When asked to sum up the past 12 months, Trash Boat vocalist Tobi Duncan states it as “Hectic!” and it’s easy to see why he says that. Since releasing debut album, ‘Nothing I Write You Can Change What You’ve Been Through’, last June the St. Albans pop-punks have almost constantly been on the road in some way or another. “We’ve had a lot of opportunities. We’ve played hundreds of shows. We’ve run the album into the ground. We’ve really toured it. We’ve had good responses. It’s been good,” says Duncan.
As we spoke with Tobi shortly after the band’s second Download Festival appearance, you can understand why he’s autopilot mode, that’s despite the importance of playing the Donington event. “Download is something you’ve always got to have in the back of your mind because you know it’s going to be a big show. It was a really good set, it surprised me a lot, but we’ve been on tour since November, so I’m still kind of on autopilot right now.”
While it might be easy for Duncan and company to get lost in a touring haze, each tour is naturally used to develop themselves as a band. Through shows alongside New Found Glory, Beartooth, The Wonder Years, Simple Plan and Sum 41, the band have benefitted by sharing the stage with several influential names. For Tobi, he admits he’s become a better singer, something which is clearly evident during their Download set. In past showings, Duncan’s vocals were dominated by an unrelenting need to shout but now he’s developed an ability to hold a melody. While that might look like a criticism to some, it’s something Tobi agrees with.
“I didn’t sing a huge amount before being in this band. I just did it on the side, and then when I joined this band I thought ‘fuck it! I’ll go for a singing career, why not?’ and the more I sing, the stronger I feel I have a hold on it. It’s only been getting better recently. I’m more confident about my voice than even.
“I’m learning more and more my voice, and how I can use it and manipulate it. I’ve only just learnt how to shout properly, which is cool. I kinda tweaked that on the NFG tour, so that’s going to be something I can incorporate into recording [in the future]. The more shows you play, the more it becomes second nature. It’s like learning to drive, you just know. I feel like I’m blossoming. I’m coming into my own.”
After touring for the best part of a year you might think Trash Boat are due a break, and while they do have some down time this summer, they’ll be seeing out the ‘Nothing I Write You Can Change…’ album cycle with shows supporting Trophy Eyes in Australia before returning home for a headline run, where they will be joined rising Richmond, Virgina pop-punks Broadside, and longtime touring buddies – Homebound. “When we did our first ever “tour”, it was three or four shows with Homebound and Six Time Champion, and it was in pubs and little shitty bars, but we’ve been with Homebound since the beginning so it’s going to nice to have them on this tour,” says Duncan.
For anyone who has been following the UK pop-punk scene in recent years, Trash Boat are part of a group of bands flying the flag for the Brits. While at Download, they’re just one of several bands linked to the genre appearing across the weekend. “The stage we’re on today has got some really solid pop-punk bands,” states Tobi. “The tent was full today, so people are responding to the idea of having a stage like that, but I’m all about integration.”
It’s clear that Duncan knows Trash Boat can’t always be tied down by the pop-punk hook and has aspirations to play alongside bands outside the confines of the genre. He goes on to say, “If pop-punk bands were only going to play with pop-punk bands forever, that would be cool but I personally love a bit of diversity. I love genre-mixing. I think there are certain genres that gel really well together, particularly hardcore and pop-punk. They’ve always been side by side.”
Duncan highlights Comeback Kid, Counterparts, Turnstile and UK up-and-comers, Higher Power as some of hardcore bands he’d like to share the stage with at some point. “If we get big or cool enough, then we can start taking out some hardcore bands, that’d be sick, or some hardcore bands want to talk us out, I think it’d work. It goes downs well.”
While it might be some time until Trash Boat mix it up with hardcore bands, and as they look to put to bed ‘Nothing I Write You Can Change…’, they’re gradually shifting their focus towards its follow up, even though their initial plans went awry while on tour in America.
“We had three or four demos we were recording while we were on tour with New Found [Glory] but then our van got broken into in Chicago. They stole Ryan’s (Hyslop – guitar) laptop and all of our songs, so we have kinda started again,” comments Tobi on the band’s unfortunate incident. Nevertheless, our time with the vocalist ends on an optimistic note as Duncan says, “we are starting to write new stuff. We need to get a second album written. We have no idea of a release date, it’d be early next year but nothing is concrete yet. We’re currently on the first couple of demos. I’m keen on both of them.”
‘Nothing I Write You Can Change What You’ve Been Through’ by Trash Boat is out now on Hopeless Records.
Trash Boat will be going out on a UK headline tour in September. Support comes Broadside and Homebound.
17 Talking Heads, Southampton
18 Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff
19 Magnet, Liverpool
20 Rock City Basement, Nottingham
22 Underworld, London
23 The Key Club, Leeds
24 Rebellion, Manchester
25 O2 Academy 2, Newcastle
26 G2, Glasgow
27 O2 Institute 3, Birmingham
View more of Already Heard’s coverage from Download Festival 2017 here.
Words by Sêan Reid (@SeanReid86). Photo Credit: Kurt Cuffy.