King Tuff is a Psycho Star

King Tuff by Olivia Bee_lo.jpg

It’s been a dark few years whilst King Tuff’s sparkly suited appearances have been limited. The fuzz world was missing those head-banging riffs and general badass-ness of King Tuff. Sure, he appeared here and there, notable as the guitarist in Ty Segall’s Muggers band, but fans have been patiently waiting for his solo return, but when it came round things had changed. No more was there a fuzz pedal and a cleaner King Tuff appeared. His latest record, The Other, is testament to this, with it’s raw honesty disguised by disco vibes. The man himself tells us a bit about the record and how it came round. 

Hi King Tuff. What are you up to?

I’m on tour. Sleepless. Eating gas station sandwiches and Cheetos, crazy on too much Starbucks cold brew and I lost my voice. Having lots of fun though! 

The opening of the new record, The Other, touches on themes of possibly feeling lost. Not quite sure where you are going. What exactly is the other? A person? A feeling?

Well it’s an indescribable reality, that’s why it is the “other”. But for me it’s that mysterious force which I draw from when I create. 

The new record seems a bit of a depart from the old, less fuzz for starter. Has this change been natural to you?

Yeah. I’ve always wrote lots of different kinds of songs, but this is the first time I’m really sharing the less fuzzy monkeys with the world. 

You’ve worked with some great names on this record. It features Ty Segall, Greta Morgan and Mikal Cronin. Is collaboration a valuable aspect of creating music for you?

I love collaborating, but it can be hard to find people that it feels natural with. Luckily I have some very talented friends and we just fuck around in the studio and usually some magic happens. 

Did you feel that the persona “King Tuff” was possibly headed in a direction you were unsure about?

King Tuff has had many lives over the years. It’s actually not weird at all for it to change in my mind. I think most people have one idea of what King Tuff is supposed to sound like so I was consciously trying to break that with this album. 

After reading a few reviews a few people seem to have trouble with this change. I, for one, welcome it - it’s fresh and feels like a whole new King Tuff persona, but do you care too much about your critics? 

It’s impossible to please everyone! I’m just making music for my hoggy old self from now on.  

This record has been a long time coming. You speak about “touring to death”. Did the break in releases a positive impact on you?

Definitely. I spent lots of time with clouds and squirrels, making carrot juice, watching Broad City and listening to Terry Riley. It was nice to take a step back. 

Is it valuable for an artist to be able to realise what point it may be worthwhile to take a step back and look at what their creating, and if they are staying true to themselves?

Maybe. But there’s also something to be said about not overthinking and just creating freely and recklessly. 

You have admitted to struggling a bit with what King Tuff meant to you. What was the hardest thing about that struggle with the identity you had created? What kept you going as King Tuff and not changing to something else?

Just feeling like I had to stay within a certain kind of music was very debilitating. I just remembered the kid who started King Tuff when he was 18 and made songs for fun that no one would hear them and there was no pressure. I just tried to stay in that headspace. 

What’s next for the King?

Piano lessons and more custom suits.

Nathan McLaren-StewartComment