Spotlight: San Pedro Punk Band Toys That Kill

Recess Records Mastermind Talks Making Albums, Punks Who Go Folk And Nebulous Band Members

Geoffrey Plant
4 min read
Toys That Kill
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Todd Congelliere has been producing punk rock music in the California style for more than two decades. His band Toys That Kill just released its fourth album, Fambly 42 , and is playing an all-ages show at The Gasworks on Tuesday. When the Alibi spoke to Congelliere over the phone, he was at his San Pedro home, which also serves as practice space, recording studio and headquarters for his record label Recess Records.

Where did you make the new album?

We actually recorded that in the garage, which also acts a warehouse for some label stuff and which probably helps with the sound because there’s boxes in there. We did a little bit of tape but mainly recorded it using Logic which is easier to control. I have a Tascam 388 quater-inch and certain things sound good on that, but it’s hard to get the drum sounds that we are accustomed to on that. We’re pretty happy with the way it came out.

Yeah, it sounds good—like it was recorded with the band all together in one room.

It was.

What do you think of the phenomenon of punk rockers maturing into folk musicians?

Well, I like folk music, and I’ve actually made some solo records that might be considered folk, although people aren’t likely to throw it on as just a “folk” record … but it kinda irritates me. Even if I’m a part of that, it still irritates me. I’m all for progressing and doing what you want to do, but sometimes at the end of the day you’re sounding just like that guy that’s already done it last year. And some of it is just too hokey to get into. It has to be mind-blowing, it has to stick out, and it almost never does. I don’t care if you’re up there with a feather, blowing on it, as long as it’s interesting.

Another trend seems to have a lot of young musicians playing acoustic folk/country music from the get-go and strictly not rocking out with drums and loud guitars.

I hate trends of any sort, but I
really hate musical trends. It’s something I take personally. The main reason you play music is you’re kind of showcasing your personality in a loud, and albeit dumb, way. You’re projecting your personality, not, Oh, I like this guy and I’m going to project his personality. You have to show who you are. I know a lot of it is that it’s much easier to grab an acoustic guitar. And maybe people just don’t get along with their friends anymore. They’re at home on the Internet all day and talkin’ shit and can’t have a social life or have any friends and, hey, that’s the way it is.

That’s an interesting theory. Maybe the acoustic country trend is a symptom of a dystopic society.

You gotta get out of the house. Do something.

What are you listening to right now?

A lot of stuff, actually. I got into that Spotify stuff, and I’ve never been turned on to music so fast. I just released a record—and this may be biased—by this band called Treasure Fleet from Chicago, and I’ve been listening to it nonstop. Usually when a record comes out, I’m done listening to it because I’ve listened to the test pressings, the rough mixes and stuff, but this record gets better and better with every listen. I’ve gotten into the last few Spiritualized albums, but I really like the new one that just came out a couple weeks ago.

Does Toys That Kill need audience participation to play a good show or do you rock equally in front of a small, uptight crowd?

No matter what, we’re gonna have fun. If we show up to a show on tour and there’s 10 people there, sometimes I have more fun, actually. There’s no pressure, and there are 10 people. There’s no reason to punish them and not make something positive out of it. But it definitely helps when there’s a good crowd, and they’re getting into it. We think of them as the fifth member of the band, and they definitely help with the show. People aren’t there just to see us. Everyone’s there to make it a good night. Unfortunately, things don’t always go that way, and sometimes there’s a lot of people in the room standing there with their arms crossed. That’s the worst. I’d rather have 10 people really into it than a bunch of snobs.

Toys That Kill

with Fort Hobo, Sweet Weapons, The Ill Motion and Robots Eating Brains

Tuesday, May 29, 7 p.m.

The Gasworks

2429 Quincy NE

Tickets: $7, all-ages

Toys That Kill

Shanty Cheryl Groff

Toys That Kill

Toys That Kill

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