I first met Toby Davies at Newbury Youth Theatre (NYT) in 2015, a drama group based at New Greenham Arts. We had joined on the same day and were by far the youngest there. We were in the same year, at different schools, and had a similar taste in music, so we immediately hit it off. At the time, Toby was a drummer, a fact that was common knowledge within NYT and singled him out as the ‘contemporary musician’ of the group, my skills on the accordion and flute not quite making the cut.
During our first trip to Edinburgh with NYT, I first noticed Toby’s other talent, singing. We used to sing our favourite Arctic Monkeys songs while walking to and from the flats on Riego Street, the Royal Mile and Oink, where we ate the most delicious hog roasts of our lives. I never realised the extent of Toby’s talent however until I heard, at a friend’s party, ‘Middle Light’, a song he had written and recorded with his band Tyrant.
But before I go into that, I should give a bit of a background on Tyrant. Since March of this year, Toby had formed, rehearsed with, and made a name for his band. They had got in contact with each other on a website called ‘Find My Band’. Toby had ditched his drumsticks and picked up rhythm guitar and a microphone. He was joined by Jack Knight, the lead guitarist, Tom Leighton, the bassist and Louis Tyson on drums. They are all from Newbury and Reading.
Within two weeks of rehearsals, they had written the song ‘Pressurised’, which ended up appearing on ‘Lights’, their EP that they released in November. They played their first gig at The Rising Sun, a sign of impending success perhaps?
Since their formation, they have written many songs, including ‘Middle Light’.
Back to the party. Toby, our friend Niamh and I were sat in her games room, talking amongst ourselves, ignoring the 19-year-olds outside celebrating Niamh’s older sister’s birthday. Somehow, the conversation found itself at Toby’s band. Toby got out his phone and played ‘Middle Light’. I was flabbergasted. Never before had I heard of, let alone known, a group of teenagers with such unfathomable talent. The guitar playing was slick, the drums tight as anything and Toby’s voice, above it all, ringing out a story of a girl who ‘crawls back in just like a parasite’. I was amazed and gob-smacked and instantly insecure about my own talent as a musician and singer.
In November, Tyrant released Lights, an EP designed to grab the attention of record labels. It consisted of four songs, ‘Thick Witted’, ‘Pressurised’, ‘Middle Light’ and ‘Lights’. After downloading it and listening to it all the way through on the bus into school one morning, I was once again fiercely impressed by the talent that these guys had to offer. After pulling up at the school, I immediately grabbed my friend James, and implored him to listen to it immediately. He was as equally impressed as I was.
One of Toby’s inspirations is clearly ‘Catfish and the Bottlemen’, a band that we both revere, but don’t write off Tyrant as a ‘Catfish copy’. In fact, Toby is capable of applying his own interpretation to their well-established sound, with different styles of singing and, in particular, the drums and bass guitar. Jack’s skills on the guitar are comparable to someone twice his age, the complex solos and riffs sounding effortless and Louis’s drumming has a perfect balance between over the top complexity and dull simplicity, not too much, but enough.
All in all, I was incredibly impressed by ‘Lights’, and would recommend it to any fans of indie rock, or anyone who doesn’t like indie rock for that matter, as a chance to open their eyes to the vast talent these lads have. I would be very surprised if they didn’t manage to land themselves a record deal and I wish them all the best for the future.
Sunday 1 January at The Half Moon in Putney.(If you would like a place on a coach from Newbury or Reading contact firstname.lastname@example.org)