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Olga (THE TOY DOLLS): “A lot of the subject matters are based on serious incidents, but we just look at the bright side” #Interview

For spanish version, click here

After 43 years of being in “the business” of punk and looking always the bright side of life, THE TOY DOLLS are returning to South America on september to party hard with all their loyal fans. Before their inminent arrival to our country, we talk with the genius behind the band, the great Michael “Olga” Algar and that’s what he said.

It’s funny that in your instagram bio you say… “I have also been pretending to be a singer for 40 years”. Don’t you feel like a singer?

Well, I never intended to be the singer, to be honest. We did have a singer in the beginning, in 1979, and he left, then we had one gig booked so we tossed a coin and whoever was going to lose we’re singing it that one gig and it was me, and we’ve just carried on since. I love playing the guitar but I can’t sing and I’m not keen on singing but I’ll do it a little bit longer, anyway (laughs).

At the beginning, did you think you would be making music with toy dolls after 40 years or that it would be a short lived band that no one would take seriously?

Well. Not everyone takes us seriously still in England, anyway, and we thought maybe it would last four years, we would be very very happy with five or six, never ever thought that would be 43 years. Totally blown away that it’s still happening and I would rather do this than anything else, so it’s been the perfect life, really.

Your covers of pop songs are very popular…

Really? (laughs)

Yes, like “Blue Suede Shoes” and “Livin’ La Vida Loca,” and of course “Nellie the Elephant”, a children’s song. How do you choose which songs to cover?

Well, actually this songs choose themselves really, because we always try to pick a song that we can make sound like a Toy Dolls original even though there is a cover, like it was originally written by the Toy Dolls and rather than just copy it and we always think if we can find a song now we can add something to, so it’s molded into all songs rather than just a cool song, and the “nellie the elephant” thing, that was a children’s song, but we thought there’s a beat and then we looked around for a song which would actually fit for a few years, then “nellie the elephant” came along and were put them together and they seem to work well.

Punk used to be always rebellious music, with a lot of anger. Nowadays, it isn’t anymore, but how difficult was it to make happy punk 40 years ago? Do you think it would be easier for a band like Toy Dolls if it emerged today?

I’m not sure, we’re still wouldn’t be taking seriously in England, to be honest, and yeah, there are a lot more bands not singing things about unemployment and things in England but still that means if there’s more bands singing about the happier side of life, that means it would make it even more difficult for us, I guess. But you know, we always were very serious people and a lot of the subject matters are based on serious incidents, but we just look at the bright side.

You have been making videos on YouTube, answering questions to your fans. Do you still do that? How did the idea come about?

Yeah! I’m still doing it all the time on Facebook, YouTube and that, and I think also on the website and I just think it’s a nice thing to do especially, you know, we’re not big commercial famous band and we’ve got more time to do within lots of other people and it’s free so, you might as well do it, and it’s nice to talk with the fans because we’re not in the public eye all the time. You know, we’re not that commercially famous kind of abandon in the spotlight. We’re more like approachable and it’s just a nice thing to do and it’s really nice to know what people really really think and for the be the real person or people in the band answering.

After a lot of lineup changes, the band seems to be very stable with Duncan (Redmonds on drums) and Tommy (Blyth on bass) who have been with you for over a decade now. What do you think is the secret of the long term relationship between musicians?

You know, in the past, I mean, such a long long period of time -40 years- people move on, they want to have children and they want a steady income then proper jobs and get married, but I think It’s… just… we we’re just fit really really nicely. I mean it’s been nearly 20 years now with Tommy and it’s about 17 years with Duncan, so yeah, I mean, we have our ups and downs but I think when you become more adult the older you let you get on with people easier and they’re too the best musicians that I’ve played with, which makes it perfect.

You used to record little bits and pieces of shows. Are you still doing that? Where can we see that material?

I’ve actually just put up a couple of little bits and pieces from shows this summer on Facebook and Instagram so it’s there now, take a look.

You are returning to South America, more specifically Argentina, and also Chile and Brazil. Have you ever enjoyed the country, like a tourist? Is there any place you remember?

I remember all these places but not like a tourist. We’ve usually got no time at all. We use to arrive there early morning or late afternoon or whenever it is straight the hotel, then it’s sound check, then It’s a meal, then It’s sleep, then It’s the gig and then it’s flying again. So there’s no time to really enjoy the country as a tourist but we’d love to and we just remembered for such great audiences, all those three countries and Uruguay as well, are really, you know how to party people. It’s just a pleasure to play.

Which countries of the continent would you like to visit and have never been?

You know we get lots of, so many, requests from Mexico so we would really like to get there some day. We’re not avoiding to the place but it’s never been the right time, we never got the right offer at the right time to when we can go and coincide with the other countries. We’ll get there some day.

What can we expect from your next show? we are waiting for you!

Well, it’s a surprise, and I’m not going to tell you everything because it wouldn’t be a surprise but a lot of songs from the early albums and some nice new stage bits and pieces and which I’ve said, it’s a surprise.

Anything you want to say to your fans?

I would want to take this time to say thank you very much for the loyally in the longevity of this loyalty throughout the whole South America we’re really really flooded and I can’t really believe that way actually flying there next week. We have got a gig tomorrow. We’re going to Austria for one gig to play on Friday which will really really looking forward to as well, but goes such a long way on the other side the world did South America’s even extra special, so see you then, take care. Bye bye.

Bye

 

Frank Hernández
Director en Rocktambulos
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