Today sees the release of the brand new album by British trio Toska “Fire By The Silos” as well as a film clip to the song “Abomasum” which can be found in the links at the bottom of this article. “Fire By The Silos is a concept album. An idea grown from social observation; looking at humans, aspects of the world, and the direction we’re going in. It’s set in the near future and focuses specifically on a person affected by great political and economic change, forced to lose everything. Fire By The Silos attempts to describe the psychological and emotional torment that takes”. We had the opportunity to chat with Guitarist Rabea Massad about tons of stuff!
“When I was younger I used to just want to shred my tits off,” chuckles Massad, describing his background, how Toska was formed, and talking about their new album, “I didn’t really listen to bands or such. I just listened to technical guitar playing music and that’s all I wanted to do. And then getting into a band, because as you do you’re like “Right. I played enough in my bedroom let’s go and see what it’s like to play in front of people”. So I found a band called Chasing Jade. We lost the bassist and drummer so we got Dave in, I met Dave in music college and I met Ben through the singer of that band. I was like “These guys are fucking great players!”. From then on I stopped caring about being a tactical guitar player and cared way more about writing a good tune. Rather than practice technique and dexterity as a guitarist, I’ve been practicing songwriting and composition and the guys facilitated me in my attempt to keep writing stuff. We’ve always liked the same kind of music, always been on the same page musically and when you’ve lived together for the best part of seven years, always jamming together, playing together, you’re all thinking in a similar way. They might jump the gun with an idea that I was about to suggest or vice versa.”
In 2016 the band released their debut EP “Ode to the Author”, a thrilling collection of tracks. It turns out that despite being an incredibly strong debut, Massad was aware that the band hadn’t hit it’s stride yet, “It was a hash job, we had 10 days before going on tour. Arcane Roots offered us a tour and we were like, shit we need some merch need to sell, people need to have our music if they like it! We can’t just leave without offering anything, so we were like we have to make a CD in the next two weeks otherwise this is a wasted opportunity. We rose to the challenge and got it done, but our new album Fire by the Silos is a great example of, if we’d had the same amount of time with Ode to the Author, this is what it would be. I love ode to the author and I’m very proud of it, but Fire by the Silos is as a result of having the time and space to do things as best as possible.”
The band continued writing after releasing “Ode to the Author” and “A Tall Order and Congress were the first two songs that we wrote” for Fire by the Silos. “It was over a time period where a lot of change was happening, I was working heavily with Chapman Guitars, Ben with Musicisum, the online music school, and Dave doing Musicisum, Chapman, Production work and he moved house. One of the songs took so long to write (When Genghis Wakes) because we wanted our own rehearsal space that we could access 24/7. We set it up, spent months trying to make it work but the vibe wasn’t right. It was this concrete box storage facility we insulate and it was so dingy in there that it just wasn’t inspiring. We spent months packing it down and going somewhere else, wasting like 5 months trying to sort this thing out.”
During the writing process, Massad describes himself as “The guy going right, this is the vibe, This is the part. I go to Ben and say this is the groove idea and thinking, obviously do your own thing but it’s this kind of vibe. Dave, these are the root notes. Sometimes I’ll suggest a rhythmical idea to him or rather than just sticking with the root note go here with the notes and we can do a bit of harmonic interplay together. Just directing the band to how I want the songs to sound. Obviously there’s a large portion of Toska’s sound which is purely down to their sound as musicians which I could never I could never write that so specifically. They add their embellishments and input and it always ends up sounding way better than I could have imagined.”
When it comes to discovering new ideas, Massad had SO MUCH TO SAY! I might have to do a part two to this interview, but the sticking point was “I get a bit stir crazy if I don’t listen to new music so I went down a different path and listened to a lot of classical which actually worked its way into a lot of the chord progressions in the new stuff.”
During writing, Massad notes that “It’s really important to be a fan of your own sound and your own music, I’m not saying it has to be a favorite thing above everything else but I do think that it’s really important to LIKE listening to your own music and to enjoy it from the same perspective as listening to other bands you like.” This way of thinking is exemplified by the way he will “listen to the Toska records in the same way I’ll sit and listen to my favorite bands rather than going “How can I critically pull this apart because I wrote it?”, that doesn’t make sense, once it’s done it’s done, it’s a record out there in the world. So when you’re writing, it’s almost the same thing. As I’m writing a song I’m listening to it, There’s obviously the process of writing that section technically but then once everyone’s got a groove going and we’re jamming out the section, one of the things I do is say “right, let’s play it from the top through to this point”. While we’re doing that I’m listening to the song as a song, as if I’m listening to it on headphones, then I can hear where it should go musically.”
Check out the “Abomasum” video clip on Facebook HERE!
Grab your copy of “Fire by the Silos” HERE
Check out our review of the album HERE