09 February, 2008

TOYAH ON 
BBC RADIO ONE
WITH ANNIE
NIGHTINGALE

AUGUST 1981



TOYAH:
Hello!

ANNIE NIGHTINGALE: Hello, it’s nice to see you. Many weeks I’ve been promising people that you’ll be on this program. You’ve been a bit busy really haven’t you?

TOYAH: Yeah, I’ve just come back from Italy which was a total riot -

ANNIE: Yeah actually did something rather terrifying happen?

TOYAH: It was unbelievable: a drawbridge collapsed at the castle we were playing at. 3 people died later on after the show but the riot police came and everyone thought there was a riot! So they rioted! It was really unbelievable, it was amazing, really heart rendering -

ANNIE: Wait a minute - a drawbridge at the castle -

TOYAH: We playing in a castle -

ANNIE: Yeah that’s it -

TOYAH:
Very normal. There was a drawbridge, an old wooden drawbridge that the artist had to enter from because all the public entered from the big safe front of the building. There was a famous Italian artist that all the little girls in Italy love, I can’t remember his name for the life of me, who walked onto the drawbridge and suddenly all these little girls came from nowhere sort of “aaaaah! (screams) and the whole thing fell down.


ANNIE: How extraordinary!

TOYAH: It was terrifying and I feel so bad for these little girls. In fact there was a 16 year old girl killed and two boys but it’s a terrible thing to have happened. It all happened through lack of organisation.

ANNIE: It’s unfortunately why things have happened in the past. But anyway welcome to the program!




TOYAH: Thank you!

ANNIE: Toyah, I expect that’s not a sort of thing you forget about that easily straight away. Anyway, I’ve passed a letter over to you -

TOYAH: Yes -

ANNIE: Of which I read a part of earlier on, from … what’s her name again?


TOYAH: Her name’s Kerry Barris -

ANNIE: Yeah, I mentioned her earlier on but she did say that she wanted you to dedicate a record to somebody?

TOYAH: And I can’t find the dedication!

ANNIE: Here we are, look, it’s Milo, who might be a lady and I believe your greatest fan …There you are, just in the fold of that letter-

TOYAH: I mean Milo, this record’s for you and if you are my number one greatest fan then you’re really worth it, thank you very much.

ANNIE: Oh great, this is “True Life Confessions” by Almost Supersonic.
(plays song)


My guest tonight is Toyah. Why is it sometimes you’re called Toyah and sometimes you’re Toyah Willcox. I mean which do you prefer?


TOYAH:
Well Toyah basically coz I only really use the name Toyah when I’m with the band. And when I’m acting I don’t really care about the name Toyah Willcox. It’s my work that counts.


ANNIE: Yeah. Are you officially known, I mean say you were in a film next week and it opened in your local Odeon, does it say Toyah Willcox?

TOYAH: Oh yes, it’s always been Toyah Willcox coz that is my real name. It’s not a stage name at all.

ANNIE: So you were actually called Toyah as a baby?

TOYAH: I really don’t know where they got it from -

ANNIE: I was going to say! 

TOYAH: I asked my mum I said “look, where did you get the name from?” and she just can’t remember. I have found out it’s a town in Texas, a red Indian town and the word Toyah means water.

ANNIE: Really? 

TOYAH: Yeah, going to the loo now!

ANNIE: Because mostly it is important to have a name no-one else has. Someone said that to me years and years ago that to be a star you must have a first name that is not shared by anyone-

TOYAH: Ooh, I think it helps but no-one believes it’s your real name anymore. I mean if you’ve got a stage name and it’s obvious it’s a stage name no-one appreciates you as a person. They think you’re false. I mean I’m very glad that I was called Toyah.

I remember once I was talking to my mum when I was about six years old and she wanted to change it Holly! And I’m very lucky she didn’t. (Annie is laughing) Holly and the Italians, it would’ve got in the way of my music career no end! (laughs)


ANNIE: Yeah, I suppose that could’ve happened. Do you know that there are now children perhaps being called after you?

TOYAH:
Oh yes! Well there is a couple in Brighton, I’m very very sorry if you’re listening, I can’t remember your names but they came up to me a year ago on the last summer tour and they said they’d just had a baby and they’ve called it Toyah …


ANNIE: Oh well, I live in Brighton so maybe I’ll bump into them and if so or they haven’t heard this I’ll pass the message on (Toyah laughs) which should be nice, shouldn’t it?

TOYAH: Oh it will be wonderful!

ANNIE: Do you like Jane Canaway coz she has a very nice new single out?

TOYAH: I loved “Die Oh You” (?) but I haven’t heard anything since.




ANNIE: Well have a listen to it here, “Year 2000”. (plays song) Lots of lots and letters as I said before, asking lots of questions of you and seem to have been piling up over the weeks so you’re going to have a lot of hard work on this program, I tell you. One of which is from Julie Hornsby who lives in Clapton in London East 5, “is it true Toyah is going to get married to Tom Taylor?” (above with Toyah)

TOYAH:
I might do one day … I mean but what a lot of kids have got to realise marriage isn’t important, it’s the feeling, it’s the feeling between you that keeps you together. And marriage is just a few words and a certificate that allows you a tax reduction (laughs)

That’s what marriage has become to mean to me! Unless you have kids and then it’s important but I don’t consider having kids for another good ten years at least. Don’t think I could handle it, I haven’t grown up yet myself.


ANNIE: I think it’s a very sensible attitude. Do you lots of people ask you things like that, are you going to get married?

TOYAH: Oh of course! I had a birthday on the 18th of May and I got more wedding congratulations than birthday cards. I’m still answering them at the moment because I really do insist on answering things like that. If someone is polite enough to send you a card of any kind, they should be answered.

And ..., it’s unbelievable and I thought after that press saying I was going to get married I thought I was going to get a lot of poison letters and it’s been completely the opposite-


ANNIE: All for you?

TOYAH: Oh yeah.

ANNIE: When I saw you this last tour I must admit I was staggered by this incredible rapport you have with an audience. I think I’ve very rarely ever seen that with anybody!

TOYAH:
But I love my audience. To me I go on stage and want to give everything to the audience, I don’t expect a thing back, I fact if they give me, you know really bad feelings back, I’m a much more energetic performer. I get off on bad feelings more than good feelings -


ANNIE: You mean it makes you work harder?

TOYAH: Oh yes, I mean if the audience - in the early days they had this big bouncing female on stage and they disliked it! Especially up north, it’s slightly more chauvinistic and it just made me so much more determined it was unbelievable! 

ANNIE: It seems hard to believe now seeing that - y’know the old phrase about having the audience in the palm of your hand that you really did appear to do that?

TOYAH: The audience have me in the palm of their hand, they really do! (laughs)

ANNIE: Well, they obviously know better. Now, a problem - I know what you mean if everybody is FOR you, you can do no wrong -





TOYAH: Well, no actually, because the one thing I don’t do is pat myself on the back. I’m my best critic and if an audience is for me then I go that little step further and I just move more, I become more defined, much more controlled in a way really.

ANNIE: One thing I felt really curious about was that you do have these marvellous flowing movements on stage and the movements mix - I can’t even put this into words! (Toyah laughs) The music and movements are as one?

TOYAH: Yes.

ANNIE: Is that very rehearsed?

TOYAH: No, not at all. I can not rehearse things, if I rehearse things I usually get so nervous and worked up about getting them right they go wrong. So what I do I go on stage and if the band is good and if the band is really tight then I’m usually at my best. But same again if the band have got an off night I work even harder. And I get all my vibe, my dancing vibe of the band. And I’ve got an excellent band behind me.

ANNIE: Indeed you have.


TOYAH: Oh they’re wonderful, I love them dearly (laughs)

ANNIE: More about them in a minute, here’s Janice Ian with a song called “Under The Covers.” (plays song) Toyah, what was the first record you ever bought?

TOYAH: Oh my god! It was Marc Bolan and it was album and it’s called “Electric Warrior”. Oh what a man! He was wonderful! That album was wonderful. 

ANNIE: Yeah. Was that your main early influence do you think?

TOYAH: He was the first rock star I had that sort of teenage passion for that I could - I actually went to one of his concerts at the Birmingham Odeon and I screamed all the way through it. And I had that big teardrop full of glitter on my cheek and it was wonderful -

ANNIE: Did you do the thing like dressing like him and-

TOYAH: I didn’t dress like him, I was going through the (coughs) “hippy stage” at that time but I did have glitter all over my face.

ANNIE: You a hippie, that I can’t imagine!

TOYAH: Yes, terrible! (laughs)

ANNIE: No I mean it isn’t really, that’s what-

TOYAH: That’s the only way I could describe the way I dressed - I wore cloaks and big flying things when it was the sort of beginnings of the skinhead era about 10 years back and I was considered incredibly weird. Unbelievably so!

ANNIE: Hmm. Tell us a story which you did tell me once before and I’m sure you will repeat it - about bus stops? In Birmingham?


TOYAH: The shop? Oh you mean the actual bus stops? Oh my god, well I used to stand at bus stops in the morning to go to drama school first of all in my pink and black hair and this was ages ago, about 6 or 7 year ago and the bus driver sort of took one look at me and if I was alone the bus drivers used to drive straight past! (Annie laughs) Waving!

ANNIE: Waving?




TOYAH: So if there’s any bus drivers out there you’re bastards! (Annie is dying with laughter) I had to walk to drama school, it was unbelievable. And I was so straight, I was straight morally, I didn’t drink, I didn’t do anything and I couldn’t understand why these bus drivers drove past me! They must’ve thought I must’ve been some kind of kink or something.

ANNIE: It was fear. Do you think it was fear?

TOYAH: No, but I was genuinely offended what ever it was (laughs)

ANNIE: I bet you were! Ok, bus drivers of Birmingham apologise immediately to Toyah! (Toyah laughs) Siouxsie and the Banshees, Siouxsie went through all that because she used to scare me a bit, she doesn’t now coz I know she’s a very nice lady. I do like her album, it’s already done terribly well, this is a track called “Monitor” (plays song)


Toyah’s with me tonight. Toyah, somebody called Colin Maunder from Sunbury-on-Thames wants to know is the video that was made of your Rainbow gig on February the 21st going to be marketed for private use on home video or is it for television?


TOYAH: Well, in fact Colin my dear, the BBC have signed that video up and it’s going out on the BBC label (below) and it should be in your shops soon I hope.

ANNIE: I didn’t even know the BBC were doing videos!

TOYAH: Same here! (laughs) (both talk at the same time)

ANNIE: I’ve just been hit on the head by the producer! I really didn’t but-

TOYAH: It surprised me.
 
ANNIE: How long - the whole concert or one number or -


TOYAH: It’s going to be - let me think - about 45 minutes, which is literally 15 minutes chopped off the whole concert. So it’s pretty good quality anyway.

ANNIE: I suppose you don’t know the price coz this is what-

TOYAH: I’m afraid no, because I myself haven’t got a video, slap slap, I should have and I really wish I did but I’m so rarely at home I don’t buy things like that. But I hope it’s not over priced, I really do, because I’d like, what I call our real fans, to be able to afford it.

ANNIE: Yeah, because at the moment those sort of things are very expensive. What I don’t understand is people who buy videos of feature films sort of upwards £30-£40 pounds.

TOYAH: Oh!

ANNIE: I couldn’t do that.

TOYAH: I couldn’t! I’d rather nick ‘em! (both laugh)




ANNIE: That’s right, shhhh! In a minute I’m going to ask you to do me a favour which is to help me find a price winner from last week’s competition to which was a sort of straight mystery record. First of all here’s Stevie Nicks with a Tom Petty song called “Stop Dragging my Hearth Around”. (Plays song)

Toyah is now going to do a great favour for me. Last week I played a record, what’s the name of the song, who is singing it and what album did it come from for which thousands of you - but it was easy! I thought I had an easy competition so if you could just rummage around - coz I can’t bear to do this (Toyah is “rummaging” in the background) I can’t pick winners, it’s so unfair.


TOYAH: There you go, do you want me to read it out?

ANNIE: Please yes!

TOYAH: Oh my god! It’s Janet Ricks from Rexam and she says the track was by Lou Reed, it was called “Vicious” and it came from the LP “Transformer”. Well done Janet!

ANNIE: Do you know there wasn’t one wrong answer?

TOYAH: I’m not surprised, I guessed that one!

ANNIE: Well I thought it would cheer people up. Now you win the “Book With No Name” which is a lovely book about New Romantics, lots of pictures in it. So Janet thank you very much, congratulations and just so that we know which Janet from Hexom, you’re actual address is …

Looks like Beam Fam Farm but it’s Haydon Bridge, Hexom (Toyah laughs) I hope I can read it properly coz I’ve got to send the book off to you. Anyway, congratulations and more nonsense I expect next week. Toyah, who are your favourite artists, who’s records do you play at home, when you are at home?


TOYAH: Let me think, well last night I played Patti Smith, who I love, incredible and yet I’ve gone through a year without playing any of her material - 

ANNIE: She hasn’t done much lately has she?

TOYAH: No, no, but I think she’s wonderful, I really do think she’s incredible, the feel she puts across. There’s David Bowie, Eno, Duran Duran, Visage, Roxy Music, I mean my taste is really vast, I still love Marc Bolan, I love Hendrix, I love Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid” (laughs) My god I’m going be shot!

ANNIE: Why would you be?

TOYAH: Oh I don’t know but I really do, anything that’s original and puts a feel across coz there’s a lot of music you put on the record player and nothing comes across, it’s just hollow. And a lot artists, good artists who aren’t commercial artists necessarily really put a good feel across and what’s who go for.

ANNIE: Do you find that difficult yourself to do in a studio?


TOYAH: Very difficult. I’m only just learning myself.

ANNIE: So how do you go about it?

TOYAH: Aaah … I have to relax. I go in the studio and I think “my god this is got to be good, it’s got to be good” and it’s tense! But if I’m relaxed it usually comes across much better. I literally have a topple (?) of one or two gins and that really brings me down to earth again (laughs)

ANNIE: Ooh, what a giveaway! What are you doing next?

TOYAH: I’ve got - I’m recording a new single because I don’t want another single to come of the album “Anthem”.

ANNIE: Ah! Why?


TOYAH: Well, I mean we’ve just been talking about this … I personally think it’s wrong. We’ve already got two singles off that album, I don’t want another one off it. We’ve always been a band for giving things rather than taking and that’s how I want it to stay.

ANNIE: Well, I would normally tend to agree with you but I have a letter on mailbag, anyone who’s listening now, who heard mailbag, which completely perplexed me, and I could not come up with an answer, which offered quite the opposite point of view which is saying "I don’t want to buy an album if there’s perhaps one song on it that I like."

So for this person it was better to put out singles off albums, it meant they didn’t have to buy the album and spend all that money. And they didn’t think that it was a rip off. And I was so confused by this that I made no comment what so ever! (laughs)





TOYAH: True. But your true fans buy the albums because they want to hear the direction they’re going in and to me if I’ve got to put something out that kids have got to pay for I want to them to really want it. Not because they want one track or something, that’s the commercial market you’re talking about. I’m far more interested in those kids who’ve been with me for the past 4 years.

Not only that, as a band we’ve got hell of a lot of things to say, we’ve got a lot of writing potential and we don’t need to release another track off the album, I really think we could come up with something better.


ANNIE: But you could argue the sort of other way that anyone who’s bought the albums is not going to be ripped off by wanting buy a single they’ve already got on an album, if you’re with me?

TOYAH: No, but I want to include everyone and by putting out a completely new track the real fans, the kids that bought the album but don’t mind buying let’s say “We Are” or “Pop Star” as a single form, y’know, would genuinely like the new track we’re going to produce.

ANNIE: Have you recorded it yet?


TOYAH: No, we’re going to go in the studio, we’ve sort of already semi-written it, I have a habit of changing things each time I hear it. And by the time you get the end product it’s totally different from what the original things was. But I’m just so determined to y’know, just be real.

ANNIE: Hmm. Do you have lots of "total control" as they say in what you do?

TOYAH: No. I mean no by I don’t control finances and things like that but the record company and the band respect what I say one hell of a lot, thank god.

ANNIE: That brings me - coz I said we would talk about the band, what is your relationship with them? I mean are you the boss lady or-

TOYAH: No no, I’m the one with the vulgar language (laughs)
ANNIE: Ooh!


TOYAH: I mean I consider the band - for the first time and it is a real band - as best friends and as best musicians I’ve ever ever worked with. I have incredible respect for them and I do hope and think they have respect for me. But as people, they’re so imaginative, they really spark me off, especially in writing and things. I just think they’re wonderful.

ANNIE: If someone has to have the last say though - is it you?

TOYAH: It’s me. I’m so stubborn if something happens I really don’t like. I must say that I didn’t like “I Want To Be Free”, I contrive those lyrics because the tune was so commercial when I received it. And I thought “oh my god that can’t be a single”, it’s so obvious I won’t let it happen. I wanted “Pop Star” to be the single. But I do know if I don’t like something it’s probably going to sell pretty well.

ANNIE: What, you don’t think you’ve got what they might call commercial judgement?

TOYAH:
No, not at all. To me singles should be commercial and albums should be really true to how the artist feels and I don’t mind being commercial with my singles whatsoever.


ANNIE: Hmm, seems quite fair. We get lots of letters saying “you play Toyah now, but what about Toyah then?” Y’know that I’ve neglected your earlier work?

TOYAH: I’m honoured.




ANNIE: Here’s a track from “Toyah!Toyah!Toyah!” and is this one you like, it’s called “Love Me”? Do you like that track particularly?

TOYAH: I haven’t heard the live version I must admit! (laughs)

ANNIE: Well here you go, about time! (laughs)

TOYAH: Thank you! (laughs)

SONG: “Love Me”

ANNIE: Well that’s Toyah … (Toyah shouts “Thank you!” on the live track) Thank you! (Toyah laughs) ...that she’s never heard - don’t you ever listen to your own records?


TOYAH: The live one in fact the only tracks I’ve listened to are the ones on the documentary which is what the live album was made to coincide with. I do listen to “Anthem”, I do actually like “Anthem” quite a lot. And “Victims Of The Riddle”, the recorded version of that, I love dearly. But “Blue Meaning” I find depressing except “Blue Meaning” the actual track which I thought is one of the best lyrics I’ve ever managed to come out with. But no, I prefer to listen to other artists. I really don’t know why (laughs)

ANNIE: To think you’ve never actually heard that before, it’s quite extraordinary-

TOYAH: I’m sorry!

ANNIE: No, I’m amazed, it shows great great modesty! Any more films? Or any more tours because that’s what everyone wants to know?

TOYAH:
Ooh there is one hell of a lot happening! I’ve got - first thing- there’s a world tour that I imagine this moment in time, by going by arrangements, will go right through the whole of next year but I’ll be popping back to England every now and then.


ANNIE: Where are you going to play?

TOYAH: Everywhere. Well, like America, Japan, the whole of Europe, hopefully Australia. It’s been arranged at the moment but being arranged in such a way that I can come back to England at least once a month and say “hello I’m still alive and you’re still important”.

ANNIE: There’s going to be some travelling! I’d hate to be paying your air tickets!

TOYAH: Well … oh well I’m not worried about that at the moment but Xmas we’ve got some very very special concerts for England. Real party concerts.

ANNIE: Yeah? Just London or -

TOYAH: No. Major cities.

ANNIE: Good.


TOYAH: Because I think that’s important, January will be major English tour and I mean a major, it will go everywhere because it’s very important. We’ve already arranged the whole show and it’s going to wonderful. Excellent. I’m going to involve that audience so much that they’ll be frightened (laughs)

ANNIE: I see! What about any more films coz your appearance in “Quadrophenia” went along with an awful lot of other people … it was like “the class of” what ever year it, 78' I suppose, was it about 78'?

TOYAH: 79'.

ANNIE: 79'?

TOYAH: Yes.

ANNIE: All you lot, who were virtually unknowns then, did terribly well.


TOYAH: We’ve done pretty well up to now. Especially Sting! There’s a lot happening in my acting scene at the moment but I really don’t want to say because its’ so sooo dodgy, it’s even more dodgy than music but I’ll know next week what’s happening. But it’s really very very nice.

ANNIE: Something’s obviously in the offing?

TOYAH: Oh yeah -

ANNIE: It’s bad luck anyway-

TOYAH: Oh, I don’t know about that but I don’t want to sort of fool people. But there’s a lot going on.




ANNIE: Well, that’s good and obviously sort of tour business. Were you aware when you made "Quadrophenia" that you were surrounded with a lot other talent?

TOYAH: Actually, I must admit, quite ignorantly I appreciated there was a lot of talent but number one I didn’t expect things to take off the way they did, especially for Sting, who’s an incredibly nice person, just so nice. I really didn’t know what would happen to him because I always thought really big stars were sort of characteristically ugly people and Sting wasn’t, he was a very generous person.

ANNIE: But he wasn’t a big star when-

TOYAH: Not when "Quadrophenia" was made, and I hadn’t even seen his band, y’know, The Police, suddenly everything just blew up and The Police were the biggest thing and it couldn’t be better for him.

ANNIE: What about the others, like Phil Daniels,(above with Toyah) he’s done pretty well?

TOYAH:
Phil Daniels is the one person - the only time I’ve met him since is to do a play called “American Days” and I haven’t seen him since and that was over a year ago. But I know a lot of incredible talent who appeared as extras in that film, didn’t even say a word, who are bigger stars now.

There’s a guy called Danny Peacock who’s an amazing writer and he played a part in “Sugar And Spice” with me… there’s another guy and I’m afraid I can not remember his name, as disgusting as it is, but he’s just had a major comedy series at the BBC. And he was a walk-on part.


ANNIE: Do you think that means … Frank Roddam who was the director JUST had that knack of picking the right people?

TOYAH: Very much so. Frank Roddam is an incredibly intelligent man, there’s no generation gap with him, I’m sure he’s at least a good ten years older than most of us but he understood how we worked and he was a very amazing man.

ANNIE: I suppose the image still sticks that once you’ve been in a film you would then get Hollywood -

TOYAH: Oh no - that’s a load of rubbish! (laughs)

ANNIE: So good of you to say that!

TOYAH:
I mean I’m so surprised people keep coming up to me and talking about Quadrophenia because I have such a small part in it, considering. I thought everyone would forget about me. But I went to Italy and all they talk about is Quadrophenia. But all the same, as for America, I’ve had so little dealing with America, I really don’t know what’s going on.

I know that the band Toyah is quite big in New York but acting wise I know my name is known but I haven’t been offered any massive movies from Hollywood.


ANNIE: So any actors or actresses listening: there you go! (laughs) It’s sort of sorted.

TOYAH: Quite.

Next Annie talks about taking photos (not relevant) and then plays Duran Duran’s “Girls On film”

ANNIE: “Girls On film”, especially for you Toyah - 

TOYAH: Thank you.

ANNIE: A favourite band of yours are they?

TOYAH: They’re favourite as people and I think musician wise they’re a great band, I really do.

ANNIE: They describe themselves in their biography as closet muso’s (Toyah laughs), which is very nice. You’ve got to say goodbye in a second but I know you want to say hello to a couple of people?

TOYAH: Well, I’ve just been reading through the letters and first I want to say, everyone who’s written I will reply -

ANNIE: Ooh, thank you!

TOYAH: Especially Mark Harper who wrote to “Ask Aspel” and then here, don’t worry Mark, I will write to you if I can’t talk to you personally. Michael Cox, Michael Tie and Stuart Kennedy, who sent a joke: “do you know that Toyah’s dead?” Reply: “No, is he?” And the reply was something “it’s a mystery to me” or something - oh I’ve buggered it up! (Annie is screaming with laughter)

ANNIE: They always say women can’t tell jokes!

TOYAH: “What did she die of?! It’s a mystery to me!” Sorry Stuart!

ANNIE: Never mind. I can’t tell jokes either! It’s been great after all these week’s of waiting to see you on the program so thank you very much for joining me tonight, Toyah -

TOYAH: Thank you!

ANNIE: And good luck with all projects, the big film - fingers crossed. Give us a ring next week and tell us if it happened, would you do that?

TOYAH: Otherwise I’ll hang myself! (laughs)

ANNIE: No, don’t do that! Otherwise it will make those jokes come true! Anyway, thank you very much Toyah, see you soon and when you’re whizzing back from world tours and whatever and thank you also for saying that you’ll reply to all of those letters because I don’t think I could get through them all…

TOYAH: Well, I’ve already got about 200 birthday cards to go still so I’m going to have a go at this lot as well!

ANNIE: OK. See you soon and thanks very much for coming in tonight!

_____________________________________

You can also listen to the interview HERE

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