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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Power-Pop Wonder King Tuff Talks Surrendering Control and the Magic of Trash

Posted By on Wed, May 30, 2012 at 8:50 AM

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So do you object to the notion that everything can be explained through logic and reasoning?

No, that makes sense. They have been able to explain all kinds of things. It's just a lot more fun to not view it that way.

I feel like the artwork you made to accompany your newest album complements the music very well. How are your music and art connected?

It's definitely hand-in-hand. Those are my two passions in life, and they always have been. My brother did most of the artwork. We work really well together and he understands what I'm doing. We can both work on a piece of art and it will look like one person made it.

What were the conversations like when you and your brother were coming up with the album art?

Well, for this particular album, I wanted a drawing for every song. So we listened to the songs and came up with a bunch of stuff. He was spot on with everything. We both grew up exposed to the same things like comics and the things we were into as kids. We have similar tastes.

There was a long time in between the recording of Was Dead and your latest album. Did your songwriting change much during that gap?

Well, what most people don't know is that I wrote most of the songs on Was Dead almost 10 years ago. I recorded them in 2002 or 2003 and then I rerecorded them all in 2006. Those became Was Dead, which was released in 2008. It has changed a lot. I know a lot more about guitar and I take more time, which is good and bad. I used to just be able to write and record songs in a moment and it was done. That was my preferred method, but nowadays I put a lot more thought into it which I don't necessarily like, but I can't avoid it.

Do you think it's better when writing is immediate or off the cuff?

Yeah, definitely, my best moments are when I write songs out of nowhere. That's how "Swamp of Love" was. I had already written all of the songs and then came up with that a couple weeks before recording. That's how my song "Sun Medallion" came about.

I know that "Sun Medallion" is actually about your necklace. Is that an object that has the magic you referred to earlier?

Well, I was working at this weird thrift store, and that object just came to me. It just appeared there one day and I had a weird connection to it. The song is not just about that, it also has to do with a weird dream I had. Things that you stumble upon like that have an effect on your life in ways that people can't imagine. It's incredible to see a necklace you get in a store one day become a wider thing.

I've read that you consider King Tuff an outlet for just writing really good pop songs. Have you always had such an affinity for pop music?

Ever since I was a kid I've loved good pop songs. With all of my projects I've come at them from that angle. Even with Witch [a band Thomas played in with Dinosaur Jr.'s J Mascis and others], the songs are longer, but they still have an element of pop songwriting. That's just what I do. I don't know how to write songs that are vaguer. I try to make them compact and get the point across.

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Sam Lefebvre


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