Words: Miljan Milekić
Trash Boat are doing everything right, and everything I love. Their combination of pop punk, skate punk, and melodic hardcore got me instantly hooked, while their last year’s album ‘Crown Shyness’ is one of my personal 2018’s highlights. Unfortunately, we couldn’t be at their show in Antwerpen tonight, but frontman Toni Duncan was kind enough to pick up his phone and do an interview with us. You can check it below.
Hi Tobi! First of all, thank you for finding the time, and for doing this so late after the show. So how was it?
Tobi: Tonight in Cologne? It was great. We also played a show a little while ago here – it was the Galaxy Camp Festival, and Cologne was the best show we had. Cologne seems to really like us.
And how is the tour so far? You are there with While She Sleeps and LANDMVRKS, right?
Tobi: And Stray From The Path, yes. They are playing right now. (laughs) It’s brilliant, it’s been outstanding. It’s been a new market for us for sure because, obviously, we’re more pop punk and these are all quite heavy bands. So, we were taking a bit of a risk, but I think it’s really paid off.
And how is it to be on a bill with such diverse bands and, how do you feel the crowds reacted to your songs and your music?
Tobi: I personally love it, because a lot of my favorite shows when I was younger were very eclectic lineups. I remember seeing, you know, Dead End Path and Title Fight or Seahaven and Harm’s Way. Things like that. Um, the mixed band tours are great. I’m a big fan of diversity, and it’s a privilege to be a part of this lineup. I love heavy music so much, and I love that we can blend in with this kind of crowds. Some of the crowd responses were a bit tentative at first, but I think across the board it’s been very positive.
Your latest record, ‘Crown Shyness’ shows that diversity. It sounds like you brought more different elements than you had before, which is maybe why you do so well with different crowds. In your opinion, what did you do differently with this album?
Tobi: Well, I think the reason why we have such a strange sound is that all five members have very different music tastes, and we all want to contribute to the writing. We all end up having to make some compromises because we all want a little piece of our style, and it ends up just being a big mix of all of our tastes. So it creates this sound that is Trash Boat. Um, and I know that with the new record, we wanted to make it a little bit heavier, a little bit more riff-based. You know, every band seems to get lighter as they go on, but we want to get heavier and heavier. And see how it goes.
I personally find this as your best work so far, and I like it the most. But how did the crowd react to the change, and to new songs? Especially live?
Tobi: Thank you, me too. It’s been going really, really well. I think are the best shows were probably Amsterdam, Stuttgart and maybe Vienna, as well. We haven’t even been to England yet, so I’m sure the English shows are going to be brilliant, but we’ll have to wait and see.
Once again you went with Hopeless Records. How would you describe your work with them, and what’s with the explosion of British bands in recent years, especially on that label?
Tobi: Working with Hopeless is great. I’m glad they gave us the opportunity and believed in us when we were just a crappy band with one EP out, you know. And I don’t know, I guess there have always been good British bands, but recently they’ve just been getting a lot of attention. Then, once they start getting bigger, it gives other smaller bands a chance to get their name out there and the scene just grows by itself. And we’re just growing right along with it.
Speaking of the UK scene, how do you see Brexit, and do you have any idea what consequences can it have on the music scene and touring bands from the UK?
Tobi: I honestly do not know the answer to that question. And I think that one of the primary issues with the British people’s attitude towards Brexit is that politicians failed to provide comprehensive information that wasn’t biased towards a specific agenda. Therefore the general public can only see what they see on the news, they only see what parties and news broadcasts are trying to get them to see. There’s so much information about Brexit. There’s so much to learn, so much to know; so many variables, so many contexts. And by a large, the British public just doesn’t understand. I don’t understand it, and I honestly don’t really know what to think about the whole situation.
However, at the moment, because we have voted to leave, the die has been cast and I believe that we need to follow through. I think we need a Labour government, Jeremy Corbyn is the best bet, to leave the European Union, ’cause I think Tories has been making an absolute mess of it. I think that calling for a people’s vote and a second referendum put forward the idea that we need to keep voting until we get the “correct” vote. I think the decision has been made and now we just need to run with it and make the best of it. But unfortunately, people just haven’t got enough information and enough non-biased information to come to a formal decision. And I think that was a failure of politicians to educate the public and do their job. You know?
I actually have to agree with you on this, although I’m sad to see the UK go.
Tobi: I mean, I could close the Brexit point by saying the vote to leave the European Union, whilst it might have been manipulated or made without full knowledge of the consequences of that decision, at the end of the day was an expression of sovereignty from, by a large, the working class of the UK. And at the end of the day, any expression of sovereignty, or any request or desire to not be a part of a certain union or a certain group, has to be respected.
If someone says they want to leave something, you have to allow them to leave that thing. And that’s the situation that we’re in. However, how we got there is irrelevant now. We are in that situation, and I think we need to follow through, but we need to follow through correctly with a Labor government or more left government because the right-wing government we have at the moment is fucking up beyond belief.
A little brighter stuff, and back to touring; how was it to be part of the last ever cross-country Vans Warped Tour? How does it feel to be part of the last edition of such an iconic event?
Tobi: It was a privilege, and I think it was the best the Warped could have been as well because it was the last one. They were all selling out, and everyone was excited ’cause they wanted to experience it for the last time. And we got to experience it, too. It was the most fun I’d ever had over the summer.
You come from St Albans, a town that isn’t really known for its music scene. Did you ever felt the ‘small town syndrome?’ How did manage to overcome the small market and showcase yourselves to the world?
Tobi: We had a fantastic local scene in Saint Albans, Lower Than Atlantis came from Watford, which is close by; we had Your Demise, we had Enter Shikari; there were some brilliant bands. I used to go to hardcore shows in Saint Albans all the time when I was younger. I never really felt small towns syndrome because I was close enough to London that London could be considered our major market and our hometown. Honestly, I just kept being in terrible bands until one of them worked. (laughs) I just really wanted to make it work and eventually one of them clicked, which is very rewarding.
In the past, you had a great connection to your local venue called The Pioneer. You did some pre-production, played shows, and even recorded two music videos there. How significant was the venue for you? Also, in your opinion, how important can local venues like that be for the scene, and young generations, especially in the smaller places?
Tobi: The Pioneer is more than just a venue, it’s also a youth club and a skate park. It’s a social hub for kids in Saint Albans to just come and hang out, listen to music, skate, and socialize. And then there’s a venue as well, where we practice. We’re thinking of doing a Christmas show there. Of course, I think these kinds of places are hugely important for any kids and cultures that are interested in that kind of things – skateboarding, alternative music, things like that. They are key, those kinds of things need to be supported and promoted for sure.
How involved are you with the skateboarding scene? I know you recorded the video for ‘How Selfish I Seem’ in The Pioneer’s skate park, but how much is Trash Boat and your music influenced by skateboarding culture?
Tobi: I haven’t skated in over ten years because I damaged my knee. I used to skate, and I used to be very into skating up until about the age of 17, but my knee is at the point where I can’t really do anything about it anymore. So yeah, I mean, the culture influenced me, but I don’t skate personally anymore.
A few months ago you played a legendary BBC Radio 1 session at no less significant Maida Vale. How was the experience, especially for a smaller band, and the genre that’s far from the mainstream?
Tobi: It was lovely. There are so many incredible bands that have played Maida Vale. I mean, Bring Me The Horizon played Maida Vale session, which is just insane. We were surprised that we even got asked to do it, but as soon as we got asked, we were like – “Yep, absolutely!” Hopefully, we can do another one at some point soon. It was humbling. It was a very fun experience.
Seeing all of that – Maida Vale session, playing Warped Tour, being on the road with all those different bands, how does it feel to look at your band, the progress of it, and all the hard work paying off?
Tobi: Relief! Relief – I made a good decision, and not go to University. (laughs) I mean, I took a big old gamble, a very big gamble and so far it’s paying off. I love it, it’s everything that I wanted to be doing since the age of 15. Well, since even younger than that; it’s exactly what I want to be doing with my life, and not a lot of people can say that they are doing that. So I’m very honored and very humbled.
For the end, do you have anything you’d like to share with your fans?
Tobi: You’re in Belgium? Firstly – see you tomorrow! And secondly, we are going to be coming back to Belgium sooner than you might think. We’re going to be doing, maybe a headline tour later this year. So, any fans of us in Belgium, keep an eye out for an announcement very soon!