TOUR WITH THE TONIKS-Toronto 2013

After months of anticipation and a few days of school girl giddiness, the time had come to hang out with The Toniks. All week, my wife had been informing our friends that “He thinks he’s going to hang out with The Beatles”. What can I say? Was I excited?  Like a pre-pubescent school girl with a new puppy! For 10 days all I drank were Gin & Toniks.

htI take pleasure in knowing that I had some part in bringing The Toniks’ music to Canadian ears. Actually I am proud as hell!  I had found them on the internet and contacted them. I wrote a few articles about their music and over time we became friends. When I learned that the English band were coming to play the legendary Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto to promote their new album, Rise & Shine, I arranged to meet  up with them, get an interview and catch the show.

In doing my research, I discovered that this is the 2nd incarnation of The Toniks. The 1st line-up, included Ollie Smith on drums and Jim O’Neil on keyboards. A 4 track EP was released in 2009 and 2 of the songs, ” Wonderful Then” and “Simple Things” appear on the Rise & Shine album . For the past 9 months, the current 5 members have been touring in England and recording.

We met out front of the bar and decided to conduct the interview over dinner. Jez presented me with a Rise & Shine CD and a t shirt they had made for me.  How cool is that? What a great bunch of guys. And a girl!

Colin Marshall

Colin Marshall

Finding a place to eat was challenging. In the midst of Chinatown, Mark announced he does not like Chinese food. Colin was adamant that he needed grilled chicken and veggies. So we headed out  across Queen St W until Colin found us a restaurant. We settled in, and ordered (yep, Colin got his grilled chicken and veggies). I had prepared 10 questions that I wanted to ask, however after the 1st, the interview took on a life of its own. Incredibly cool. It just naturally flowed. This band was open and honest, appreciative and humble.

Mark Taylor

Mark Taylor

The band informed me that the music industry in England has been decimated by the influence of X-Factor and Simon Cowell. It has become increasingly difficult to even get gigs if you are not an X-Factorite. Canada, they claim, is far more receptive to new bands and music than England. And while they see no changes occurring in the English industry in the foreseeable future, they have no intention of leaving. Not yet anyway. While Colin helped the server clear tables (the guy is so ADHD) Mark and Jez informed me that they are the song writers, and described their relationship with producer/manager Graham Dominy as very positive. “Graham allows us to make our music. He just helps show us how to get it to sound the way we want it to sound.” There is no plan or conscious effort in their song writing. “We don’t sit down and say, well let’s write about this topic or that topic. We just start playing and it just sort of happens”. They do believe that they write positive songs because they are positive people. “I don’t like being down”, Mark says, “so I don’t want to bring others down”. Really cool attitude. One of the most endearing qualities of  this band is that they try to view everything in a positive light.

Jess English

Jess English

It’s a tough haul being a Tonik, though. They have no major iqnrecord deal, and have to cover all expenses out of pocket. They hold down full time jobs and devote as much time as they can to their music. The 5 of them share 1 hotel room. Not so bad since they view the band as family.  “I miss not being with them”, Colin said, “but I miss not being away from them”.  But this is one smart band. They have their own publishing company, and their own record label.  They have learnt all they could about royalties, mechanical rights and return on investment. They get that this is not just music. Its business.

Jez Parish

Jez Parish

I invited my buddy, Todd Miller of Radio That Doesn’t Suck to come down and see the band. I had given him a copy of  the new album and he seemed impressed. We hung out with the band in The Horseshoe for a while, talking about the artists who had played there and our own musical experiences. We sat through 2 opening acts and listened to the band talk about how cool it was that people in Canada move up to the stage. “In London, they move way to the back. That’s just what they do”, Mark told me. It was interesting for me to see Colin’s pre-gig ritual. Drummers tend to be incredibly ritualistic. Colin reads a very special book written by and given to him by a dear friend, Danielle. He sits alone and reads his book. This was the only time I saw him sit still for any length of time.

Tom Yates

Tom Yates

When The Toniks hit the stage, Todd and I were front and centre, taking pictures and shooting video.  I watched the crowd as Scapegoat began, and  everyone was tapping their feet, or dancing, or moving in one way or another. What a great opening song! They morphed into “Wonderful Then” and when it was done, the crowd erupted in applause. I knew it!! The band relaxed, smiled and got down to having fun. Each song they played drew the audience deeper into their world. The band was tight, with spot on harmonies. The vocals rang true, cradled in an almost perfect rendition of each track. You could feel the band’s energy, and you just knew that they were having the time of their lives. I am certain they are like this every time they play.  The Toniks are as much fun to watch as they are to listen to. Not just a studio band, these guys love to entertain, to work an audience.  They closed the set with “Figure It Out“. The audience erupted in chants of  “1 more song! 1 more song!”.  “You And I” was the encore. Killer song.   Killer show!

128I can’t helping really liking this band. Not just the music, or the performance, but the people in the band. Jess, the lone girl, is gentle, quiet and oh, so English. Mark is cerebral and tends to worry and wonder, and reminds me of Ian Hunter.  Jez is animated and quite sardonic in his humor, and very much the musical director of the band. Tom is quiet in his cool. He plays in the Gilmore style of less is more:  No shredding.  Just clean, crisp solos. And Colin, well, Colin has enough energy for his band mates and then some. He is an amazingly gifted drummer who plays with the exuberance of Keith Moon’s  “beat the crap out of my kit” school, but with that same less is more style. I just refer to him as Ringo. And yet these very different personalities have come together in an insanely talented and creative band.  It seems a perfect fit. These guys belong together. They are The Toniks. Their camaraderie, well, let’s call it festive. They like playing together. They like each other. They anticipate each others moves and, at times, finish each others sentences.

148This was their first visit to Canada. They said the Canadian response to their music has been great. “Can you believe people were buying our CDs and asking us to autograph them?” They opened for The Sheepdogs last weekend and played The Horseshoe. Not bad for a first Canadian tour.  Todd Miller was so impressed that he informed them that he was putting their music into regular rotation on Radio That Doesn’t Suck. I am determined to have them return for a longer tour, playing around Southern Ontario. They loved the Horseshoe. They loved Canada. And from what I saw, Canada loved them. Awesome music. Awesome band. Awesome people.  I am proud and thrilled to call them friends.

toniks19The Toniks are:  Mark Taylor–Bass, lead vocals; Jez Parish–Guitar, background vocals; Tom Yates–Guitar; Jess English–Keyboards, background vocals; Colin Marshall–Drums.

You can purchase Rise & Shine on The Toniks website:    http://www.thetoniks.com/riseandshine.php

Very Cool The Toniks Videos:

https://icantbelievemyearz.wordpress.com/2013/05/28/review-archives/

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3 Responses to “TOUR WITH THE TONIKS-Toronto 2013”

  1. I loved the article. After meeting the band, I had the same sense as you. Great job!
    However, the only error in the entire article is Colin’s pre-show ritual. It wasn’t given to him by an organization.
    I personalized it and wrote it, so I would know. Lol.
    A very supportive friend. I would at least like that part to be accurate.

  2. Hello There; Greetings from Kelowna BC. My name is Brian ‘Maguire’ Pattison and I am Colin Marshall’s Uncle as his mother is my sister Glenna Pattison Marshall. I am now 60 and have been drumming in front of people since I was 12. I play these last 15 yrs. for blues guitarist-vocalist Rick ‘Poppa Dawg’ Halisheff.

    We just opened a few wks. back for Colin James and @ the Calgary BLuesfest for Jimmy Vaughn. I am very proud of my nephew. I’ve always told him to work hard behind the scenes. He’s a grand sort of lad with a big heart and is very popular with friends and family. Enjoyed reading your article as my sister sent it to me. I played in Toronto in the 70’s as I did most of my music in WIndsor-Detroit area. Cheers for now and let’s hope the boys and girl have a fun ride as it’s a tough business.

    Best of luck to you and please check out Poppa Dawg’s website as he has much good music in him in the soulful bluesy style.

    Sincerely; Brian ‘Maguire’ Pattison, Drummer/Vocalist. Peace

    • Thank you for your comment. I am glad you enjoyed the article on The Toniks. I enjoyed meeting Colin and think he’s great. I too played in the Toronto music scene in the 70 and 80s. I will definitely check out the page you suggested. I have a page on facebook, if you use it, called I Can’t Believe My Earz. it is spcifically for and about Canadian Independent Music. Check it put and hopefully you will LIKE the page. Keep well.

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