Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Review - Kanye West's TFLOP (aka The Life of Pablo)

Tonight, I sat down to write my first music review in over two years. I always thought that I never needed to be forced to write. I didn’t need any constraints or deadlines; when I wanted to write, I wrote. Simple as that. This week, I felt something entirely different, something that I believe borders dually on social commentary and music review.
It’s the new Kanye West album.
And while some of you may snicker, I hope that you’ll take what I’m saying with the knowledge that whatever this man says/does impacts America in some way, whether in the tabloids, politically, or pertaining to rights (remember Taylor Swift during the Grammy’s, slamming back at West after his back-handed jab at her in his track “Famous” from this record).
First, let’s talk about what drove me to listen to this in the first place. By no means am I a hardcore rap/hip-hop fan. In fact, I’m quite the opposite, but I certainly appreciate the art form. I heard and enjoyed Kendrick’s new album, and I love Dilla’s Donuts and jam it in the car often. This new album by West is something different; however, and it’s been hyped over the past few months on an immense scale. From cryptic Tweets to press releases, it seemed like this album was truly going to be something special. It changed titles from So Help Me God to SWISH to Waves to, finally, The Life of Pablo, arguably the worst and most embarrassing title of the bunch. A month or so back, West released the track ‘No More Parties In LA’ on his Soundcloud, and it was fairly great, most likely due to Kendrick Lamar’s appearance on it. Aside from that one track, I hadn’t heard anything else from this album prior to listening to the full thing on TiDAL a few days ago.
It started off great. The track ‘Ultralight Beam’ is fantastic. The beats are solid, and West has a minimal appearance on the track. Maybe that’s why I liked it, but still, it had something. Almost angelic, it had a message. ‘This is a god dream.’ Could this be West going against the odds to create something completely new in the genre? Was he attempting to reinvent it once again like he did with My Beautiful Twisted Fantasy or Yeezus? Nope. Definitely not, and it’s sad. West goes wayward a few tracks later, and the few shining moments on the album don’t let the great tracks truly shine. On “Famous,” West raps ‘I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex, why, I made that b***h famous.’ I understand that this has gone around in the media in the past few days, and it only highlights the misogynistic tones that West highlights on this album. Over the next few tracks, West raps about being famous, being rich (even though he tweeted recently that he is over fifty million dollars in debt and begging Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg for a million dollars), others being jealous because he’s famous, comparing himself to Steve Jobs, bragging about his wife Kim Kardashian, saying he can still be friends with Ray J even though they ‘loved the same b***h’, and so on.
West is certainly a narcissist, but that doesn’t mean that every track needs to be about his narcissism. In the beginning, hip-hop was about social issues. Expressing oneself because there was no other way to get people to listen. Bragging about oneself seems to be the opposite of what this form was meant for, and West only highlights this in his new album. There’s no real cohesion between the tracks other than West proclaiming his fame and wealth. Other than Kendrick Lamar’s new album, West’s new album doesn’t discuss any class issues. He’s so far removed from where he was in the beginning of his career that he’s lost touch with reality, much less what the people want to listen to, and much-much less what the people can identify with. Out of the few shining moments on the album, “Real Friends” is a highlight. Here, West talks about the value of having people behind him, trust issues, and letting people trust in him. This track is one of the only points on the album where West is honest. ‘When was the last time I remembered a birthday?’ Because of his fame, West left his ‘real friends’ behind, and he’s ashamed of it. This is also one of the only times on the album that he discusses the negative aspects of fame, and it’s searing. The only other track that fully grabbed my attention was “Fade,” purely because of its Dilla like beats and loops. Talking with a friend recently, we discussed the idea that Kanye’s persona is overshadowing every ounce of actual talent that he actually has. Much like the reality show that his Kardashian wife is a part of, West’s life is now a reality show. He’s in the newsweeklies sitting on the rack at CVS now, and that’s not a great thing. It only feeds his persona more, something that simply doesn’t need any more of an egotistical boost. It’s time for West to go back to his roots and get down to the social issues that are plaguing modern-day America (Black Lives Matter? Anyone? Anything?) instead of focusing on the fact that people will follow him everywhere he goes, and will buy everything he does. As far as I can tell, Kendrick Lamar is the future of hip-hop, and after that, I don’t know where it’s going. Where’s the next cultural shift? When you find out, let me know.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Legendary Poster Artist Gary Grimshaw Honored at The Scarab Club

Legendary Psychedelic poster artist Gary Grimshaw is being honored Thursday night at a reception and exhibit showcasing his work, concluding in the ceremonial Scarab Club beam signing. You may not be thinking that signing a beam at some artists’ workshop is no big deal; however, you would be completely wrong. The ceremonial beam signing at the Scarab Club in Detroit is a distinguished honor. Much like a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, one has to be chosen to receive this honor. A load of well known Detroit-native artists and poets have been able to sign the beam at the Scarab Club, with Diego Rivera, Tyree Guyton, Norman Rockwell and Elmore Leonard among them. Normally, this is the cause for celebration, but Grimshaw is celebrating for another reason, also.

Throughout his journey as an artist, Grimshaw has become an icon of rock and psychedelic art through the legendary posters and handbills he created for Detroit’s Grande Ballroom. Of course the Grande closed down in the early 70’s, but its memory remains, shown throughout Grimshaw’s now iconic work. Original Grimshaw posters are now worth thousands, but prints of them have been made for sale (www.garygrimshaw.com), with one of them having an appearance in Tim Burton’s 2012 Dark Shadows reboot film.  Due to a recent illness that Grimshaw has been battling, he is ready to turn the page onto his final journey as an artist. Grimshaw has always been known as soft spoken (yet revolutionary in his ideas), so this honor means even more to his family, his friends and himself.

The ‘Gary Grimshaw: Solo’ exhibition is showcased at The Scarab Club from January 2nd through February 15th. The reception takes place tomorrow, Friday, January 10th from 6-9pm with the ceremonial beam signing at 7:30.

EDIT- We lost our friend Gary Grimshaw at 11:05 today, January 13th 2014. His memory will live on with his work and through the inspiration he has given to new generations of artists. R.I.P. Peace And Power. 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Reviews: Gap Dream - 'Shine Your Light'

Gap Dream is back (this time with the assistance of Co-Producer Bobby Harlow), this time to spread his electro-synth fantasies into your dream realm. Gap Dream (Gabe Fulvimar, who used to be the bassist in the Black Keys) released one of the most pronounced debut albums in the independent scene last year via. Burger, and it isn't hard to see why it sold out so quickly. Fulvimar's unlikely blend of dream-pop and 80's synth stylings work together perfectly, and along with his misty vocals, create a unique product worthy of examining with an open mind. Not only does Fulvimar write spectacular songs, but he had the good sense to send samples in to the good people at Burger Records, who loved it, and it's easy to find out why. Standout tracks "Chill Spot" (released as a vinyl single), "Shine Your Light", "Fantastic Sam" and "Love Is Not Allowed" use both Harlow and Fulvimar's musical talents to an advantage even though they come from completely different musical backgrounds (Harlow from Detroit rock outfit The GO! and Fulvimar from the previously mentioned electronica).

Rating- 5/5 Stars

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Your Weekly Burger: Natural Child, Segall, and more!

Natural Child- Hard In Heaven
Less than a year after their previous long-playing album For The Love of The Game, Natural Child come back with its continuation, Hard In Heaven. If ‘For The Love’ were a double album, I can imagine this as the second LP. Fast rocker ”Laid, Paid and Strangerecalls back to their earlier work on the esteemed Infinity Cat label, while blues-stomper “Rock Bottom” brings back the sound of “8AM Blues”, the opener on their previous record. While it sounds great, it lacks the ferocity of their previous effort. 4/5

What’s Next For Natural Child? – Two new albums are in the works, one more studio album on Burger, along with a live 12”/7” vinyl combo on Shed House Records.

Ty Segall and Mikal Cronin – Reverse Shark Attack

Knowing that Segall has just released a new LP ( Sleeper, Drag City Records), his 2009 album featuring Mikal Cronin has just been reissued on cassette by Burger. The album definitely recalls Ty’s garage days, and is drastically different from last year’s Twins album. Jams like “I Wear Black” and the title track “Reverse Shark Attack’” give the album an unparalleled edge. 4.5/5

What’s Next For Segall?- After his ‘Sleeper’ album was released last month, Segall is gearing up for a world tour with his new outlet Fuzz, celebrating their self-titled album out in October on In The Red Recordings.
Apple Brains – Get Fruity!
Possibly the worst thing I’ve ever heard, Apple Brains try to teach kids a lesson about fruits and vegetables in pop songs. This does not deserve a Burger catalog number. Sure, if you have some kids it may serve some purpose, but for this writer it’s pure trash. The songs are so catchy that you’ll remember them every day when you wake up- that’s not a good thing. 0.5/5 (Gave the 0.5 because I felt bad that this guy wasted time recording this…)
What’s Next For Crapple Brains? – Who cares?
What Have We Wrought? – Compilation Tape
After my mind was mushed by Apple Brains, I decided to give this tape a play. The tape, after all, is a who’s who of hardcore punk. (Thanks for including unheard Necros, Negative Approach and The Fix tracks, Burger!) The tape has a great flow, and will obviously get many repeated listens. Weighing in at 42 tracks by 42 different bands, all procceds from the comp. go toward Mike Atta (Formerly of the band Middle Class, whom is currently battling cancer). Very good comp., I may have to order two before mine wears out… 5/5

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Detroit Black Music Awards 2013

With Joe Billingslea
Ortheia Barnes with Myself
The stage at the Detroit Black Music Awards
 This past Sunday, I had the honor of being invited to the Detroit Black Music Awards, a 5 year old award show that parallels the Detroit Music Awards, but honoring the best of the Detroit African-American music scene. While at the awards, I was able to meet with Kim Weston ('It Takes Two' - Duet with Marvin Gaye on Motown Records), Ortheia Barnes (Member of Cut Glass and Detroit legend), and Joe Billingslea (One of two surviving members of The Contours). Overall, it was a very amazing experience, partly because I had the ability to meet some of the greatest Motown and local stars, but mostly because I was able to experience the great music that was offered that evening. While the DBMA's are a relatively new event, it had all the charm of an event twice it's age. The show felt right at home at Bert's Warehouse Theater, with wonderful decor and an inviting atmosphere. Among those taking home awards were Nick Speed and Brian Williams, who were well deserving, and who took home awards at the previous awards show. Everyone at the show was warm and inviting, and I look forward to attending next year's event, as I urge you to go.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Too Tuff To Live, Too Young To Die- The King Tuff Interview Part Two by Jarrett Koral

As the returning reader may have noted, last month I interviewed Kyle Thomas, aka King Tuff, about his music, record collecting, and The Beatles. I strongly advise you to read the first part of the interview to better understand what we're talking about. Please read the first installment of the two part interview here.

Jarrett Koral: Right now I’m actually looking at the King Tuff Sub Pop album. How did you get the art for this? The insert and the cover are amazing. Who did that?
Kyle Thomas: (Chuckles) My brother did all that. My Brother’s pretty much a visual artist, so every album I’ve ever made has been mostly me and him making the artwork, well, mostly him. So, that’s cool. Keeping it in the family.

JK: And it’s really cool that you weren’t under any guidelines with Sub Pop on it, and that you got to pick whatever you wanted for the art.
KT: Well, I think it’s a different world nowadays, as far as record labels. I don’t know what it’s like on super major labels.
JK: The Flaming Lips really left that behind, but the major labels worked with them. They were on little labels then they jumped over to Warner Brothers, but Warner Brothers still does crazy stuff like blood filled records.
KT: And I’m sure that since they’re already established, they kinda have the upper hand. But, it’s great that artists can be in control of their artwork and the music. I would go crazy if I couldn’t do that stuff; it’s really the whole package for me.
JK: Sub Pop does cool stuff too, they have money behind it, but they’re also established and they have a big hand in the music industry.
KT: For sure. Sub Pop’s done Fleet Foxes, The Shins, they’ve had a lot more commercial success because of that.
JK: And then The GO’s Free Electricity was declined by Sub Pop, and I think that’s one of the only mistakes Sub Pop’s ever made.
KT: From what I hear from Bobby (Harlow, of The GO), it was a completely different world back then and artists weren’t really allowed to manage their own art. I think The GO were in a weird in-between stage. Maybe they didn’t know how to deal with Bobby yet, because Bobby can be a firecracker. Seems like it was just a wild time.
JK: But then The GO made a few amazing self-released albums, and then they did the Fiesta album on Burger, and they definitely marketed it well because they made a ton of different colors for it.
KT: Also, for a long time when The GO were making those albums in that period, there was the White Stripes explosion, and The Vines.
JK: It’s almost like the labels thought anything and everything from Detroit was good because of the White Stripes getting big.
KT: Yeah, and then it either started shifting toward either indie rock and the acoustic stuff, or electronic stuff. For a long time, rock wasn’t really happening. I think if The GO were to be a new band right now, it would probably be insane.
JK: But in the mid 2000’s, everybody was watching The White Stripes and they weren’t really concentrating on a ton of other bands, except for the already established ones.
KT: I think it’s all timing. People will understand The GO someday.
JK: Plus, the people who aren’t listening to King Tuff right now will understand what they’ve been missing.
KT: I mean, that’s what’s cool about music. There’s still classic bands that I’m discovering that I didn’t pay attention to before, and I’m like, how did I miss this?
JK: What are you listening to right now?
KT: Well, you know, right now I’ve been getting into the blues like Skip James and stuff like that, and I’m listening to a ton of AC/DC. I’ve always been kinda into them, but for some reason they’ve came back into my life, and I went like AC/DC insane.
JK: Lots of labels are doing stuff with blues now. There’s a label called Danger Limited Sound, and they have a series called Black Jesus, and each single has a different band covering their favorite blues songs, but nobody knows what they are. They’re just labeled Black Jesus.
KT: That’s amazing! It kind of goes back to when I was growing up and you couldn’t hear something before you bought it. You know what I mean, like, if a record just looked cool you just bought it. It wasn’t until the Internet blew up that you could actually hear something before you bought it.
JK: If I looked into your record collection right now, what would be the coolest record that I would see?
KT: Oh, let me look. I don’t even know the answer to that question. Like I said, I’ve been buying records like crazy, man, and I haven’t even had the chance to listen to them all. I have an Everly Brothers record. I love the Everly Brothers. I got Hound Dog Taylor. You like Hound Dog Taylor?
JK: Yeah!
KT: He’s one of my favorites because he’s so raw. I like the imperfections. I like when music’s imperfect. If I hit a wrong note somewhere, that wrong note’s always my favorite part.
JK: I remember when Ringo’s voice cracked on Yellow Submarine, and I thought that was the best part of the song!
KT: There’s also a voice crack in Drive My Car. Paul’s voice cracks in that song. That’s one of the greatest things about The Beatles, they’re just full of that stuff.
JK: They didn’t even care!
KT: You just listen with headphones and there’s different stuff you can hear everytime.
JK: Especially the later stuff like the White Album, there’s actually a lot of orchestration on it, and it’s really brought out on the vinyl version. Everybody agrees, obviously that their best song is Revolution #9.
KT: Obviously, that song is a masterpiece. Have you ever read the book ‘Magic Circles’?
JK: I don’t think so. What’s it about?
KT: It’s about the Beatles, it’s called ‘Magic Circles: The Beatles In Dream and History' or something like that. If you’re into the Beatles and you’re into reading about them, it’s definitely a cool take on it.
King Tuff's recent single, Screaming Skull
JK: They also came out with that Paul Is Undead movie a few years ago, and they said it’s the last testament of George Harrison, and it sounds nothing like him. You should check it out, it’s hilarious.
KT: Well, it’s just interesting. That band is so rich in every aspect. The music, their personalities, the way they looked, and the arc of the whole story about The Beatles is great.
JK: And now John and George are dead, and Paul and Ringo are just endlessly touring.
KT: I’m playing a show with Paul this Summer.
JK: What?
KT: Well, it’s not just with him. I’m probably the first band out of 400 and he’s the last, but I’m still playing a show with him, okay?
JK: You could capitalize on that. King Tuff with special guest Paul McCartney.
KT: I think I gotta make that poster.
JK: You do get to play a show with Paul, though.
KT: I’m gonna make that poster! (laughs)
JK: I think you need to sneak back and meet Paul McCartney.
KT: Oh my god, I’d lose my mind. I went into Abbey Road once and it was amazing.
JK: Whoa. How was that?
KT: It was amazing. I almost cried.
JK: I need to make it to London sometime. That would be amazing to be around where The Beatles recorded everything.
KT: Did you know that they still have all the original equipment there, like pianos and stuff, and if you record there, you get to use them.
JK: Wow. That’s amazing.
KT: I didn’t get to go into Studio Two which was their main studio because Lady Gaga was in there.
JK: Gross. Who wants to hear a new Lady Gaga album?
KT: I think millions of people do. I know Bobby wants to hear it.
JK: I think Bobby should produce the next Lady Gaga album.
KT: The new Gap Dream album’s kinda like a new Lady Gaga album
JK: It’s that good? Can’t wait to hear it, but now that you say it’s like a Lady Gaga album, I might pass on that one.
KT: Nah, it’s like, I’m gonna call him Ga-be Gaga.
King Tuff's inaugural album, Mindblow
JK: Amazing. That needs to be used. What label did Mindblow come out on?
KT: I didn’t really even put it out when I made it. I might have given a few people a CD-R of it to a few people but it wasn’t really even released at that time. And then, I think I originally recorded it in like 2003, and my friend Ron has a label called Spirit of Orr, and sometime in 2006 he was like ‘I listened to that CD-R you gave me a few years ago, I want to put out a CD-R of it’ like a small release. But, he was the one who really brought that back.
JK: Maybe somewhere down the line Burger will reissue it.
KT: Definitely. I like the idea of that. Burger did a great job with Was Dead.
JK: The King Tuff 32 LP Retrospective boxset on Burger?
KT: We’ll get there someday. I don’t want to jump the gun.
JK: With special guest Lady Gaga. You can get her on a few tracks.
KT: Oh man, I WISH. I feel like me and Gaga would be friends. She’s a good piano player. She can do the piano part.
JK: You need to get into a festival where Lady Gaga is playing, so at least you can make a poster that says King Tuff with special guest Lady Gaga
KT: I’m playing a festival with Rihanna…
JK: Oh yeah, there you go! King Tuff, Rihanna, and Paul McCartney.
KT: Got Paul on the bass, sorry Magic Jake.
Two new members of the King Tuff band,
Lady Gaga and Paul McCartney
JK: You need a rapper on there. They did that thing with hologram Tupac so you can have hologram Biggie Smalls on drums.
KT: On drums!
JK: And Wiz Khalifa. It can be a rock/rap album.
KT: I saw him at a club one time and he was smoking a giant blunt, smiling.
JK: I wouldn’t expect less.
KT: He was great! It was at Lil’ Wayne’s VMA’s after party.
JK: Can’t say I’m a fan.
KT: If you actually listen to Lil’ Wayne’s lyrics, they’re insane. I guess its perspective, though. He gets some bad reviews, but he gets good ones too.
JK: I haven’t seen any bad reviews of the King Tuff album, so you’re already one step above him.
KT: I’m sure there’s some.
JK: I’m on iTunes right now, and there’s one that’s 4 ½ stars and it says ‘More T. Rex, Less Hipster’ What does that even mean?
KT: I don’t know man. Haha. I mean, everyone’s a critic now. I just try and love everything, or be open to love everything, but maybe I’m just a hippie from Vermont.


Monday, June 24, 2013

Now I Feel Like A Wolf - The Journey Through King Tuff's Feral Wilderness - Interview By Jarrett Koral

King Tuff's Was Dead Burger Records reissue
Last month, I had the unique opportunity to talk to Kyle Thomas (aka King Tuff) about his music, Burger Records, and more. Kyle was previously involved in bands like Witch and Happy Birthday, with the latter’s debut album appearing on Sub Pop Records.  The first King Tuff album, Mindblow, was released in 2006 on Spirit Of Orr records, and the CD version is still available for order www.spiritoforr.com). In 2008, Thomas released his undisputed masterpiece, Was Dead, on The Colonel Records. Most recently, in 2012, the self titled King Tuff album was released on Sub Pop Records to great acclaim. Was Dead was also resurrected and reissued by California based indie label, Burger Records, on vinyl, cassette, and CD. (That can be bought at www.burgerrecords.org).

King Tuff's Self Titled Album
Jarrett Koral: How’s it over in LA?
Kyle Thomas: It’s really hot over here.

JK: Isn’t Burger over at their label market right now? I heard Lee talking about it at The GO/Redd Kross show.
KT: Yeah. I think so. Don’t know where that is though.

JK: It’s supposed to be in a big outside tent there, I think. Tons of people went out there.
KT: Yeah! I saw a picture! Lee and Sean are out there and I saw a picture of them sitting at their table selling their stickers and stuff. On the ground there were bottles of water with Burger stickers on  them, cause’ it’s been Lee’s dream to have ‘Burger Water’ for years.

JK: Burger Water?
KT: Yeah…he wants their own water because he’s upset with drinking water. He’s always carrying around a jug of water with him. Whenever you see him, he always has the jug of water.

JK:  Yeah. Burger definitely has the ‘hands on’ aspect of the label on. You can just call them and talk whenever you want. Some labels like Third Man Records aren’t as hands on; you can’t just call up Jack White and talk to him. As much as I like them, they don’t have that much fan interaction.
KT: Yeah, Burger’s a lot more personal. I can’t think of any other labels that are like that.

JK: They reissued Redd Kross’s first album, Born Innocent, on cassette and only made 150 of them. It’s exceptionally cool because Burger doesn’t really care about making money. They could be selling hundreds of those!
KT:  Yeah, it’s just like a wheel they spin. Whatever cool stuff they’re into, they pull it together.

JK:  This morning, I saw an episode of the Gorburger Show and you were on it. Your hand also got whacked repeatedly with a hammer. What happened there?
KT: Yes! It was a prop hand! It’s voiced by a comedian named T.J. Miller and it’s part of the Funny Or Die website. They’ve been doing a lot of cool people. It was at 7 in the morning, and we were all sort of out of it. It was really strange talking to a giant monster early in the morning.
King Tuff on The Gorburger Show

JK:  About your last album, the self-titled King Tuff album, it was recorded at an abandoned school in Detroit.
KT: The guy who engineered it, Adam Cox, played synth in Conspiracy Of Owls, had a studio there. I guess some guy bought the school and wanted to rent it out to musicians. But at that time, Adam was the only guy in there, and it definitely had an eerie feeling. But it was cool, and it was a really interesting place to record. The guy who owns it looks like a wild old man! I just remembered the first thing he said when we walked in there he goes ‘Two things… don’t go upstairs, and if you kill someone, there’s an incinerator in the basement”.

JK: Haha, what?
KT: Yeah, and we were actually really scared.

JK: Did you guys go upstairs?
KT: Oh yeah, of course! Me and Bobby kept going up there and getting freaked out then ran down the hallway screaming.

JK: Why? What was up there?
KT: Well, we walked into this one room and Bobby felt like he was sinking into the floor…

JK: What was going on up there? Any dead bodies?
KT: Nope, there were just empty classrooms but some of them had really weird burn marks on the walls.

JK: Weird.
KT: Yeah, but there was that one room and we had a really eerie feeling in it and Bobby felt like he was sinking into the floor. Then we just ran screaming.

JK: I’m beginning to think the owner is a murderer.
KT: Definitely.

JK: Who’s in the band right now?
KT: Right now, it’s Magic Jake on Bass, Gary Goddard on the drums.

JK: Is Craig from the Terrible Twos in the band still?
KT:  Actually, we cut it down to a three piece. It was really heard because everybody lived in different places and it was hard to get everyone together.

JK: How did you meet up with Bobby Harlow (Producer of King Tuff S/T Album)? Was that from Burger?
KT: Yeah, I had the Conspiracy of Owls record back when I lived in Vermont, but I didn’t really know anything about that band. I didn’t know who they were, and I didn’t know anything about The GO!, and when I left Vermont, I made my way to California, and on the way, I stopped at South by Southwest.  I saw the big Burger show there, and that’s where I met Bobby. I was like ‘Hey, you’re the Conspiracy of Owls guy, we should do something together sometime’. I didn’t know he produced that record, I didn’t know he produced any records; I just liked the Owls record. He was kinda like ‘Okay?’, but then a few weeks later he called me out of the blue and told me I should let him produce my next album.

JK: After that he probably looked you up and found Was Dead and Mind Blow
KT: Yeah. It felt like a sort of cosmic connection. I left Vermont knowing I needed to make a new record, and I had all these demos, but I didn’t know what I wanted to do with hit. I knew I needed to work with a producer or someone, but I didn’t know who, but then it all came together well.

JK: Bobby’s really hands on with the vinyl too. I remember he put out about 10 different versions of the Conspiracy of Owls record with different covers because they kept selling out!
KT: Yeah, and that’s really cool. I grew up listening to vinyl. CD’s don’t have that magic quality. I recently got back into collecting records again. I was a huge record collector back when I was a teenager, and I worked at a record store. I collected so many that I just slowed down for a while. Then, when I came out to LA, and I had the chance to start a new record collection because I didn’t have any of my stuff with me, and I fell in love with them again. I got an early British pressing of Rubber Soul, which is one of my favorite Beatles records, and it has this crazy quality to it…just the paper it’s printed on, the vinyl itself; it feels like a strange black magic. It’s very strange. It’s a different feeling, and vinyl is definitely one of man’s greatest inventions.

JK: Right after the telephone and the Internet is vinyl.
KT: Yeah, and the hot shower

JK: Hot shower, coffee maker…
KT: The bagel and cream cheese

JK: And then vinyl
KT: Nope…French Crullers

JK: T shirts with pictures of vinyl, cream cheese bagels, paper, pens, guitars, guitar strings, records, and then vinyl
KT: I want my next record to look like a bagel with cream cheese, and it’ll come with a built in shower

JK: For an extra $500 King Tuff will come to your house and shower with you..
KT: Hey, I actually like that idea. You’re on to something.

JK: Don’t you have a bunch of albums of unreleased material from the Mindblow days? What do those sound like?
KT: Before I made Mindblow, there were two King Tuff albums. The first one was called The Dangerous Romantic, and I made that one when I was really into Modern Lovers, and really poppy and dangly stuff. Then, the second one was called Now I Feel Like A Wolf. It has a bit of a Cure vibe sometimes, but that’s still when I was late teens when I was still trying to figure out how to write songs and all that but when I hear it now, it’s kind of embarrassing to me, but I think there’s some good songs on those records. But my friends that I gave those records to, when I first made them, swear by them. They’re like ‘That’s your best stuff’, but I have no perspective on it. I’m sure somebody’ll bootleg it after I’m dead.

JK: Were those recorded at your house or in a studio?
KT: Actually, my parents have a bomb shelter in their basement, and that’s where I did all my first recordings. It’s not really a working bomb shelter; it’s more like a hole in the wall in the basement. The original people who owned the house built it as a bomb shelter, but they forgot to put a bombproof door on it.

JK: Is that where Mindblow was recorded, too?
KT: Yeah, that was recorded down there too. I recorded Was Dead down there by myself too.

JK: So, the new album is the first album with a full band, right?
KT: The new album is my first ‘real’ studio record.

JK: Who approached who about the new Was Dead reissue on Burger?
KT: Well, they’ve been doing the cassette of it for years now, and the other label that originally put out the vinyl kind of screwed it over. I know he’s hoarding the records and is probably gonna sell them on eBay when I get famous…haha

JK: So, now it’s in good hands with Burger.
KT: I’m really happy just to put it out there. I’m super happy that Burger has it now and I felt like they should be the ones to reissue it because they really created a lot of my fan base by getting the tape out. The Colonel got it out there and people liked it, which was good, but Burger were really the people who cared about and really liked the record. They were the champions of that record.

JK: How was the Third Man show you did? Did that go well?
KT:  Yeah! That was really early in the day. It was a brunch thing, and I’m a creature of the night so it’s kinda hard for me to conjure my energy that early in the day, but it was really cool.

JK: What’s going on with Happy Birthday? Are you just working on King Tuff stuff now, or is Happy Birthday coming back at some time?
KT: King Tuff has been my main focus recently and it’ll probably remain that way, but I still love working with other people and making recordings. Those are two of my best friends. They’re both musical geniuses, and they both have their own solo material. You should check out Chris Weisman. He’s a maniac, and he’s a great writer. They didn’t really want to go on tour, but I still think it would be cool to do another recording with them.

JK: I know you’re doing the Pickathon festival this year, and you’re playing in the woods. Are you going to do some collaboration with them there? Maybe Ty Segall?
KT: Yeah! That’s what that thing is for. It’s crazy because Ty lives down the street from me. He’s getting a studio together there, so I’ll probably just go over there and jam!

JK: Sounds like a cool festival!
KT: Come on! You should go! It’s in Portland in early August, we can get Spin magazine to fly you out there!

JK: Is there a live album of the Third Man show coming?
KT: Yeah, they’re just working on the mix, so it should be coming really soon. I can’t wait for that to come out. I want to be in the studio recording stuff, but I can’t when I’m on the road. It’s really hard.

JK: But I did hear the new Bobby Harlow mixed King Tuff track called 'She's On Fire' on the Garage Swim compilation, and that was awesome.. (YOU CAN HEAR THAT HERE: http://video.adultswim.com/promotions/201305_garageswim/)
KT: And that was with Gap Dream too. Gabe kind of put his touch on that. It’s mostly synth and drum machine. Gabe’s one of my best friends, and his new record is insane.

JK: Is that the self-titled Gap Dream record?
KT: Nope. It’s not out yet, but it’s called Shine Your Light, and Bobby co-produced it with Gabe. I think it’ll be out in September.

JK: Are you working on a follow up to the King Tuff album on Sub Pop?
KT: I’m working on writing whenever I can, usually between tours. It takes me a while to get into the writing zone, but I’ve gotten a few songs down, but I really need to focus on writing this summer.

JK: Will the next album be done at Burger Studios?
KT: I can’t wait for that. Bobby’s moving out here to LA, and when that actually happens, it’ll be the coolest thing ever. Since Bobby’s running the board, it’s all going to sound wonderful.

JK: Did you hear the new Go album, Fiesta?
KT: There’s a ton of great songs on there. I really love Inside A Hole. All of Johnny’s songs are great on it. I can’t stop playing Fiesta.

JK: How was South By Southwest?
KT: I was hanging out with Gabe and all the guys from The GO!, we rode the mechanical bull, and Roky Erikson played the Burger show. It was amazing, and it was really cool. Roky Erikson playing
Burger is really insane. He’s one of the greatest singers ever.

JK: How did you get into music? Because I know that Vermont is pretty much the epicenter of anything and everything musical. I think The Beatles are from Vermont, too.
KT: Is this sarcasm?

JK: Of course not! I mean, yeah.
KT: My dad is a huge music fan, and ever since I was a little kid, he’s had a huge record collection. He’s really into psychedelic rock, and my parents are really cool. That’s really the simple answer, but I remember staring at the Blue Cheer record cover when I was a little kid and I was mesmerized. And then my Dad bought a Stratocaster when I was in second of third grade and I was messing around with it. I played drums when I was in elementary school, and I was just really drawn into music. I made up songs, and I can’t really remember not writing songs or making music. I just like being creative, that’s what really energizes me. When you write or make something and feel good about it, that’s the best feeling in the world. 

 Come back next week for PART TWO of the King Tuff interview! Same Bat Time, Same Bat Channel!