Written on February 25, 2011 – 10:09 am | by Cameron Hussey
To measure shine, you need a gloss meter, which directs a beam of light to a test surface to measure the amount of reflection.
Reflect on this: Electric-rock-pop band Shiny Toy Guns, although it never lost its luster, is glossier than ever now that vocalist and Newbury Park native Carah Faye has returned to the group after a three-year split. The Grammy-nominated band, whose hits include “Le Disko,” “Don’t Cry Out” and “You Are the One,” is recording a new album in Los Angeles, “III,” planned for a late spring or summer release, and will offer a free download of the album’s first single by the end of this month.
On Feb. 11, Shiny Toy Guns delivered the news on its website via a five-minute, snow-scene YouTube video titled “Together Again” (set to an orchestral version of, appropriately, “I Lost You”): Faye was back, and the band would now also include her husband, Daniel Johansson (they were married in August), on guitar, bass and synthesizer. Johansson also plays in Versant, the band Faye formed after leaving Shiny Toy Guns. Still Shiny are vocalist-guitarist Chad Petree, keyboard and bassist Jeremy Dawson, and the band’s other Ventura County member, drummer Mikey Martin of Simi Valley.
In 2008, Shiny Toy Guns announced that Faye (back then she went by her full name, Carah Faye Charnow) was leaving the band, to be replaced by Sisely Treasure, who is no longer with the band.
“The abuse of alcohol,” Dawson continued, “leads to the abuse of life, poor judgment, the inability to communicate, and the lack of sleep was very detrimental. The situations we were living in hour by hour, day by day, made it impossible for a human being to coexist with another one.” — Jeremy Dawson
At the time, Shiny Toy Guns and Faye were polite but not too vocal about reasons for the split-up. Faye and Dawson, in an interview last week, were more forthcoming about the break.
“We were playing 300 shows a year, waking up in different countries every night, drinking like fish,” Dawson said. “The boys were (drinking),” Faye interjected.
“The abuse of alcohol,” Dawson continued, “leads to the abuse of life, poor judgment, the inability to communicate, and the lack of sleep was very detrimental. The situations we were living in hour by hour, day by day, made it impossible for a human being to coexist with another one.”
So just as in any relationship where feelings get flailed around and buried under alcohol, they simply needed to sober up and talk to each other again.
The mending of their relationship started in October or November.
“Our communication with Carah had been sparse and random,” Dawson said. “All of us were doing a whole bunch of laying in bed, looking at the ceiling.”
Dawson and Martin didn’t even know where Faye lived, so they tracked her down in Sweden “for no real reason other than to repair our friendship,” Dawson said. “If there was to be a rejoining of the band, then that would be discussed some other day. The main thing is, we weren’t talking, and we had lots of damage and scar tissue.”
They flew to Sweden and met at a coffee shop. “We talked for days, hours, and began to peel the layers time creates when you don’t deal with things,” Dawson said. “The parallel of the relationship between one human in love with another human is so ridiculously relevant to this situation that it’s amazing. Each side thought the other was cheating on them, lying, hated them. When we actually got face time, everything said and done was a lot smaller than what it was built up to be. Real emotions and feelings began to move around in the circles they did when the band started.”
Faye said that at first she didn’t know what to expect when Dawson contacted her. “It was about being open to what happens,” Faye said. “But when they arrived, I instantly felt the friendship.”
The openness and honestly led naturally to a reunion of Faye with the band, Dawson said.
While in Sweden, Dawson said, he and Faye came up with the idea to announce the reunion via video. In the film, available at the band’s website, shinytoyguns.com, all the members are on a snow-covered landscape (shot at Mammoth Mountain), separated from each other, dressed the same so they are unrecognizable, tumbling and stumbling down hills and valleys and into trees.
“It shows an evolutionary journey, starting from a cold and lost place,” Dawson said. “None of us knew where the others were. We’re searching for someone, but don’t know where or who it is. We all discover each other at the same time and walk to the center of a field.”
Shiny Toy Guns have a fiercely loyal fan base, built mainly through social media, starting with the band’s MySpace page and now Facebook as well. When “Together Again” was posted, the online comments were ecstatic. A sample statement: “BEST DECISION EVER!!!!!! OMGGGGGGGGGG YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS CARAHHHHHHHHHH!!!”
Shiny Toy Guns’ new album, “III,” is — surprise — the band’s third. The first, “We Are Pilots,” was released in several versions and received a Grammy nomination for best electronic/dance album. The second, “Season of Poison,” released in 2008 (without Faye), was a hit on the alternative charts.
Shiny Toy Guns released “We Are Pilots” on Universal/Motown, but is now back to being indie.
“We are absolutely free to do whatever the hell we want to do,” Dawson said.
The band hasn’t yet done any live shows together in front of an audience, but has performed acoustically on Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier’s SModcast podcast.
Dawson said Shiny Toy Guns will start performing live in April and is planning a summer world tour, but has yet to schedule an L.A.-area concert.
“That’s going to be a real special show for us,” Dawson said.
Faye, meanwhile, said she is “spending time getting Daniel to the U.S.,” and will be back and forth from Sweden, although she and Johansson will probably eventually relocate to the U.S. Versant, she said, will “absolutely continue doing music.
The first single from Shiny Toy Guns’ new album should be available any day now; watch the website for updates.
The song’s title? “The Sun.”
Let it shine.
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