Interview: Chatting with Dublin’s Lo-Fi Champions – Tobi The Dog

Tobi The Dog are a three-piece band based in various seaside areas of South Dublin, Ireland. The band consists of Sam Cheesmore (guitar, melodica and vocals), Jack Shortall (bass and synth) and Cosmo Tomkin Clarke (drums). After going through various incarnations, they’re now known as Tobi The Dog and are gearing up to release their debut album “Never Ever Ever” on Dublin’s Little L Records. “Never Ever Ever” is a collection of gnarly lo-fi pop with heavy tinges of math rock with cathartically constructed lyrics and lush instrumentation, which really sets Tobi The Dog apart from other bands their age (they’re all 16-17 years old by the way!).

Read what they have to say about it below!

UC: Hey Tobi The Dog! Thanks so much for taking the time to chat to us! 

Your new album “Never Ever Ever” is coming out on the 16th via Little L Records. How are you feeling before the big release?

Sam: Thanks for having us! I guess I’m feeling a little anxious, this is our first ever proper release, we’ve had other weird Bandcamp stuff before but to have something released properly on an actual record label is pretty sick also daunting.

Cosmo: I’m feeling fine about it, to be honest no real expectations or anything so whatever happens will be cool.

Jack: A bit nervous actually, it’s a culmination of a years work and this is our first real release of anything which is a bit daunting but hopefully people will enjoy it.

UC: All of you are pretty young but making music far ahead of your age, how you did all meet?

Sam: We all met in school, which we’re all still in.

Jack: We all go to the same school, including our live keyboard player and all round nice boy Thomas Wright.

Cosmo: Met both of the boys through school.

UC: “Never Ever Ever” is incredibly diverse with everything from math rock tinged lo-fi to ukelele based jams. What artists were you listening to over the course of writing and recording the record?

Sam: I was listening to an absolutely stupid amount of Alex G and a fair whack of King Krule but also stuff like Girlfriends and Radiator Hospital.

Cosmo: At the start of the album I was mostly listening to artists like Alex G, a lot of Jim O’Rourke and other stuff like that, as it went on I started listening to a lot of grime so people like Skepta, JME and Stormzy that kinda stuff, then towards the end all I was really listening too was a variety of trap, techno and house music on Soundcloud.

Jack: Sam and I listened to a lot of Steely Dan in my bedroom before we recorded bass or wrote songs.

UC: You’re releasing the album on cassette and CD. What’s the cassette culture like in Ireland? What was the first tape you owned?

Cosmo: The cassette culture in Ireland is pretty non-existent, no one really buys tapes as opposed to CDs, the first cassette I ever owned was just christmas songs I’m pretty sure.

Sam: The cassette culture here is small for sure, its actually practically invisible, but it very much exists, and it involves an awfully big amount of people, there’s few ‘new’ cassettes releases, bar a few small and very cool labels, so most purchasing takes place in charity shops! My first cassette was this like compilation named ‘Ladies of Swing’, it’s just like 90 minutes of 1930’s-50’s swing time bangers.

Jack: The cassette culture is very cool. I had no idea there were so many people in Dublin with an interest in the format – the first cassette I owned was “People Are Weird” by No Monster Club. They put a lot of stuff on cassette and the album is very cool.

UC: Speaking of Ireland, what’s the music scene like in Dublin?

Sam: The music scene here is weird. Everyone takes everything too seriously, there’s too many people trying to make it big and not enough people trying to have fun, but it is great if you like unpopulated metal gigs in dark rooms with no windows.

Jack: I don’t think I have a great idea of the music scene here in Dublin, we’ve played this metal venue a couple times (bless up Fibber Magee’s) Sam played jazz chords once and everyone thought it was a joke.

Cosmo: The music scene in Ireland is not very good I mean without Little L I think there would be literately be no music scene, there is the occasional good gig though.

UC: I’ve been told Jack played a show recently while heavily sedated and barely able to stand. What was going on there?

Cosmo: He messed up his knee pretty bad a few days before the gig just popped it out of place I think, funny enough it was actually the best gig he’s played yet.

Jack: I dislocated my knee like two days before a show, I was paralysed for like a day and a half and was quite drunk and on Valium for the show, I was told by my doctor that I could play the show if I sat down and took it easy, I did neither but I think I did okay I cant really remember. Great show.

UC: Final question, what’s one thing you want people to take away from your debut album?

Cosmo: I think all I really want out of it is to develop a bit more of a following I’d love if more people that we didn’t know were listening to our music and enjoying it.

“Never Ever Ever” is out now via Little L Records on cassette and CD. Check out Tobi The Dog’s Facebook page for all things Tobi.

Written by:

Label owner / vintage guitar aficionado / often found playing Earthbound.