toBy sLaTer

A few years ago Toby Slater was in Catch, who although were one of the many boybands/guitar bands crossover, did have a fantastic song called Bingo. Unfortunately (maybe fortunately) they weren't very successful (in Europe), though they did have quite a fanbase in the far east, and they were dropped after a couple singles. After a few years away, Toby is back, and he's been using the internet as a way of promoting his music. So who is more suitable to talk to about the current state of music and music on the internet?

How did your previous encounter with the music industry affect how you've decided to promote yourself this time?
I can't go into how it might have affected me subsconsciously, but consciously I have learned a few lessons.
First, that I want to make sure that when I finally make a CD album - either with or without a label - I am perfectly ready for it musically. I will make the album I want to make and not worry about second-guessing what the public or a record company might want to hear.

Do you regret anything you did when you were in Catch?
Well of course I made loads of mistakes, but I see them as an opportunity to be constructive and improve. Some things still hang over me and in a sense I wish they still didn't, but I cannot regret the experiences I had at the time.
While I hate some of the music we made at the time, I am still proud of some of the music. And when I think that even highly-hyped talented bands like JJ72, Muse etc struggle to get high in the charts, I realise that 'Bingo' did quite well after all.

What are your views on programs like Napster?
Generally positive and indeed I am one of Napster's few featured artists. I suggest you read the thoughts section of my site at - particularly 'Open Letter To The PRS' and 'Napsterism'.

After the judgement on Napster, where do you think the future of music on > the internet lies?
The tragedy about it is that it means the record industry can once again re-establish the status quo.
What people tend to forget is that a judgement has not been made on whether or not Napster is aiding copyright infringement, nor that its users are copyright infringers. The injunction has been served with the assumption that Napster would be defeated in court: guilty until proven innocent.
I think file-sharing has a big part to play, mainly because it's an extremely efficient way of distributing music online. The Napster system as it currently exists and as they're suggesting it should be removes all the difficulties of encoding and hosting tracks.

I can't help but suspect that the record industry knows this and simply wants to own the distribution route and the strongest brand online, which in this case is Napster.

What do you think about the current state of the British music industry? Is there too much emphasis on looks instead of music?
There's always been an emphasis on showmanship and image in pop music. I don't think that's a problem and can see value in original pop bands who have an interesting look.
What pisses me off is the huge number of identikit stereotype manufactured made-by-numbers acts. It's damaging to music in general and people will grow up with the idea that instead of creating great art and learning to write great songs, the way to make an impact in music is to meet the right managers, stylists and producers, get a record deal and learn your formation dance moves.
Some of the indie bands are almost as bad, though, with a formulaic faded denim look and a sound to match. A little originality goes a long way, which is why I love At The Drive In and am quite keen on Mo*Ho*Bish*o*Pi from what little I've heard.

Toby Slater website