Sex on Toast’s Angus Leslie on keeping things eccentric

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Sex on Toast’s Angus Leslie on keeping things eccentric


Ahead of what’s set to be one of their biggest hometown shows yet, Sex on Toast frontman Angus Leslie is comfortable with the level of expectation that’s facing the Melbourne favourites and their steps onto the larger (and more accommodating) stage at Max Watt’s.

“I’m feeling both excited and apprehensive to have booked such a large room, but I really like the stage and I really like the sound. If it’s just a few loyal fans there, then I’m happy,” Leslie says.

Of course, the upcoming Max Watt’s show is celebrating the release of ‘Party’, possibly the catchiest of Sex on Toast’s latest dabble in New Jack Swing-era sounds. ‘Party’, alongside previous release ‘4 U’, comes as part of Sex on Toast’s Rough/Ready EP series; a collection of music Leslie explains is a bit of a long-term passion project.

“We’ve already done the Ready EP, which has ‘Oh, Loretta!’ on it. It has quite a different power, in terms of instrumentation. It sounds like a live band and that was the idea. The clips were meant to embody that as well; especially the ‘Oh Loretta!’ clip, where we’re playing on a stage,” he explains.

“With this Rough EP stuff, it’s very much the opposite. It’s not really meant to sound like a live band; it sounds like a producer with a drum machine who’s put a bunch of funky stuff around it. 

Leslie explains that the track ‘4 U’ was inspired by a combination of New Jack-era ballads, as well as some mid-‘80s influences. As well as that, Sex on Toast are trying to inject their own electronic-funk sound too.

“We’re trying to take the electronic-funk influences that we have, the stuff that didn’t always use live bass  always synth bass or drum machines  [and] put all those influences in a blender and see what happens,” Leslie says.

“[I’m] also using older influences that I’ve always had as well like Frank Zappa. That’s always in there too. There always has to be a level of eccentricity to it, otherwise you’re doing a revivalist karaoke.”

With a band that is used to personnel changes and fluidity within their set up, such a dynamic is one that Leslie thrives on.

“The band does change a lot and we do have a lot of people coming in and out; availabilities can be hard. There is definitely a core group. The past couple of songs have had a lot of input from our drummer Gareth Thompson, keyboard player Lewis Moody AKA Philip Starr, and James Bowers programmed stuff on ‘Party’ – we all produced those tracks together,” he says.

“I always appreciate, especially with such a large band, how many different people can interpret the music. Any time I hear anybody new play the tunes, it’s always exciting to hear how someone else will interpret it and perform it.”

Well aware of the line toed between parody and authenticity, Leslie has ensured that his writing has remained true to the genre it has drawn from and been influenced by.

“Whenever I investigate a musical genre, I’ve tried to have the utmost understanding of it,” he says.

“If you’re really going to do it, you have to dig in. For me, you have to know exactly what year every album was recorded and released, it’s important. Once we’re done with this idea, I’m done with it. That’s one thing that I’ve tried to stick with, which is actually something that I heard from a Melbourne composer, Anthony Pateras; once he’s tried something, he’s finished with it. He has to do something else. The next [Sex on Toast] record will not sound like this at all.”

Sex on Toast fans needn’t fear, however. That eccentric and flamboyant essence that has made the band so beloved isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

“We’ll probably still incorporate some turtlenecks; there’s definitely a wide spectrum of usage that you can get out of turtlenecks,” Leslie says.

“You can do a ‘70s Italian film kind of thing, you can do New Jack Swing, they’re very versatile garments.”