Play heavily on emotion…

The Jambar

January 6, 1988

Geffen recording artists play heavily on emotion

By Joni Dobran (Jambar Entertainment Editor) and Rob Ciccotelli (Jambar Reporter)

Fear. This is a state of heightened emotion which gives a person the ability to release many other emotions, according to Brad Circone, lead singer for Geffen recording artists, The Toll, a Columbus-based band on the rise.

Within their shows, The Toll uses an intimidating stage presence, utilizing flailing mic stands and free falls to convey the high emotional level of their rock and roll music to the audience.

“We like instilling fear, a little bit [of it], and comfort at the same time,” said Circone, adding “the installation of fear, I think that’s the beginning of a lot of kinds of relationships, whether it’s insecurity, failure or misgivings from one person to another.”

In essence, according to The Toll; who are Circone, his cousin Rick Silk, lead guitar, Greg Bartram, bass and Brett Mayo, drums; fear is a sort of sensation which causes an individual to deepen his or her awareness of other emotions.

Circone stated that “Every emotion is efficient. It’s not a waste of time to feel any certain way.” He added that this is why the band is so intense on stage, because they let their emotions surface rather than smothering them.

To prepare themselves for their performances, the entire band sits in a stupor for approximately 20 minutes before they go out onto the stage. Circone said “We don’t say anything to anybody, we don’t even look at anybody.” Mayo added that “It’s kind of like getting ready for a bull fight. You just actually have to get it together mentally and physically to be able to go out and click the way we do.”

When queried about the apparent similarities between Circone’s stage presence and that of The Doors’ Jim Morrison, the former stated that “Morrison was a gothic Renaissance man. I’m an existentialist romantic. Those two things just don’t add up.” He continues that their heightened emotion is the only real similarity and that Morrison lived on the edge of self-destruction, while The Toll’s music only deals with that edge.

When The Toll first appeared in Youngstown on the Cedar’s stage two years ago, it was their first headline performance. In their subsequent shows, it was considered a substantial faux-pas to dance to their music. However, when asked about this, Bartram replied that the band has changed, as everyone does, over the years.

“It’s great that the people behind the dancers are listening to the words and are watching Rick play guitar and are into that too, and the people up front are just saying, ‘Well, the hell with it. Listen to that drum beat – let’s just shake our a–,’” said Circone.

He continued, “I think we’ve gotten tighter. I think our drum beats are more danceable. We purposely do that because we like good, dancey drum beats, but we’re definitely not a dance band.

The Toll formed three and a half years ago in Columbus, where all but Bartram were students at Ohio State. Silk stated that they never really considered themselves a Columbus band since they very seldom played there. In fact, he said “If anything, we’re a regional band,” especially since they had a two year absence from playing in the city.

The group was able to secure funds from Chrysalis Records to produce a demo tape which they put together last year. After representatives from Chrysalis, as well as the Elektra and Geffen record companies, heard the tape and saw the band perform live, they received offers from all three, but chose a lucrative two-record deal from Geffen.

“That’s almost unheard of nowadays,” said Silk, “getting more than one album” on a major label with a first recording deal.

According to Circone, there will be “Two videos with the first album and two videos with the second.” The videos will utilize live flashbacks of performances which Circone said will produce a sort of “psychological sweat state of neurosis.”

They will begin recording their first album on Feb. 1, with its release being set for late summer or early September. The album will include many songs that they perform live and which can be seen locally when they play at Cedar’s on Saturday, Jan. 16.

Bartram said that when they head into the studio, they will record the LP live, rather than recording the individual parts separately and then putting them together. He said that is the only true way to capture the essence of the band.

With the release of their album comes the possibility of garnering a hit single. Circone said that if this should happen, things will still remain the same among them. “Just because we’re on Top 40 radio doesn’t mean we’re going to forget about where we came from.” The consensus from the band was “Don’t hate us and don’t say we sold out just because they’re playing us on the radio.”

As for long term future plans, Circone stated “Wouldn’t it be great when you turn 40 that you could sit back and maybe have a little brandy and think, ‘I don’t want to be president, I love the woman I’m married to, I’ve got two beautiful children, or no children, I’ve got my Corvette and I don’t feel materialistic. Damn it, I feel good about myself.”

He concluded that professionally, “I want us to be able to think that while we lived our lives here on Earth, we did something to somebody one night.”