THE HUMANS are an innovative, four-piece, contemporary rock band comprising Toyah Willcox, Bill Rieflin, Chris Wong and Igor Abuladze. The group brings together four lifetimes of musical experience, experimentation and craftsmanship. The band are the brainchild of Toyah Willcox.
THE HUMANS were formed in 2007 after Toyah was invited by the Estonian ambassador to tour Estonia. Highly experimental, the band reflects the distinctly different musical backgrounds and life experiences of its members. This creative formation marked a radical departure for Toyah who comments: “The songs are deconstructed down to the bones of raw experience, exposing human nature and irony”. Dispensing with the conventional rock band line-up, the DNA of The Humans consists of the voice (taking much more of a role as instrument) flanked by two bass players, with no designated drummer or guitarist. Although recorded and live work can include programmed drumming, beats or guest guitar, the intention is to allow space for the vocal to sit above and alongside the soundscape rather than compete with the noise of a rock band.
Before they had ever set foot into a recording studio, The Humans premiered their material in 2008 with a sell-out series of concerts in Estonia attended by the Estonian president. These songs then formed the basis of their debut album We Are The Humans, which was recorded in Bill Rieflin’s homeground of Seattle. Produced by Rieflin, the 10-song album was mixed by Don Gunn & Rieflin and mastered by Simon Heyworth (Tubular Bells, Brian Eno). It was released in May 2009 to coincide with the band’s return to Estonia to headline at ‘Tartufest’. Album highlights include the eerily, ambient Quicksilver, the majestic, Demigod and the live band-groove of Icarus. The Humans quickly carved out their sound as European experimental meets West Coast American grunge with overarching avant-garde and filmic qualities.
The album received its UK digital release in September 2009 along with the band’s first single, These Boots Are Made For Walkin’, a provocative, 21st century twist on the Nancy Sinatra classic, featuring guest guitar from Robert Fripp. This track was recently used by the BBC on their television coverage of the World Cup football final matches, reaching a substantial audience of worldwide viewers and listeners.
The Humans marked their first ever live UK appearances with a series of warm-up concerts in the very intimate and beautiful surroundings of St. Michael’s & All Angels’ Church and St. Anne’s Church, Worcester. These were followed up by dates across the UK, featuring special guest Robert Fripp playing live with the band.
They also appeared on the bill of acts invited to perform at The Roundhouse for the Helping Haiti fundraiser concert. The Humans tour culminated in a headline date at London’s Scala, yielding a 4-star, review from the Financial Times who concluded it was an “intriguing, often terrific, show” with “programmed beats, sinewy, rumbling rhythms, a kind of twisted funk”. Their set included a presentation of the entire debut album, newly written songs and their unique interpretations of These Boots Are Made For Walkin’ alongside the Hendrix classic, Purple Haze.
THE HUMANS have dedicated three years to establishing their sound, songs and performance. Crystallizing what is at the core of The Humans’ manifesto, the album Sugar Rush bears a cinematic density with stirring moments of exhilarating energy (Sugar Rush) tender contemplation (Love In A Different Way) and brooding soundscapes (Sea Of Size). The album also features guest guitar on all tracks from Robert Fripp. Igor Abuladze joined The Humans on their US and UK tour in 2011 in support of the album Sugar Rush.
A new seven-track third album has been recorded and mixed and will be released in 2014. Concerts are being lined-up to include UK, Europe and USA and may include cinemas, theatres, churches and other unusual spaces alongside traditional rock venues.