ed nash teams up with marika hackman on new toothless project

Take a trip to the seaside with Palm’s Backside; a bittersweet memory of a relationship that wasn’t meant to be.

by Francesca Dunn and i-D Staff
07 July 2016, 12:31am

Hemsby is a faded seaside resort in Norfolk that just so happens to have once been raided in search of precious materials and slaves by Vikings that instead presumably left with a goldfish in a bag and a new love of gambling. Hemsby is also the colourful setting for Ed Nash's latest music video released under his new Toothless moniker. Having spent the past ten years playing bass in Bombay Bicycle Club, he's been dreaming up this self-produced solo project for a while and has already released the cinematic and starry Terra, a slow-mover that is an absolute pleasure to sink into. This time round, Ed has called on label buddy Marika Hackman to join him on Palm's Backside, a beautiful Belle & Sebastian-alike duet that tells of times shared, hands held, moments captured and love lost. 

Take an exclusive look at the video as we go in conversation with lovely Ed and Marika about the collaboration, their big day out and Game of Thrones...

Hi you two. How are you both?
I'm good. How're you doing Marika?
M: Yeah, good.
E: What're you up to?
M: Just writing… or trying to write. It's coming along. It's hard with Amber being back from tour though because we just want to watch Game of Thrones all the time. We started at the beginning again.

Have you set yourself a timeframe to watch it all in?
M: No, but we smashed the whole of season one this morning, so we're off to a good start.
E: I thought you were asking about a timeframe for writing her album(!)

No, that's not important. So which character do you both relate to most?
E: The fat one who's gone to be the maester, Sam.

That library was impressive, wasn't it?
E: Such a good library. How about you?
M: Probably Arya because she's tomboyish and does her own thing.

How did she change faces in the final episode though? I don't remember her learning that.
E: Wasn't that a metaphor? You become someone with no name and then…
M: No, I think they genuinely switch faces.

She definitely wore another face when she served that pie.
E: Filch did not like that.
M: Back to the dorms!

So when did you guys last see each other?
E: I think it was the filming of the video, wasn't it?
M: Yeah, and then we saw each other very briefly at Field Day.
E: Oh yeah, I was very drunk. Sorry about that.

That was a wet weekend.
E: I did Glastonbury this weekend actually. That was wet too. I played three shows in three days, which is fine, but they were really small shows so I was going right back the beginning and carrying my gear around all day. I missed seeing The Big Moon. I heard they were great.

Marika, I heard you were going to be judging a dog show with The Big Moon soon for Visions Festival?!
M: Yeah, it's in a couple of weeks. I didn't really realise what I'd signed up for, but it's kind of my dream. There are dog dress-up competitions and stuff. It should be fun. I'm a big fan of dogs.
E: So you're playing at Visions?
M: No, just judging dogs.
E: Brilliant.

You mentioned carrying your stuff around Glastonbury and as such 'going back to the beginning' with your new project. It is a huge step… how does it feel starting all over again after BBC?
E: I have mixed emotions about the whole thing. I always enjoyed doing the small stuff with Bombay Bicycle Club. I really like playing small shows and going around in vans and playing to smaller crowds so I've never had a problem with that. The scary thing is doing it by myself and putting myself on the line. So in that respect it's incredibly scary because it's an unknown and I don't have anyone backing me up, bar Marika. Now that I've played a couple of shows and got them under my belt, I'm happy with them even if nothing else happens. You shouldn't do it because you want to be in a big band, you should do it because you love doing it. And it was very scary at the beginning, it was a big decision.

And in terms of a name as well, was there a lot to think about there? Did you consider using your own name?
E: No, I'd never put it out under my own name… no offence.
M: Excuse me(!)
E: There's a picture by Raymond Pettibon, who did all of the Black Flag artwork, and it's of a lioness on its hind legs biting a boy's head and the caption reads: even toothless she can still bite a boy's head off. I saw this years and years ago and I really liked the idea of something being underestimated but still quite powerful. I never thought I would do this. I'm the bass player. Bass players don't go off and do something else. I like being underestimated. It's also the name of a cartoon dragon unfortunately.
M: Yeah, I watched that the other day actually and the whole time I was just thinking of you.
E: They must have based it on that too though, right? That he's toothless but the most powerful of them all… or maybe I'm reading too much into How To Train Your Dragon.
M: You've got it tattooed on your leg haven't you?

The dragon?
E: The illustration! Althought I did get a Krusty the Clown tattoo the other day. It's him drinking out of a boot.

And you got the toothless drawing recently?
E: It was about two years ago actually. I've been thinking about it for far too long.

What about the sound, was that thought through?
E: That wasn't really thought out. I played in Bombay Bicycle Club for ten years and had been playing in terrible bands and recording music for even longer than that, so it's just the style you pick up and learn to do. Lyrically though, and the concepts and artwork, I've been thinking about that for a long time. But the music just is what it is. I guess that are people that start a new band and really plan everything and get incredibly famous and successful. We all know a lot of people that've done that, but I certainly didn't.
M: There's just the risk of it coming across as really contrived.
E: Yeah, this is just the music I wanted to make and I'm very happy doing it… everything else is incredibly contrived, but not the music.

Everything we've heard from Toothless so far seems to have a strong theme of change. Would you agree? Is that something that will carry on across the whole record?
E: Yeah, it's all about the passing of time; growing older, things passing you by. Everything is based on changes.

And how did you two come to work together?
E: I wrote Palm's Backside with the idea of having a conversation. I've always liked those songs like Where The Wild Roses Grow and my favourite song Teenage Dirtbag… you know, it's a conversation between the two of them, I've got two tickets to Iron Maiden baby. I'd always wanted to do something like that, so I wrote it with a narrative and I needed somebody to sing the other part. I'd just signed to Transgressive and Paradyse for these two singles so it was kind of a coincidence because I'd known about Marika for a long time but hasn't really thought about it. I was on their website and Marika Hackman popped up and it was perfect.

So you forced her into it?
E: Basically. So I called her up and since then it's been a series of me asking her to do very overtly relationshippy things, which I feel terrible about.
M: No, it's all been so much fun! I remember I got the track sent over and I thought it was really good and was so excited to be singing on it.
E: The favours will never stop. I wrote a B-side too, which is a counterpoint to the A-side, again a narrative between two characters that follows on from Palm's Backside.

Can you tell me about your day out to the seaside?
E: It was actually one of the most fun days I've had all year.
M: So much fun! It was like being kids.

You should make it an annual thing.
M: And montage it all together after 30 years.
E: It'll be like Boyhood! Yeah, so I'm working with this guy called Kit who plays percussion for Foals and does loads of graphic design work and all the visuals I'm doing are with him. We had an idea of doing a relationshippy video that wasn't very romantic at all, because the song, even though it's about a boy and a girl, it isn't very coupley. It's all about looking back and realising that it wasn't right. So we were playing the boy and the girl and we just hung out for the day. Just two people existing.
M: Which was pretty easy.
E: Yeah, we just got to hang out while people filmed us. We went on fairground rides, shot some guns…
M: … rode the dodgems, got about four icecreams. They were just melting so fast and they were all over my shoes. The woman just started giving it to us for free!
E: The whole fun of it was that it was this amazing old seaside resort that has seen better days... which I guess is a metaphor for the relationship?

Someone thought that through!
E: It was such a faded resort with weird ice cream statues with cigarettes hanging out of their mouths.
M: And bags of chips eating each other!
E: It was very charming. I'd totally do that day again. We won some inflatable prizes on the hook-a-duck too.
M: It was the most chilled-out video shoot I've ever done in my life.
E: Me too.

Palm's Backside by Toothless is out now digitally and will be released on vinyl via paradYse Records on 29 July. Pre-order here.

Marika Hackman
Bombay Bicycle Club
Ed Nash
palm's backside