King Tuff has deep roots in the American underground.
Real name Kyle Thomas, the songwriter has been active for more than a decade now, producing some sterling, fuzzed out pieces of unhinged and totally original rock 'n' roll.
But it hasn't always been easy. New album 'The Other' - out later this year - is his first for some time, and draws on exhaustion, creative inertia, and a number of personal issues.
Constructed over some time, 'The Other' is an inspired return, one that punches back against King Tuff's catalogue and reminds us what a stellar force he can be.
We asked Kyle Thomas to pick out a few key influences that fuelled the record...
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Terry Riley - 'A Rainbow In Curved Air'
I discovered this record in my early 20s just from the cover. Terry’s giant and iconic bald head grinning over a glowing sunset. The music sounds like an actual rainbow and a rattlesnake made out of spare change. I used to play the entirety of side a at the same time as Side A of Pink Floyd's 'Obscured By Clouds', for some reason that worked really well.
I've had the good fortune of seeing Terry play live a few times recently and he's cooler than ever, like some old zen wizard concocting musical spells right before your eyes.
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Captain Beefheart - 'Bat Chain Puller'
Captain Beefheart has one of those voices that you can’t un-hear. Once it gets into you it stays there and you never want it to leave. This is the original version of the record that was unreleased for many years, not the 'Shiny Beast' version. I love the mysterious beauty of the imagery in the spoken poem 'Poop Hatch'. I love 'Harry Irene'. The weird synth worms that pop in and out of 'Bat Chain Puller'. I love it all.
I wish I'd discovered Beefheart as a child, who knows what music would be like now. Play this record everyday for your kids! It's still ahead of it's time and I don't think anyone will ever catch up.
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Smog - 'A River Ain’t Too Much To Love'
Been revisiting this one lately. I was lucky enough to tour with Smog when this album came out. Unbelievable to witness night after night. I love how loud the vocals are mixed on this record. The whole thing invokes a real nature-y feeling in me, like we're taking a walk through snowy woods with Bill and he's telling us these little stories.
I live for the part in 'The Well' where he says "and a fuck all y'all". I have great memories of that tour. Jim White, the drummer, trying to throw a small ball into a tiny hole in a fence for hours. He got it. Often after the show we'd all go out dancing. Bill is an incredible dancer, graceful movements somewhere between Peter Pan and a beautiful fawn.
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Upside Down Cross - 'S/T'
This is the kinda metal I like. Shit metal. It’s sloppy and actually demented. Unlike most metal that is just pretending to be evil. This shit actually feels evil to me.
The singer, Larry Lifeless, is by no means a good singer and that’s why it sounds so terrifying. I met him once at one of my shows with my band Witch. He was wearing a leopard print trench coat and had hair like he'd put his finger in an electrical socket. He told me he was only there to see his friend J Mascis (who plays drums in Witch and also on this record) and that he couldn't stand live music and that he missed the show cuz he had to go outside cuz of the noise.
He then asked me what I was doing there and I said "Well I play in the band with J..." and he said "Oh man the show was great!"
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Chris Weisman - 'Monet In The 90s'
Chris is an unsung legend and really any of his albums could have made this list. I’ve learned so much from him over the years. I have many great memories of hearing him recording through the walls of our shared studio space.
So much music that's popular nowadays reminds of things Chris has been doing for the past two decades, but it's still not as good or as weird or as beautiful as his shit. 'Red Book' is your new favourite song. 'Working On My Skateboarding' is classic a pop song that should be the soundtrack to your lost childhood.
And somewhere right now Chris is teaching guitar lessons in a little snowy room while his giant catalogue of genius is waiting for you to discover it.
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King Tuff's new album 'The Other' will be released on April 13th.
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