If you’re a garage rock junkie, chances are you’ve heard Charles Moothart shred—hard. After being heavily involved in the garage rock scene and blessing listeners’ ears with gnarly riffs from a number of Ty Segall affiliated bands, Moothart recently stepped into the spotlight to pursue a solo project known as CFM (short for Charles Francis Moothart). His debut album, Still Life of Citrus and Slime, was released April 8 and is a product of solitude and exploration.
Next Monday, CFM will kick off their west coast tour at The Constellation Room in Santa Ana with The Side Eyes and The High Curbs as openers. The Weekly recently spoke with Moothart and discussed musical growth, perseverance and his thought process that went into creating the fuzzy, psychedelic work of art that is Still Life of Citrus and Slime.
OC Weekly (Yvonne Villasenor): Each project you’ve been involved in has its own distinct sound. Were you dead set on what kind of music you wanted to play prior to starting/joining a band or did you just know you wanted to play music and that the sound would evolve later?
Charles Moothart: I think most of the time, it was gone into with a pretty specific idea. For the CFM record, it was kind of a testing ground and learning experience, so I just kind of started going into it writing songs and seeing where they went and captured different ideas and different types of songs as much as possible. So I think that this one was different in that way, but generally, going into playing music with people or recording or whatever, there is a pretty specific idea.
I interviewed MELTED a few months ago and understand they named their band that as a tribute to Ty Segall. Who were some local musicians you highly admired when you first started playing music?
When I was in high school and stuff, I would go up to L.A. and go to The Smell a lot. So bands like Mika Miko or Wives or just a lot of bands in that scene that were obviously really influential and opened my mind to just being able to play shows and do whatever you wanted and just kind of make it happen. There's bands like The Stitches – one of the guys is actually from Laguna Beach and he had a record store in town that we would go to, and that was a huge influence. The Smell scene is probably a bigger influence for me.
Say when you first started playing music and saw what kind of music you'd be playing on your latest record – do you think you'd like it?
I don't know, I'd like to think so, but you know, that is always kind of a funny conversation that me and my friends always kind of tend to have. There's definitely certain things that as we get older, or as I get older, there's things that we start to like in music and want to start to explore. When I was younger and more into punk and stuff like that, I probably would've been like, 'oh, that's a little bit over the top' or ‘that’s not really my style’. I'm sure that my young self would have some harsher words to say. Kids, when they're young, [they] should be more exploratory because you just don’t know where it's going to land, and that's a learning curve, you know?
Now that you have a lot more experience under your belt playing music and have been able to collaborate with many talented individuals, how would you compare the inspiration you gain from your peers to the role models you initially had?
I'd like to think that the general ideas are all still there. The main one being just kind of listen to yourself and just do things that you think sound or feel right and don't give into outside pressure, or whatever fad is going on. I think that main idea is still kind of there across the board, but obviously, you grow and your musical taste changes. There's a lot of things just looking back, it would be very different, but I'd like to think that main idea is the big similarity.
Is there any particular genre of music you haven’t yet pursued but think you’d take a great interest in playing?
I don't know, I don't really think of it as a genre specific thing. Like I said, I think that one thing I enjoy and that I feel lucky with as far as who I'm surrounded by is that it is just more of an exploration of who you're personally capable of and sometimes that indirectly leads to a new sound or a new thing. Just getting better as a musician or a songwriter. You're just trying to push yourself and sometimes that leads you in directions that you didn't really anticipate. I can't really think of 'I want to do this kind of record'. I guess there is some of that, but usually, it's sonically challenging like trying to do something that's more drum driven or something like that. I try to steer away from being super genre specific because that can just kind of be a wormhole.
I read that Citrus and Slime took about two months to make, which is incredible. What would you say fueled your creativity the most during that time?
It was overall a time of a lot of change in my personal life and there was just a lot of things that kind of felt like creatively and personally, I was at like this kind of crossroads. I had recently moved to Los Angeles from San Francisco. There was a lot of stuff going on and it just kind of made for this feeling that I had where I just wanted to explore what the possibilities were and it was just after being able to work with a bunch of my friends on stuff. I kind of just wanted to see what I was capable of doing on my own and it wasn't really initially supposed to be a record or anything. It was just like, 'Oh, I'm gonna try to record a song.' It felt like I just wanted to explore and see what kind of outlet that would bring.
How do you keep your motivation alive during periods of writer’s block?
That was kind of the running theme of the whole thing. It was all a fight against that. It was all a fight against eternal writer's block or even just a mental block thinking I wasn't capable of finishing a song or singing, or whatever. That was all new to me. The whole idea, a lot of it was just ‘Keep going no matter what’. It's like obviously, you get hung up, but if you get hung up, just kind of try to fight through it and lay something down. If it's not what you like, you go back and rerecord it. That was just kind of the whole thing. It's just like, keep going with whatever's going in front of you. If something's holding you up, move to a different idea for that time and come back to it later.
What is the most fulfilling part about having a solo project?
I feel lucky that I have really supportive friends that were down to play with me live, so that's been fun. Just kind of getting to explore the possibilities and also meet challenges. Going on tour, I was worried, I was like, ‘I've never gone on tour and have been singing the whole set’. Usually when I go on tour, maybe I sing two songs, but most of the time, I'm not singing. So that was a huge challenge, which was scary, but that was also fun. I like going into something knowing that there's kind of this x factor that you're fighting the whole time and once it's over, it's an accomplishment. So that's been fun. Just being able to exercise certain emotions. At the end of the day, I can't really say as far as solo, I like, because luckily, I enjoy all the people I play music with and all the bands I play music in.
CFM performs at the Constellation Room on Mon. Sep. 12, 9 p.m. $8, all ages. For full details, click here.