MIKE: Toyah Willcox and Robert Fripp, one show business' most recognisable couples. They've had some massive hit records. Toyah on her own and Robert Fripp as a member of King Crimson. During lockdown their brilliant "Sunday Lunch" YouTube videos were incredible

They got such a reaction to those videos that they're coming to The Lowry (in Salford, 9.10.2023) to celebrate both of their careers. To find out more, I sat down with Toyah and Robert earlier this week

TOYAH: Well, when the dreaded lockdown started we just didn't know what was going on - like everyone else. We're live musicians and performing is our oxygen. Our audience is quite simply our family. We put this jive video out on a sunday lunch (time), about the 9th of April and we got 100,000 replies within five minutes from around the world. New Zealand, Bali, Manila, Hong Kong. It was all from people who were alone

We decided that we would just continue posting these "Sunday Lunch" videos, which was very absurd. We don't take ourselves seriously. It grew and grew and grew. We had 111 million visitors to Toyah YouTube channel. And we now feel we want to take this out into a live environment, touring. Myself and Robert Fripp and we just want to share the love now

MIKE: Robert, I think we're a similar age. I started in bands in the 60s and you've come through that with King Crimson and then onwards through these decades. We're here now, it's 2023. When you look at your start in rock and roll and where you are now - it just fascinates me what a journey that's been. How do you view it?

ROBERT: Well, I view myself strapping on and rocking these rock classics with my wonderful little wife. Very much like the last time I strapped on and rocked out with the League Of Gentlemen in 1965. In between I seem to have been sidetracked into writing music and playing with good musicians this strange material, which has been accepted by some but rejected by most people in the mainstream

So I might as well go back to what I began doing, which is playing great rock songs with my chums. In this case, my bestest is chum in the world, little Willcox

TOYAH: I'd like to abbreviate that answer, if I may (Robert and Mike snigger) My husband has ended up working with David Bowie. One of the main guitarists on “Scary Monsters”, on “Heroes”. He's worked with Blondie. He's actually worked with them all and they're all legendary musicians

Yeah, but none of them played “Enter Sandman” or “Paranoid” (Toyah laughs) Or “I Want To Be Free”. I mean c’mon!

You will have different musical directions. How do you decide - so it’s a proper team effort - what the actual songs are going to be?

TOYAH: They have to suit who we are. Without a shadow of a doubt we've got to do these versions absolutely brilliantly. We are doing “Enter Sandman” and we are doing “Paranoid” and they have to be Toyah and Robert doing them. So we sit down and I usually start off with a list of songs that I love. I love classic rock. Then Robert listens to it. He says “I really love that!”

And we both develop a passion for the same song and then we work out how we're going to do it. So the tour that we're doing, the Toyah and Robert "Rock Party/Sunday Lunch" tour is a celebration of how incredible heritage rock is and it is breathtaking. We're going to be covering people from David Bowie, because of Robert’s history with David Bowie ...

We're doing my hits as well. But we're also dipping our toes in with Marc Almond “Tainted Love”, Blondie. Many, many other artists that were playing the songs of

ROBERT: Metallica's “Enter Sandman” is not one that I would normally expect me to play but this popped up on the "Sunday Lunch", which is actually our highest ever viewing figures. The riffs in the in Metallica are phenomenal so rock out with that

MIKE: How are you preparing for that transition from being on YouTube as a couple to being on stage as a couple?

TOYAH: Well, we've done five secret gigs already and three of them had to call in extra security. It turned into an absolute riot. The audience got very, very excited. It is a transition. So we're very much going out there with a large band. It's a show band. It's got eight musicians -

ROBERT: Yeah, we have two keyboard players, who sing and a wonderful electronic drummer. Two guitarists -

TOYAH: Three guitarists -

ROBERT: Well, that's when you add me. And if everyone sings and it's been suggested by me that I don't join in the backing vocals on this one - there can be seven people singing and me cheering them on

So what we've developed is a very big rock show, which honours - totally by accident - 50% of the songwriters are American, 50% of English. So it's a complete celebration of this kind of heritage rock and we're calling it a "Rock Party". It is absolutely inevitable that Robert's and my humour is going to come on to that stage, but the humour isn't the carrying force. The carrying force is the shared love of music

So when we're on the road in October, we're going to use the imagery of "Sunday Lunch" as part of the projection screen production so that the posters are going to keep flashing up. What we've learned is that the posters are what people identify with

Now, if anyone's listening ,who's never seen what we do on social media - there's always a very big colourful poster in the background saying something like "Fripp's Ma Bitch" or "Bollocks". These posters are going to be up on the big screen as we're performing so we're bringing in the visuals of "Sunday Lunch" via media while doing an incredibly live rock show

ROBERT: So the question is how to honour the spirit of "Sunday Lunch"? Well, the quick answer is we're going to have fun and we're going to rock out with nothing solemn here whatsoever. We are aiming to give people a good time

Final question to the two of you. I get where you're at, Robert. My wife's my best mate, I adore the woman but she's not in the music business. I often wonder how we’d get on if she was a really successful broadcaster, which is what I do now

You two - you've got to have egos to get to where you are. You really care for one another. That always came over, funnily enough, in the kitchen videos - your affection for one another. But how do you balance that? Robert wants this or Toyah wants this

TOYAH: (they both laugh) We typically fight!

ROBERT: That's an easy one, Mike. You learn to say “yes, dear”

MIKE: Well, there we are. Can I just say it's wonderful talking to the two of you. I remember getting an Island (record company) sampler. I think it might’ve been “You Can All Join In” -

(It was) “Nice Enough To Eat”

MIKE: It had “Court Of The Crimson King” on -

ROBERT: No, it has “Schizoid Man ” -

MIKE: It did! (Toyah cackles) That's when I first discovered you. And then Toyah I've met because of radio various times since the middle of the 80s. It's brilliant talking to the two of you. A great rock and roll city, when you come to Manchester. I hope you realise that

We do. Respect

You take care, both of you. Robert, thanks for being with us. Toyah, thanks for being with us

Pleasure. Thank you, Mike

ROBERT: Bless you, Mike

Listen to the interview HERE


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