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Sunday Mercury: It’s Only Humans Nature

October 8th, 2009

A Toyah interview/feature, on The Humans, from Birmingham’s ‘Sunday Mercury’. This was published on 20th September.

If you just love Brummie pop icon Toyah Willcox for her 1980s hits, then you’re in for a rude awakening. If you thought she was wonderful as Calamity Jane, and adore her on the panto stage, look away now. Because the 51 year-old singer and actress has a new band so darkly disturbing that it will send the unwary running for cover. The Humans comprise Toyah, husband guitarist Robert Fripp, bass virtuoso ChrisWong and REM drummer Bill Rieflin. But don’t expect an easy ride. From the album insert image of a porcelain baby doll smoking a cigarette to a setlist of songs suggesting the future is bleak, this is edgy.

Remember the way Bowie deconstructed pop in Low and Lodger? Toyah pulls off the same trick, only more so. “I love European film noir,” she says. “It’s a love affair reflected in the album. It’s bleak territory exploring the deeper emotions that are only hinted at on the surface. “We’ve stripped down the traditional pop song, then rebuilt it, adding things you don’t hear on first listen, but which later creep up and surprise you.” Certainly, the band’s taster single, a cover of Nancy Sinatra’s These Boots Are Made For Walkin’ doesn’t prepare you for the stark sonic surrounds of the main course. And what about that doll?

“Despite all the efforts of the NHS, and news coverage of the importance of a healthy lifestyle, the tobacco industry causes more damage than anything else on the planet,” she says. “We had to use the doll because in the USA, you’re not allowed to show images of people smoking. And it’s more disturbing, too.” We Are The Humans is released tomorrow, a second album has already been written, and they’ll tour in February next year. The real Toyah is back.

By Paul Cole. Please click on the picture to view a larger version of the article.

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