Band of the Week: Shiny Toy Guns

Music Features Shiny Toy Guns
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Hometown: Los Angeles, Calif
Fun Fact: The group recorded an industrial cover of Prince’s “Nothing Compares 2 U.”
Why They're Worth Watching: Through explosive live performances and the electro-dominatrix single, “Le Disko,” Shiny Toy Guns have made a solid argument for nominating themselves as the new collective face of dance-rock.
For Fans Of: The Rapture, The Bravery, Goldfrapp

The saying "everything old is new again" has never been more accurate when describing the ebb and flow of popular music. Music historians can’t help but notice a paradigm shift of homage that circulates approximately every twenty years.

Los Angeles rockers Shiny Toy Guns fit nicely into this chronological pattern. They look and sound like a portrait of the future as envisioned in 1987. Their SoCal-meets-sci-fi aesthetic fronts a sound full of midi synthesizers and drum machines, creating a dystopian mix of decadent synth pop bearing the lingering fingerprints of Prince and Ziggy Stardust. It’s interesting, then, that a band with so many roots in the past could sound so painstakingly fresh. After all, there is no denying that a group is on the elusive edge of the zeitgeist when it has over 200,000 MySpace friends and sports celebrity fans such as Tommy Lee and Fall Out Boy's Pete Wentz.

“Shiny Toy Guns is the offspring of what happens when you combine everything that’s associated with a traditional rock band with binary code,” keyboardist Jeremy Dawson explains. This dynamic results from the individual voices of STG, including vocalist Carah Faye Charnow, vocalist/guitarist Chad Petree and drummer Mikey Martin. “When we started together putting out the final product, it was us having these two worlds that we wanted to blend,” Charnow adds.

The band's debut, We Are Pilots, is as much an incorporation of the last 25 years of pop revelry as it is an evolution of progressive techno and house. Depeche Mode and New Order bleed through every synthesized riff, but the supercharged new wave inspired by Pink Floyd and Peter Gabriel is just as tangible. STG fought hard to retain this unique sound after their inception in 2002.

“We said ‘Screw this. If the record labels want this, they’ll come to us,’" Charnow recounts. "We were in a dirty, beat-up van with a rented trailer touring the U.S. over and over, creating our own foundation." The band took its DIY marketing approach to the web, completely bypassing press packets to utilize the then-obscure MySpace network, where STG’s hybrid sound met an enthusiastic audience in Generation Y. “These kids listen to everything from The Rapture to Ashlee Simpson," Dawson says. "We think the same.”

After touring through Europe, the band plans to return to the studio to keep its addictive hybrid of dance beats and distortion thriving. “We’ll always incorporate those two worlds," Charnow says. "We’re so busy conquering every market across the world, and that’s what we want to do.”