After catching their killer show at Spaceland a few months ago with Solid Gold, I just had to learn more about East LA band, Marvelous Toy. One thing led to another and soon I was in touch with Jordan Hudock, the braintrust of the band. I caught up with him for a couple tasty beers at El Prado to chat about his mixtape “WAKE UP!” and got some local tips along the way…
TA: So I got a sort of retro 70’s vibe from the mix – was that intentional?
JH: Not really, but I think that plays a big part in my influences. When you’re growing up you hate what your parents like. As you get older you start to realize that music really kind of made you who you are in certain ways, and there’s this odd nostalgia that goes with it. You can like a song purely based on the fact that it evokes some kind of memory. As a teenager I started to collect vinyl and it was all David Bowie, Queen, Supertramp, John Lennon, Billy Joel – records that my parents had that I used to make fun of, and all of a sudden now I was buying them.
TA: Did that nostalgia play into the theme of your mixtape?
JH: Probably, though I didn’t really think about it that way. Most of the music I love has a bit of nostalgia attached to it. I think that the first time you hear a song that really means something to you, you take a little snapshot of that moment, probably on a subconscious level. The reason why you love listening to it again and again is because it recalls that moment. It’s like looking at pictures. So I’m sure most of the music I chose for this mix is riddled with nostalgia. But aside from all that – it’s music that would get me the hell up in the morning, that’s for sure.
TA: Are you a morning person?
JH: I fluctuate. Some people, they love being able to sleep late and stuff – and I do love that, but deep down I think I am supposed to be a morning person. Breakfast will get me out of bed. I am a huge breakfast person, ask anybody. In fact I just spent about 20 minutes today looking at the top 10 pancake places.
TA: What are some of your favorite breakfast spots in LA?
JH: I really like Taco Spot which is right by my house. They do a great breakfast with a Mexican twist. They serve eggs, but they put chorizo in there and it’s fantastic. There’s a place called Grub, that’s a good place. I’m pretty easy. Make me eggs and pancakes – I’m good.
TA: Where does the name “Marvelous Toy” come from?
JH: It’s a folk song by Tom Paxton about a kid who gets this toy for Christmas. He doesn’t know what it does, but it makes all these sounds and does all these things and it’s a “marvelous toy.” Peter Paul and Mary also do a version of it. My dad used to sing it to me a lot. You get toys as a kid, and for that moment they’re amazing and you love them. Then you grow up and they get put away in boxes or thrown out. There’s something sad and nostalgic about it at the same time.
TA: How would you describe your sound as a vocalist?
JH: People have said – and this is the one I get the most – Neil Diamond, which is funny because growing up my mom listened to a lot of Neil Diamond, so I did by way of her. Maybe there was some weird subconscious shit going on.
TA: Did you start the band with a genre in mind?
JH: I had been in a previous band where I was doing a lot of louder pop stuff and I got tired of it. I wanted to do something softer, so initially I started this as a side project to do softer, folky stuff. I started to assemble a band and Ny [Lee] was one of the first people that I asked, then my brother [Cody]. Then I got a drummer because I thought, “Well I need some percussion – just something mild,” But our drummer, Franck, was so good that I started to write louder harder songs just so I could showcase him. Pretty soon it evolved into what it is now. Ny describes it as aggressive folk. I think deep down I’m a loud person. Even if I try to tone it down for a while I can’t really hide that.
TA: What are some local bands that you admire?
JH: I really like Avi Buffalo, I’m happy that they’re blowing up. I really like a band called Shadow Shadow Shade, they’ve got that whole Arcade Fire feel. I like Local Natives a lot too; we’ve played shows with them. Andy Clockwise is also great. He gives one of the best shows I’ve ever seen, and he’s a good guy. We’ve been lucky enough to be invited to open for him a handful of times and I never say no. And Fol Chen made one of my favorite albums of last year.
TA: With your mixtape, did you start of with a particular tone or song in mind?
JH: I knew a Killers song was going on. The Killers are one of my not-so-guilty pleasures and sometimes during rehearsal me and my brother will go off on a tangent and start playing one of their songs. “Telstar” by The Tornadoes was one I knew had to go on there too. It’s a really odd instrumental that uses an early synthesizer called a clavioline. It was used by Del Shannon in “Runaway”, and The Beatles in “Baby, You’re a Rich Man.” I’ve been trying to get my hands on one, but they’re very hard to come by.
TA: It seems like all the bands in East LA are involved with multiple projects at a time. You’re also in The Henry Clay People. Is there some sort of secret club you need to be inducted into? Are you all friends?
JH: Some LA bands, mostly on the east side, used to meet and play kickball on Sundays at Glassell Park. That’s how I got to know a lot of these bands. What came out of that was a show at All Star Lanes in Eagle Rock called “Kickchella” to raise money for kickball uniforms that we never bought because I don’t think we even made enough money. It was really fun though. A bunch of bands all played. That was when I showcased a lot of the new stuff I had been writing which was a departure from the old, softer sound. So I kind of designate that as the rebirth of the band.
TA: So what can we expect from Marvelous Toy next?
JH: We have an Echo show on September 7th with Wait. Think. Fast. And MT has a full length album that’s almost done that we’ve kinda been sitting on. It’s called Not Moving, and most likely will be released the beginning of next year. Then more shows and hopefully a tour. I’m not a fan of playing a show just to play a show. I think it should mean something to you.
Purchase their EP All is Quiet on iTunes, and don’t miss their show at The Echo on Tues Sept 7, with Wait. Think. Fast, Light FM and Future Ghost, presented by Buzz Bands and Al Borde. Tickets are free for 21+
Marvelous Toy “I Have To Write This Over”
And check out their video for “Waiting For The Fire”