Toby Jepson Interview
Toby very kindly sat down and did an interview for Rock Zone UK discussing social networks, tattoos and of course the reformation of Little Angels.. among other things!
First off thank you for agreeing to do this interview with us it’s much appreciated! How are you and where are you right now? Very well thanks, enjoying a lazy Sunday morning.
Do you still live in Scarborough? I do, and have for nearly 12 years now. Love it here.
Where is your favourite place to be in the world? Home. My wife calls me the reluctant Rock star, in as much as I’m a home bird and love being here with the family more than anything, but have this calling to sing and perform which takes me away quite a lot of the time. It’s a balancing act.
When you were younger was there one band/singer that you wanted to be like? I had a few…mainly Freddy Mercury and Queen, Robert Plant and Zeppelin, Ronnie Dio and Sabbath and quite a lot of guitar players actually…Hendrix, Eddie Van Halen, Richie Blackmore, Tony Iommi…can’t name one it doesn’t work like that for me.
How old were you when you learned to play guitar? I started to take interest around my twelfth B’day, but it took me ages to get an instrument as it was just not easy back in the early 80’s to get reasonable guitars cheaply! I remember I bought a second hand Les Paul copy that I sprayed white, and learnt on that…it was tough as I hadn’t a clue what I was doing. I eventually realised that being a guitar player wasn’t my calling and that’s when I switched to being a vocalist…
Mark has been managing Ronan Keating, (He must be minted haha!) Did you ever fancy doing something like that? No. Management is a very tough job and not really artistically creative. It takes a certain type of character and determination. Organisation is key and a sharp understanding of business and how to ‘deal’. I have had to develop a lot of those attributes over the years, due to becoming a solo artist and managing my own career, but it doesn’t come naturally to me. The energy needed to be a manager is equal to the energy needed to be creative/compose/perform, so I prefer to surround myself with people who can take on the responsibilities of management but under my directive. My job as a record producer goes into people management areas, without a doubt, but it’s still heavily creative first and foremost.
What do you think of Social Networking? Is it blessing or a curse for musicians? I’ve embraced it wholeheartedly. I used to be very suspicious of it, but it’s really helped me connect directly with the fans and get the word out. The toughest thing when we were starting out was promoting ourselves and letting folk know what was happening. With the advent of the internet, it has given anyone with the desire to be creative a huge platform to announce themselves and I’m all for it. The record industry used to be the only place you could guarantee exposure as a band because of the stranglehold the companies had on the media and the outlets for distribution. Now anyone can record cheaply, advertise themselves and let the world know what they have to offer. It’s not fool proof of course, but it has put the power back in the hands of the creative people.
I saw on Facebook you were looking for a tattoo artist. Did you get a new tat? Yeah! In reference to the last question, I put a shout out regarding finding a good Tattoo artist and within minutes I had 30 or so opinions which really helped in my search. I now am talking to a world renowned artist called MORTZ who will be inking me very soon. I have been planning some new Tattoo’s for a while. It’s a sign post in my personal journey.
I know you were singing in Dio’s Disciples recently, how did you get involved with that and what was it like to go out on tour with them and to honor Ronnie? I met Wendy at an awards ceremony and introduced myself. I wanted to express my feeling and give condolences. We hit it off and really, it was that simple. My agent called me this time last year and I was on a plane to audition for the band. We all liked each other and that was it! It’s a massive honour and one I don’t take lightly. The guys in the band were Ronnie’s close friends and are so committed to doing right by his legacy and I am just so pleased to be part of that incredible task. I was bereft when Ronnie passed as I am a massive fan and would go so far as to say that he represented (and still does) everything I ever wanted to be as a rock musician. He made it look so easy; he was graceful and modest as well as being a towering talent. He didn’t need to self promote; his voice did all of that.
Between Little Angels and Dio’s Disciples what were you up to? I know a friend of mine saw you playing a solo gig at one point. Did you release a solo CD? If so, is it still available? Goodness, where do I start? I spent several years in the film business working for many including Steven Spielberg company, Tom Hanks, Christopher Lambert. I’ve released records as a solo artist including most recently 3 EP’s called ‘Guitar, Bass and Drums 1,2 and 3’; there are other releases and all info can be found on my website: www.tobyjepson.com. I had a stint singing for Scottish Rockers GUN which was great fun. The last 5 years I’ve been working on and off with Fast Eddie Clarke and his FASTWAY band as singer, producer and co-writer…I’m also producing bands and that’s become a big part of my developing future.
You’re a man of many talents (Singing, writing, production, etc) – what gives you the most satisfaction? I’m a singer first and foremost and most at home on a stage when it comes to my professional life. I have become passionate about producing, much to my surprise and enjoy enormously helping musicians focus their music and help to bring to fruition their desires. Writing figures heavily also, it’s the best feeling when you manage to create something that really does communicate… If pushed I’d say singing and performing – it’s freedom…
Talking of Little Angels (You knew it was coming! lol) I think it’s totally AWESOME that you guys are making a comeback for Download this year!! Why now, after all this time? The planets have aligned! I have been touring the Angels songs for years as a solo artist and knew how much we meant to the fans and how the tunes resonated through their lives so I have been trying to do this for a long time. However, the time has to be right for all concerned and it just so happens that all of us were willing and able this year. A lot was due to the amazing Andy Copping – Download promoter – offering support, encouragement and a slot this year.
Will Download be the only place you’ll be playing a gig as Little Angels or can we expect a full UK tour? (If I beg will it help????) We will be doing warm up shows but I can say where as yet, but we have no firm plans to do anything beyond DL. However, we are talking about it. It’s 18 years OUT of LA and so things have to be done slowly and with consideration for all of our different lives and careers. We live all over the place and so getting us together in a room to rehearse let alone anything else is difficult! However, we do know how much expectation there is and the fans are the reason we are doing this as well as the need for us to reconnect as people, so all I can say is; WATCH THIS SPACE!
There seems to be a HUGE and very loyal fan base STILL for LA’s. For me personally, years back I met you all a loads of times and travelled to lots of gigs, from Durham to London when I could! You were all so down to earth (Bruce even made me a cuppa one afternoon in a freezing cold Redcar! It was so bloody cold!!!!!) And that’s a huge part of why I am still a fan and still play your music to this day. But have you been surprised by the huge reaction to the fact that you’re getting back together? Our fans were the most dedicated I’ve ever encountered. We had a very direct relationship with everyone we played to. It was always our desire to create great music and perform amazing shows for our audience, so I think we had an inkling of potential fan reaction, but it has been phenomenal how the news has been received. We are so looking forward to the show and know we will see a load of the old faces…brilliant!
Are you guys rehearsing already? If so, what does it feel like to be doing it again after all this time? If not, are you nervous about getting it all together again after such a long time apart? We have rehearsed and it felt like we hadn’t been away. All the concerns melted away when Rich counted in ‘she’s a little Angel’ and we played pretty much the whole set almost note perfect! It was quite a day!
Any chance of some new stuff? Again, no plans but never say never etc.
Are you bringing back the ‘Big Bad Horns’? Yes
What are your favorite songs to play live? If you are referring to the Angels then, ‘Young gods’, ‘Boneyard’ and ‘Don’t prey for me’
Did you ever do the Monsters Of Rock or will this be your first performance at Donington Park? This will be the 3rd time for me having done it with FASTWAY in 2007 and With Dio Disciples in 2011. First time for LA
Did you ever attend Donington as a fan? If so who did you see? Yes, it was my first festival and it was where I saw Ronnie Dio for the first time live. Changed my life. I’ve then attended the DL fest for the last 5 years as a fan and an artist.
Looking back on some old clips I recently saw the segment of you, Jimmy and Bruce on The Big Breakfast with Zig and Zag! Very funny and just one of those clips that I never forgot! You were definitely on some weird and wonderful TV shows I mean, you guys did Jim’ll Fix It right? What are some your favorite memories from those days?
Ha Ha! Yeah that was funny! Cost a lot to replace that guitar!!! Ha Ha!
I have a million memories that are dear to me; mainly the early years before we got signed and were taking on the big boys…we never thought for a moment that we would fail! Naive, focused energy! The best it ever was for me. However, there were some stunning ‘pinch me moments’ like opening for Guns and Roses at the Marquee, our first US tour with Yngwie Malmsteen – that was a huge thing to us and the US audience totally got us! Just a shame the industry over there didn’t have as much faith!
Wembley with Bryan Adams, Milton Keynes bowl with Bon Jovi, getting the number one album, selling out Hammersmith Apollo when the promoters were convinced we’d bomb… Thing is, it all happens so fast and before you know it, you’re onto the next amazing experience…it’s tough keeping hold of the moment…also, in my case, I found it difficult to cope with the pressure quite a lot of the time so relationships were strained. I wish, in many ways, I could have had the experience 10 years later…when I had matured a bit! Ha Ha!
If you could pick one career highlight what would it be and why? I think achieving the number one album and how that changed the game was a massive moment. We all worked so hard to get there, including Polydor who were brilliant and committed at the time. Remember, that was a time when selling records was still the biggest part of being a signed band, so to get the number one stunned the industry and meant we had crossed over and were selling serious amounts of albums.
Any regrets or things that, if you had your time again, you would change? We can’t change anything, its futile to ponder this stuff really and arguably things may not have ended up any better anyway. I do wish I could have relaxed a little more and taken the time to look around at the view…but that was just youth and growth. I was mortified when the band split and it took me a decade to get over it really…
Do you have any message for the fans? That’s easy; THANK YOU! Nuff said
Can Rock Zone PLEASE come and do a face-to-face interview with you guys IF you’re doing a UK tour??? If it happens, of course you can, it will be like old times!!! Only, well…NEW! ha ha!
Ha ha you mean waaaay back when we all used to look like this:
Thank you SO Much for doing this Toby. You’re a top guy and we know you’ve had a lot of interviews to do so cheers!! We wish you all the best!
Don’t forget to check out Toby’s website and all the latest news on Little Angels can be found on their official site – http://www.littleangelsofficial.com/site/ and the usual social networks!
(With a little help from Rachel and David – thanks guys!)