King Tuff's Kyle Thomas does not have all the answers. Shit, why should he?
The Vermont native has already explored enough facets of the guitar-wielding arts to make any casual player seem innocuous. So why pester him in these nascent days of garage rock's revival? Oh yes, why not? He's a musical confidant of post-punk's most terrible enfant terrible, J. Mascis, in the stoner-doom outfit Witch. But more importantly, Thomas has invented and reinvented himself.
With the pop neo-surrealist psych of Feathers and the punkish punk of Happy Birthday, he was only looking for a voice.
We recently had a chance to pester the him about rock 'n' roll. Here's what he had to say.
New Times: OK, Kyle. What's Vermont's most rocking attribute?
Kyle Thomas: Probably a rickety covered bridge.
And you've got quite a few of those.
Yup, they're pretty rocking.
And you've been in L.A. now?
Yeah, for a few years.
And how's that compared to Vermont life?
It's completely different.
Better or worse?
It's just totally different. In Vermont, I lived in a real county, where I just hung out in the town, drank coffee, and sat on a stoop. In L.A., I kinda just don't leave my house and I drink coffee and I just kinda of just sit in my house. Heh, it's similar in a way!
So the scenery is different.
Let's talk about your new King Tuff album, Black Moon Spell. It seems like you got a little cleaner production-wise, compared with previous efforts. Was that deliberate?
I think that just comes with, you know, experience and better gear and stuff.
As King Tuff, what is working now that didn't in the past, when you were playing as Feathers or Happy Birthday??
I guess it's just that those bands had other people in them, and not everyone wanted the same thing, not everyone really wanted to be on tour all the time and stuff like that. With this one, I'm all in, I'm doing it. So that's probably why it's working a little better.
Speaking about your other bands, what's up with Witch? You guys on a little hiatus there?
You know, that band, we've never done much. Like, we'll make a record and we'll just not do anything. It's a very relaxed band.
Working with J Mascis is relaxed? Or is it overall relaxed?
Just overall relaxed and we are doing a show in a couple of months. We get together and do a show every once in a while.
Where's that show going to be at?
At Burgerama in Santa Ana.
How's Sub Pop treating you?
Oh, they're great, they feel like family now at this point.
OK, let's talk real quick about garage rock and a certain type of primitivism in rock 'n' roll being back in vogue these days?
I think rock needs a sort of primitive aspect to it, as opposed to being pristine. I mean, there's great recordings, but it if it's all computerized, you're losing the soul of it. So I don't know, I think it's just natural that people are doing it on their own in a primitive way. It's kind of how it originally started, as a primitive form.
In closing, what can Miami expect from you?
Lots of smoke and some smiles. [Kyle lets out a high-pitched wail.]
And I guess the Jacuzzi Boys owe you a round of beers?
Oh, I'm sure it's going to be a wild one!
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King Tuff. With Ex Hex and Jacuzzi Boys. Presented by Strutter USA. Saturday, January 17. Churchill's Pub, 5501 NE Second Ave., Miami. The show starts at 9 p.m. and admission costs $12. Ages 18 and up. Call 305-757-1807 or visit churchillspub.com.