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.