WHEN Sara Clash and Genevieve Chasty started talking about playing music together, there was a crucial condition: no stress.
“We were talking about how stressful bands can be sometimes,” Chasty recounts. “We want to play music—but we don’t want to be stressed out!”
Indeed: scheduling rehearsals, writing together, hauling gear, and divvying up tasks from merch to recording to booking can turn the pleasure of music-making into an unpleasant chore. So Clash, Chasty, and Natalie Cutitta don’t let themselves go there, preferring to take a laidback attitude to their band, Tokalos.
Hence, their first album is coming out on Friday, and, as we’re chatting, they realize they haven’t talked about a potential title until asked.
Laughter erupts with grins all around.
“Good question!” says Clash.
“I guess we should come up with one!” Chasty nods, glancing at her bandmates.
It’s all a part of the easygoing nature of the young three-piece. Featuring Clash and Chasty on guitars and vocals and Cutitta on drums, the trio has released a few tracks on Bandcamp in their year-plus as a band, but this weekend, they’ll debut their first full-length.
All longtime admirers of one another’s tunes, a collaboration seemed meant to be.
Clash creates alt/blues rock as a solo artist and plays bass in Savannah rock band Broken Glow; Chasty performs as Beneath Trees, which can alternate between a solo endeavor and a duo. After touring the U.S. together, occasionally backing one another up, Clash and Chasty returned to Savannah ready to officially start a band together.
Clash has a velvety, rich voice capable of stretching to elasticky, near-ethereal heights; Chasty brings a Suzi Quatro-style attack to the mix that’s perfect accompanied by tube amp crunch. With Cutitta on drums, they’re a tight unit built on grit, harmonies, and classic blues tempos.
For the most part, Tokalos is a platform for Clash and Chasty to flesh out older songs, demos that hit a roadblock, or other solo works.
“We have our own songs, and we merge a bit,” Chasty describes.
“There’s a lot of songs we had separately that we had never done much with,” says Clash, “so it was nice to freshen them up.”
Their mutual love of blues, old-school rock guitar, and folk whimsy made performing together an easy fit.
“I think that, even from playing in the few punk bands I have, there’s a garage element there, too,” adds Chasty.
When a new tune’s on the operating table, Tokalos starts with a lot of “noodling around,” as Chasty puts it, feeling things out and finding ways to spin concepts into full-fledged songs as a team.
Road warriors Chasty and Clash both share a taste for similar lyrical content.
“A lot of what Sara and I sing about is music, or traveling experiences,” says Chasty. “I think they have a similar theme to them; that was kind of by accident. I feel like we don’t super-plan a lot of stuff, but it works out, so it’s really nice.”
“I feel a lot of empowerment in the songs,” Cutitta adds. “There’s an independence in them that I feel.”
Omingnome’s Tyler Cutitta recorded the band live at The Gnome Home, a residence occupied by a handful of Savannah musicians and artists. It was a last-minute decision to get a recording down before Tokalos hits the road for two weeks, and the members are excited to hear the results (they were set to get the final mixes a few hours after our interview).
“This recording experience was really awesome,” praises Chasty. “We did it just a couple of weeks ago; it just kind of happened!”
“We really lucked out being in Savannah in a music community that’s really embracing and helpful,” says Cutitta. “We’ve run into the right people who are willing to record us, or make a screenprint for us. It’s really easy to go to a show, talk to somebody, and end up with an opportunity that helps us move along.”
They’ll have DIY’d CDs ready for their House of Strut show and will have plenty more in hand as they travel across the country spreading the Tokalos love.
“We’re pretty much going along the Southern coast to L.A. with a bunch of stops in Texas,” Chasty says of their itinerary. “On the tour we did in October, we did 26 states, but we clipped the top of Texas. I really want to hang out there, and check out L.A., too.”
The trio’s looking forward to Birmingham—Clash and Chasty had a blast there on their solo tour, as well as New Orleans.
“To be back in the Southwest landscape is just so cool,” adds Chasty.
They’re stoked to visit old friends along the way, including Cusses’ Angel Bond in her new home of Los Angeles.
But before they go, they’re ready to give Savannah the first taste of their recording efforts. Their release show is a rowdy bill featuring Orlando post-punk band Autarx, Greta O. and The Toxic Shock, and Feeding Tube. Tokalos CDs will be available, so make sure to grab yours while they’re hot.