Playing three hundred dates in one year can be a death sentence for a band. A chaotic schedule in confined spaces equates to high stress levels and low levels of communication. That’s what happened to Shiny Toy Guns while they were at the end of the promotion cycle for their first album, We Are Pilots. Things like playing Miami one night and then somewhere in Europe the following night caused tension levels to rise and ultimately led to co-vocalist Carah Faye leaving the band before they started working on their sophomore album, Season of Poison. Shiny Toy Guns’ second album wasn’t a disaster, but it wasn’t exactly Shiny Toy Guns because Carah wasn’t there. In a recent interview with Alternative Addiction, Shiny Toy Guns co-founder Jeremy Dawson talked about getting the original members of the band back together to work on their third album.
Shiny Toy Guns is Chad Petree, Mikey Martin, Jeremy Dawson, and Carah Faye- those are the original four members and that’s how it should always be. That was the remaining members’ feelings leading up to working on the band’s third album, III and that’s what led to Dawson making a bold decision to attempt to bring Carah back to Shiny Toy Guns while she was living in Sweden.
“Mikey and I hopped on an airplane to Sweden to have that conversation,” said Dawson starting the story. “We were at a place and we had come to a realization that Shiny Toy Guns is the four of us. It’s either the four of us or we’re just not going to do it. All of these personal things happened and we had this big rift. That’s our thing and that’s what happened. But sometimes you just got to go, you know what, ‘that is Shiny Toy Guns, and until we become that again, we should chill.’ Shiny Toy Guns is not one person, it’s a band. We got to a head where we thought before we make anymore rash decisions- which we already have and already paid for- let’s go talk to Carah. Asking Carah to talk to us didn’t work, so we just literally booked plane tickets to Sweden and emailed her the itinerary. We thought, ‘what else do we have to lose?’ We’ll at least get to have lunch and have a ball in Sweden. We ended up hanging out and we just hashed out the crap. What we know now as the invisible crap, because what we thought was wrong was simply the fact that we weren’t talking. When we started talking again, there was nothing wrong. After we talked, we all had a moment of feeling pretty dumb. This whole time all we would have had to do is sit down and talk.”
With Carah back in the band it was time to move forward with album three. But with the band back together another form of stress came about- they had to make their next album without Universal/Motown. After working for multiple years with people at the label they had developed some close relationships. When Universal Music made a choice to disintegrate the label that was gone.
“There was never stress on a personal level,” mentioned Dawson on the mood of making III. “The only stress was on a monetary level, being that we were no longer on Universal/Motown- in fact the entire label ceases to exist whatsoever. One by one, us, Mars Volta, The Rapture, Blue October, Paper Route… we had this nice little label family with incredible people that busted their tail for us. But when decrees are handed down from above, you go with it. One-by-one we were all off the label and then the label’s gone… everyone got fired, it’s over forever.
“When we were making this album we were really excited because that was our last option anyway and our option ran out on our publishing. So we were absolutely free as a bird and we could do anything we wanted. We were so stoked on that…until it came down to the fact that it costs tens and tens of thousands of dollars to make an album and we had to come up with all of that on our own. We had to figure out how to do it. Of course we were still playing, and having success on the road, and doing fly dates and making money that way… but supporting four people- some are married, some of us have kids- and making an album that has to be the best album we’ve ever made- that’s tough. It has to be the strong third record, the comeback record, whatever you want to call it… That became an object of stress because we wanted everything perfect.”
Shiny Toy Guns was in a place of turmoil financially trying to fund their album. Getting studio time and trying to make everything sound up to their own standards was a challenge, but then world-renown engineer Tony Maserati came to the rescue.
“Thank God we befriended and later moved into the studio with Tony Maserati. He heard one of our demos and we sort of went under his wing. Tony helped us get to where we needed to go sonically. He believed in us and he believed where the record was going. That relieved the points of stress in the technical world of making a record that sounds amazing on a professional sonic level. We had all the songs but we needed it to go to the next level. We’ve always produced our own records, but Tony brought something magical on a mixing level. We’re so excited and so proud to have that as part of our own album,” said Dawson.
It’s not out of the question to say that III is the best Shiny Toy Guns album and its return to form for a band that desperately needed it. The album’s named three for three main reasons- they spent three years apart, they took three years to work on the new album, and it’s their third record. Looking back on what they’ve done, it’s something that Dawson and the others members of the band are incredibly proud of.
“It’s been an amazing reality show of a life for the Shiny Toy Guns family. But we managed to land on both wheels. We’re all together and we finished our album. It took three years, but we needed to take three years. That’s what the album needed to get perfect. That’s where we are… if we weren’t happy with it we would still be working on it. But we finally stopped, said ‘this is it, we’re done, and this is what we wanted to do.”