By Shelly Simon
The talented-as-sin NYC bunch, BOYTOY, are known for bringing their gritty city vibes into the “waters” of the west-coast dominated surf rock scene. It’s to be noted the western european excitement for the release of their newest LP ‘Night Leaf’ via Stolen Body Records (4/29). Foggy City friends of mine, The Abjects, released via Stolen Body in 2015. Stolen Body Records certainly boasts a roster akin to the fuzzy, fierce flow that BOYTOY creates.
This full length is from the founding members Saara Untracht- Oakner (vocals, guitar) and Glenn Michael Van Dyke (vocals, guitar), joined by Chase Noelle (drums, ex-Thelma and The Sleaze) and Lena Simon (bass, La Luz), recorded at producer Kyle Mullarky’s renowned Pump House Studio. This Topanga Canyon getaway is the utopia for those who work hard, play hard and surf even harder. The team took their time at the ranch, accompanied on location by three dogs, two pigs, the creamy sounds from warm tube amps, ancient analog tape machines and a surplus of old trucks, RV’s, and surfboards.
I remember watching their progress via social media platforms as I was freezing my heart out in NYC. The sun, the shred and the simply rad times these role models had out West prompted me to pursue a journey out west the following Winter 2017. This team oozes sun, fun and more importantly a fantastic back-bending, standing-drummer-ovation live show. With ‘Night Leaf’ you still experience elements that are fundamentally BOYTOY yet there are certain nuances that are new to their sound. With a fuller sound, the tracks can be slapped into a slew of different life scenarios. With “NY Rip Off” these art school brats get their spot blown up. On “Juarez” you drop your bags on the ground and use both hands to jump on the train to Mexico. “Get Off Your Leash” keeps the days in traffic a little more interesting with the interplay of lyrics. I’ve been smitten by these surf style rock-and-rioters for a few years now, even flying to Paris for a night just to take photos & get their story for my first ever piece in Tom Tom Magazine! (Issue #28 MONEY). They’re the sauce to my spaghetti.
I select a few favorites songs from their LP ‘Night Leaf’ to dive a bit deeper into.
“Stare into Space” – Lou Reed and Nico would have the hots for this. The chorus takes me to a place of free-falling from a six person airplane waiting for that parachute to pop.
“I Get Distant” – “I get distant, I get different”//The change in pitch during the chorus of this track gets me so good. Saara’s rise in vocals during the simple phrase “dying alone” give me the feeling of a sarcastic housewife with a pair of scissors in her hand, ready to cut out all the crap.
“Pretty One” – I can hear “Feel Like Making Love” in this song. It’s a jammer. A rise from your ashes kind of song, where the lyrics “Take my hand” allude to the fact that we all need a hand every once in a while, no matter how hot or not we are.
“Juarez” – Dang! This for sure paints a realistic photo of what touring through the dry, dusty south west is like. From doing a drive over to El Paso on tour this Spring, I totally understand just soaking in the expansiveness of the dust. This song, melodramatic at best, makes one truly feel like they can just jump a train to Juarez with no reservations or expectations. Just tip your bartenders.
“Want” – I’ve been subject to the consequence of putting this song on a playlist while with someone I was crushing on. As if my mission at hand was to make a move, this song definitely set the stage for that to happen. Now I’m blushing.
“Cold Love” – “You better give what you take, I don’t believe that cryings a shame”//Led Zeppelin-style guitar licks carry the song’s lyrical complexities as Chase’s steady beat keeps the listener going strong. Love can’t always be delicious ice cream, sometimes love just melts in the sun.
Breaking down some doors and demanding some answers, I asked these astro-turf truckers what’s up.
TT: Enlighten me on this Roy Lichtenstein looking LP artwork, it’s simple yet complex, eh?
BT: We worked with our friend and Brooklyn based artist Lil Kool. It was a long, frustrating process because we knew exactly what we wanted, but we had no idea what it looked like. When Lil Kool sent that version, I think we all choked. It’s perfect. It feels exactly like the record. Saara did the album design. The inspiration for the back cover came after we played a show in London. We were at Portobello Market and found a record that used a chart to list the players on the album. She wanted to do something similar, incorporating Lil Kool’s art to make it cohesive. Our friend Tony Accosta took all of the photos while we were tracking the record at Pump House studios in Topanga Canyon.
TT: Is Sarah Palin gonna be in Europe with y’all? Was she on the album or just Lena?
BT: Yes! Sarah Palin will play every show, every time we go to Europe. Lena played bass on all of the songs, except ‘I Get Distant’ – our producer Kyle Mullarky played that cut!
TT: You’re taking the groove troop to Europe! (May 1 – May 20th) Then what?
BT: We’re playing Woodstock for Memorial Day weekend, making a West Coast tour from June 26th through July 7th, returning to Europe again in September, and going to Australia for the first time in October! We’re also releasing our non-music video for a single in June. It’s a conceptual piece of the ‘New York Ripoff.’ It’s very art [sic].
TT: Dream bands to open for?
BT: Janelle Monáe (CCR, The Romantics, T Rex, Television, The Equals, Velvet Underground, Tom Petty, Tom Tom Club, Patti Smith, Hector Lavoe, The Kinks, Bessie Smith, Talking Heads, Devo, ESG, Stooges, Stiv Bators, Curtis Harding, Spice Girls, System of a Down. Also, we wouldn’t turn down the Eagles.