“All I could ever want when making a record is for someone to have a personal kind of relationship to it that brings their own meaning”
Los Angeles garage rock phenom Ty Segall is one of the most prolific musicians of the past 15 years. The amount of albums he’s been a part of either solo or with numerous bands such as Fuzz, Sic Alps, Wasted Shirt, GØGGS and others is well over the 30 mark.
The craziest part may be that he is only 35, young enough to make others seriously consider how they have been spending their time.
What makes Segall great is his consistency; any sort of music he’s involved in rocks, whether he is strumming an acoustic guitar or bringing the amplification with a full band.
Segall is going to release his 14th solo album, Hello, Hi via Drag City records on July 22 and a few weeks before that he’s going to hit up Royale in Boston on June 27.
We spoke ahead of both the show and the release about doing the recordings at his home studio, his current backing band, transitioning recorded songs into a live setting, and what he hopes fans take away from Hello, Hi.
You recorded Hello, Hi in your home studio, so was this done during the COVID-19 pandemic back in 2020 or was it more recent?
It was done in 2020, yes.
What was the experience like making this record completely on your own in a DIY fashion? I know you’ve done stuff like this before with the drums and other instruments.
I’ve done a handful of records like this, maybe even half of them, so it’s a very familiar style for me. I don’t think there’s anything particularly weird, different or unique in that sense for making the record, it’s one of my main modes.
Did you build the studio at your house yourself or did you have people help you out with it?
We built the building from scratch so there was legit construction going on. I helped a little bit with some soundproofing, insulation and other stuff that I could do because honestly I don’t know what I’m doing. Moving things, hanging insulation and stuff like that but yeah, there were a lot of people working on it.
From listening to the album, musically it seems to come from a similar vein of your previous albums Sleeper and Manipulator due to it having a primarily acoustic foundation. Did you have this in mind during the songwriting stage of the album or did this materialize in a more natural and organic fashion?
I didn’t have that in mind, I think that I was just kind of writing the tunes. Maybe it’s kind of reminiscent of those records because of the instrumentation and the stripped down nature of some of the tunes. I feel like more recently I would have stacked a lot of different sounds, noises and instruments on top but this record felt good to keep it stripped down.
Was there any sort of artistic goal that you wanted to accomplish? Was having it be stripped down the primary vision for the record or did you have any other things in mind while making it?
I followed what the songs were kind of dictating, which I didn’t really know what it was going to be at first. I rarely know what a goal would be of a record once I start writing it, it kind of shows itself along the way. This one kind of showed itself to be a stripped down, acoustic group of tunes and I hadn’t really written on an acoustic guitar in a long time so it just kind of became what it was in a natural way.
These days you’ve been touring with The Freedom Band consisting of regular collaborators Mikal Cronin on bass, Charles Moothart on drums and Emmett Kelly on guitar while also including Ben Boye on piano and Shannon Lay in numerous ways. Is there anything that makes this particular band different in terms of vision or approach versus previous bands you’ve been in like Fuzz and others?
Every band is different and this has been my band for about seven years now, maybe closer to six and a half or something like that. We’re kind of symbiotic in our musical language that we use and how we play off of each other. Fuzz is a totally different band because I’m not the leader of that band, it’s a collaborative band so it just depends on the actual project. I would say I’m the leader of this band in how I shape the ideas for the songs while writing and then we reinterpret them together. Other bands I’m in are collaborative whether we write the songs together or how we play.
I’m the drummer in Fuzz so for me it’s a completely different experience and every backing band I’ve had is totally different because they’re different groups of musicians. I love this band and I hope this continues to be my band for as long as possible.
When it comes to taking the songs from Hello, Hi and putting it towards this band in a live setting, are there different ideas that go into play when it comes to hashing out how you make the transition from the recording to how it sounds live while maintaining the integrity of the song?
Yeah, that happens with every tune unless you record as a band live. If you go into a recording experience where you don’t do any overdubs and it’s done live then it’s pretty much going to be that in that setting. I love the idea of reinterpreting songs, that’s always a really fun thing and I don’t hold the recording of a song to be precious at all. I’m fully of the school that a reinterpretation of a song is not only cool, it’s also important. I like the idea that a song has legs and will continue to grow and be a different thing for as long as people are playing it so it’s not really like a problem, it’s a good thing for me to reinterpret, make things weird and interesting for the live show.
For the audience it’s great for them as well because they get to hear a different version of a song than what’s on a record and it makes it more special.
When Hello, Hi comes out next month and people grab a hold of it to start listening to it, what do you want them to either feel or get from the album? What do you want to accomplish with the listener?
All I could ever want when making a record is for someone to have a personal kind of relationship to it that brings their own meaning to different songs and develops a relationship. That’s whatever it is for any given person, whatever their personal experience is and that’s kind of my favorite thing about records. I have my own relationship to other people’s records and I hope people can get that from mine so that’s all I can ever ask for.
Rob Duguay is an arts & entertainment journalist based in Providence, RI who is originally from Shelton, CT. Outside of DigBoston, he also writes for The Brooklyn Rail, The Providence Journal, The Newport Daily News, The Worcester Telegram & Gazette, New Noise Magazine, Flood Magazine and numerous other publications. While covering mostly music, he has also written about film, TV, comedy, theatre, visual art, food, drink, sports and cannabis.