‘We came up with Human Spider’

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‘We came up with Human Spider’

Toploader singer Joe Washbourn tells City Times about name alterations, bawling robots and David Bowie’s schooldays

By Adam Zacharias (adam@khaleejtimes.com)

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Published: Tue 24 Sep 2013, 12:17 PM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 7:55 AM

TOPLOADER RETURNED TO the UK charts once more this summer, as their signature song Dancing in the Moonlight clawed its way back into the top 40 for a three-week stint.

First released in 2000, the English band’s cover of King Harvest’s pop anthem was used in commercials for supermarket chain Sainsbury’s and helped steer triple-platinum sales for Toploader’s debut album Onka’s Big Moka.

The album, which derived its quirky title from a tribal ritual in Papua New Guinea, also contained three more top 20 hits in Achilles Heel, Just Hold On and Only for a While.

However, after performing across the UK with future megastars like Coldplay and Muse, Toploader hit a speedbump with their second record Magic Hotel (2002) – which tallied disappointing sales and poor reviews.

After a six-year split, the group reunited in 2009 and released their third record Only Human two years later. Toploader are set to play Irish Village on Thursday, September 26 alongside ‘90s pop greats The Lightning Seeds.

The show is part of the Arthur’s Day celebrations, held annually in honour of beverage magnate Arthur Guinness.

We spoke with Toploader frontman Joe Washbourn.

Since you started out, how has the internet changed the way the band functions?

When our first album came out there was no Facebook, Twitter et cetera – so it was much harder to interact with the people buying your music. It’s nice now that you can gauge the reaction to new songs or live shows within minutes of people posting their thoughts. We did win an award though for our ‘all-singing-and-dancing’ website back in 2001, so I’d like to think it was always important to us.

Do you know why Dancing in the Moonlight suddenly reentered the UK charts this summer?

I think it was a lucky combination of us doing a lot of live shows in the UK, the unusually hot weather and a full moon all happening at the same time. It’s one of those songs that’ll probably pop up in the charts another 15 years from now. It just won’t die. Also think there’s a whole new generation of kids who are digging it, which is great.

Did you notice any boost of interest in the band when the song hit the charts again?

Yeah of course, but it’s still ‘that’ song so you can’t get too excited about it. We have a big new Motown/disco single coming out at the end of October called This Is The Night, which I’m much more excited about.

What did you and the rest of the band get up to in the years after you split?

Everything you can imagine apart from being in Toploader: families, travel, degrees, life… I think we all needed to take stock of what had just happened for the previous five years.

Your mum went to school with David Bowie. Does she have many stories from back in the day?

Only that he was exceptionally talented even back then, wore a skirt and all the girls fancied him.

If you could have christened Toploader differently, which name would you have gone with?

We thought about changing it once but only came up with Human Spider. We quickly reverted to The ‘Loader, as we used to affectionately refer to ourselves.

What’s the relation between the album name Only Human and the album cover of a weeping robot’s head?

We liked the idea of having an inanimate object that displayed human characteristics. Originally the robot was holding a balloon, but the tear worked better. The album as a whole refers to our own misgivings as people.


  • What: Arthur’s Day concert with Toploader and The Lightning Seeds
  • Where: Irish Village, Dubai
  • When: Thursday, September 26, doors open at 7pm, show starts at 9pm
  • Cost: Dhs70
  • Tickets: Available from the venue or www.timeouttickets.com

For more info: Call 04 239 5000 or see www.facebook.com/theirishvillagedubai

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