Toyah & Robert, the dynamic duo of Toyah Willcox and Robert Fripp, have not only brought joy and laughter to fans with their Sunday Lunch series but have also taken it beyond the kitchen and onto the stage. In an interview with NME at Glastonbury 2023, the couple discusses the unexpected success of their show, their upcoming tour, and how they handle negative comments. They also share their thoughts on the enduring legacy of David Bowie and the future of their Sunday Lunch series.
Surprising Success and Broader Audiences
When Toyah & Robert began their Sunday Lunch series during the pandemic, they never anticipated its rapid growth and international appeal. The couple initially aimed to bring laughter and positivity to those experiencing loneliness during lockdown. However, their classic rock covers resonated with a broader audience, transcending language, culture, and borders. By connecting through the universal language of music, they discovered a powerful means to uplift and unite people around the world.
Toyah Willcox: “It did surprise us. We were going for about eight months and it was growing and growing and growing. It started with one very simple post: 28 seconds of us jiving. Within five minutes it got about 100,000 replies from across the world. At that point, we realized that we’d posted something that basically cheered people up who were alone in lockdown.”
Robert Fripp: “For me, there’s nothing old about classic rock. It’s alive in the moment. So if you are looking at The Beatles, for example, the present moment is 60 years so far… Metallica may be 30 years. The point is classic music is available in this moment and it is alive if we wish to participate and be in the moment with it.”
The Spoken Word Tour and Dealing with Comments
Reflecting on their recent spoken word tour, Robert Fripp and Toyah Willcox acknowledge that it may not have reached a wide audience in terms of traditional statistics. Nevertheless, they embrace the engagement and interesting comments they receive from their viewers. Despite some less-than-positive remarks, they maintain a humorous perspective, seeing these comments as an opportunity for amusement and connection.
Robert Fripp: “Still very, very few indeed, dear. If you are looking at best sellers and high statistics, not many at all. But that’s not an issue… the number of people in the audience has no relevance.”
Toyah Willcox: “They were joining in the humor!”
Robert Fripp: “Actually the two quotes were not offered in the spirit of goodwill or encouragement!”
The Future of Sunday Lunch
When asked about the future of the Sunday Lunch series, Toyah & Robert reveal that they have been signed by a world agency and plan to continue the show for a set number of years. Robert jokingly mentions rocking out until he’s 84, while Toyah emphasizes the importance of prioritizing their health and not pushing themselves beyond reasonable limits. As long as the show maintains its growing audience and social media presence, they intend to keep bringing joy and fantastic rock music to their viewers.
Toyah Willcox: “That’s such a good question. We’ve actually been picked up by a world agency and we have decided that we’re going to give them a set amount of years.”
Robert Fripp: “I figure I’ve got until I’m 84 to rock out…”
Toyah Willcox: “I think that’s enough time. I will not allow my husband to carry luggage, carry equipment past 81.”
Taking Sunday Lunch on the Road
Exciting news awaits fans as Toyah & Robert announce their plans to take Sunday Lunch on tour for the first time later in the year. Expectations for the shows are intentionally left open-ended, with a promise of a memorable night filled with rock ‘n’ roll, energy, and humor. The couple also shares their future aspirations for television, with three embryonic ideas currently in development, poised to be shot next year.
Toyah Willcox: “The whole idea is people come and they have a really memorable night. It’s rock’n’roll, but it also has our energy and our humor… Basically, I’m keeping my clothes on and we are doing fantastic rock music.”
Robert Fripp: “It seems that Toyah & Robert are becoming popular, not purely musically…”
David Bowie’s Influence and New Talent
As the interview takes place at Glastonbury, the conversation naturally turns to the legendary David Bowie, who had a strong connection to the festival. Toyah and Robert express their admiration for the abundance of talent in the music industry and believe that Bowie would have been enthusiastic about emerging artists.
Toyah Willcox: “That’s a fantastic question. There’s so much talent around, and there’s always new talent discovering Bowie for the first time. I think there’s some absolutely genuine talent out there, [for instance] Wet Leg, they’re fabulous and they’re just creating their own genre and their own places in music history.”
Robert Fripp: “David would know who was hot and who was about to appear before anyone else. We live in Middle England, so the live music that comes to town tends to be an older generation… but Bowie would always know.”