Fresh from coming up trumps at this year’s Junkyard festival at the Cambridge Junction which resulted in a vibrant headline set, we chat with Jay Plent, the main creative force behind Cambridge outfit Too Cool Kid…
What is the best word in the English dictionary?
It’s a tie between “smashing” and “moron”. Smashing because it’s such an underused word, and moron because it’s the perfect insult: it can be used playfully with friends or to devastating effect against one’s enemies.
How would you describe your sound to those unfamiliar with your music?
It’s direct. There’s so little melodic clarity in a lot of modern music, Too Cool Kid tries to be immediate, entertaining and downright catchy. I guess it’s in touch with a lot of the attitude bands like The Strokes had in the early 2000s, just songs, there to be heard and (hopefully) obsessed over.
Congrats on winning the Junkyard band comp – how did you find playing on the J2 stage/event?
Pretty fantastic. J2 was the only room in the Junction I’d not played before but it’s a great space, feels like an underground cage-fighting ring. As for the gig itself, the Junction crew were great, the sound was stellar, the lights were killer, and I’ve never seen a crowd so excited to see a toy baby kicked into an audience (trust me that story is better without any context).
What has been the best moment of being in Too Cool Kid so far?
That gig, Junkyard festival to be honest. That’s the best show I’ve ever done, George and Ross were on fire, and we were headlining having won the contest so it felt pretty special. I guess having the first TCK tracks given radio play on Cambridge 105 was also pretty significant – it was, at the time, the first music I’d given over to the gauntlet of public opinion.
Who would you like to see cover a Too Cool Kid song?
I’ve never really thought about it happening… I guess if somebody were to cover a TCK song they’d have to really muck about with it, do something that totally re-imagines it. I mean who wants to hear a cover nearly identical to the original?
Who influences the band as musicians?
Julian Casablancas, Thom Yorke and the guy who says “Do It” in Star Wars Episode 3.
What is the greatest love song of all time?
Never Gonna Give You Up by Rick Astley
As a band you started because…
Well the ‘band’ only functions for live stuff. TCK started with me recording The Algernon EP at home, where I had total creative control. I guess I was at a point where, having been in a number of other bands, I wanted that space to just put down some music exactly as I wanted it without having to grapple over arrangements with others – something which is especially frustrating if you write all the songs as I do. Once I had an idea of what I wanted the music to feel like, I assembled a crack team of my mates to play the stuff live, and so far it’s going pretty darn swimmingly.
As a band you picked the band name because…
Because a] it’s three sylabbles, making it great for crowds to chant at gigs b] it’s very searchable on Google c] nobody else was dumb (or clever??) enough to call their band Too Cool Kid
How much, if at all, is your music informed by where you’re from?
Pretty much not at all. I mean if we’re talking family background then yes, my parents and friends were a huge influence on my love of alternative rock and indie, but if we’re talking location god no. I come from a small town just outside Cambridge where there’s no music store, the only venue to speak of is a gigantic concert hall that nobody actually asked for, and the most popular song played at parties is Kanye West’s “Black Skinhead”. It’s pretty bleak, but luckily we live in a world where you can stream the best of New York’s music scene direct to your laptop, Interpol, Skaters etc etc.
As a band what is the worst question to be asked?
“How long have you been playing your instruments?” “How old are you?” “What other band do you think you sound the most like?” Boring questions are the worst…
What is the answer to that question?
Long enough, old enough and not enough like any to make an apt comparison.
What’s the greatest LP of all time?
I think it’s In Rainbows by Radiohead, but many will disagree.
If you weren’t in the band, why would you like listening to the band?
Because I’d be thinking “Christ that guys’s voice is similar to mine”
What’s a lyric you’ll never get enough of?
E from Eels has some pretty fantastic moments. There’s a lyric in “Novocaine for the Soul” that goes “guess who’s living here with the great undead, the streets by numbers life is fucking with my head once again.” He delivers it in such a deadpan way, it’s just brilliant.
What inspires your writing?
Constantly trying to do something better than you’ve done before, somehow. I guess maybe that’s why most musicians run out of steam by the time they’re 45.
The Cambridge music scene would be better if…
…there were more, better equipped venues and more people willing to come and fill them. But that’s not a problem of Cambridge exactly, the fact is most people aren’t interested in new bands unless they’re on Radio 1’s playlist. We’re actually pretty lucky in Cambridge to have such a good band community and some real figures upholding unsigned music – I think a lot of bigger cities might not have that advantage.
If you could tour with anyone, who would it be and why?
Practically, we’d want to tour with a band who’d take us and expose us to their fans, someone mid-level enough to still remember how much grind it takes unsigned bands to get noticed. I guess Catfish and the Bottlemen would get that? If we were choosing from a list of truly massive names, The Strokes, Radiohead, Foo Fighters, or anything and everything Jack White is involved with.
What is something about Too Cool Kid that no one knows yet?
The full names or backstories of any of its affiliated members.
What next for Too Cool Kid?
Maybe a new EP of remixes? I’ve been remixing a couple of local acts such as Alicia Catling, Motor Tapes and The Seven Twenty – it’d be cool to put those out as a compilation, perhaps with a new TCK track thrown in for good measure. Also more gigs, because Junkyard was so great and we wanna play some more shows, but then who doesn’t?
Which band/act should we be excited about?
You should be excited about whatever band seems to write most accurately about your life without having even met you.
Hypothetically you’re going to DJ a disco for us, what is your go to dancefloor filler track?
(Sigh). Kanye West’s Black Skinhead…