Interview: Tonstartssbandht

By , 2016年 9月 20日


Tonstartssbandht is the duo of Floridian brothers Edwin Mathis and Andy White. They’ve been bouncing around the globe since at least 2008, occupied Montreal and Brooklyn at different periods, and earlier this year relocated to their childhood home of Orlando. During their travels they formed a bond with another band of brothers, Hot & Cold, aka the currently Beijing- and Taipei-based Josh and Simon Frank. Though Tonstartssbandht has built their rep on the strength of frequent tours and universally lauded live shows, they haven’t made it out to China before now. We caught Edwin en-route from Guangzhou to Chengdu (they play at the latter’s Little Bar tonight, Shanghai on Sept 23 and at Yugong Yishan in Beijing on Sept 30) to ask a few questions about their megalopolis experiences so far:

pangbianr: You’re in the middle of your “classic Asia tour” right now… where are you? What are you doing?

Edwin Mathis White: Heo-eo, my name is Edwin Mathis White. It’s 20:00 on Monday September 19th and we’ve just left Guangzhou on a plane headed for Chengdu. Last night we played at Tu Space, and today was spent on rest and travel.

pbr: This is your first time to China right? How’s it been so far? How is the experience confirming or clashing with your expectations?

EMW: Yes indeed, this is our first time in China. We are having a wonderful time so far. The Japan leg of the tour finished up in Tokyo, and from there we flew to Hong Kong. The first shows were there, Shenzhen, and Guangzhou. The Pearl River Delta was an excellent first look at China. As proud Floridians, we felt right at home in the humid climate. It’s a trip passing through such legendary places. This region has played such a major role in the development of human cultural exchange, and the beginnings of the very globalism that has brought us here on this music tour. We are truly lucky to not only have the opportunity to perform in this country, but to also see multiple and far flung regions within it, all during our initial visit.

I think one of the major things that’s been on my mind leading up to this tour has been a curiosity and fascination with magnitude of population over here. What does it feel like to be amidst the largest population of people on earth? We’ve been to megalopolises before, but I’ve never visited a single country with a population larger than the United States, as we have not yet visited India or China. My first experiential taste of this was definitely the train ride from Shenzhen to Guangzhou and seeing the sprawling communities that make up this super-mega-metro region. I wasn’t quite sure where along the trip I would first have this awe-struck moment, but there it was, not long after our arrival. Chongqing, Shanghai and Beijing still await so my awareness will continue to grow.

Tonstartss and Josh Frank headed to Chengdu

pbr: You tour pretty relentlessly… what are your favorite places to play? Why?

EMW: We probably tour twice per year on average. It’s always exciting to tour in new places anywhere in the world. The train systems of Japan and Europe are nice to use for tours. Car tours can be fun too, as long as you manage the driving burden well. As for specific cities, it’s hard to choose. Happy to play anywhere really. We just try to bring ourselves there in good health and high spirits.

pbr: You and Josh and Simon Frank (Hot & Cold) go back a ways. How did you meet? How have you kept in touch as you’ve all trotted around different corners of the globe?

EMW: Andy and Josh met at university in Montreal in 2007. They both were involved with the local music scene and so Hot & Cold would play shows with Tonstartssbandht. A few years later, 3 or 4 of us were living in NYC. Now that the Frank brothers are in back in Asia we just keep in touch through social media like most people.

pbr: Where is home when you’re not on the road? Are you active in the local scene there, or is it more of a lay low and recharge zone?

EMW: At the beginning of 2016 we left Brooklyn and moved down to Orlando, Florida, where we grew up. We’ve laid low most of the year, working on new music and recharging for sure. We are not involved with the local music or art scene at the moment, but to be fair, we had been less and less involved with the Brooklyn music scene before we left there. We both love playing and making music but I think we also need space from it, at least socially, in order to be happy with it. I love laying low.

pbr: How much time do you spend on Tonstartss versus your solo projects?

EMW: This year we’ve focused much more on Tonstartssbandht. Other years or months we might shift to solo recordings, but 2016 has been decidedly Tonstartss-intentioned. I think our solo work just comes about from periods where the other guy is away for a few months, or just with songs that don’t fit the band vibe necessarily. It’s not fully defined even for ourselves, and we don’t really think about it, so it’s hard to say.

Speaking of these solo projects, I am excited to say that I do have a new solo album coming out on vinyl on September 23rd on Leaving Records, from Los Angeles. This Eola album is called Dang. It’s songs made between 2011 and 2015. Check it out here or here and ask your local record store to order it from the label! Fans of Tonstartssbandht choral stuff will enjoy, as it’s a full a cappella record of “DIY gospel”, originals and classics.

pbr: Where have you been going musically on this tour? What can we expect sound-wise from your shows?

EMW: On this tour we brought along these head-set microphones, which we first started using in Europe last fall. They allow for much more singing and constant vocal improvising and harmonizing. I think it’s exciting and a beautiful sonic enhancer for the sets. Otherwise, we are still playing our long medleys that can be heard on the Overseas live album. We play old songs, new and unreleased songs, and covers. I think we’re also continuing to hone our control of the dynamics and that’s another factor which will get toyed with differently each night as we vibe it out.

pbr: What have you been listening to on the road?

EMW: I was listening to some of the latest Mindflight sets from Matthewdavid’s bi-weekly Dublab show on Wednesdays. Great improvised New Age sets for the mental cleansing. The show’s title says it all. Besides that, you know, just all the classic ragtime Rags and spiritual jazz that the world offers us.

pbr: Any words for your prospective and future fans in Shanghai and Beijing?

EMW: If you’re already a fan of our recorded music I think you’d get a major fucking kick from our live show. Might be your only chance, who knows! Come out and be a part of it if you can. I am very excited to play for new people in these new places. I will bring my huge well of joy to share with you.

Catch Tonstartssbandht on the China leg of their “Classic Asia Tour” with 工工工:

Sep 20: Chengdu, Little Bar
Sep 22: Chongqing, Nuts Club
Sep 23: Shanghai, Harley’s Bar
Sep 30: Beijing, Yugong Yishan

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