'a big step up' - Interview with Trash Boat

  Inge van Nimwegen    20 november 2016

It’s the first day of tour for British band Trash Boat, opening for Beartooth on their European tour. The five guys just finished playing and packing up the stage when I meet up with vocalist Tobi Duncan and guitarist Ryan Hyslop to discuss their latest album Nothing I Write You Can Change What You’ve Been Through, their musical influences and more.

Trash Boat, having only been a band for two years, make solid pop punk with evident hardcore influences. After their formation in early 2014 their motivation and emotional gigs have brought them to where they are now: playing huge festivals in the UK, opening for Beartooth here in Europe, and having just released their first full-length this June.

Originating from the UK, where the pop punk scene is enjoying its high days, Europe is maybe not the most obvious touring choice.

Tobi: “I love Europe. They always look after bands well.”

Ryan: “We’ve never come to Europe and been bummed out. It’s better than in the UK.”

Tobi: “They just take really, really good care of you. You get food! In England, if you get water and beer, you’re lucky. While there may not be a huge pop punk scene here.. there is a scene for heavy music!”

Being the softest band on this bill, does that make you nervous?

Ryan: “I do think heavy music always goes down better on unknowing audiences.”

Tobi: “But we have the luxury of blending two different kind of genres in lots of our music, so we can sort of fit in, just. It’s cool to do tours like this, it’s great to play in different scenes.”

Ryan: “There were kids singing along! Especially first day of tour, if there’s like 5 people that know who you are.. It’s very crazy.”

Trash Boat recorded their debut album at the beginning of this year with The Wonder Years’ frontman Dan ‘Soupy’ Campbell, even resulting in stunning guest vocals from Campbell on the track Strangers. The guys then got to open for The Wonder Years in London this summer.

Tobi: “Hearing Soupy sing his lines in Strangers, that was incredible. Of course we heard it in the studio, but there was something about him doing his bit..”

Nothing I Write You Can Change What You’ve Been Trough received a hugely positive response from press and audiences alike. They took their time writing, discussing with Campbell, and recording – a big step up from their previous work. These previous EPs Look Alive and Brainwork, quoting an interview with Tobi from last year, are like “an LP split into two EPs”..

Ryan: “Brainwork was good, it just didn’t push any boundaries. You can’t put that much into 4 or 5 tracks.”

Tobi: “And we couldn’t put as much time into writing it as we wanted. We wanted to have the EP out by a certain time to open the door to certain opportunities. We didn’t rush it, but we didn’t take that much time either..”

Ryan: “But we did take our time for the album now, and we will for future releases.”

Tobi: “I was worried we weren’t going to rise up to the occasion. But I think we all feel that the record is a big step up from the previous two.”


What’s the story behind the long album title?

Tobi: “We were really indecisive about the album title. There were a few shorter, snappier things that were all sort of good.”

Ryan: “But nothing was really like...”

Tobi: “Our options were all kind of clever and short. ‘Cautiously Optimistic’ was one [the art work’s crossed fingers are still in theme with this] which was alright.”

Ryan: “‘Putting On Warpaint’ was one. And there was ‘Things We Leave Behind’.”

Tobi: “There was another one, which was like a saying. It was already an established saying. I forgot what it was, which really frustrates me, but it was the frontrunner for ages.”

So how did it eventually become Nothing I Write You Can Change What You’ve Been Through?

Tobi: “I started looking through the lyrics, just to see if I’d find something. I’d written it as a lyric first, and as I read it out I realised that, although it’s long, it rolls off the tongue quite nicely. It was different and it actually explained the album quite well.”

Ryan: “A long album title, I thought it was cool. And it looks good in a font.”

Tobi: “It ticked a lot more boxes than our other options.”


Even with a brand new album just out, the band took their time to record a handful of covers bundled in something they called ‘The Things You Wrote Me Sessions’. This – so far – includes acoustic renditions of Foo Fighters’ ‘Everlong’, Polar Bear Club’s ‘Drifting Thing’, and Title Fight’s ‘Symmetry’.

How did you go about picking what songs to do?

Tobi: “We all like Foo Fighters and for the first one we wanted a song that a lot of people knew.”

Ryan: “That song just translated really well.”

Tobi: “I personally picked the second song.. I fucking love Polar Bear Club and I miss Polar Bear Club.  Actually, before I was in any kind of successful band, I got to play guitar for them once..”

Ryan: “Wait, that was literally your Facebook profile picture up until like last year!”

Tobi: “Yeah, that was my profile picture for years!”

Tobi: “That last session, Title Fight.. We had a lot of options, and it ended up being that. We rearranged it in like a day, we weren’t sure it was going to come out; even as we were practising we weren’t sure it was going to sound good.”

Ryan: “We were just having some beers, and everyone was like, yeah! Sesh! We recorded it despite having our doubts and it’s actually my favourite one now.”

Tobi: “We have a few more ideas. Other people’s songs are just genuinely more fun to perform, because everyone else’s songs are better than ours, haha.”

Ryan: “What are you saying they’re better?!”

Tobi: “Nah, I love our songs!”

Just like their videos, the sessions were all shot at places special to them.

Tobi: “We filmed those sessions in someone’s bedroom, as we did most of the demo’s. We filmed one at our local venue, where we played a lot as kids. This is also where we filmed our video for Strangers. It’s like, a youth club and skate park.”

Ryan: “Just places that mean something to us.”

Twitter was startled by people showing off their fresh Trash Boat tattoos. How does that make you feel?

Ryan: “There’s been a few, hasn’t there? People tweet us quite often with tattoos. It’s mad!”

Tobi: “It’s mad, like! I just think about all the band tattoos that I was gonna get when I was a kid and that I would so regret now – dodged some bullets there! But I have to say, I’ve got some weird tattoos that I am really happy with. After this tour, I’m getting a big tooth. For Beartooth.”

Ryan: “It’s mad seeing people get Trash Boat tattoos, in a good way!”

Missed the guys this time round? Don’t worry, people from Belgium, Trash Boat will return soon enough. Ryan: “We’ll be back, I’ll tell you that!”