Toothless is the solo project of Ed Nash, the bassist of Bombay Bicycle Club. Nash sings and plays most of the instruments along with drummer Suren de Saram (Bombay Bicycle Club). He co-produced his solo debut album The Pace of Passing (2017) with Jack Steadman, Bombay’s frontman. Toothless’ newest release, an EP entitled Palm’s, contains new versions of tracks from his debut album and features singer/songwriter Marika Hackman.
Bombay Bicycle Club
From Crouch End, London, Bombay Bicycle Club is an English indie rock band consisting of Jack Steadman, guitarist Jamie MacColl, drummer Suren de Saram and bassist Ed Nash. The band experiments with a variety of genres, including folk, electronica, world music and indie rock.
London-born bassist Ed Nash has been playing music seriously since age 15, when he and his friends formed indie rock band Bombay Bicycle Club. In 2016, Nash began his solo project, Toothless, an experimentation of acoustic melodies with electronic instruments and folkish influences. Fresh on the heels of his first album Pace of Passing (2017), Nash recently released his Palm’s EP, featuring reimagined versions of his debut tracks and a duet with singer-songwriter Marika Hackman. Nash discusses his influences and what it’s been like starting a solo project.
Where are you from?
I’m from London, England. Hornsey, to be precise.
When did you start making music?
I started playing guitar and making music and writing music when I was about 12. I played in a string of pretty terrible bands and then played in what I think are pretty decent heavy metal bands. I started Toothless about two years ago, and I’ve been doing this since.
Who did you listen to growing up?
It kind of went through phases. When I first started playing guitar, I listened to a lot of Guns N’ Roses. You know, all the stuff you listen to when you start playing guitar. So I learned to do guitar solos and shred and stuff like that. And then about a year or two later, when I had actually learned to play guitar, I realized it was incredibly uncool to listen to bands like that, and I started to listen to the kind of music I listen to now. Like American indie, English indie and folk music. People like Elliott Smith. The kind of the transitionary artists from the heavy metal into the hopefully more tasteful music.
“My mum came up with a much better explanation
than I did, so I’ll go with that.
My mum was like, ‘You were born without teeth
and you die without teeth.’”
— Ed Nash
Who would you say influences you the most?
I don’t know if I can pick a particular person. I like songwriters that tell stories lyrically in their songs. Old folk songs that have a narrative and people that use stories or metaphors or myths to get their point across. People like Nick Cave, Sufjan Stevens. Joanna Newsom is one of my favorites. Storytellers. I really, really enjoy them.
And how did you decide this is what you wanted to do?
I didn’t. I never really decided, it just kind of happened. My previous band, Bombay Bicycle Club, started when we were 15. And from an early age and a very early stage in our career, we started to do well, so I just went with it. I had the best time doing it, but I never made an active decision to do it. Like if you go to university or you change jobs, you make an active decision. It was something that was going good and something I loved doing, so I continued to do it. I guess when I finished playing in Bombay Bicycle Club, I made an active decision to start Toothless. But up until this point it was just a path that I was set on from the beginning.
“It was a huge leap—
undertaking something creatively by yourself,
when you’re the sole driving force.”
— Ed Nash
So how did that transition go?
We did Bombay for 10 years, from age 15 to 25. It was time to not do it anymore, you know? All of our adult working lives and a huge amount of our teenage lives, we spent doing something that was one thing—an incredibly time consuming and incredibly creatively draining thing. So we decided to stop doing it. I really wanted to do Toothless. As I said before, it was a decision that I made. Also I’m incredibly unqualified to do anything else.
So what’s the inspiration behind the name Toothless?
My mum came up with a much better explanation than I did, so I’ll go with that. My mum was like, “You were born without teeth and you die without teeth.” And I like that. Well, you hopefully die without teeth when you’re old.