Posted On 03 Mar 2017
Toothless is the new project from Ed Nash, bassist for Bombay Bicycle Club. His debut album The Pace of the Passing was released on the 27th of January on Rostrum Records. To all intents and purposes, Toothless and his debut record have been carefully conceived by Nash. Everything up to and including the album’s artwork ties into the central themes that run throughout the record including astronomy, myths and naturally, the passing of time.
As curious a moniker as it may seem, the name Toothless comes from a Raymond Pettibon drawing. The US artist (infamous amongst the 1980s LA punk scene for his gig posters) drew a tiger biting off a boy’s head with the caption, ‘Even toothless, she can still bite off a boy’s head.” The idea of something being toothless, but still having bite struck Ed as strangely compelling. Nobody expects ‘side projects’ to achieve very much, especially the side project of a bass player and so the name stuck.
Despite The Pace of the Passing being very much the mind of one man, Toothless welcomes some friends to assist in finding his vision. Marika Hackman (Palm’s Backside), Tom Fleming of Wild Beasts (The Midas Touch), Bombay collaborator Liz Lawrence (Party For Two), and The Staves (The Sirens) all add vocal flourishes to the respective songs, whilst Bombay Bicycle Club’s vocalist Jack Steadman shares the production duties with Ed himself.
The Pace of the Passing is a beautifully realized, and carefully constructed record. You can hear a delicious sense of leftfield playfulness in the melodies across the whole album, and rather than obscure them with fuzzy noise, or layer them up with guitar on guitar, Ed just allows them to radiate and glow in their own simplicity. It’s a charm he employs on both “Charon” and “Sisyphus”, the opening tracks, and then weaves across the whole album. Despite endless highlights, it’s an album that deserves to be heard as it was made to be heard, in its entirety. A playlist in its own right.
“The effect is something like one of Sufjan Stevens’ early folk-rock epics transposed into his mid-career digital phase — only smoother, sleeker, and more propulsive.” — STEREOGUM
Learn more about Ed Nash in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time! What are some words you would use to describe 2016? What were some of the highlights for you and your music? What are you most excited about for 2017?
2016 for me was getting everything into place for this year, I put the live band together and worked on finishing the album for its release in January. I guess the highlights were putting out my first few singles and seeing people react to something that was totally my own. This year I’m excited to tour and meet as many people as I can… I didn’t get out much while making the record.
Growing up, did you always want to be a musician? Can you recall your first musical memory?
I played the saxophone from a very young age and was absolutely terrible, I remember hating it and not wanting to continue music anymore. It was only when I started playing guitar in bands that I thought it might be something I wanted to do in the future.
I understand that when Bombay Bicycle Club recently went on hiatus, you were inspired to begin a solo project. Can you talk about deciding to do that? How long had you been wanting to release your own music?
I had always written and recorded music in my spare time away from Bombay and it was always my intention to take it seriously when we stopped touring for an extended period of time. It was only when Bombay went on hiatus that I could properly pursue this… and I’m bloody glad I did.
What was the inspiration for your solo project, “Toothless”? How different or similar was the process of putting together you debut album “The Pace Of The Passing” then the collections with Bombay Bicycle Club?
It differs in almost every way. With Bombay I was playing the bass in a band where everyone had a say and where i wasn’t the songwriter, with this everything starts and ends with me. Its nice to not be democratic for once.
How did you form Toothless? Where did you meet this group? How did you come up with this band name?
Toothless is really just a name for me to record and release music under and the live band are old friends of mine who I grew up with!
The name was inspired by a cartoon I saw a few years ago that shows a tiger biting off a boy’s head with the caption “even toothless she can still bite off a boys head”. I really liked the idea of something being underestimated but still having potential. I thought it would be a fitting name for this project as people don’t really expect that much of me… no one expects the bass player from a band to go out and do something by themselves.
Do you have plans to tour and promote “The Pace Of The Passing” this year?
I certainly do, from now on this is my full-time thing! I have a UK tour booked in for the end of this month and I hope to make it to as many places as possible over the next year.
When do you think Bombay Bicycle Club fans can expect new music?
From me and Jack individually very soon indeed. From Bombay it will be quite a few years if ever… don’t hold your breath.
What artists have continued to inspire you and your music? Who would you absolutely love to work with in the future?
I absolutely love everything Dave Fridman works on, his production and mixing always blow my mind. I would love to work with him over anyone else working in music!
At the end of the day, what do you hope your fans take away from your music? What do you hope is the message of your songs?
“Even Toothless she can still bite off a boy’s head”. Don’t let people’s preconceptions of you hold you back. No-one expected me to get this far.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers about yourself and your music?
If you see me around when im on tour say hi… I dont bite.