Splashh may be the latest band born of the Internet, but make no mistake–they’ve got staying power.
By Emily Mackay. Photographed by Bella Howard
“It’s easy to be uncool these days,” quips Toto Vivian, curly-blond-haired guitarist of London four-piece Splashh. He speaks of the fickleness of Internet tastemaking—of the speed of praise and backlash that follows a viral hit. And it's not that Vivian and his songwriting partner, baby-faced singer Sasha Carlson, are aiming for uncool, mind you. What Vivian’s getting at is the way their sunny-yet-scuzzy guitar pop is suddenly the subject of the sort of furious over-analysis that comes with this sort of hype. Fortunately, they’ve got better things to do than keep up with the Internet chatter that's followed since they posted the woozy grunge songs “Lemonade” and “Washed Up” online early this year.
Carlson hails from New Zealand, while the Italian-born Vivian spent much of his youth in Australia. Carlson fled to London because so many of his favourite bands began there, while Vivian was lured to the U.K. by his older brother, a student with tales of awesome parties and beautiful girls. Though Vivian and Carlson had met in London two years prior via mutual friends, it wasn’t until the start of 2012, when they both returned from holiday in Australia, that the pair began writing music together.
“I guess we took that vibe we found in Australia on summer holiday back to London,” Vivian muses. The sunny energy of the four tracks they uploaded right after their first writing sessions immediately got the sort of attention that can rope the dreaded albatross of “buzz” round a young band’s neck. Over-the-top Internet love was swiftly followed by glib dismissals of the band as another ’90s-style guitar band in the vein of Yuck or The History of Apple Pie.
Splassh—their number completed by friends Thomas Beal on bass and Jacob Moore on drums—have their sights set on being more than mere retro-blog fodder, though. They’ve signed to Luv Luv Luv, the label run by Florence and the Machine manager Mairead Nash, and will record with Richard Fearless of dark '90s dance heroes Death in Vegas next year. They have enough songs written for a full record already, but they’ll release an EP at the start of the new year, with the full album to follow later in 2013, “so it’s more of a gradual blossom,” Vivian explains. Carlson gets excited when describing the new material: “We’re writing more interesting songs, not straight-up pop songs. We want to make our album out-of-control, as good as it can be.”
As their selection of Fearless as producer suggests, there’s more to this band than fuzz pedals and Pixies T-shirts. Beats are important to them, too. “We don't want to be cast as just another '90s guitar-y kind of rip-off,” asserts Vivian. “We wanna mix that with really big-sounding drums and then add layers. Richard will definitely do some wigged-out stuff, which’ll be cool.” Though not too wigged-out, Vivian is quick to add: “We’ll still sound like Splashh.” Like Splashh, but more so. Turns out the Internet doesn’t have the power to ruin everything.
FROM LEFT: Toto, Tom, Sasha, Jacob.