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Ten Questions with...


Toxic Federation

Toxic Federation are our Featured Artist in July 2011. Here the band's singer Mitchel Emms and drummer JR Windsor talk to Reviews Editor Jason Ritchie...

What are you currently up to?

Mitch: We're currently in the process of writing and recording our third album for release at the end of August, and booking gigs to promote the album once it's released.

Oh, and Alex our bassist has recently had all his hair shaved off into a mohawk. So things are pretty busy and there's a lot of changes going on, musically and image wise.

JR: We are currently working on our third album that we are hoping to hit all the major places late this year. Along with a brand spanking new music video and a full tour to go with it. We are cutting down the gigs to get it done soon, but the gigs we do have are ones like Devon Rox with Funeral For A Friend, Rock and Bike festival headlining slot and more around the UK

Brief history of Toxic Federation…

Mitch: Toxic Federation were originally a 4 piece, formed when JR, Jake, George and Alex were schoolmates, in 2006, playing small gigs and writing songs, winning the national battle of the bands competition that same year.

After 2 years of gigging experience, they decided that to develop onto the next level, they needed a frontman, and found an advert I'd put up on the internet looking for a band.

After coming to see me at a solo gig, I joined Toxic Federation in January 2009. Since then we've wrote and produced two albums, "Behind the Mask (2008/2009)", and "As One (2010)",and have played nationally, solo and alongside bands such as Kamelot, UFO, The Answer, Saxon, The Levellers, Hot Leg.

How did the gigs in Turkey go earlier this year and how did the band come to be touring that country?

Mitch: We had an epic time out in Istanbul this year, playing the rock festival there, including torrential rain and crowd surfing,which was pretty awesome. We originally went out to Turkey for a band break in 2009, yet we somehow ended up getting dragged into the gigging circuit after an impromptu gig at a local rock venue.

After gaining new fans, we we're invited to come back in 2010 to headline the annual Calis festival. So with 2011, we decided we wanted a change and headed out to Istanbul to spread the word further.

JR: We originally went for a holiday for a few weeks, as a band haha, having a few beers outside a rock venue when the owner saw us and thought we looked like a band.

As the night went on, we were asked to get up and showcase a bit of British Rock for the crowd. 2 songs later we were booked to headline 2 days later!

Once the word got around an English rock band was in Turkey, and the response from the previous gigs, we were confirmed to play a few festivals out there! Now it has gone from a simple get-away, to playing from Istanbul to Fethiye!

Toxic Federation

Where would the band like to be this time next year…and in five years' time…

Mitch: Next Year? Well, we would like to cultivate a more substantial national fanbase and support, along with more national gig dates and big opportunities :)... and five years time? Well, who knows! But a record deal would be nice, plus bigger venues and audiences... we would like to become an established name that people know that puts on a hell of a live show, packing the performances and the tunes the industry is lacking at the moment :)

JR: This time next year, we would like to be gigging frequently on the back of this new album which will be KILLER if all goes to plan. In 5 years, I would say nothing short of World Domination ;-)

the internet has opened up a new platform for bands like ourselves to network and share our music to more people than ever before...without a major management or record company behind us.

In this age of downloads and declining CD sales has the internet helped you get your music out there or has it in some ways hindered it by websites offering free downloads etc.

Mitch: I'd say it's how you look at it really. Sure, people aren't buying CD's as such any more, and it's generally through torrents, Itunes and downloads these days that people consume music, but I believe that the internet has opened up a new platform for bands like ourselves to network and share our music to more people than ever before...without a major management or record company behind us.

For the breadheads of the world, it's a disaster, but for people who simply want their music to be heard and enjoyed by the masses, it's a godsend.

JR: Definitely. We have an ever growing fanbase on Twitter and Facebook as well as the dot com site too. Downloads help get our music to places all over the globe.

What was it like sharing a stage with rock legends UFO? Does playing live with a classic band like UFO help Toxic Federation to hone their live performance?

Mitch: It's always a great experience to share the stage with named bands, especially rock legends such as UFO, and talking to Phill Mogg and co can offer some great anecdotes on life and gigging... It definitely makes you up your game and strive to be better.

If you could create a fantasy band line-up who would be in it and why?

Mitch: For me it'd have to be Dave Grohl on drums, Geddy Lee on Bass, David Gilmour on Guitar, Keith Emerson on Keyboards, David Lee Roth on Vocals, Frank Zappa as producer and composer.  A mix of great and underrated musicians :)

JR: On drums: John Bonham, because you can't top that level of playing.  Bass: Lemmy. he is the Chuck Norris of Rock. Some say a drop of his blood can kill a man.  Guitar: Angus young. Charisma, playing style and stage show are second to none.  Guitar: Slash. A totally different playing style to Angus. But just as immense. Vocals: Ronnie James Dio. A true legend and master of rock.

What have been the live highlights so far and why?

Mitch: Got to be our Turkish Festival gigs.... the crowds are completely amazing and totally up for going mental.
In the UK, gigs such as Rock and Bike Festival and Greenbelt have been pretty kickass too :)

Sometimes though, nothing beats packing out a small venue and getting face to face with the audience, interacting and have an awesome time... the atmosphere is brilliant.

JR: The foreign dates have been a good highlight. Headlining Silverstone Moto GP this year. Working with some big names like UFO and Diamond Head, The Levellers, The Answer.

it is important to support your locals to breathe life in this spoon-fed X-factor industry.

Is the rock and metal scene still in good shape or do you think there maybe too many bands out there now competing for an audience that isn't growing that much?

Mitch: There's definitely too many metal bands that sound the same, there's only so many bands that can have the same growling/screaming scene vocalist without them all blending into one.

Most unsigned rock bands are simply trying to emulate Guns and Roses. Unless you're part of a scene (My Chemical Romance/Bring Me The Horizon) or happen to have a Hollywood actor as your frontman (30 Seconds to Mars) it's tough for rock/metal bands at the moment.

We try to stand out by writing music that's a lot more original yet more mainstream than a lot of bands at the moment and we try to mix that with an intense, entertaining live performance.

JR: The diversity of the metal scene has exploded with all this metal and rock all over the place. Being the result of creating atrocities like emo, scene kid fashion.

But at the end of the day, it is all the same. Heavy Metal, thrash metal, death metal, speed metal, porn metal... IT'S ALL METAL.

The metal and rock scene has and will still produce some awesome bands both locally and on a bigger scale so it is important to support your locals to breathe life in this spoon-fed X-factor industry.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time away from music?

Mitch: I like to go out, drink and have fun socialising when I'm not writing music or gigging :)

JR:  AWAY from music? You can't escape from music! As a band we have a lot of different interests. not many if you take music away! haha.

Anything else to add and a message for your fans...

Mitch: We'd like to thank John Emms for all our pyrotechnics, Lights and Roadie-ing, along with Beth Windsor as our Manager, Callum Barker as our Roadie, San Phillips as our booking agent, and all friends, family, and fans who've supported us so far :)

You can check out our music and where to come see us on our Facebook Page and Website

JR: Hope to see you all at a Toxic Fed gig in the near future and a big thanks for your support!


Interview by Jason Ritchie, June 2011

Photos by Sue Paterson

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