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Toothless airs GIF-inspired "Sisyphus" video and tells us about his debut album

08 December 2016, 16:30 | Written by Laurence Day

Toothless - aka ex-Bombay Bicycle Club bassist Ed Nash - tells us about new single "Sisyphus" and shares the accompanying visuals.

The track was debuted with the announcement of the first Toothless LP, The Pace Of The Passing, which will see Nash collaborate with a bunch of stellar names, including The Staves, Marika Hackman, Wild Beasts' Tom Fleming, and Cash+David's Liz Lawrence.

Directors Joseph Keirs and Sef Tedder, who made the video alongside Kit Monteith, explain: “In Greek Mythology, King Sisyphus was doomed to lift the same boulder up and down a hill for eternity. So for Sisyphus, we decided a video made from looping animated GIFs would be our modern translation. We imagined the often upbeat and happy people inside GIFs as prisoners, forced to repeat the same sunny smile or hammy performance forever with a growing sense of madness. As such, rather than loop the footage in Sisyphus, each clip is a separately filmed attempt to recreate the exact same move with a little more crazy each time."

"Asking our cast to torturously repeat the same moves was pretty intense," continue Keirs and Tedder. "Pawel must have done over a hundred squats and apparently couldn’t walk for a few days, Olga munched her way through half a Krispy Kreme factory (she also happens to abhor doughnuts, so we felt pretty bad about that one), and Ed probably hates us for the 12 warm beers we gave him.”

Could you explain how you wrote and recorded your new single, "Sisyphus"?

Ed Nash: I wrote "Sisyphus" in January of this year while staying at a friend of mine's studio. It started as an almost J-pop-sounding track that I loved and everyone else hated. It was only when I tried to play that version live that I realised it would sound much better played on guitars and bass. It was the last song that was recorded for the album and very nearly didn't make the cut.

What's it about?

Nash: The myth of Sisyphus is about a man who is made to roll a boulder up a hill every day only for it to roll back down. In this song I have taken this idea and applied it to the struggles in a relationship instead of an individual, where no matter how many times someone messes up you will be there for them.

What was the experience of making the video like?

N: I downed 12 beers! Pretty similar to any other night of the week really... except I got to hang out with some girls.

Can you tell us about The Pace Of The Passing?

N: I started writing songs for this record at the end of 2014 as Bombay Bicycle Club were finishing up touring, however there are musical and lyrical ideas that have been sitting around for up to six years that I had been waiting to use. The hardest part about making the record was waiting for inspiration to strike and staying inspired in the downtime between ideas.

Mythology and astronomy have been mentioned as touchstones - what draws you to these ideas and themes?

N: I don't like the idea of writing about myself; I think people would find it utterly boring. I found myths a good way into writing lyrics as they are fully formed stories and metaphors that I can use as a starting place.

How about astrology? Do you follow or read horoscopes?

N: I'm afraid I don't. I don't like spoilers.

What is your favourite constellation (or celestial body)?

N: The Southern Cross! Especially when tattooed on someone's lower back. Straya!

What about your favourite classical myth?

N: I like the story of Narcissus. I like the idea that someone can be so in love with themself that everything else in the world becomes unimportant. It reminds me of my Twitter feed.

What does it feel like to be working on something different after so many years focusing on Bombay Bicycle Club?

N: A breath of fresh air.

There's quite a few collaborators on the record - what was it like working with so many different artists?

N: I felt like I was punching way above my weight. All of the people I worked with are fantastic musicians and have been hugely successful in their own right. I was working everything out as I went along.

What did they bring to the table?

N: I only asked people to feature on songs if I couldn't do the part myself or if it added to the concept of the song. I didn't want to have a record of features for the sake of it. I asked Tom from Wild Beasts as his voice is the polar opposite from my own, and I asked The Staves to sing the part of the sirens because they are literally the modern day sirens!

How are you feeling about the year ahead?

N: "Venus and Jupiter are powerfully opposed as the Sun enters Gemini in May, giving you clear observations and the ability to make confident, shrewd decisions."

I'm feeling pretty good about it!

The Pace Of The Passing is out 27 January via Island. You can pre-order now from iTunes.
Toothless is touring the UK next year, starting at Glasgow's Stereo on 27 February and finishing at Brighton's The Hope on 5 March - find the full dates and ticket info.
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