Running a little late in the morning? Maybe you need a little Toast to go along with breakfast and help get you in the mood for that zoo just outside your door.
Maybe you need a little jump-start to get you into the dog-eat-dog, rat-race, fast-lane, up-the-corporate-ladder, until-your-heart-blows-up routine that is your daily routine.
A little of this Toast along with your morning coffee will give you such an adrenalin rush, you'll hit the ground running, maybe even sprinting. These guys play so fast your ears can hardly keep up. They make Oingo Boingo seem like a Tracy Chapman cover band. With Toast providing the soundtrack, you could eat your breakfast in about seven seconds, and clean the entire house in a minute and a half.
This Toast, the musical Toast, has nothing to do with food or even breakfast. Toast is fronted by the energetic, enigmatic Todd Vernallis. He's so thin, he looks like 6 o'clock. But it's hard to tell because he never stands still. He plays guitar so fast you can't see his fingers, and makes a face as if the Predator just stepped on his foot.
Toast is a four-piece thrash band from Newbury Park, heavy on the decibels and the Angst. The eastern portion of Ventura County has the most people, several bands and basically no place to play. So bands like Toast come to the west end, where there's Charlie's, Charlie's, Charlie's, and occasionally Hussing's, Mog's and Club Soda--oh, and Charlie's.
The band will be opening for local legends, the Mudheads, this Saturday night at Charlie's. Any of the Toastees would probably be happy to sell you a copy of the band's latest tape. Toast has an "in" with the Mudheads: Colleen Coffey plays bass for Toast. Her brother, Bill Coffey, sings and plays guitar for the Mudheads. In addition to Vernallis and Coffey, Roy San Filippo plays guitar and Sid Hajdu is on drums. After a recent practice at Vernallis' Newbury Park home, the band discussed Toast:
Why the name Toast?
Hajdu: "A frequently asked but never-answered question."
Vernallis: "We've been around for about two years now."
How come there's nowhere to play in the East County?
Vernallis: "I don't know. Sometimes we play at the park-and-ride lot on Borchard Avenue. That's really fun--we just get a generator and play. The last time, there were three or four bands."
Hajdu: "We played at the Thousand Oaks Teen Center once. That's about it."
Vernallis: "We used to play in L.A. a lot. In fact, our first gig was at the Whiskey in Hollywood--we opened for a T. O. band called Clyde. It was a typical pay-to-play gig. We sold seven hundred dollars' worth of tickets and ended up playing Sunday at midnight."
How did Toast come about?
San Filippo: "I met Todd at Newbury Park High School, and I found out that we both played guitar. Then we decided to get a band together and dug up a few people."
What about the new tape?
Vernallis: "It's about to happen--it should be out by the weekend. We're getting 250 copies for 600 bucks--that's cheap. The last one pretty much sold out."
Coffey: "This tape is a lot different than the first tape. Now, we're more frantic, more aggressive."
Hajdu: "Much more frantic, more of an attack, more of an attitude."
Vernallis: "I do, more or less."
Coffey: "We have about 30 songs that we could play and not be shamed by. I was in class the other day, and it was so boring that I counted all of our songs."
Vernallis: "We only do three covers--a Firehose song, a Violent Femmes song and a Velvet Underground song."
Describe Toast tunes.
What are Toast tunes about?
San Filippo: "Well, none of them are about girls or heartbreak or sex."
Hajdu: "If I wrote the songs, they'd be about sex and beer."
Vernallis: "A lot of them are improvisational--just whatever's on my mind at the time."
What types of music inspired you to get involved in all this?
Coffey: "The Mudheads were a big inspiration. My mom is proud of both Bill and myself, but I think she'd rather see them because we're too loud."
Vernallis: "I grew up with punk rock, the Clash and all that. I like anything that's from the heart--Bob Dylan, the Clash--it's the same thing."
What would be your dream gig?
San Filippo: "Firehose would be pretty fun. Or Bob Mould."
Coffey: "I saw Firehose last time they played at the Ventura Theatre. I was in the front row; then somebody lifted me up onto the stage. I was looking right at Mike Watt; then I was looking at concrete because they threw me out."
Can a band from Newbury Park get signed?
Vernallis: "A band from anywhere can get signed."
Hajdu: "We all have an equally slim chance."
What's the most misunderstood thing about Toast?
Hajdu: "We're pretty direct, I guess. Most people can't believe what a pussycat Todd is offstage after seeing him perform."
What was your strangest gig?
Vernallis: "It would have to be the Battle of the Bands in Ojai--we won. We got 300 bucks and a four-foot trophy--there it is in the corner."
Hajdu: "It was funny because there was nobody left but the bands and everybody was arguing about who won. When they announced the winner and it was us, we were more surprised than anybody."
What's next for Toast?
Hajdu: "A big question mark."
Vernallis: "On the horizon, I see people moving away to Santa Cruz to go to school."
Coffey: "Roy and I are going to UC Santa Cruz. I'm like every girl in America--a psych major. Roy is a political science major."