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SKYSCRAPER MAGAZINE

Toys That Kill-Control the Sun
Toys That Kill are proof positive that it’s possible to remain active in a scene notorious for its high turnover rate, especially as the age increases. Spawned from the ashes of Nineties grade school-oriented punkers F.Y.P., Toys That Kill build upon the ideas originally created by F.Y.P. and apply their experience and maturity to create a handful of upbeat punk rock. Age has certainly mellowed the kids from F.Y.P., as Toys That Kill opt for a more melodic and harmonious musical approach, rather than the chalk-dust clappery that made F.Y.P. so grating and infectious. Dillenger Four come to mind hardly a minute into the first track, with the mid-paced, modern punk sound of “Runnin’ the Front” blasting into an anthemic chorus without sparing a moment. Each track seems to blaze by, each instrument sounding energized and alive. Even on disc, Toys That Kill’s energy is contagious. Lyrically, the group are as sharp as ever, changing the aim of their ire from the pledge of allegiance to “political cowboys” and the doldrums of contemporary American life. Allusions to politics and first-world greed are frequent on Control the Sun, yet never fall into the realm of predictable rhetoric. Backed with catchy, poppy punk rhythms, it makes for an excellent showcase of punk rock rich in relevancy, urgency and sophistication. (Matt Kosloff) SKYSCRAPER MAGAZINE

SCANNER ZINE (UK)

TOYS THAT KILL-the citizen abortion In today's sea of punk rock-which has more turds residing in it's waters than our very own atlantic & could easily be subtitled the mediocre ocean-it's records like this that remind me of the reasons why i got into the whole caboodle some 15 years + ago. Imagine the energy & attack of DILLINGER FOUR channelled through the belligerent behaviour of the DWARVES & infused with the total understanding of the finest points of punk rock n' roll as represented by ROCKET FROM THE CRYPT & you'll have an idea how incendiary this record is. But only an idea!! This album just contains awesome punk rock , played by guys who know how to make it sound thrilling instead of jaded; fun instead of dour. There are way too many great songs out of the 16 present to give individual name checks, but it never once released its grip on my attention. you should know RECESS RECORDS have released some of the best records of the last 10 years or so & here's proof that head honcho Todd can also play it with the very best of them. look out for an interview next time round. (scanner-UK) (also made #1 record of issue)

PUNK PLANET

Toys That Kill-Control the Sun
More famous for featuring former members of FYP, Toys That Kill should overshadow said band now. Their sophmore effort is a sonic blast of pop and punk sensibilities. Todd and the gang along with Sweatbox studios have a created 15 new singalong songs. (EA) PUNK PLANET

www.rockstarsforhire.com

Toys That Kill-Control the Sun (Recess Records)
My friend Todd at Recess said he would send me a copy of the new Toys That Kill album. Well he finally did and boy what a treat it was kids. Remember F.Y.P.? Well Toys That Kill are nothing like them. The best part of this album was the packaging because the booklet that comes with the CD is not a booklet but a mini-sized newspaper titled “AssAss the Nation” I guess we can say the album is political but overall it is creative, funky and fun. More then just pure garage rock this album tends to have a more mature sound to it with intelligent lyric writing and up beat energetic music to back it up.  Go out pick the album up and enjoy some jolt. “My favorite song on this album is “Just one Jump” its so touching and oh so great, YUMMY!” www.rockstarsforhire.com

AMP MAGAZINE

TOYS THAT KILL “Control The Sun” CD
One of the best releases of this issue. This is a band that just keeps getting better. Still snotty and punk, but with a broader range and fertile imaginations. Deft playing, tight arrangements and really good songwriting. A very big sounding record. Highly recommended. (JC) AMP MAGAZINE

TOYS THAT KILL / RAGIN' HORMONES "Running From Love" 7" EP
Toys That Kill proudly carry on the tradition of FYP. Their debut full length was fantastic and both of these tracks continue the quality. Veritably the definition of snotty punk rock. Ragin' Hormones are pretty much straddling the same punk rock pogo horse as their their more well known 7" mates. Unfortunately, my promo copy of this keeps skipping...hopefully all copies aren't as fucked up as mine is. (JC) AMP MAGAZINE (Stardumb/ P.O. Box 21145/ 3001 AC Rotterdam/ The Netherlands)

TOYS THAT KILL "the citizen abortion"
A great new punk band featuring ex-F.Y.P members. Not as snotty as their old band,but just as catchy and maybe a bit more aggresive. One of my favorites of this issue. HITLIST MAGAZINE (also #1 on jimi cheetah's top ten list)

TOYS THAT KILL control the sun  (Recess)
My 12-year-old nephew saw this disc on my shelf and remarked at how surprised he was to see me listening to something good! All I can say is "good on ya, bud, you’re starting to develop a little taste on your own." 'Cause this is pretty tasty modern punk rock—not just another dull set of recycled riffs, but a band that comes with lots of novel sounding tunes. They mainly achieve this by simple tricks like shifting tempos from song to song and by playing standard chord progressions with unexpected rhythms, giving it a feel that merges post punk with Marshall-stack roar. Tracks like "The White Lies" or the smashing "Illegitimate" are just the highlights on a really solid CD. THE BIG TAKEOVER. www.bigtakeover.com

TOYS THAT KILL-THE CITIZEN ABORTION (recess) This is very tuneful yet hard-hitting punk rock loaded with tasty guitar hooks and smacking drumbeats. It's not that sort of ho-hum melodic stuff either. instead, there's scads of creative hooks and unique guitar bits that have convinced me I'm going to spend a good deal of time playing this over the next couple of months. The band compares themselves to The clash, The buzzcocks, and The Jam--me, I hear more of the Descendants. [The Big Takeover]


Toys That Kill - Control the Sun (CD, Recess, Rock)
Toys That Kill is/are a great rock band. The band's gutsy intensity is captivating and intense. Rather than splattering out nothing more than a loud blur (which is very common in the world of rock bands)...these four gentlemen are intent on presenting intelligent material that just happens to rock like holy hell. Recorded at the Sweatbox in Austin, Texas, Control the Sun is an impressive and fun album. Toys That Kill possess an addictive energy that is exciting, slightly unorthodox, and at times very funny. The drummer is as tight as Samantha's barnhole...the guitars thick and heavy...the bass gripping and unrelenting...and the vocals delivered with just the right amount of youthful spirit. This band doesn't rely on gimmicks because they don't need to. Garage rockers like "Runnin the Front," "Blanket," "Illegitimate" (an absolutely killer cut), "Puppies With Rifles," and "No One" are bound to please virtually anyone who comes into contact with them. Looking for a real rock and roll band? Toys That Kill are...IT. (Rating: 5++)BABYSUE http://www.babysue.com/LMNOP-Reviews-July-03.html

Toys That Kill - The Citizen Abortion (CD, Recess, Hard rock/pop) GREAT band name...!!! And surprise, surprise...great BAND as well. Toys That Kill play with the same fury and intensity that made the first punk bands of the seventies so cool and exciting. These guys are as loud as holy hell, but the songs are precise, direct, and catchy. We absolutely love the song titles: "Ass Mirror (Puckered Lips)," "Amphetamine St," "2 Billion Bastards," "Hare Ruya"... Funny, loud, tight, smart, and chock full of passionate energy...Toys That Kill are one of the best really loud bands we've heard in quite some time. This album is hard-driving, crazy, frenetic, and MIND BLOWING. How 'bout we keep this short and simple... Fans of loud rock...you must BUY THIS. Truly GREAT stuff!!! (Rating: 5+++)

Toys That Kill "The Citizen Abortion" Cd on Recess Records by Ryan August
Toys That Kill is Recess Records newest, irreverent punk band. It also features former FYP founder and Recess Records head honcho, Todd Congelliere. I have to admit I was expecting more of that sloppy, snotty, childish pop thrash that FYP was so well known for. Not that I was expecting anything bad. It's just that you can only take so much idiotic insolence from a band pounding on its instruments like a bunch of six year olds who were denied their cookies with their afternoon glass of milk. An entire album of such wreckage is a little more than I can take, and I was pleasantly surprised when the discordant guitar doodling of "Once Upon a Time" kicked in starting off the album. Toys That Kill succeed where so many bands fail. They have actually managed to put together an updated take on the classic punk sound: buzzsaw guitars, hook filled choruses, appropriate tempo changes, and those snot filled vocal stylings we all love so much. The recording is damn near amazing, and the TTK boys have even managed to add even more fullness and depth to their album with some hilarious sample work tossed into a portion of the songs.
It's comparison time, and I don't feel the need to drop the names of any of those classic British bands like the Buzzcocks, The Clash, or even The Sex Pistols (oops, I guess I did it anyway) because it seems pointless to mention the obvious. Besides, this isn't a tenth generation retro rehash. At times, I hear some of that classic southern California styled punk as done by bands like the US Bombs or The Stitches ringing in my ears. Other times, I'm reminded of that coarse vocaled punk pop that was flowing out of Chicago in the early 90s by bands like Screeching Weasel and the Vindictives. But, the real killer is that Toys That Kill are able to mix all these things together into a competent blend of their own, infusing some totally original, dischordant guitar melodies and tone infected buzz. I wish more bands were able to put together a sound that is as grounded in solid, fundamental punk rock as Toys That Kill are, and at the same time, are able to create something completely new and vital. This is an amazing record that will be spinning in my Cd player for months to come. I haven't heard something new that was this good in a long, long time. Thank you Toys That Kill! Go out and buy this platter today! (RA www.punkfix.com)

TOYS THAT KILL / FLESHIES split pic disk
Toys That Kill. What can i say? What band, with Control The Sun, their second LP, can get slower and stranger, but better? What band has the big, sweaty balls to double scoop their originality and still want to pile more on? I mean, it's punk, but it's like how the Minutemen and The Big Boys were punk: a reinterpretation of the original meaning, so it remains vital and keeps the ears from getting lazy without it being a complete what-the-fuck?-athon. The guys pull one out of the vaults (looking at the date of recording and all) from The Cilizen Abortion sessions, and it's a smoker. "Angels with Dirty Contracts" starts with a recorded fight. has synchronized whistling, and all the stakes that cordon off their distinctive style. Fleshies: the dirty underwear, microphone lariat brigade continues with a mid-paced crooner, "My Buddy," reminiscent of The Psychedelic Furs Talk, Talk, Talk, mixed with goat-throwing guitar sexy, and balled up for enjoyment akin to the delayed and pleasant stupefaction of just the right amount of cough medicine mixed into vodka. The new chocolate and peanut butter? Yes, sir, two tastes that go great together. -razorcake magazine (Geykido Comet )

TOYS THAT KILL: Control the Sun: CD
Anyone who knows me knows I love TTK.I've seen them damn near a hundred times. I really liked the new stuff that they'd been slowly adding to their set lists, which is why my initial thoughts on Control surprised me. I definitely thought it was decent. but not as good as The Citizen Abortion. It didn't have the immediate hooks and is almost all mid-tempo. Upon more listens. it finally hit me. I was hooked. The mid tempo-ness makes me think of Replacements and Husker Du. where the music may be slower. but it sure as hell still rocks out. By about the tenth listen. I began thinking that not only was this as good as Citizen, but I full-hearted-Iy think that it surpasses it (which is tough since The Citizen Abortion hasn't left the closest stack to the Slereo since its release). I think it's even more addictive. I find myself singing part of a song (usually "Just One Jump" or 'The World United Against Breeding") several times throughout the day. Everything sounds so big and full and intentional. Every note. every vocal. every quirk seems to have a specific purpose and need. Not in an epic way- this aint' no fuckin' opera. It just fits so perfectly together. Topics range from political to personal to procreation to some guy named Jed who wanted a song about himself, poor bastard. More than highly recommended with the advice to give it the chance of a few listens to win you over. Believe me, it will. -razorcake magazine (Recess)

TOYS THAT KILL / RAGIN' HORMONES split 7" (stardumb)
TOYS THAT KILL have yet to disappoint.They're stealthy. If you listen with a lazy ear,they may sound merely spastic,a little retarded, but with repeated listens-as opposed to bands like The Vandals and Guttermouth who revel in being booger-eatin' morons with cryogenically frozen minds of twelve year olds-their smartypants quotient becomes apparent. Their songs never lull,stutter step, or miscalculate. i can hear flashs of cheap trick, Psychedelic Furs, and " i know that song"-ness amplified,messed with, and groomed in their own style. I'm not saying they're genuises,but the lyrics and music combined reinforce the idea that this is,indeed, a band that doesnt have to be flashy and doesnt have to use big words and confusing artshit to continue on a unique path,one that im happy to listen to over and over again. Included are two songs that arent on their highly recommended CD,the citizen abortion,: "run from love" and "birds in catsuits". the RAGIN HORMONES-if chuck berry was dead,this would be like watching a band piss in his mouth at the funeral. so awful i dont even want to comment on it.-razorcake fanzine

TOYS THAT KILL-the citizen abortion cd
with FYP going the way of a used depends undergarmet, my expectations fro what,on paper,looks like a recussitation or a ghost-ridden bike of a just-departed band were really low. i liked FYP. They were stupid. Fucking stupid. And i say that with love. Lots of retarded love. Part of the sugar shavings of that candy necklace of love was almost complete ineptitude of the band.And the dick and fart jokes. Because we all know the basic punk rock equation: bad band plays so awfully,it's good. if they're that retarded for real,even better. They helped redefine glorified incompetence,like a taco bell employee with ADD,a sense of humor,and full access to the guacamole gun,but with instruments. So when the first thing i heard about Toys That Kill is that they could play,me though " thats like saying that the lady who had that sock puppet lambchop could really act" Who gives a fuck about that? I want sock puppets and stained underwear. Joe satriani plays well. Fuck that guy. Well it's time to break out a can of pink,paint polka dots all over me and throw me in the middle of a monster truck ralley. TTK are fantastic. Although seemingly incomprehensible-even to myself-they retain the spastic,wet,warm undie feeling of FYP-but they can play the hell out of a song and there's social commentary that involves no bodily fluids. As a matter fo fact,without ever using the words directly,the whole albums chock full of anti-authoritarianism. We'll end with a song quote that sums it up nicely:"but whats a trip without a little danger?" It's nice when resurrections work out and the phoenix rising from the ash isnt just dust settling from someone pissing out the fire- razorcake magazine

TOYS THAT KILL-the citizen abortion
I was lured to this one because it was recorded in my hometown of Austin,TX at SWEATBOX. This band is out of san pedro,ca. Four guys mking good music together. This is the fist band ive ever heard on RECESS RECORDS and hopefully it is not the last. I enjoyed what it had to offer. The one track i found to be the hokey pokey for kicking you're ass was "ASS MIRROR". TRUCKSTOP MAGAZINE / RICK ANDRADE

TOYS THAT KILL-the citizen abortion CD
Out of the ashes of F.Y.P come a band that's as melodically inviting and complex as Dillinger Four. Words and presentation are rock solid tough melodi-punk with kick ass choruses and production,as well as words that occupy the middle ground between 8th grade poetry and Bad Religion's excessive verbiage. Im other words,they're heartfelt without being trite in either direction,and have the musical chops to back it all up! SHREDDING PAPER / jesse

 

Aural Report

Toys That Kill "The Citizen Abortion" Recess Records
This was the long awaited debut album by a band spawned from the ashes of the now (sadly) defunct F.Y.P.. The guys in F.Y.P. put out one last record for the people to remember them by and that album was titled “Toys That Kill”. Well the saga continues with the new band Toys ThatKill, formed by Todd Congelliere (ex-F.Y.P. front man) and Sean Cole (ex-F.Y.P. drummer) along with their friends Denis Fleps, who now plays drums and Casey “Chachi” Ferrara on bass.    In my opinion F.Y.P. was one of the best punk bands of the 1990’s. They are definitely one of my favorite all time bands. So I couldn’t wait for this album to come out. It finally did, and kids, it was well worth the wait. “The Citizen Abortion” by Toys That Kill was one of the best records released in 2001. And, once again, in my opinion, one of the best ever. Toys That Kill definitely have that F.Y.P. sound because of Todd’s vocals, but this band seems to be a little more polished and more mature then his previous band. This album has sixteen tracks, most of which are some of the best punk rock joints I’ve ever heard. Word Up! On the muthafuckin real! Some of my favorite tracks are “Amphetamine Street”, “Unity Mitford”, “Little Bit Stranger”, “Mating Season”, “Hare Ruya” and “Catholic Damage”. I can’t really think of any one band they sound like to give you people reading this a comparison – which says something for them. Yet if you like punk rock, you will like this album. If you don’t, there is something seriously wrong with you. This shit rocks!  Go get Toys That Kill “The Citizen Abortion” at your local record store, or better yet go to the Recess Records website or www.toysthatkill.com and order this record now. I’m sure you’ll agree with what I am saying about this killer debut release from this great band – and these guys are just getting started! – Rob Leary / Aural Report

 

ANARCHUZ ZINE

TOYS THAT KILL / THE CITIZEN ABORTION .cd (Recess Records) 8.7
The label that brought you the book I Was a Murder Junkie, now brings you a childish pop punk band. Pop punk is a term sadly associated with MTV sellouts, after you hear the screams in songs like Ass Mirror or String; youll know that this band is a whole different story. The tunes are quite catchy and they own an immature wisdom. Toys That Kill can sound similar to the material of specialized labels like Lookout or Stardumb; they even worked in a split release with Hollands own Ragin Hormones. This album is definitely not fast, but it also aint slow; a constant rhythm belongs to the album concept. This cd is more than ok. Hey, is that Todd Congelliere the former pro skateboarder? anarchuz zine

DESTROY ALL

one of the most difficult tasks when writing up a band is anticipating who your reader will be and what their initial knowledge of the subject you are presenting is.given this is a punk rock magazine i can expect that there is a minimal breath of musical knowledge most of our readers possess.for the sake of this article though i am going to start basic because i care about my readers,and more importantly i care about selfishly shaping your opinions. so lets clear up right now that this is a story on toys that kill. but before i tell you all how great toys that kill are,and how you need to go see them play the showcase theater in corona on october 18th. i must first briefly explain the rich history this fine band holds. i mean c'mon,could one begin to describe Ms. garretts character on the facts of life without exploring her impact on the lives of arnold and willis in different strokes. you just wouldnt get the full picture. history lesson: so lets go back a bit shall we? the year was 1990,and what a special time it was. i fell inlove for the first time with a boy that sat next to me in class,east and west germany were united into a single non-communist country,and most importantly F.Y.P was formed. together for ten years this trio of various line-ups put out some of the most amazing material of the decade and almost single handedly got me through adolescense.F.Y.P's first full length "dance my dunce" recruited a legion of intensely dedicated fans(including myself) almost instantly with such classics as "dum cos i said so" "jerkoff" and "it's not my fault you like air supply"/ every subsequent album released by F.Y.P founf a permanent home in my stereo and heart. every one an instant classic in my mind,each with an evolved sound (which i generally disapprove of),yet quintessentially F.Y.P. but as it goes,nothing lasts forever,especially not the good stuff one holds dear to them,and in the summer of 2000 F.Y.P played their last show. feeling disoriented and alone without the hope of upcoming F.Y.P releases i was contemplating serious measures such as the comforts of hard drugs and cheap sex. the,just before the self-destruction became too drastic,i heard news of a new project...one with two thirds of the last F.Y.P line-up,along with two new bodies,Toys that kill was the name(just like the name of the last F.Y.P album) and they were suppose to be spectacular. apprehensive at first i thought "it'll never be the same" but as homage to one of my favorite bands ever i had to check it out. so that same summer fo 2000 i headed down to the garage one night to check out for myself what had become my dismembered F.Y.P now parading around as toys that kill. to my plesant surprise i loved it,and having gone to many toys that kill shows since then,i have gathered that everyone else is lovin' it too. the interesting thing is that fans that had abandoned F.Y.P after F.Y.P abandoned straight up thrash are now re-enlisting into toys that kill fandom. the shows are somewhat reminiscent of F.Y.P's. todd's still got his guitar spinning,distance-spitting antics. sean (former F.Y.P drummer then bassist) is still up front but now on guitar where he provides some powerful additional vocals,and territory doesnt get unfamiliar until you get to the rhythm section. here we see newer faces such as "chachi" on bass and troy on drums. troy,by the way, i am convinced is harboring the spirit of animal from the muppets; you gotta see it. in many ways,toys that kill is simply a natural progression from where F.Y.P left off. listening to the recently released toys that kill album "the citizen abortion" out on recess records,i feel a meeting point between what "dance my dunce" had with cheap trick thrown in (thats meant as a compliment). if progression in this direction continues who knows what the future of toys that kill will hold...perhaps a styx cover...tod singing "come sail away". wierder things have happened! by vannesa gonzales

TOYS THAT KILL-the citizen abortion (recess records)
being a typical stupid-ass girl,i'll confess that the cover of this cd is the only reason i pried the new citizen fish out of my stereo and popped this in. i was curious to find out if this sounded as good as it looked. the cover loses alot as you see it here. martha stewart can learn a few things from todd congelliere's brilliant use of color schemes and use of space,though im sure the songs on "the citizen abortion" would make poor martha's head spin into a frenzied whirlwind of confusion and repulsion. thats something i like to measure music by. when it pisses off the rightous,chu-going,cake-baking,track-home-owning,9 to 5er's,thats a pretty good indication to me that it's worth checking out,which is exactly what i plan on doing when they play at the colonial cafe' on august 10th with scared of chaka,F.Y.H.,pharmacy,and broken society. this is about as in your face as punk gets,with plenty of catchy driving guitar riffs and raw bratty vocals to keep you moving. if this music isnt your cup of tea,there are plenty of cool soundbytes in between tracks and a recipe for making fog that might interest you. rant magazine

 

August 11 TOYS THAT KILL, SCARED OF CHAKA, BERZERK, PALE (Pine Street) Alternatively billed as "Bands that write songs that you want to sing along to even though you'll never figure out the lyrics". Far against my better judgment, I have always had this secret weak spot for FYP (Toys that Kill's previous incarnation) for their totally snotty, no respect for anything attitude. Unlike a lot of punk's facsination with shock value, FYP made clever, solid songs that rarely went on for too much longer than a minute. Toys that Kill are guaranteed to take that tradition to new heights, but with more catchy hooks and less vile. Scared of Chaka is my favorite band of the fast punk genre for their ability to create approximately 100 songs that basically sound the same, but somehow never get boring. For pure energy, they perform one of the best live punk performances I've ever seen and can jump higher while playing guitar than even Avail. JAMES SQUEAKY

This week in premature maturity by chris ziegler

you can't stop growing up,but you can beat it into submission. that's what i learned from F.Y.P,the south bay brat-punk band that spent 10 wild years slyly posing as immature,preskool doofuses when they were really hiding some classic songs and even-more-classic lyrics (i'm proud of it,and i dont give a shit,the word mature is a synonym for chickenshit!") behind spastic,thrashed-out noise. like it or not,they grew up,and they said goodbye this summer with one last show-and then debuted the very next night F.Y.P's baby,Toys That Kill,a band that,using the word as gently as possible,is somehow more mature.

F.Y.P took a few manic stabs at melody there towards the end,but Toys That Kill (Congelliere on guitar and vocals,F.Y.P's capable Sean Cole on same,and Chachi and Fleps pounding the rhyhtm section through the floorboards) is dripping with hooks and harmonies-and not in the usual,saccharine,pop-punk cheeseball way. Theyre catchy-like the clash,the jam,even the buzzcocks-with lots of close-in instrumental interplay (sounds kinky ,mmm?) and big roaring choruses. and they've just got so much infectious energy,you'd swear they were new at this instead of being the 10-year veterans they are. you'll sing along even if you dont know the words,and you'll hope your baby band grows up to be something like this. Toys That Kill performs with black cat music,dead and gone, dr.destructo and the adaptoids,and tyranis at Koo's art cafe,1505 n.main st,santa ana (714)648-0937-www.koos.org sat 7:30pm $5 all ages-chris ziegler (ocweekly feb2-8th)

PLATINUM PUNKS OF PEDRO by Andy Harris

A distinct "Do-it-Yourself" ethic has always run strong in this town of San Pedro. The commercial fishing industry, with it's brave men and women heading out to sea to extract its bounty, the artist communities of downtown Pedro and Angel's Gate, creating works of beauty from one's own hands and mind-- both are very fine examples of this way of living. Even gang culture, which always has and always will exist in Pedro, exhibits an almost stoic example of Do-it-Yourself(DIY) initiative. "If you're not gonna help us, we're gonna help ourselves, and we're gona do it our way". That's a gangster's take on DIY, and that's about as pure as it gets. But while these examples are perhaps the most noticeable in and around San Pedro, there are plenty of other, almost completely unknown purveyors of the the DIY mindset amongst us. One such example is Recess Records, a not-so-little independent Punk music label operating from an office space down on Pacific Avenue. Started in 1990 by former professional skateboarder and life-long South Bay resident Todd Congellaire, Recess records has gone from a little project operated out of Todd's bedroom at his parent's house in Torrance to a highly respected indie punk label representing a handful of bands from around the country and beyond. With a hefty touring regimen with his own bands (FYP and Toys that Kill), and a threadbare crew of two employees, both of whom are longtime friends, Todd and Recess Records have managed to carve themselves a niche both in this town and in the wide ranging world of underground music. The following interview with Todd and his employee/friend Tito was conducted in their tight second story offices overlooking the hustle and bustle of Pacific avenue.

RL: So Todd, how did punk rock weasel its way into your life? Through skateboarding and having a ramp in my back yard. Skate-punks would come over with Minor Threat tapes, Descendents, Black Flag... and we'd skate to it. That was it, and I started getting punk tapes from those guys.

RL: What was the initial impetus for starting your own record label? Impotence? (laughs) I was impotent, so I didn't have anything to do. No, I didn't really start it like I was gonna have this record label or anything; I just put out my band FYP's first 7 inch (E.P.) and it just snowballed into a record label over the next few years. One day I just woke up and went "wow, I'm doing a record label... weird". By the time I got to the second FYP 7 inch, that's when I was like, "wait a minute... I can keep doing this".

RL: Recess started out as a vehicle aimed at promoting your former band FYP-- when and how did you make the jump from that situation to one in which you were supporting other bands as well? What was the first band you brought onto Recess besides FYP? Well, after that second FYP seven inch, I figured out that I didn't have to just put out my own bands stuff; I could do other band's stuff. The first release that wasn't an FYP recording was this band called Garden Weasel from Eureka. It was my third release.

RL: Back then, when you were basically operating Recess out of your bedroom, did you ever think you would be still doing it ten years later on a way bigger scale? You know, having an office, operating websites, handling several highly reputable (or should we say Disreputable?) bands---That kind of stuff. No way. I didn't even think I would be able to sell enough of the first release to make another 7 inch. Those things sold way quicker than I expected, and the only advertizing I did was in classified ads in the back of bigger punk zines like Maximum Rock'n'roll. I also had money from the skating thing (Todd was pro for Hermosa Beach based Liberty Skateboards for over five years) and then I got this pizza delivery job too. But it was right around then that I realized that I could maybe make money from this record label idea and that's where I've been ever since.

RL: Well, you keep talking about 7inch records and I know that Recess is one of the few labels out there that continues to put out most of their band's recordings on vinyl as well as CD. Why is this? Tito: Vinyl is fun, I like vinyl. I prefer vinyl because it's big. It gives me something to look at. Todd: yeah, me too, and we're probably going to stop making cassettes, because I hate them. With vinyl it's almost like a personal thing; Like, it doesn't sell nearly as well as CDs, but as long as we like it... Tito: There's a niche for it. There's always gonna be at least 500 people that want a record on vinyl. But you actually lose money on vinyl. Todd: Yeah, but we'll keep doing it because we collect vinyl as well. It keeps things interesting, spices it up ya know?

RL: But in terms of format, CDs sell the best right? Todd: Yeah, but sooner or later it'll be MP3s. RL: Ok, what about digital stuff? Are you guys involved in that kind of thing yet? Todd: Yeah, we're involved in that now. First we we're hooked up with a company called Seductive for a while and then they got bought out by E.music. We haven't seen any profits from it yet, but it's the kind of thing we have to do or get left in the dust ya know. We were slow to do CDs, because I never had a CD player and I was like, "My sister likes CDs, I don't want to do that crap". But then I finally got a CD player and realized they were not that bad. There's a lot of stuff out there which you can only find on CD. I don't want to be as hesitant with the MP3 stuff because I know there's a lot of kids out who get most of their music online.

RL: Tito, what kind of arrangements are made with a band when they sign with Recess? Is there any sort of written contract, or is it as simple as a handshake to seal the deal? It all depends on the band and the situation. Now, pretty much any band that does a full length album, we have a contract with them. With certain releases it just isn't necessary though-- smaller things like EPs and singles. Todd: Our contract is like the lowest form of its kind though--- Tito wrote it, and he's no lawyer you know. It's sorta like a handshake, but on paper. The paper handshake.

RL: But this all evolved from the handshake method with your earlier releases right? Todd: I never even shook people's hands in the beginning. The handshake came in to play around 1995.

RL: Recess records has operated out of several locales throughout the South Bay--- Torrance, Redondo, Gardena, but you guys finally seem to have happily settled here in Pedro. Any distinct reasons for this? Todd: We opened a record store in 1997 on Mesa and 6th street here in town and eventually I moved into that space to live as well. The record store only lasted about a year, but I stayed in Pedro and rented a house. We had a warehouse in Gardena for the record label at that time, but when I got into the house on 4th St, I moved my business there as well. Having the business at home just led to problems though; too many distractions, too many shitheads coming over all the time. That's how we wound up here on Pacific. I like it here; This old building, this street, cheap rent, it's nice.

RL: Recess is located here in Pedro, but you guys have bands on your label from all over: Mississippi, Florida, Oregon, Nevada. . . How do you go about checking these bands out? Todd: Mostly just from touring. You know, we get to check out who we're playing with in different cities all over. That's how the majority of bands on Recess came into the picture. Tyler Massacre(member of Recess band Berzerk, visiting from Portland, OR): The trick is to play FYP cover songs in front of FYP and hope they like it. (Apparently, this method must have worked , seeing as Berzerk is set to release their third record with Recess in the coming month). Todd: Yeah, we see a lot of that stuff when we're on tour, but the cover songs are usually better than the originals, and if that happens, they're shit out of luck (laughs).

RL: What is the single most important thing for an up-and-coming band on a smaller label like Recess to be doing? Tito: Touring. Recording albums is important, but if you don't get out on the road and spread the word, you not going to sell shit. We don't have the money to do some 500,000 dollar radio campaign for our new releases, so the bands have to get out there on the road and work for it. Todd: But that can be the cool way of living. Being in a band myself, I've come to love touring. If you get to the point where you tour enough and your record sells good, that's the best job on earth.

RL: I know for a fact that Recess Reords has had its ups and downs over the years, and I know that the last couple have been no picnic at times--- Albums not selling as much as hoped, bands breaking up, personal tragedies (FYP's former bassist Joe Ciauri killed himself up at Point Fermin cliffs in 1998), and bill collectors practically knocking the doors down--- How do you guys manage to stay afloat in stormy seas? Todd: The thing is, I ask myself that same sort of thing about every five minutes. Our back catalogue is really strong and that helps. You see these record labels that just jump from one hot style of music to the next you know; like one year they put out a bunch of Swing albums 'cause that's what's hip, but then the next year they're putting out rap-metal records. Labels like that have such crappy back catalogues, because there's no consistancy. We've always put out good punk music and that's that. Plus, the fact that I don't know what I'd do otherwise keeps me in the game even through the hardest times.

RL: Recently, things have started to look rather rosy here at Recess-- Your own new band Toys that Kill (Todd sings and plays guitar in TTK) got good crowd reaction on your recent US tour, E-music is handling your distribution on the internet, and several of the upcoming recordings for the label look promising--- Is Recess ready for the big time yet? I don't know. To really start making money would just be like the cherry on top you know? Big time for us would be if one of the bands sold 20,000 records. In the small record label business, 10,000 sold is like punk platinum. We're just trying to get to punk aluminum at this point. (laughs). Recess records can be contacted via their website RecessRecords.com or by writing them at p.o. box 1112 Torrance, CA 90505 Note: Todd and Tito would like the readers of Random Lengths to know that they are big supporters of Baja Fish and Bonello's Pizza, both on Gaffey Street in San Pedro

 

 

Toys That Kill at Cafe Club Fais Do Do, Los Angeles by Rob Schromm

Well,sadly one of Southern California's best,if not the best in my opinion,a punk rock band by the name F.Y.P,called it quits recently. They are one of my favorite bands of all time.This break up was on the eve of their last full lenth record called "Toys That Kill".They had a few line up changes over the years,and a couple of years back almost called it quits when their bass player and friend Joe "Stoots" Ciauri died.but they kept the band going,and I got to see them play a couple more times before they broke up. F.Y.P was one of the best punk bands of the 90's,and released countless singles,e.p.'s and several full length records.Most were released on F.Y.P frontman Todd Congelliere's own Recess Records label. They put out original sounding punk rock,with a snotty,tongue and cheek,immature approach to politics,hating jocks and everyday life. They even had josh freeze(Vadels,Devo,Perfect Circle)play drums on their last record released months ago"Toys That Kill".Not to shabby. Well guess what kids,the boys from F.Y.P are back with their new band.This band is TOYS THAT KILL.I went to Cafe Club Fais Do Do in L.A.to see them,and I can't wait until they put out some 7 inches,or records or something. Todd C. and Sean Cole both take on duties of guitar and vocals.These guys are the two original members of F.Y.P. Some dude they call "Chachi" plays bass,and i don't know the drummers name,but he can beat the hell out of some skins.Todd and Sean kind of took turns on doing the vocals on the songs,and their dual guitar assault had Fais do do rockin.They sounded great,and if you were wondering sounded a lot like F.Y.P did,but a little more polished.I saw the set list and some titles of the songs they played were "Amphetemine Street","Mating Season",and "playdough".I would say that if you hear of them playing anywhere,go see them.If your tired of all this Epitaph,Fat Wreck Chords overproduced,dime a dozen band, then check out a real punk rock band like Toys That Kill.It was cool getting to see them in a place like Cafe Club Fais Do Do. It was my first time seeing a show there,which also is a cajun restaurant,and has some history behind it in the L.A. music scene. Check out Fais do do's web page Toys That Kill keep their tour listings,news,and other little tidbits posted on their web page www.toysthatkill.com The band is from the south bay San Pedro area ,and I am sure will be playing lots of shows around then L.A. area. These guys put on a great live show,and are already one of the best bands I know of around.

02/08/2001

Rabid for Recess

How one San Pedro skate rat built a punk-rock empire with grit, determination, and a Five Year Plan. By Adam Bregman

Immature and fiercely proud of it: Todd Congelliere (left) and his latest band, Toys That Kill A scraggly, hygienically impaired punker sporting Greyhound bus-depot-style fashions, Todd Congelliere is the mastermind behind the new band Toys That Kill, which features a few minor variations on his old band, the illustrious F.Y.P. He's also responsible for one of punk rock's most esteemed do-it-yourself labels, Recess Records out of San Pedro. In the category of impassioned, dysfunctional, militant geek punk rock, Congelliere has struck a chord with punks in the know, allowing him and his buddy Hal Badal to eke out a living from their tiny label. Aside from discovering and releasing records by exceptional punk bands that no one outside of the members' own high schools has heard of, Congelliere has written his fair share of memorable, brilliant punk tunes. A pro skater from Torrance, Congelliere first got into punk rock via his skater pals. With a skating company endorsement, he made some dough and bought himself a four-track, a guitar, and a Fisher-Price drum machine from Toys R Us. Hence, the first primitive recordings of F.Y.P. (then called Five Year Plan), which are mostly notable for their silly titles (My Nieghbors Is Stoopid, Finish Your Popcorn, Guido, Where Are You?). Eventually, Congelliere scraped a band together and in '94 released F.Y.P's hallowed second album, Dance My Dunce (their first, Incomplete Crap, was a collection of their early seven-inch singles.) Revered by the majority of their fans as F.Y.P at its most punkest, Dance My Dunce is feisty and raw, a record that sounds like it was recorded on somebody's broken Walkman. Congelliere's high-pitched squeal of a voice has never sounded more manic, like a muppet being strangled. Classics like "Vacation Bible School" and their cover of the Toy Dolls' "My Girlfriend's Dad's a Vicar" feature infectious sing-along hooks, while "It's Not My Fault You Like Air Supply," a perfect punk masterpiece about a junkie girlfriend, and "Kids That Play Dead," an ode to fucked-up parents, are surprisingly mature riot stokers. In '95, F.Y.P refined and perfected their rants into definitive songs on Toilet Kids Bread, which is probably overall the best cup of piss they ever brewed. It does not lack for melodies or clever choruses and has a few bone-crushing hardcore numbers like "Drown a Metermaid" and a rabid-dog-sounding cover of Raw Power's "Fuck Authority" called "Raw Potere." Then there's the anthem "All Grown Up," which includes a nifty solo and the lyrics "I don't need your shrink/I don't need your psych/I don't need your Porsche/'Cause I got my own bike/I don't need to wait till my teeth ache/to brush 'em regularly once a week/All grown up/I don't need to listen to what you have to say/All grown up/And if you don't believe me just ask my mommy." With the release of Toilet Kids Bread, F.Y.P reached the pinnacle of its 10-year, Romper Room-like career. Producing the record was Blag Dahlia of the Dwarves, who was so moved by the experience that he's handled all of their records since. Recess Records moved from the staid nothingness of Torrance to cozier San Pedro. The unkempt Congelliere was spotted sauntering about town with a hottie who looked a bit like Drew Barrymore. Plus, the band toured Europe for the first time, where they found ample opportunities to make fun of Germans. "We were touring with this German political band," recalls Congelliere, "and everyone kept coming up to us and saying [he adopts a cartoony German accent] "Oh, you guys are very funny. You guys are like clowns. Let me buy you a beer.' "For some reason we felt like they were laughing at us, instead of with us. In America, people laugh with us, sort of. But they were just like "You're funny! You're a funny, silly band.'" Between F.Y.P.'s last two releases, My Man Grumpy and Toys That Kill, bassist and crucial member of the Recess family Joe Ciauri committed suicide by jumping off a 150-foot cliff in San Pedro. Eventually F.Y.P returned, but the suicide, among other factors (such as fans requesting the tunes off Dance My Dunce ad nauseam) led to serious burnout. So Congelliere and core F.Y.P member Sean Cole borrowed the name from their last album (like their heroes the Descendents, who became All) and gave birth to Toys That Kill. They played their last F.Y.P show at the Showcase Theater in Corona and the very next day played their first show with the new band at the now defunct PCH Club. Toys That Kill includes a new drummer and bassist, and both Congelliere and Cole on guitar. Cole, who's handled drums and bass in the past, now sings on a few songs while filtering his Slayer and Napalm Death schooling into the occasional hesher guitar riff. The songs are now less concerned with elementary school traumas, but they remain immature and fiercely proud of it. Most importantly, Toys That Kill seem to aspire to that elusive, possibly overrated quality that most Recess Records bands scoff at: musicianship. "We actually practice a lot," says Congelliere. "Well, "a lot' is once a week. We're more of a band than a side project that goes on tour. Everyone that's in the band plays a lot better. I guess it's more musicianship -- if that's the word for it. But that's nothing I ever strive for." After a year together, Toys That Kill hope to release their debut record this spring. They have a tight sound, and their shows differ from F.Y.P's gigs, which sometimes spun out of control like an eight-year-old's cake-throwing birthday party. Now and then, F.Y.P would turn their gigs into karaoke contests with audience members jumping onstage to try their hand at screaming their favorite F.Y.P songs as the band backed them up. "There were a bunch of times when people were like, "I know how to play "Allergic' and it's my birthday. Can I play it?'" says Congelliere, "and we just let the person come up and jam on the guitar for a song. When I look back, that was one cool thing about F.Y.P. When someone said, "I wanna play this song!' they would actually know how to play it. And then I would see the kid like a year later and they'd be like, "Dude, I played with you on the stage! It was my birthday and you let me play!" While touring, when they're not satiating their rabid fans, both Toys That Kill and F.Y.P have had frequent run-ins with skinheads, who are still a major scourge at punk shows in many parts of the country. Congelliere remembers one specific altercation with a skinhead bouncer in West Palm Beach: "He said, "You've got till 11:45 to play,' and it was 11:00, and I said, "Cool.' So, 11:15 comes around and the guy's like, "You've gotta stop, one more song,' and I'm arguing with him and he's like, "I don't care. You're going to stop.' So we did something. I don't remember what we did, but it pissed this guy off and this guy was huge, like twice the size of me and everyone that was there with us. He tried to grab my guitar and the next thing I know he's choking me. He throws me off the stage and it turns into this huge brawl between all our fans and his skinhead friends. It was like New York versus Godzilla. All these little rats were trying to get this guy off of me. Our roadie went up and smashed his head with a glass. We had to run out of the club, and they were chasing everybody. It was scary, but once we got away it was funny." More often, notes fellow Recess Records honcho Badal (who doubles as Toys That Kill's roadie/T-shirt-selling guy), the skinheads have backed down. "It's usually like they start roughing up the crowd -- a girl gets hit in the back or something -- everything stops, and Todd starts yelling at them and they usually put their tails between their legs and leave. It's pretty amazing, because they're always eight feet tall and they're always at least seven deep. But they back down pretty fast, because if you have a microphone, you've got power." When they're not fighting off packs of Arnold Schwarzenegger-size skinheads, Congelliere and Badal are hanging out in the cramped Recess office, working on releases by some of the finest punk bands in the country. The label's roster includes the Jag-Offs, a group of candy thieves and teenage perverts from San Pedro who look just out of high school, and Furious George, a trio of thirtysomething dudes from New York who sing about the sort of stuff 13-year-olds think about. Recess has also put out some older material from the Dwarves (their biggest seller) and the Criminals, the superb Berkeley quartet with Jesse Luscious, formerly of Blatz, on vocals. They've plucked a few exceptional bands from punk rock obscurity, including the Sex Offenders from Kansas City, whose singer Heather snarls like a feral cat, and Anaheim's Four Letter Words, a group of sanatorium escapees who've composed masterpieces like "Gay Dogs on Fire" and "Swap Meet Ass." They also distribute the brilliant 'zine Scam, which regales with the adventures of Iggy Scam, who squats, dumpster dives, shoplifts and hitchhikes his way through Florida and beyond. They've even published a book, I Was a Murder Junkie, the story of G.G. Allin's final tour told by the band's roadie, Evan Cohen, a self-described nice Jewish boy. Recent releases from Recess include a 10-inch from Berzerk, who spout smelly, brutish hardcore, and a new album from the Crumbs, an exceptional Florida pop-punk band with rockabilly-ish guitar leads and a singer, Raf Classic, who has one of punk rock's great voices. Also on tap: the label's first video release, and a record from a new discovery of Badal's, the Civic-Minded 5 from Las Vegas. "Tito has another job delivering pizza pies," says Congelliere of the third man behind Recess's three-man operation. "Me and Hal have been doing this for our only job for a few years now, barely getting by. But at the same time, I would rather barely get by and do something I like than be well-off and wearing some crappy tie."

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