Toy Cars on Having Paint, Ramen, and Touring on the Brain

It’s a joy to cover a scene and watch a band evolve.

Matteo DeBenedetti was a contributor to ThePopBreak.com a few years ago, and in 2014 he offhandedly mentioned he was starting up a group that was dubbed Toy Cars.

In the past four years the band has evolved from a band that seemed like side project for Matteo into one of the most talked-about, and must-see bands in the Asbury Park scene. On January 12, the band released their first full-length album, Paint Brain. It’s an absolutely stellar indie rock album that’s driven by excellent musicianship, Matteo’s entrancing vocals, and wonderfully introspective lyrics.

On Friday January 19, the group celebrates their record release at House of Independents in Asbury Park along with latewaves, Halogens, DRMCTCHR, and Well Wisher.

Toy Cars is (Band Members & Instruments They Play): Matteo DeBenedetti (vocals/guitar), Matt Caponegro (guitar), Chris Beninato (bass), and Mike Linardi (drums).

Year We Formed In: 2014ish.

We’re Based Out Of: asbury Park, NJ!

The Story Behind Our Name: there’s not really a cool story, unfortunately! Someone who was playing drums for us at the time came up with it and it stuck.

Cool/Famous Bands We’ve Shared The Stage With: Most recently, The Menzingers. that was a fun show!

Our Sound Has Been Likened To: The gaslight Anthem, The Menzingers, Oso Oso

You’ve Seen Us Before in These Other Bands: Matteo and Chris played in Monterey for a while. Matt played in Hodera for a while, and Mike played in Deal Casino for a while.

Paint Brain is your first full length record — how does this album differ from your previous records both in terms of sound, and lyrical content?

Yes! We’re very excited about it. It’s definitely a push in a slightly different artistic direction. We experimented with some newer stuff we have never touched upon previously and the result was a few songs on this record that we think stand out artistically more than the others.

In the song creation process what comes first — the lyrics, or the sound?

I was actually talking with my friend Mike Frazier about this last night. I think it’s different for everyone, but more recently for me, we’ve been worrying more about the song itself and then organizing vocals and lyrics after the fact. It gives a little more space for collaborating musically.

What do you love about being in this band?

Honestly the best part is sniffing out ramen restaurants in every city we go to. It’s really broadened our taste for different foods.

If someone was thinking of checking out your show at House of Independents, or on any of your tour dates but had never heard a song by you before…what song would you recommend they check out to fully get what you guys are all about, and why?

This is a tough one to answer because it all depends on what music you’re into. I think we have a pretty colorful range within our music and some songs may appeal to some people, and other songs may appeal to other people. I would say if you’re looking for something heavier, try “Tread” or “Paint Brain” and if you want something softer try “Leaving” or “Erie.”

After the record release party at House of Independents, what do you have on the horizon for 2018?

We’re excited to be touring a bunch, still working out all the details but we can say that being on the road is one thing we’re looking forward to.

What are you most excited for in the coming year?

Seeing new places and meeting new people!

For tickets to Toy Cars record release party at House of Independents tonight, click here.

Bill Bodkin is the gray bearded owner, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break. Most importantly, he is lucky husband, and proud father to a beautiful daughter named Sophie. He can be seen regularly on the site reviewing The Walking Dead, Doctor Who, and is the host of the site's podcast, The BreakCast. He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English. Follow him on Twitter: @BodkinWrites