Interview by Aidan Scott
There are cities such as Nashville, London and New York, to name but a few that have churned out some of the world’s biggest names.
While Glasgow may not be considered as exotic a place as some to call a musical home, it has given much more than its fair share of music to the world. Toy Tin Soldier is just the latest in the long line.
Of course, Toy Tin Soldier – alias of Joe Gallagher – isn’t a new kid on the block. His self-titled album was released in 2010 to critical acclaim and landed him touring support slots with the likes of Hue & Cry and Martha Wainwright.
The follow-up to that record is “Yield” – an album with an eclectic mix of tracks that convey a deeply personal collection of its writer’s experiences in recent years.
Ahead of his upcoming shows this summer, we spoke to Toy Tin Soldier about the album, his influences and hopes for his career in the future.
What was it that first inspired you to play music when you were younger?
To be honest, it was boredom. When I was younger there was nothing to do. As a really young boy I played a lot of football and dreamed of doing that, but like so many I wasn’t good enough.
At 12, for whatever reason, I picked up a guitar and that was it. I was hooked instantly, and the boredom that used to plague me was gone.
From the moment I picked it up I was writing little songs and teaching myself chords and riffs. Within weeks of first picking it up, even before I had my own guitar, I was looking to start a band.
You seem to have a wide variety of influences, including Noel Gallagher and Bruce Springsteen. Do you feel you incorporate them much into your own music?
Absolutely. All the artists that I respect and listen to are always sitting on my shoulder, being my conscience’s guide.
It’s important to make music for yourself, but we are all guided by our influences I feel. The trick is being able to be yourself and true to your music and letting those influences in, but not take over.
What kind of experiences did you call upon when writing the songs that feature on Yield?
Having children and getting married were the catalyst for the record. My wife and I had a rollercoaster of a time straight after we got married so all of that comes into play.
It’s all really biographical. People seem to really connect with it, which is amazing to me. I think because it comes from a place of real honesty, it hits home with others.
Listening to your album made me hear echoes of Pink Floyd. Would that be an accurate assessment or am I completely wide of the mark?
I’d say that was fair. Although, I don’t really listen to much Pink Floyd. We used a synth sound on ‘Open Arms’ called Pink Floyd synth and having Gale from Turn Brakes play slide on 2 tracks will add to all of that as well.
I really wanted there to be a lot of space and atmosphere on this record. My remit was Scott Walker, but I suppose that Pink Floyd fall into that category as well.
Every artist talks about the evolution of their music. How would you say your music has changed, if at all, on Yield?
It’s absolutely changed. It’s more assured, it’s stronger musically and lyrically. There’s more depth and definitely better songs.
A friend said to me, and I quote: “It’s got a peace to it, like you’re not even trying. And it sounds like you are delivering some sort of truth.”
That quote for me hits the nail right on the head about the evolution of the music.
You’ve toured with some pretty big names in your career so far, who would be your dream tour companion?
That’s a tough one. The 16-year-old me would’ve said Noel Gallagher.
The me right now thinks probably Foy Vance at this particular moment would be a great fit, but if I was to strip it all away, I’d love to do a stadium tour with Springsteen.
Play to hundreds of thousands a night and then watch the absolute master of his craft work every night. That would really be a dream.
And finally, what and where would your dream live show be?
Red Rocks in Denver, Colorado, is the place I see and think “if only”. I’d love to play there on a summer’s night, watching the sun go down during the show. Absolute fairy tale stuff.
Although in years gone past I’d have said the Barrowlands, but I’ve been lucky enough to play their twice now. That’s every Glasgow boy’s dream.