In the wake of a prolific string of solo records and collaborations that has left the Pitchfork set fawning, garage-rock prodigy Ty Segall has formed a new band, Fuzz, a hard-hitting, three-piece Stooges-meets-Sabbath project in which he sings and plays drums. The name pretty much says it all about their sound: a full-on assault of syrupy, fuzz-tone riff-rock.
Segall recently moved back to the Southland, settling in East LA on the border of Eagle Rock and Silver Lake, after spending the better part of the past decade living in the Bay Area, first attending school at the University of San Francisco, and then furiously putting out more than a dozen releases beginning in 2008 (including three last year). All while criss-crossing the U.S., constantly on tour. Now 26, he's at a creative peak, booking major festivals and time on Letterman and Conan. He even has a signature-model reverb pedal.
In relative terms, 2013 has been a “slow” year for him. “I've actually been chilling out,” Segall says in a quick phone interview before boarding a flight to Brooklyn, where Fuzz will be playing a two-night stand before heading home for shows in LA and Long Beach. “Me and Charlie [Moothart] were just talking about how we haven't been touring a ton lately, and it's been really nice. I'm surfing a lot.”
His conversational tone has a surfer's lilt, something bred into him as a boy in Laguna Beach. He and regular guitarist Moothart were high-school pals who shared an affinity for not only the waterfront, but also punk, garage rock and loud music in general. Growing up surfing was fine for the South Countian, but his mecca was an hour north.
“We would hang out at the Smell up in LA, and that was kind of our motive for, like, starting to play out: We wanted to play the Smell,” Segall recalls. “We were super into those bands. To be honest, back then, not to rip on Orange County, but it wasn't really the most rock & roll-friendly place. Now, there's, like, Burger Records and that whole scene.”
Segall comes off as a reluctant interview subject, something observed by more than one rock journalist. Perhaps it has to do with the rushed and awkward nature of a quick phone interview, something that is completely understandable. Pitchfork writer Aaron Leitko, who trailed Segall for a few days on tour in late 2012, notes that there's a want to remain mystical, akin to the rockers of yore, before artists were made totally available through the constant exposure of direct-access social media. Or maybe it's that he just doesn't feel like talking about Moothart's guitar tone. Fair enough. Segall does disclose that his secret weapon is a Death By Audio Fuzz War pedal and a vintage Music Man amplifier working in tandem with a Fender Deluxe–a drool-worthy rig for music dorks into vintage gear.
Also on the list of things not to bring up with Segall right now is his upcoming solo release, Sleeper, due this fall. “To be honest, Sleeper is a whole different thing; it doesn't really have anything to do with Fuzz,” he says. “You know? Um. Yeah. But. Yeah. I was under the impression we were going to talk about Fuzz.”
Whatever. Chalk that up to keeping it real, which is important for a garage rocker, especially one with the body of work that Segall can boast. Best to let it speak for itself; that's what rock & roll is all about, right? Right. Yeah.
Fuzz plays with Pangea, Restavrant and Three Two Ones at Alex's Bar, 2913 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach, (562) 434-8292; www.alexsbar.com. Wed., 8 p.m. $8. 21+.