Like most bands, The Island of Misfit Toys formed though friends playing their instruments together. Unlike most bands, the group grew to include nine members.
It’s been four years since the Chicago-based band released a full-length record. Since that time, they have been able to hone their craft and produce a record they believe is truly made for a band their size and variety of skills.
Bear Hair, their 2011 debut, wasn’t written with The Island of Misfit Toys in mind, according to frontman Anthony Sanders.
“This is the first LP that was written by and for a nine-piece group,” Sanders said.
The new record, I Made You Something, features nine tracks that are relatively long and focus on the overarching themes of compassion and the forgiveness of other people and oneself in the hopes of reaching a kind of spiritual awakening.
“There’s a lot of personal expression on my part regarding my spirituality and the afterlife,” Sanders said. “It’s not so acute to the point where it isn’t relatable, it’s supposed to be about a grand idea.”
The album is influenced by Sander’s religious upbringing and the struggle to make sense of one’s human flaws and the idea that we are created in God’s image. Sanders said it reflects on ideals and spiritual themes, but is composed in a way that it isn’t autobiographical and instead can appeal to a broader audience.
“I grew up Catholic and my family was sort of intense about it, and there was a lot of talk in church about being made in God’s own image,” said Sanders. “I am by no means a religious guy today, but when I was a kid and heard stuff like that, there was a lot of struggling to understand that if I was supposed to be created in this image of someone good and holy, is the spiritual world supposed to be like this too?”
I Made You Something will feature the energetic musical styles the band has become known for but will also incorporate a variety of new sounds and arrangements that only a nine piece band can offer.
The band struggles to define its sound but Sanders said the most fitting label is “busy music.”
“I definitely think it is applicable,” Sanders said. “It’s been kind of a challenge describing exactly what we think it is, so we thought that was the best descriptor. There is a lot happening and whenever there’s a moment of relief and nothing is happening it is very noticeable. There’s rarely a spare moment.”
With nine members, including two drummers, there’s a variety of instruments and sounds in every song. The band has had difficulties fitting on certain stages or basements, but the large number of members also brings a lot of personality and a palate of talent and musical textures.
“Deliberating and making decisions is kind of hard but I actually think that is a good thing because it means whatever we do, we really have to think critically,” Sanders said.
With their new album, due for release on August 28 via Broken World Media, the band moves into new territory but maintains that eccentric sound that earned them their fans.
Check out the music video for “Bath” off I Made You Something here: