Tour Odyssey brings festival feel to Clifton Park
Universal Music Group combined the opposing sounds of the electronic Shiny Toy Guns and reggae-rock Dirty Heads to bring Tour Odyssey to Upstate Concert Hall in Clifton Park, Tuesday, Feb. 26.
The night opened with Oh No Fiasco, an alternative rock quartet from Knoxville, Tenn. Their electric stage presence set a perfect contrast to their conservative wardrobe consisting of Easter pastel colors and the lead singer, Lindsey Stamey, and her floral picnic dress.
“We used to kind of be darker and have face paint and stuff like that… We’re getting kind of inspired by Stepford Wives and stuff,” said Stamey.
“Things that look really pretty on the outside but, not on the inside.”
Oh No Fiasco has a history of leaving everything on the stage. Stamey remembered a recent show where the drummer left the stage with blood all over his pants. After hearing their lively track “All Systems Go,” the crowd began to stir.
Next came Midi Matilda, a two-man group from California. The sound of the show shifted immediately.
Midi Matilda has a very distinct 70s-80s synth pop rock vibe with vocals that resemble mellow classic rock.
The front man, Skyler Kilborn said that he thinks this tour is very “festival oriented.” “I like all kinds of music. You don’t want to give people the same things all night,” said Kilborn.
Kilborn and his drummer, Logan Grime, matched Oh No Fiasco’s energetic show and were genuinely fun to watch. Grime dashed across the stage between songs and, at times, would perform standing to the side of his drum kit. Midi Matilda’s well-orchestrated lightshow and charismatic chatter better songs set the mood for the headliners.
Shiny Toy Guns is a band that is known to always have an incredible lightshow to match their electronic synth sounds. During their performance, the band danced around each other as if they had choreographed a dance.
The way they moved and interacted on stage, you could see that these people had been not only band mates, but best friends for years. Even when lead singer Carah Faye was not doing vocals, she did not lose her stage presence. Faye pranced around the stage spewing water across her friends. Shiny Toy Guns were the final electronic/heavy rock act before the tours main headliners came out.
Dirty Heads, a reggae infused rock and hip-hop band came on with a six-man group. Their third song was possibly their most anticipated: “Dance All Night,” their most profitable single. Every voice in the room seemed to belt out the chorus; even the cool crowd, standing stage side with folded arms for most of the evening. The band was an extreme change after Shiny Toy Guns, adding even more to the “festival feel” described by everyone.
Before the show, the Albany Student Press was able to meet the lead singers of both Shiny Toy Guns and Dirty Heads. This is what Carah Faye of STG and Jared Watson of Dirty Heads had to say.
ASP: How are you guys enjoying the tour so far?
Carah Faye: I think before the tour we were a bit anxious cause it was like a tour with a band from another genre. But it’s actually been a lot more fun than we thought and we’ve been well received by their fans and vice versa. Its worked out they’re super nice guys. We’ve been playing poker and dice so it’s all cool.
ASP: It’s interesting you say that. People say that STG was the first band to tour Alaska entirely by ground. People call you road warriors. Are you saying you were nervous for the tour?
CF: Not nervous but anxious. We were like well I guess we’ll see how this goes.
ASP: How did they get you on board?
CF: All four bands are on the same label so they put us all on
ASP: Did you meet them all before the tour?
CF: No, I actually didn’t meet them until like three shows in. Not even in sound check or anything.
ASP: Two years ago, you made your return to STG after a three year pause. What was the transition like for the band?
CF: It was so easy. It was like no time had gone by at all which is bizarre but when its real and its real friendship it’s so easy. I came back and the second we were on stage it was that easy.
ASP: A lot of people reference the sound of your new hit single “Somewhere to Hide” as 80s synth pop. How did you get onto that sound?
CF: It basically stayed the same since the first hour I sat down and wrote it. I started with the bass line diga diga diga diga diga.. then the bada buda bah da da daa da… and the original lyrics, they’re hilarious. I was telling a story and I didn’t have a chorus. It was originally m o r e dramatic b u t it didn’t change a lot than from what I envisioned. When Daniel (my husband and producer) got a hold of it he completely redid it. It’s great.
ASP: Who came up with the reunion video?
CF: Jeremy and I. He came to Sweden and asked me back and we wanted to do something other than say we’re back. That video was actually the first time the four of us saw each other in person. I had seen Mikey and I had seen Jeremy. I had not seen Chad but the four of us had not seen each other until that video shooting. So, I cried when I first saw it. You know video directors are always like “it’s not done! So just check it out” we watched it on a laptop and I was like (sobbing noise).
ASP: Tell us about the concept of the reunion video.
CF: The concept is there are four identically dressed people running all around the mountain, north east south west, and they’re all random and then they come to a point where they all meet at once. A lot of people think that they are all me and I’m like “That’s not my body guys, come on!”
ASP: How would you describe your sound in your own words?
CF: That’s hard cause we’ve been through so many sounds even on the new album (III) but at the core we are an electronic band with rock roots. That comes through in our music and especially in our performance but we write pop songs, you know.
ASP: Do you try to do that?
CF: I think naturally we like pop music so at the end of the day we write pop songs but, we don’t try to just do that. I think you’re hurting yourself if you do try.
ASP: Tell us how Jeremy and Chad chose the name STG.
CF: It was originally song lyrics, on the first album. It went “ A n d the Shiny Toy Guns!” and Chad was just like… Let’s keep that.
ASP: What was your name before that?
CF: No name, it was literally an unnamed project. Yeah.
ASP: What kind of music did you grow up on? We know you listen to old music.
CF: Umm… I grew up on Beatles and a lot of old jazz stuff. Nat King Cole is my favorite voice of all time. Etta James, B.B. King. I love blues. Stuff like that; Billy is kinda my favorite artist.
ASP: Did you ever try jazz singing?
CF: Yeah, actually. When I was little I had that natural rasp so, I did.
ASP: What sparked the idea of bringing your husband Daniel in to STG?
CF: It was natural. He just fit. In a band you know you want a cohesive bond, that’s what he came into and what we have.
ASP: Are there any big plans for what follows the tour?
CF: Not right now but, we are waiting to see what comes next. We’re just playing it by ear.
ASP: Have you started working on the next album?
CF: We have scraps. Not quite yet but we definitely have scraps.
ASP: Taking your time?
CF: Yeah. Definitely. We worked for so long on this album we needed a break from writing– even though we are all still writing.
ASP: Have things gotten better after the break up and reunion of the band?
CF: Yeah, there’s now a mutual respect and love between us all and we know how to not let things break down again. We know how to keep communication up. That’s what’s important.
ASP: Jared or Dirty J?
Jared “Dirty J” Winston: (Laughs) whatever you want.
ASP: So when you and Dustin hooked up, you didn’t have a music background and he was in a punk rock group. Talk about that.
JW: Yeah I had no previous background at all. I was purely a fan. I was all skateboarding. With skating and the crew I hung out with, it was all hip hop and my brother was like super Rasta guy, sold weed at high school and had dreads.
At the time I was more hip hop reggae and when we got together we both knew we really liked reggae and hip hop. We loved reggae and Beastie Boys whatever.
I don’t consider us a reggae band, we are influenced by reggae but that’s not just us. We started writing just with an acoustic guitar and we would just do that two styles we liked hip hop and reggae. So we were like “Alright… guitars cool. Let’s do some raps over it cause you don’t hear that a lot.” Reggae wasn’t our focus that’s just kind of what came out of it.
ASP: Speaking of influence, you’ve played with 311, O.A.R., Sublime with Rome. How did you get mixed up with STG?
JW: We think it’s getting easier to clump yourself with the same band. There is a handful of frontrunners in this genre or sound. It gets easy to play the same shows with the same people every year.
So, that’s where Tour Odyssey came from. Let’s do something odd. Let’s go out with a new band with a different sound every spring. Rather than doing something totally normal and acceptable.
ASP: So, you’re trying to further transcend genres?
JW: Yeah, that’s what we aim to do with our music and with this show. Kind of like a festival feel. You can see a band that you’ve never even heard of and like them. That’s what we are trying to do.
ASP: What festival would you play if you could pick any? Coachella, Bonnaroo, Europe?
JW: Coachella’s f*cking hot and dusty. I mean we’ve played a couple festivals.. I’d like to go to Europe and play those festivals. All of them are cool. We are going down to Brazil this year.
There’s not any I don’t want to do but I’d really like to do more Brazilian festivals, reggae festivals. Overseas they are a totally different animal.
ASP: Especially with Rastafarian followers.
JW: YEAH! Exactly. It’s completely different out there.
ASP: You guys have an awesome Coldplay cover. That’s not something you hear people say about anyone. What else do you listen to?
JW: (Laughs) Yeah, yeah… we listen to EVERYTHING. From Joey Badass to A$AP Rocky to Diplo to Major Lazer. When we are chilling we listen to Sinatra, Frank Ocean. We use Pandora and Spotify, we usually just use stations.
ASP: What made Dustin step away from punk rock, was he planning to step into hip hop?
JW: (Laughs) No. At the times he had those demos, they were such a joke. He actually had a full ride for baseball to college, I think for pitching. Neither of us knew what we wanted to do. I think he was hanging out with a bunch of other dudes who were playing punk and that was his band.
When he met me it was new so, we had a totally different thing. We really felt like we had something we never heard before. So it may have been that simple.
ASP: There are a lot of different opinions on marijuana and art. What’s your philosophy?
JW: I mean, there’s times where I’ll smoke and I just want to chill and play video games and sh*t and that’ll shut down the session.
But Dustin writes stoned all the time and he writes great sh*t. It helps him relax and same for me but sometimes I don’t want to smoke.
Sometimes I’ll be drunk as sh*t and well be like “oh lets go to the studio” and you go to sleep and wake up it is terrible! You’re like “what happened?! I think people can be inspired by anything so I don’t think its intelligent to say weed makes you worse. If anything, it’s easier to say it makes you more creative at times.
ASP: Do you guys ever just have spontaneous jam sessions and end up turning out songs?
JW: We are doing that a lot more now. We’re doing a Black Guru cover tonight and its f*cking so much fun cause we just get to jam!
There’s no structure. As a band we are starting to jam a lot more it’s great. Sometimes you’ll hear “Hey you guys sound exactly like the album” and it is awesome but sometimes we really want to just jam.
ASP: You have said before that you wrote “Spread Too Thin” about the emotional stress of the music business. You said its more emotionally taxing than physical.
JW: Yeah. I can’t speak for everybody but from our point of view and what we’ve been through. Physically you’re gone, you’re on the road, it’s cold. Once you step up to a tour bus, it’s not physically hard anymore.
But the emotional stress doesn’t change, you’re getting up there every night and whether it’s good or bad, you’re still standing in front of people who will judge you.
Emotionally you have to admit it gets to you. At the same time it’s very beautiful, but it’s very hard. Maybe I am more sensitive to sh*t like that but…whatever. And then on the business side, its f*cked.
Between thinking “I’m 21 and I just got signed to Warner Bros.” and two years later “Why isn’t our album released?” “Well the music industry took a sh*t and blah blah we are dropping you.”
F*ck. There are very shady characters but we as a band and our manager since day one have kept a good outlook. The highs are very high and the lows are very low. I was talking to my dad and he was like “You’re just spread too thin. You’re like a little bit of butter on too much bread.” I was like “That’s f*cking genius!” And… we wrote “Spread Too Thin.”
ASP: What else inspires you?
JW: Other music. It doesn’t inspire me to go out and make something that sounds like this but, I’m like “This song is so f*cking good.. I want to go make music too.”
ASP: Can you give us an example?
JW: The Black Keys. Brother. That album blew my f*cking brains out. It just… I was always a huge fan. But they did the album and I was just.. It’s one of those albums where every single song is good. And you can tell. Where they were in the beginning of that album and where they are now, two years later, it’s unbelievable.
I am inspired because of albums like that. It inspired me so f*cking much. Not to go write an album that sounded like them at all. But it’s like playing a sport or skateboarding with a professional. If you’re playing basketball with Kobe Bryant, you’re going to play f*cking ball. If I’m skating with Eric Koston, I am going to try some sick sh*t.
ASP: You said you want to do a different tour each spring. Any ideas?
JW: We actually have, yeah. I was thinking a hip hop act. We did Rock the Bells before and that was insane. Wu Tang was the headliner so it was like thugs. Gangster ass dudes and they f*cking hated us.
It was rough! But, it made us stronger. Like, nothing would be harder than that. So, by the end we were like “If you don’t like us, it’s a huge festival. Go get a beer, go get a f*cking churro!” and they were like “Ehh these guys are alright,” and we could get a couple claps.
That got my confidence way up. By the end, we were like “I don’t give two sh*ts.” So… What was the question? (Laughs.) Ooh yeah, a hip hop act would be cool.
ASP: Anyone in mind?
JW: I don’t know but, we wanted someone smaller.
ASP: Like Joey Badass?
JW: That would be sick! But, in some spots… I don’t know. Definitely someone small because, if you become big overnight, no one is going to go buy your tickets. They have nothing invested in you. You need to do your part, start somewhere and grow.