Now, you might think Toothless is the name of a rowdy punk-rock band, clad in leather and blood-red tartan. But, I can in fact reveal that you, my friend, are wrong. Stemming from our sorely missed friends, Bombay Bicycle Club, Toothless is the fed-and-watered child of superb bassist Ed Nash. For some, the mere prospect of leaving a globetrotting, chart-topping band and going it alone would be impossibly daunting. But, powered by good vibes and sweet riffs, Ed is more than ready.
The bizarre name for Ed’s solo venture came from a famous drawing by US artist, Raymond Pettibon. Infamous for his signature LA punk scene gig posters in the 1980s, Pettibon drew a tiger biting off a boy’s head. Grim, I know. The caption for this gnarly scene read: ‘Even toothless, she can still bite off a boy’s head’ – one hell of a mean tigress. Obviously not one to shy away from its fiercely gruesome origins, the idea of something being toothless whilst still having bite was favoured by Ed. This, coupled with the annoying predetermined assumption that ‘side projects’ rarely amount to much, was enough to make the name stick.
Ed has kept an incredibly close eye on his debut album, The Pace of the Passing, from the theme of the singles to the album artwork. A play on the well-known Power of Ten video by Charles and Ray Eames, the chosen images themselves possess their own narrative. The particularly trippy video made in 1977 delves into the power of ten, hurtling the viewer on a Doctor Who-esque journey through the cosmos, right down to the atomic world in which we live in. Potentially comparable to an intense acid trip. Ed’s sensational creativity has allowed him to showcase a world where everything is connected and intertwined, condensing it all into a tidy, square nutshell for his fans.
Having listened to Sisyphus, one of the compelling opening numbers on the album, I can confirm that Ed’s attention to detail shines throughout his music. There is a delicious sense of playfulness in the melodies and harmonies in the track and – as expected – across the whole album. Simple yet sublime, I found myself skipping back to the summer sun of this year, when winter was a world away but a cold beer was within arm’s reach. Perfect.
Although The Pace of the Passing is very much a one man cosmo-psychedelic piece of art, Toothless has welcomed some good friends to join the journey. Marika Hackman, Tom Fleming of Wild Beasts, Bombay collaborator Liz Lawrence, and The Staves all add vocal garnishes to tracks on the album. Harking back to the old days, Jack Steadman, Bombay’s head vocalist also shares the production duties with Ed.
For Toothless, it’s onwards and upwards from here. There’s talk of tours and the day job is very much on the backburner. The Pace of the Passing is set to be one of 2016’s most glorious releases; a moreish listen for creative minds everywhere.
Toothless will be showcasing his debut album in full on the 28th of November @ The Pickle Factory, London.
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Words by Claudia Knight