Ty Segall has released 15 or so full-length albums in the last seven years. Do the math—that adds up to 2.14 albums per year. Compare that to, say, U2, who have released 11 albums in 29 years. That's .38 albums per year. I think it’s safe to say that Ty is the one who should be kicking AIDS's ass all over Africa.
His shows are a lot rowdier too. Last fall, I caught him and Thee Oh Sees in Toronto, where Ty had to physically jump in and rescue his fans from an “asshole” of a security dude. Before that happened, he had the place losing their minds to his wild rock ’n’ roll party—I could literally feel the floor of the venue moving. With his brand new album, Ty will be flipping the script. Sleeper is a mostly-acoustic album that finds him leaving the party to find a much more relaxed, melancholic state. With a new band in tow, he’s also dialing back his performances, heading out on tour for a series of acoustic gigs that he thinks people won’t like.
I spoke to Ty, who was lamped out at his newish digs in Los Angeles, about pushing bouncers back, not liking sports, leaving San Francisco, and his fondness for sour candy.
Noisey: The last time I saw you play was at the Hoxton in Toronto.
Ty Segall: Oh yeah. Was that the one with the bouncer coming up on stage?
Yeah. What happened there?
The bouncer was being a complete asshole. He was just rough handling all of these kids that were stage diving. I tried to talk to the security when we play, like, “Hey man, the kids are probably going to stage-dive and jump around. Don’t interfere unless someone’s getting punched in the face.” And this guy just really, really rough handled the kids, shoving them really violently, giving them insane whiplash. And I kept telling them, “Don’t fucking do that!” And he kept doing it, so I just grabbed him and tried to push him into the crowd. He was way bigger than me [laughs] and we had a bit of a stand off. And then the guy falls! [laughs] He was being such a dick. He was seriously hurting girls. Like violently shoving girls. It was just insane.
So, when you’re going after him, is there any part of you who thinks, “This could turn out really badly for me”?
I don’t really care if the dude fucking punches me in the face or anything. I’ve just got to stop him from hurting other kids.
Did you talk to him afterwards?
The guy was super pissed off and I was like, “Fuck you! Don’t fucking do that!” The promoter of the club came up and apologized, which was really nice of you. He said he’d have a stern talking to the security guy. It worked out alright.
So, you’re new album, Sleeper, sounds as though your concerts won’t be as crazy as they normally are.
Yeah, we’re gonna do an acoustic tour. We’re doing the Sleeper Band, which is the mellow version. It’s not the Ty Segall Band, but the Sleeper Band.
You’ve said, “We’re a fucking loud, gnarly, screaming, emotional band.” How do you think the adjustment will be switching to an acoustic performance?
For these songs, I don’t think it’ll be hard for us to do it, because I have a different band for this tour. Mikal [Cronin, bass] and Emily [Rose Epstein, drums] are touring for Mikal’s record. I decided to just take that cue and assemble a mellow band. I’m sure people will want to hear loud, aggressive music… I hate to disappoint anybody, but you’ve gotta try something different every now and then. We’ll be back after this record and tour, with our normal configuration of the Ty Segall Band: Emily, Mikal, Charlie [Moothart, guitar] and me. But for this tour we wanted to perform our songs differently. I’m sure people won’t like it. But that’s okay because it’s different and that’s cool.
It’s important to switch things up. I would love to be in the Ramones, of course, but I wouldn’t be completely fulfilled. It’s definitely a problem of mine, and also a fun thing to do. It’s the most fun thing for me, to find new stuff to play.
What made you decide to go acoustic?
It wasn’t really a decision it just kinda happened. I started writing songs and eventually, two or three songs in I just kept writing on an acoustic. I didn’t even think this would turn into a record or that we would tour it.
You moved to Los Angeles from San Francisco. Did the vibe of LA change things for you?
No, I recorded this in San Francisco.
The press release says you and drove down the coast for "a new way of living."
Yeah, that’s just a press release, y’know.
Well, did you make any life changes?
I live in a different house. I don’t really think so. I have a little recording nook and surf a little more, and it’s sunnier. But that’s about it.
What made you move to LA?
I know a lot of great people here. My sister lives close to here. I surf and there’s more space. There’s no space in San Francisco.
Whenever I think of U.S. cities I associate them with sports. Have you switched any allegiances moving to a new city?
I don’t actually follow any sports. The only sport I do follow is surfing. Going to baseball and hockey games are fun. I guess if I had to say I was a fan of a team, I’d say either the Dodgers or the Giants. But I don’t really care. It’s more of an excuse to get together with friends and hang out.
Earlier this year you released a seven-inch by Fuzz, your band with Roland Casio and Charles Moothart, who’s in your band. What’s going on with that?
We have an album that’s coming out in early October on In the Red. And we’re gonna tour and keep playing. I’m super psyched to play drums.
So, when you release an album like Slaughterhouse under the name the Ty Segall Band, it’s because…
It’s the whole band. The Ty Segall Band. Like Twins, I played almost all of the parts myself. But yeah, we wanted to record a whole record with the band because it was so rad and so fun. It’s cool because we all wrote and played the songs together, it was totally collaborative. It was super fun!
Is that the start of something? Would you make another Ty Segall Band album?
Oh yeah! I’d like to make five more records with those guys. Hopefully, throughout the years.
Speaking of releasing a ton of records, last year you released three: one with White Fence, one with the Band and one solo. Do you ever get tired? Can you slow down?
Touring the records is pretty tiring. But that’s how musicians make their money is playing. I know few musicians who make enough from royalties to live off of. I’m very lucky that people have bought some of my records. I’m super lucky that I can take a step back from touring. But my whole musical life, if I stopped touring I’d have to move out of my house and sleep on someone’s house. So it’s this kind of weird middle zone, where you have to keep touring to eat. But yeah, that was really tiring. And again, we’re the luckiest people to have that cushion where we can take a break and decide what to do next.
Being so prolific, how do you not get burnt out from writing?
You’ve just got to know when to take a cue from your brain to not write. You need to say, “Yeah, this isn’t good. I need to take a break and go to the beach and get a milkshake.” Sometimes it’s not worth putting in the effort.
Since the album’s called Sleeper, what is the strangest place you've fallen asleep or woke up in?
In a front yard when I was 21 in the South. I think it was in Alabama.
Who owned the house?
I don’t know. Supposedly someone was letting the band stay there. I don’t remember because I was far too drunk. And supposedly everybody was putting up a tent in the backyard, and I just fell asleep in the front yard.
When I think of the word “sleeper” I think of a few different things. Which applies best to the inspiration for the album's title: the Britpop band, the Woody Allen flick, or that crazy episode of Buffy in season 7?
I’ve never heard of that band. What did they sound like?
They were kind of a poor man’s Elastica. Not bad, not great, definitely not as cool.
Okay. I’d probably say the Woody Allen movie, based on his whole career.
Were you a Buffy fan?
At one point I watched it when I was 12 or so. I thought it was rad. I especially liked the movie.
Really? The show was so much better than that movie.
I mean, I need to revisit the show.
Where did the title Sleeper come from?
It’s about death and dreams, basically.
What inspired that?
The whole record is kind of about that, and someone died that was really close to me. My dad, eight months ago.
Shit. Sorry about that.
That’s okay. And it’s about that and a lot of pretty weird family stuff that happened, and me dealing with it. I think that’s why I meant it wasn’t intentional, stuff just came out. It’s just the way these songs were.
Your pal and producer Eric Bauer described you as a "big sugar head" who loves candy. What are your go-to candies?
I love sour Skittles. I’d say they’re my go-to candy. I’m a big candy dude, but I’ve been cutting back. I’m getting too old to eat as much candy as I used to. Y’know, the young kid metabolism—eat a bunch of pizza, drink a bunch of beer, eat a bunch of candy. And you’re about 120 pounds. Well, not anymore! I just had a popsicle, so that was my sugar rush for the day.
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