’t know if it’s bad or good, but that is part of the
new generation of music. There’s not as much reactory or information about the
band unless you really want it. If you want it, there’s more than there ever
was. You can learn everything about your artist online. But a lot of people are
too busy, they don’t have time for that. They only have time to press play and
say, “I like this band,” and they have no idea who they are.
Have you started work on a new album yet? What
sound are you going for?
We want to go 3008,
electronic, with this next one. We’re dumping the guitars, and we’re going to
do an epic, sort of electro-dance record with tons of vocals. There will be
some guitars, but it’s going to be hooky, very Cure-y style hooks, upbeat,
up-tempo, really “You Are The One,” “Don’t Cry Out”-ish, but a little darker.
We have fun with more guitars but we did that record, and we’re like, ‘Let’s go
back over here and do this record now,’ except own it, make it ours, make it
Shiny Toy Guns on the