The Californian garage wunderkind takes us through his finest albums
A low-key set of Bolan covers results in one of Segall’s most relaxed recordings. First an EP, this was expanded into an album in 2015.
Goner were like, “Hey, we’re gonna do something for Record Store Day, do you wanna do a limited release LP?” In all honesty, I was like, “I’m not doing 10 songs that are limited to 1000 copies.” You work hard on a song, man, you want it to be in print, you know? But I came around to the idea that I should do something that you’re not supposed to do, cover one of the greats or whatever. So I thought, well, you’re totally not supposed to do a T.Rex cover record, it’s pretty ballsy and kind of stupid. They gave me a couple hundred bucks and I went and recorded it. It’s just straight-up a stupid and fun thing to do, with nothing but the utmost respect for Bolan. It should not be taken super-seriously. I didn’t wanna do all the massive hits – I’m a truly deep fan, I love everything, and I wanted to do some of the weirder ones, and the Tyrannosaurus Rex ones, because a lot of people don’t know those records. I love Electric Warrior, but in my opinion, Unicorn or T.Rex are the mindblowers for me. But of course, now I put on Electric Warrior and it’s like, ‘Holy fucking shit, no wonder this guy was as big as The Beatles in England!’ I want to do another record where I’m just covering all of my friends’ songs.
TY SEGALL & WHITE FENCE
DRAG CITY, 2012
Segall teams up with Tim Presley for a collaborative album embracing twisted acoustic ballads, schizophrenic pop and motorik jams.
I knew Tim’s brother, Sean Paul – he had a band called Nodzzz, and Traditional Fools would play with Nodzzz all the time. But strangely I never got to meet Tim in that era, but I’d heard about him and his band, Darker My Love. Fast forward to 2010, and I flipped out about the first White Fence album – I thought it was the best thing anyone had done in years – so I became an obsessed fan and started going to any White Fence show I could. A couple of my friends actually joined White Fence, and I got to know Tim. It was like asking somebody out on a date, like, “Hey man, can we write some music together?” We originally talked about just doing a split 12” where we would each do four songs on a side, and then we decided, ‘Fuck it, let’s just write some songs.’ The day before we went into the studio we met up for two hours to try and write a song or two. We wrote “Time” together with two acoustic guitars on the fly. It ended up that we each contributed two songs each, and then the rest was written together. Everything was recorded in four days at Bauer’s, pretty wild, pretty wham-bam style. Tim is such an insane musician, his lyrical workflow is unparalleled. Lyrics are the hardest part for me, so it was cool, we worked really well together. I think there’s a time and a place for a long record and a short record, but I like that this one’s short – technically, Drag City said it’s the shortest LP they’ve released – they wanted to call it an EP, and I was like, “Hell no, this is not an EP.” Tim and I are actually talking about a follow-up at the moment.
TY SEGALL BAND
IN THE RED, 2012
Writing and recording with his live band, Segall crafts a brutal concept album, also featuring a freeform hymn to his effects pedal of choice, Death By Audio’s Fuzz War.
I started to understand that there’s two kinds of records, an overdub record and a band record. I had never done the band record, and I’m looking round at my band and I’m like, ‘Everyone in it is insanely talented, we’ve gotta do a band record.’ I had the beginnings of maybe four of these songs, so I brought them to the guys and we wrote everything else together. Originally we were just gonna do a six-song EP, but we ended up recording 12 songs. I’m very happy it’s an LP. I had “Death” and “Slaughterhouse” written, and I had “I Bought My Eyes” a little bit, but not finished. Then lyrically it all started to shift, and by the time we’d finished the fifth song I was like, “Guys, this is a total concept record, let’s tweak it to go there.” It was cool to have that naturally happen instead of having it so mapped out. It’s about a war, so I thought, ‘We need to end this with a battle, an auditory battle! So let’s make a noise track called “Fuzz War”.’ I’ve talked to a lot of people who say, “That record’s great, but that ‘Fuzz War’ song – not cool!” And I’m always like, “Thanks for your opinion, man, but that’s kinda why I put it on there, so people like you wouldn’t like it.” I think this band is done – we all kind of agreed. Everything’s cool, but we just didn’t wanna tour that band into the ground and make it not fun anymore, so we decided to just throw up a peace sign and move on.