If we all took seriously the message in TOCK’s latest single, “Shut My Mouth,” we’d all be much better off. It’s too often we talk before we think, and it’s a trait of human nature that has become all too toxic, particularly in recent months.
The band acknowledges these challenges in examining the parallels of personal disagreements and political disagreements. If we all took a step back to think and reflect for a moment, we’d avoid so much conflict and contention. And the value of listening can’t be underscored either, since we somehow often manage to turn the “off” switch on our ears when the tension begins to rise. And it wasn’t exactly intentional, but the song can’t help but make reference to our current crisis in which social distancing and keeping one’s mouth shut is being emphasized for the greater good of society.
To provide greater contextual insight, Steve Laxton commented “‘Shut My Mouth’ is very relatable in the sense that everyone says things they don’t mean in the heat of the moment. This is the inspiration of the song. However, there is a subtext with the lyric ‘shut my mouth and keep my distance,’ which unintentionally marks up thoughts of today’s challenges. The recording process turned out to be a little out of the ordinary: we had just picked up a freshly repaired 12-string guitar, which ended up seeing the mood they were looking for. Everything was going as intended when a local music shop posted an upright bass for sale. Having never played or bowed an upright bass, Joel (Tock) decided to take a crack at it. For Joel this was a real crash course on the instrument, as he managed to eventually figure it out. Overall, the track has a very organic and ‘woody’ sound, with undertones of regret.”
Forming in 2018, the duo of Tock and Laxton meshed quickly. They had previously played separately in many Wisconsin-based cover bands so they had experience, as well as songs already composed and finetuned. Although they had similar musical interests, they both came from very different musical backgrounds, with Laxton specializing in power pop, rock, and blues music, and Tock having more of a history with rock and electronic music. What made the transition towards working together even easier was that both Tock and Laxton had extensive experience as live performers. Laxton was most well known in the Nashville and Chicago music scenes, while Tock had history as an international performer with various live acts, including a stint on the 2011 edition of the Van’s Warped Tour.
After beginning rehearsals in the basement of Tock’s mother’s music shop, the pair eventually developed a larger, more comfortable recording studio which they refer to as Smash Ranch. Since the establishment of Smash Ranch, Tock and Laxton have been cranking the tunes out fast and furiously. As much as they love the studio, they are most at home on the stage, which they, and the rest of us, so eagerly await a return to.