...has to be his timing.
On September 24th 2008, AKA Meet Me In St Louis Day, Toby was completely unaware of any celebrations going on, worshiping his former bands one and only album, as he was sat on a chest of drawers in his flat above a motorbike shop, recording his debut Shoes And Socks Off record, mostly in one take. His accidental ignorance towards the event was as fitting as the new solo material was honest and heartfelt. The album, 'From The Muddy Banks Of Melitzer', went on to soundtrack my winter and provided many fellow fans with a new obsession to start filling the MMISL shaped hole left in their lives. And not just that; it potentially saved this little record label. With distributors dropping like flies and a constant battle for attention turning into an uphill struggle, for the first time since day one, I contemplated packing everything in. A few excited plans for the SASO album later and the sun put his back on. Neither of us were in the mood for the bullshit. We didn't care about sales figures, we didn't give a toss what any journalists thought, we weren't going to bust our balls trying to book a tour. This was about having fun. The CDs were burnt to order right here in my flat whilst the artwork was designed by Toby and printed by a friend. You won't find the album in any shops and you'd be hard pushed to find it in any magazines either. It existed simply because we wanted it to, and was available for anyone who wanted to find it. For everyone else, who cares?
On June 8th 2009, AKA a really fucking stressful day, Toby finished his second album. This time it was my turn to be ignorant, losing track of the studio dates, blissfully unaware of what was going on as I sat here pulling my hair out and stressing over unrelated things well outside of my control. A tube strike on the day of a BSM showcase gig in London, logistical issues over tour planning and album delivery dates, artwork problems at the printers and financial woes. It was past being 'just another bloody Monday' and had slipped into the realm of 'a really crappy start to the week'. Just as the day was drawing to an end, as I was daring to think about packing up and going to bed, my inbox lit up. The new album was here. My day just got a little bit better.
'Hand Reared Suburban Piglet' features the same 10 tracks as it's predecessor, only fleshed out and full of new and exciting instruments. Glitchy electronics, discordant violins... I think I just heard some banjo, too! Toby has gone all Thom Yorke on us and has not just produced a brilliant follow-up record, but a perfectly timed reminder of why I love this job.
Anybody in London tonight, I'll be the one cruising around on a multitude of tube replacing buses, notebook in hand, big grin on my face and a million and one ideas bubbling through my brain about the next Shoes And Socks Off anti-release.