A dark horse, a diamond in the rough, a hidden gem – choose whatever analogous framing for ‘underrated’ you like, and apply it to Sex On Toast. This Melbourne band is an inexplicably talented nine-headed soul machine that is about to burst out from the unknown.
Headed by enigmatic frontman Angus Leslie, Sex On Toast have been doing music for music’s sake for so long that their recent sold-out album launches came as a complete surprise.
“It was great,” Leslie says. “We’ve really just done what we’ve always enjoyed doing and it’s great that people are enjoying [it] and coming to our shows. The Northcote Social Club show reached capacity so early that half our door list couldn’t get in.”
Despite the recent attention, Sex On Toast have been working at their instrumentally diverse experimental music for some time, eventuating in the debut self-titled album that came out earlier this year. Going in a Quincy Jones and Prince-inspired neo-soul direction, the band is right in the mix of a booming Melbourne soul trend alongside Hiatus Kaiyote, Cactus Channel and Saskwatch – though Leslie stops short of saying Sex On Toast are part of a ‘scene’.
“We kind of are and we kind of aren’t. There’s definitely some stylistic things that we’re doing that have absolutely nothing to do with that – the kind of Mr. Bungle-y, absurd Frank Zappa stuff we have been doing for years. There is bit more of soul and funk in our sound that I guess sees us grouped in with those groups; however, it is very specific.”
The second single from Sex On Toast’s debut album is called ‘Hold My Love’; a sultry, smooth soul track dressed with Leslie’s baritone as he pleads with an unseen lover. So drenched in romance is this tune, it drips with irony.
“I would never want to get rid of that – I think that it is important to overtly have a sense of humour about what you’re doing,” says Leslie. “I don’t really like going to see stuff that is completely serious all the time. It’s great to see something that is fun and funny.”
Leslie insists Sex On Toast comprise nine very serious musicians, but his tongue remains firmly in cheek as he introduces them.
“Currently we have the Starr brothers, Alan [keys] and Philip [bass]. They reunited after a ten-year feud – they did a lot of sessions in the mid-’80s but the feud began when a hot chocolate was spilled. Well, Alan spilt a hot chocolate on Philip’s leg and he didn’t want to say sorry.
“Then we have Bovril [Harrison], who is a trumpet player and singer, then James Bowers, who is a terrific keyboard player and talk-boxer, [and] Zak Pidd, kind of a studly backing singer. There’s Louis King, the guitar virtuoso from Fairfield. Geez, there’s a lot of them – I hope I remember them… then there’s Johnny Bassoon, who is a pretty unique individual – he’s a classical bassoon player who is quite a wild improviser – he plays bassoon for the ladies. And then there’s Gary T, but he sells PCP so I shouldn’t really talk about him. Gary T plays the drums… I think the PCP confuses him and he doesn’t know if he’s onstage or offstage.”
Sex On Toast will hit the stage at The Vanguard on Wednesday July 2 with support from Okenyo. Their self-titled albumis out now independently.