Jump to...

Having started their A, B, C of albums with Alopecia and Burgers, Toupe are ready to start recording their third full-length (and we mean full-length) LP, which we can exclusively reveal will be called Chat. That’s the French for ‘cat’ in case you didn’t know, and you ought to pronounce it along the lines of ‘SHAT’ according to our linguistic sources.

We caught up with bass players Grant and Karl at a classy-looking bar in Hythe Marina to learn more about it.

Let’s start from the beginning. How come you have a two-bass-player line up?

Grant: ‘We didn’t do it deliberately – it’s just that Karl and me both play bass. That’s our instrument. We don’t both play the same thing, it’s two different parts.’

Karl: ‘It wasn’t a conceived idea. We forget about it until someone brings it up. It happened and it worked. I do a lot of stuff with effects so we don’t just have two clean bass sounds.’

Grant: ‘The nature of my six-string allows for more pumping chords!’


Grant: ‘When we recorded Alopecia, there were loads of songs we loved but that don’t work live. In fact, half of those songs were impossible live.’

Karl: ‘Like ‘Wig’, we can do it live – but it just sounds messy.’

Grant: ‘We did realise that some songs would be like that, but we still tried them all live before we decided which ones would work.’

Karl: ‘I like Alopecia.’

Grant: ‘It has a certain energy to it!’


Grant: ‘We played Tunbridge Wells Forum, and a bloke came up and asked us to sign a copy of Alopecia that he’d paid £14 for. I told him that it should have been about £8 but he just wanted us to sign it. It made us realise that people were adding a lot onto the price of the CD to grab money. They hadn’t even spent the money promoting us but they were getting loads of cash and people weren’t getting their moneys worth. When we arranged the deal for Burgers, we put a maximum sale price on it.’

Karl: ‘Burgers would sound better if we recorded it now.’

Grant: ‘The 1 hour 20 minute length divided people a lot. Some people couldn’t handle that amount of time.’

Karl: ‘We over-played some songs from Burgers before we recorded that album. I won’t say which!’

Grant: ‘I won’t say either. But some of them weren’t played enough.’


Grant: ‘The songs have all been written now.’

Karl: ‘The main structure for each song is there. Now we just have to do the final bit of tweaking before we’re finished, but we tend to do that in the studio. It keeps things loose and open.’

Grant: ‘Yeah, it leaves room for little things to pop out, like a sub-frequency or something. Some of the songs have been complete pamplemousse, always throwing up problems. It took a bit of time to sort it all out. We have a song called ‘Uraniborg’ and I wanted it to turn out a bit like Paranoid Android, but now it’s the heaviest song on the album.’

Karl: ‘It’s still gracefully dynamic, not an out and out barrage or anything of that ilk.’

Grant: ‘Chat is going to be fluid and satirical and it will change all the time. This record will bring all of the other records together.’

Karl: ‘Loads of bands say that – and now we have too.’

Grant: ‘Yeah, I just realised that!’

Karl: ‘It does have elements of the other records and it’s got the perfect line-up.’

Grant: ‘We’re gonna sound brilliant. We’ve got a guy called Gordon Clarke from the Isle of Man recording it. He works at the Lantern Theatre and usually has to record bands playing covers of ‘Enter Sandman’, but he really wanted to record us.’

Karl: ‘He’s so enthusiastic, it’s brilliant. He’s taken on the role of producer too. We’ll get an idea and he just knows how to achieve it. ‘I’ll double up that and bosh that’.’

Grant: ‘There’s loads of ideas he’s added too. He told us one song needed an accordion.’

Karl: ‘Perfect!’

Grant: ‘It should be the chunkiness of Alopecia and the song writing of Burgers.’

Where did ‘Chat’ come from?

Grant: ‘We came up with the title for the new album last night at our rehearsal!’

Karl: ‘When anything didn’t go our way, we were like, ‘CHAT!’ We were thinking that maybe ‘Continuity’ would make a good title.’

Grant: ‘But we thought, fuck it – CHAT! It’s a bit like our name – Toupe has got an e missing and an accent added, but they spell it that way in Sweden.’

Karl: ‘Now they’re going to name a bike-saddle after us too.’

Grant: ‘The front cover of the album is going to be a picture of Karl’s moggy.’

Karl: ‘He has parts of his ears missing and he always looks at people with complete disdain. He only has one tooth, and curls his lip.’


Grant: ‘The best riffs are the ones you come up with when you’re not thinking about it. Subconscious plays a big part in it. You just keep playing around and then something will pop out. If it happens a couple of times, it’s a keeper.’

Karl: ”Three Days’ and ‘Werk Jerk’ were like that. It was just entirely natural. Once you’ve got the idea then you work on it, like in ‘Villains”

Grant: ‘You tinker with it.’

Karl: ‘I work best when I have something to play off against. I like the challenge of fitting into an idea. I always record last so I can come up with stuff.’


Grant: ‘The idea behind ‘You Fell Over’ came from something that has been a big bee in my bonnet for ages about the claims system. For centuries, clowns were the only people getting paid to fall over, but now everyone is in on the act. If you fall over, you automatically assume someone owes you money.’

”Uraniborg’ was inspired by ‘The Big Band’ by Simon Singh. It has a chapter about going round the sun rather than everything going around us and there are wild parties it’s all messed up. I had to tell Karl about it!’

Karl: ‘I got obsessed with the moose.’

Grant: ‘The new album is about science. It’s biographical, social and political.’

Karl: ‘You wouldn’t believe it from a band that’s so steeped in fun.’

Grant: ‘We might be growing up or things might be getting shit. Either way, there will still be fun on the record!’

Karl: ‘You can read into the songs, or you can just enjoy them.’

Grant: ‘Like the International Anthem. You can just dance to it if you want.’

Karl: ‘Can you dance to it? It’s got funny timing!’

Grant: ‘Nah, you can dance to it.’


Karl: ‘I still get nervous before every show.’

Grant: ‘After seven years of playing live, we can win over most crowds.’

Karl: ‘We played at a festival straight after Desmond Decca and people were starting to leave. We started playing and they all started to come back. We won them over – it’s a nice feeling.’

Grant: ‘Unfortunately Desmond died after that gig and they named that stage after him. We played there the next year and I said ‘Last year we played after Desmond Decca. They didn’t ask him back!’ Six people laughed and everyone else just enjoyed an uncomfortable silence.’

Karl: ”Three Days in the Pit’ was spawned from people thinking that we did really technical stuff. That’s why Grant wrote that riff!’

Grant: ‘On the premise that it’s just one note.’

Karl: ‘Freaks attach themselves to us and it’s great. They are always so different and subversive. We’re not looking for it – but it always happens.’

Grant: ‘We don’t even get that drunk, but this kind of shit follows us around!’

Karl: ‘Yeah, I woke up in Exeter with a cat shitting a foot from my face. It’s no wonder we write songs like we do.’

Karl: ‘We try to be really professional. We still do the shortest sound checks and we’ve cut songs from our set to get things back on schedule.’

Karl: ‘We played the Taubertal Festival in Germany. One bloke came up to me afterwards and said ‘I loved the music. I loved the sound. I loved your volume – but you are dressed like a gay.’


Karl: ‘We turned up in Knoxville and the first thing was that we were given some Waterstone bass guitars. We wanted to give them a go so we stuck the cardboard boxes on the roof and sat in the van slapping away. We were driving down the highway and they flew off the roof and the driver just said FIDO! – Fuck It – Drive on!’

Grant: ‘Later we went out to get some food. We stood at the trolley stop with two guys from Tennessee who went off a bit on a racist rant. They asked us where we were from so I said, ‘The UK’. He phoned up his wife and said ‘Hey darlin’ I’m with two guys from the Ukraine.”

Karl: ‘At the end of the night we couldn’t find our way back so found these two girls and I said ‘We’re from England and we can’t find the trolley stop.’ She said ‘You’re not from England, those accents are fake!”

Grant: ‘On the night of the gig, we started drinking too early thanks to a bar girl called Bethany who made great White Russians. We played a great set and did ‘Fuckin’. When we got off stage, a girl with big boobs came up to me and said ‘I liked your music, but I didn’t like the song with all the cussin”

Karl: ‘We were thinking ‘which one?”

Grant: ‘I just explained to her that it was about artists like Justin Timberlake saying he wants to get naked and all his fans are kids – so there is no reason why I can’t say to an older lady that I want to fuck!’

Karl: ‘They told me I was a good man and that I should follow a righteous path! It was an awesome night though.’

Grant: ‘We got the idea for one of our new songs from that experience. I was asleep on the plane and I got woken by a camp steward who offered me nuts. I named him ‘Spunky Guns’ and it’ll be the third track on the album. It’s been in my head for a year.’

Karl: ‘His arch-enemy is ‘Spongy Bums’.’

Grant: ‘Hopefully people will take us seriously.’

Side Projects

Grant: ‘I’m doing stand-up comedy and I’ve just self-published my first book, ‘Hands’. It’s all about carpal tunnel syndrome. Sort of.’

‘Karl’s been doing Caroline’s Capuchin, which is jazz-fusion craziness and it’s really, really good. You can quote me on that. They’ve done a great album and I hope he’s proud of it.’

‘Jay has been playing for a band called Tight Like Strings, they sound really good for a group of shoplifting kids. Honestly, if you looked at a picture, you’d think they were shoplifters.’

‘Me and Karl have been in each others faces for over 6 years so we needed some time apart. That way the ideas won’t get stale.’

The Alphabet

Karl: ‘We’re on the road a lot and it’s born from the boredom of travel. We need to make each other laugh.’

Grant: ‘We keep coming up with words, and we’ll be like ‘That will be the W album’. On Burgers, the alphabet is printed on the cover and the ‘G’ is missing.’

Karl: ‘Maybe it’s time to uncover the secret behind that.’

Grant: ‘Okay, what happened was, the guy at the record company missed it out – even though it’s in the alphabet and was also right in front of him on the keyboard of his computer. Now we have to decide if we ever do a ‘G”

Karl: ‘Maybe ‘W’ could be ‘Where’s G”

Grant: ‘Or we could leave it until after ‘Z’ – ‘Greatest Hits’. That would make ‘Z’ the penultimate album.’

Grant: ‘I don’t know if we’ll get there or not. It’s something to work towards though. I like having a certain order to things, but also a bit of mystery.’

Karl: ‘It gives us fantastic laughs. I’m not scared that the next album will have to start with a ‘D’. It doesn’t hinder us.’

What will you do after 26 albums?

Grant: ‘Retire to the Bahamas and live off of the royalties… or just brag about it. Zappa died after 26 though, so we won’t be in a hurry!’

Karl: ‘We’ve done 3 in 7 years. I wonder what it will be like after 14 years and six albums… Will we still play bass or will Jay go all bohemian and want to do spoken word.’

Why do you get through so many drummers?

Grant: ‘They just can’t take the anal sex!’

Karl: ‘I don’t have a good answer either.’

Grant: ‘Admittedly some were ejected. It could be a personality thing or something.’

Karl: ‘I’m glad though because now we have Jay. I would have been good to find him sooner. He’s the definitive Toupe drummer. When we saw him play we knew he was our man, so we poached him.

Grant: ‘He joined us just as we started recording Burgers. We put him in at the deep end and he was excellent.’

When will the album be ready?

Grant: ‘We’re going into the studio at the end of March. We’re recording the drums first in a really big room. We’ll load Jay full of Red Bull and cake.’

Karl: ‘Jay is maturing drum-wise. He’s really thinking about beats. We have a song called ‘You Fell Over’ and he’s come up with a really intelligent drum pattern.’

Grant: ‘He used to be an untamed animal, but we did some Robert Redford shit; horse whispering – now he’s a powerful beast!’

Karl: ‘He would be here now but he’s rolling tobacco on his creamy white thighs.’

Grant: ‘We’re hoping it will all be ready for May or June.’

Karl: ‘This album will be excellent.’

Grant: ‘It will be CHAT!’

Written by Fenton on

Steve Fenton writes in our music, words, and culture categories. He was Editor in Chief for The Mag and covered live music for DV8 Magazine and Spill Magazine. He was often found in venues throughout the UK alongside ace-photographer, Mark Holloway. Steve is also a technical writer and programmer and writes gothic fiction. Steve studied Psychology at OSC, and Anarchy in the UK: A History of Punk from 1976-1978 at the University of Reading.

Discover More Music