After another prolific year, San Francisco's beloved garage rock star waves goodbye to the Bay
YEAR IN MUSIC "We weren't supposed to be allowed to play live on the morning news," Ty Segall says just moments after finishing a meal at In-N-Out, on his way down the coast from San Francisco, the city he can no longer afford to live in, to pick up his 16-year-old sister from his hometown of Laguna Beach. "Giving a bunch of long-haired weirdos really loud amplifiers and free reign on the morning news is just stupid. So I thought that was a great opportunity to do whatever the hell we wanted."
"And I'm really happy we did that," he says of the Ty Segall Band's bizarrely mesmerizing performance of "You're the Doctor" off this year's Twins (Drag City), on the Windy City's WGN Morning News in October. It ended with screeching feedback and Segall repeatedly screaming "Chicago!" into the mic. "It was way too early, so we were already feeling a little weird." The weirdness rubbed off on the news anchors, who, when the camera panned back to them mid-song, were throwing papers up in the air and pogoing behind their desk. It made for a great split second.
The band also made its late night debut in 2012, on perhaps more appropriate Conan. Segall, drummer Emily Rose Epstein, bassist Mikal Cronin, and guitarist Charlie Moothart seemed a bit more in tune with that set-up and host, playing Twins' awesome "Thank God For Sinners."
The group of old friends toured extensively this year, playing a whole bunch of festivals including Bumbershoot, the Pitchfork Music Festival ("I had no idea what to expect with that one, because like, you know, Pitchfork is almost a mainstream media outlet now. But that was one of the most wild, definitely craziest festival we played") and Treasure Island in San Francisco ("most beautiful festival...the scenery — it was just psychotic").
And Segall again had a full hand of releases over these 12 months. He began the year with a White Fence collaboration: Hair (Drag City), following that up with a Ty Segall Band record, Slaughterhouse (In the Red). Then in October he dropped a solo album, Twins (Drag City).
Each record stood for itself. They were recorded with different bands at various locations (Eric Bauer's studio in Chinatown, the Hangar in Sacramento). Hair was a true collaboration between Segall and White Fence's Tim Presley, exploring one another's strengths through fuzzy noise, psychedelic wanderings and the occasional surfy licks. It was originally slated to be an EP, but it was going well, they decided to put out a full LP.
Slaughterhouse kicks off with foaming feedback and maintains a sonic assault of aggressive, noisy guitars, screaming in the ether, throughout — a loud, frenzied, psychedelic garage-punk masterpiece. Bluesy-punk thumper "Wave Goodbye" turns down the riffs on the intro and lets Segall's nasal intonations take charge, with a '70s punk approach: "I went to church and I went to school/I played by all of your other rules/but now it's time to...wave goodbye/Bye bye." He shrieks that last "bye bye," simultaneously recalling early Black Sabbath, and sonically flipping the bird.
Twins was the solo triumph, lyrically exploring Segall's dual personalities between his thrashy stage persona, and his casual, polite, dude-like demeanor off-stage.
"Who can know the heart of youth but youth itself?" -- Patti Smith in 'Just Kids.'
Segall first picked up the guitar at 15 after hearing Black Flag. "I was super into Black Sabbath and Cream and classic rock and then I heard Black Flag and I was like 'dude, I can play punk.'"
The multi-instrumentalist still plays guitar, first and foremost. Currently, he sticks to a '66 baby-blue Fender Mustang he calls "Old Blue" or "Blue-y," but brings along a '68 Hagstrom as backup.