Following a premature end to his World Superbike career, James Toseland decided to focus on his first true love – music.
After parting company with his first band, Crash, he embarked on a band project known, simply, as TOSELAND.
The band’s first single ‘Life is Beautiful’ was released in April 2013 and later it was announced that they had been booked to play an acoustic set at the 2013 Download Festival.
The first album Renegade was released in 2014. And the Hearts and Bones in 2015.
His song ‘We’ll Stop At Nothing’ has been picked as The Official Anthem for The Special Olympics GB.
We caught up with Toseland at this year’s Ramblin’ Man Fair :
RAMzine: Tell us about We’ll Stop At Nothing.
“Yeah, I was so honoured to get the phone call. Because the event is at Bramall Lane Stadium, so they wanted a Sheffield artist and the production company that’s putting on the opening ceremony itself, I’ve known them for about ten years [Liz Hobbs Group] they rang me up and asked, “Could you write a song for it? If you can then you’ll get the gig…” And I was, like “Amazing!” But, I said, “I think I’ve got a song already, from the second album. Titled ‘We’ll Stop At Nothing’” it was written in the vein of people striving through adversity…”
“And when it was put to The Special Olympics athletes and they saw the footage, they loved it. So, luckily, I didn’t have to write another one. And I’ve met the athletes and seen how dedicated they are and how [sport] gives them so much life and focus — and I am from the sporting world so I know what that’s like, to wake up each morning for something to really strive for… I’m really chuffed that our song has been connected to it.”
RAMzine: You write as if you are a champion, you look like a champion, do you take the business of music as competitively as you did your sport?
“I did 20 years at a really competitive sport and I’m over it — a little bit. I only got into music because it was my first passion. I learnt to play the piano a lot earlier than I learnt to ride motorcycles and, after 20 years of being the most competitive, horrible guy on the planet, I always knew that I just wanted to do music for myself; And the art, and the band, and the performance. And just enjoy it without having that pressure. But I can tell, at Festivals like this, that obviously there is a league table and I get it! And I notice that we’re one we’re one notch up this year! And, honestly, I’m so chuffed. I think there’s only seven or eight bands on the main stage today and for us to be [chosen] is just unbelievable, really.”
RAMzine: Well, congratulations. You have earned your place. Tell us about your song writing process…
“Yeah, I tend to sit alone at the piano and write. On the first album, Renegade which we wrote in 2012, I collaborated with Toby Jepson [Little Angels now with Wayward Sons] and I really enjoyed the whole process. And the same process on the second album, although I didn’t do that in Scarborough, by then Toby had moved to Bath, so that was a bit easier for me. And I have found it’s all about the art. I love the writing. I love the focus on the song. And I like to concentrate on the message.”
“I always knew it was going to be difficult to have a career at it. Especially with the comparison with what I did before. And I knew this would have to be as good, which was not easy… So that’s why I mean to be really, really focused on the songs.”
RAMzine: How do the other members of Toseland contribute to the songs?
“To be honest I had more-or-less got the first album all done and I met the people who are now my in-laws. I met my brother-in-law [Zurab Melua] And he was the first musician I bumped into when I was doing the demos with Toby, I heard him playing his guitar in the bedroom, back then he was nineteen years old, and I said, “Here’s some demos, if you like what you hear can you be the guitarist in the band?”
“He heard the stuff, he said, “I’d love to, James,” he was studying at ACM in Guildford in Surrey, England and so I said,”Can you find three other lads as good as you are, for drums, bass and guitar?” And he did. And so the first group of people were the band from [progressive metal band] DORJE. And when the band got busy they had to make a split-second decision, do they go on doing their stuff and creating with Dorje or do they stay doing stuff with Toseland? Bless them, they wanted to stick with what they did so I had to find some new members, because of that decision, although I still had my brother-in-law and we went from the ACM students to the ACM teachers, basically! With Roger Davis (bass guitar) Joe Yoshida (drums) are teaching at ACM still and Ed Bramford is a guitar teacher in Leicester.”
RAMzine: You’ve been performing for six years now, do you feel you are polished?
“Six years now, six years with new music… Those first couple of years when everybody’s wondering what you’re up to and wondering what this is all about — standing with crossed-arms, not knowing any of the words, not knowing any of the songs — and then after the gigs going, “That was alright that were! I really enjoyed that.” And from that we got a little more confident. But it’s never any easier because you’re writing new material, you see. Presenting new stories, and especially when you’re really established, people start to want to hear the classic numbers.”
RAMzine: Tell us about ‘Life Is Beautiful’.
“That was one of the very first songs we recorded. I was actually feeling quite sorry for myself at the time. And I was quite depressed after having to give up my old job, through injury. It really confused me why I felt so bad and why I thought life was a bit shitty. And I couldn’t understand the chemicals that were going on… I couldn’t shake off the depression. So “Life Is Beautiful” is a message to yourself. To say to yourself, whatever is going on, life is beautiful and so get on with it…”
RAMzine: So you are soon on the road with Skid Row?
“Yes, next March… We supported Sebastian Bach back in Manchester, obviously he’s not with them any more, but that’s how small the world is! But yeah! We got the phone-call, got the opportunity and luckily it came-off for us.”
“And I’ll be writing album three in the autumn, with hopefully a mid-year release in 2018 and, because we have toured on these two albums, people are ready for some new material. So the Skid Row tour gives us an opportunity to play in bigger clubs, to more people, to just “up” the audeince a little bit for when we release the next one…”
RAMzine: Well, good luck with your future projects, we wish you every success. And congratulations on your appearance today at the Ramblin’ Man Festival.
James Toseland was talking to Neil Mach at the Ramblin’ Man Fair 2018.