How it’s always been
Ty Segall on his new album and DIY roots
Many genres are stamped on the music of Ty Segall: garage, punk, slacker, psych rock. At its core, though, you find pure, loud, and honest rock and roll.
Segall, who turns 30 this year, released his second self-titled album in January. Ty Segall (2017) was recorded with long-time friends and collaborators (Mikal Cronin on bass, Charles Moothart on drums, Emmett Kelly on guitar, and Ben Boye on piano/Wurlitzer—collectively known as The Freedom Band), engineered by recording legend/opinionated industry-ethics spokesman Steve Albini, and distributed by Drag City, a Chicago-based independent record label.
Segall will make his Tulsa debut at Cain’s Ballroom on Wednesday, May 10, with local band Planet What and OKC’s Junebug Spade opening.
Ty Clark: Have you ever been on Tulsa Time before?
Ty Segall: I have. I’ve driven through a couple times but haven’t stopped to play, so I am very excited to. I’m based in Southern California. I was born in the Bay Area but grew up in Orange County. I moved back to the Bay when I was 18 and I’ve just hopped back and forth from Northern and Southern California a few times.
Clark: Has that influenced your sound?
Segall: Yeah... The San Francisco rock-and-roll scene, kind of, [I] came out of noise rock, and experimental rock then kind of became more psych rock.
Clark: Who are some of your favorite bands from that area?
Segall: Thee Oh Sees, Sic Alps. I didn’t really roll with The Hospitals, but I was a big fan. There is a band out of Sacramento, The Mayyors. And then, ya know, our friends we grew up with started bands as well: The Traditional Fools, The Moonhearts, Mikal Cronin. I wouldn’t say it’s insular but very much a shared group of people playing with each other. There is a lot of crossover with musicians between bands.
Clark: With so much overlap is there also some conflict?
Segall: Isn’t that how everyone is with everything? But I don't care about anything like that.
Clark: Is it hard being a working musician and keeping your personal relationships intact?
Segall: That is the only hard part, being so busy and touring so much. Most of the people I’m really close with work in a similar way. They’re mostly creative types and are gone, at least, a month or two out of the year. I’m constantly trying to lighten my schedule and make more time for, um, normalcy.
Clark: What was Steve Albini’s role in your last album?
Segall: He engineered it. I think he’d be the one having a hard time saying he is the “producer.” He’d be the one to tell you the opposite, but I’d say he definitely likes collaborating and making sounds happen with people—so he is producing, but wouldn't admit it (laughs). Um, he just doesn’t want to get in the way of people's ideas. That’s his whole thing. He wants people to be themselves and make the kind of records they want to make, which is super commendable.. I’m the kind of guy that's going, “What about this, Steve? What do you think of this?” So, we definitely had a lot of collaborative conversations. And mixing the record was definitely a collaborative thing. I mean, he’s a genius. He’s a master at his craft.
Clark: How many of your records did you produce yourself?
Segall: I’d probably say all of them, except maybe a couple are co-produced. That Manipulator record is a bit more Chris Woodhouse-produced, but I’d say almost all of them. Ya know, I kind of have to produce it.
Clark: Does your label, Drag City, give you quite a bit of freedom?
Segall: Oh, yeah. That’s been the deal from day one and is pretty much why we started working together. They’ll never, really, tell me what to do. We have such a great understanding, and I really respect their opinion as a label. So we shoot ideas back and forth, obviously, and have conversations about songs and all that, but they're never gonna step in and get in the way of an idea that I have or anything like that. At this point we’re old friends, so we can have real conversations about things, but it’s not a business conversation and not a typical “music industry” conversation, at all. That’s why they're the best.
Clark: Do you prefer recording with a full band or tracking individual instruments one at a time?
Segall: Most of my records have been me tracking by myself, but this new one was with a band and is why I enjoyed it so much. It’s such a different experience, and the live band … it’s such a slaying, amazing band! I was very happy to [record] it live. I’d never done it with my songs for a solo record. I’d always done it with bands I was in, so it was really cool to do.
Clark: Do you take the DIY approach to a lot of things?
Segall: Well, yeah, we all started doing it that way cause we didn’t have money or a choice, but ended up, um, preferring it to the other [standard music industry] way. Now, I feel like it’s kind of a blend of DIY, but we’re lucky enough to have more money to make records and better gear and all that stuff. I like making decisions for which direction recording is gonna go or a tour, but, ya know, it’s how it’s always been: pick where you wanna play, how you want to record. That’s all you can do, really, to be in control of anything.
It’s fun and it doesn’t stop when you finish writing a song. For me.
Clark: What can we expect from your show?
Segall: It’s just a rock-and-roll band, man. So, if you want to listen to some really, really, really loud rock, then come to the show. You’ll like it.
For more from Ty (Clark), read his interview with A Perfect Circle’s Billy Howerdel.