Toby Pipes is a producer, a musician, a vocalist and one of the most well-known names in the local, regional and national music scenes. Pipes and his co-writer/producer, Nolan Thies formed Little Black Dress back in 2005. The band also includes Brent Elrod (guitars), Earl Darling (drums), Cooper Heffley (electric drums and keys) and Taylor Tasch (guitars). The band signed on with Exploding Plastic Records (an Idol Records project) back in the spring of 2009, and dropped its debut release, Snow in June, this past summer.
I’ve listened to Snow in June, front-to-back, then all over again, and I love the dreamy, swirling waves of guitars and synths mixed with the softness of Pipes’ vocals.
Toby took time out of his busy schedule for an email Q&A with Art&Seek:
Art&Seek: Just looking over the roster of bands that you have produced (and recorded at Bass Propulsion Labs) brings back memories of the past decade of local music. Tell me your thoughts on the local music scene from 2000 to present.
Toby Pipes: The local music scene seems to be in a weird spot at the present time. After the 90’s, there seemed to be more of a quality over quantity thing with the bands. People still went to clubs to watch music, mainly to places like Deep Ellum or Dyer Street where you could park your car and see three or four different shows and walk to different venues. Now it seems to be a bit more spread out. Bands have a much harder time creating a following. It’s very difficult without some sort of built-in crowd, especially with no local radio support to help bands move to the next level. The gap between big band and baby band has grown throughout the decade. It’s almost to the point now that bands are either massive or just play shows to their friends and/or other bands waiting to play on the same bill.
A&S: You practically can’t take a step without tripping over one of the bands you’ve, either produced at BPL, or performed with over the years. Where are you the most content, onstage or producing in your studio?
T.P.: That is a difficult question to answer because they’re both so different. I love being in the studio and working on sounds and song arrangements. It can be a magical thing when a band and the producer/engineer see eye-to-eye and are both striving to make a great recording. But with that being said, there is nothing like being on tour, in the band bubble, where it’s you and four or five of your friends and bandmates moving from town to town playing music for people that you have never met before, and in a place that you might not have ordinarily gone. It’s hard to describe and extremely addictive
A&S: Tell me about Little Black Dress and how the band came together.
T.P.: In the early days of BPL and still to this day, we used to make note of certain musicians who were recording their own projects, and ask them to play on other solo artist’s records. Nolan Thies was one of those guys, and he played bass for us for on ton of our recordings. He was around a lot, got interested in the recording side of things and worked his way up to engineer at the studio after a few years. After awhile, if there was some down time at the studio, we started to record different ideas that we were working on. Three or four years later, we had a bunch of songs that had a certain sound and we thought it might be a good idea to put a band together.
A&S: How would you describe the sound of Little Black Dress to someone who has never heard it?
T.P.: Moody, shoegazey guitar electronica with a pop feel to it.
A&S: What made the band decide to sign with Exploding Plastic Records?
T.P.: We have known Dylan Silvers for years through different bands and friends. He caught a few of our gigs at the Granada Theater. We had a four song EP that we were giving out to people and he asked us if we were ever planning on finishing the record. We told him that we never really had a reason to finish it before and he told us about the new side label he was creating with Erv Karwelis called Exploding Plastic Records. It sounded like a good fit for us, so we finished the record and here we are.
A&S: What’s your favorite venue (past or present, open or closed) that you’ve ever played in Dallas, Denton or Fort Worth, and why?
T.P.: My favorite venue of the past is definitely Deep Ellum Live. It was the most comfortable place to play in Dallas and we really miss it. My favorite venue now is the House of Blues. Everyone there is very professional and their work is top-notch.
A&S: What are your thoughts and expectations of the new KXT 91.7 station?
T.P.: I think that this new station is exactly what Dallas needs! It is great that Dallas will have its own station again, with the freedom to play what it wants. This station could be the catalyst that might get the local music scene going again.