Five years ago, the Toy Garden was an idea inside the mind of William Alan. Known then for his contributions to melodic screamo bands the Monroe and Eloi, Alan wrote solo acoustic material on the side — it was a way to vent his own personal creativity. He recorded a few of his songs, but something was missing.
“One song in particular just felt empty,” he says. “I ended up adding full instrumentation to it, and I liked the way it turned out.”
So Alan’s melodic acoustic songwriter idea became a full band, one that would eventually be called the Toy Garden.
At the time, Alan was also playing with the local post-hardcore powerhouse, Behold — so he poached some of his bandmates and other friends to join him onstage. The quartet played its unique indie rock sound all over town. An EP followed, but the sound it captured quickly became obsolete.
Alan’s hardcore leanings from Behold were gradually bleeding into the Toy Garden’s sound.
Keeping drummer Shayne Garcia, the band went through several member changes. Alan recruited Shawn Heale (Death to Greys, A Hollywood Legend) for lead guitar duties, and hired Anthony Burgess, his boss from Subway (and of recently defunct local band Le Train Train Quotidien), to take over on bass. The aural power of the band increased, along with the reverb. With this revamped lineup, the band trudged on, writing both heavier and more ambient music.
They’re ready to release their debut full-length album, A Wolf in Hipster’s Clothing. It’s a 10-song effort — engineered and recorded by Alan — brimming with the band’s unique post-rock feel and transcending sub-genres throughout its 48 minutes. It’s an exhibition of the band’s seamless blending of ambience with dissonance.
The band is, without a doubt, one of Spokane’s loudest. But they create catchy hooks and beautiful melodies that leave the listener constantly craving more. The Toy Garden’s live set is comprised of deafening emotional outbursts — tube amps blaring — and the subtle destruction of instruments, pulling every person in the crowd into their world of loss, despair and melancholy.
While the Toy Garden’s lyrics and onstage demeanor are extremely downtrodden, the band members themselves are anything but.
“At the core, it’s always been about playing music with friends, music we care about,” Garcia explains. “Whatever happens, happens. We’ll push the record, if something happens awesome. If not, oh well. We focus more on friendship than musicianship.”