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October 25, 2013

What’s all the Fuzz About?

Ty Segall

INDIE LABEL TROUBLE IN MIND CONFOUNDS RECORD NERDS WITH A MYSTERIOUS RELEASE

By Maya Eslami

Last fall, Chicago’s independent record label, Trouble In Mind received an anonymous email submission from a San Francisco band by the name of Fuzz. Despite their best efforts, the label couldn’t figure out who these guys were. But they didn’t care. Not when they heard the tunes — which can only be described as fuzzed out doom rock with a splash of stoner metal. Excited by what they heard, the label released a single, “This Time I Got A Reason”/“Fuzz’s Fourth Dream,” without waiting to find out the musicians’ identities.

Or so they said.

Fuzz’s single, the label’s 46th release, sold out almost immediately. The 7-inch, is basically nondescript, packaged only in the standard Trouble In Mind sleeve with its red and blue stars and swooshes that almost turn to waves if you’re high enough. The band is listed as Fuzz. Nothing more. No names. No credits. But, soon after the release, videos started popping up on YouTube, claiming that Fuzz was a new side project from the ambitious and prolific Ty Segall.

Fuzz-coverSegall, who released three albums last year, and Charlie Moothart, of the band Moon-hearts, have been friends since high school in Laguna Beach. They formed the band Epsilons with Roland Cosio and Michael Alexander when they were 17-year-olds. Their collaborations are indie-scene gems. So it was only a matter of time for music nerds to get to the bottom of the band’s identity when one blogger remembered, “didn’t Segall mention a band named Fuzz with Moothart in Spin magazine’s October 2012 cover story?”

“We knew it was Charlie and Ty the whole time!” said Bill Roe, who founded Trouble in Mind with his wife Lisa. According to Roe, Segall had intended to leave his name off the project, which is where the “anonymous submission” bit came into play. Although the ruse didn’t pan out exactly the way Moothart and Segall had planned — Spin’s cover story was published right before the single’s release — the indie label was beyond stoked. “I expected it to sell out eventually,” said Roe, “but not in under 24 hours! It was intense!”

On January 3 of this year, Spin confirmed the buzzing rumor: Fuzz was indeed Ty Segall’s new band with Charlie Moothart on guitar and Roland Cosio on bass, and it was louder and heavier than anything he’d ever done. Spin also confirmed that Fuzz would play Burger Records’ second annual Burgerama Festival in March. When Fuzz took up their instruments at the So Cal music fest and unleashed a sea of sound over the crowd, faces froze, unsure of what to make of it all. This was definitely not an average rock band. Fuzz ex-ploded like a dangerous cock-tail of Black Sabbath and Jerusalem and early Blue Cheer and Mountain. Loud fucking proto rock.
A few weeks later, I found a copy of their single on eBay from Juno Records out of the UK, for $16.23, including shipping, tax and the currency exchange. At my DJ gig, I spun the single at every opportunity. Every time it played, someone would ask me, who is this?

On April 16, In The Red Records released Fuzz’s second single, “Sleigh Ride” / “You Won’t See Me.” Formed in 1991, In The Red is one of Los Angeles’ best independent labels. It reps bands like Black Lips, Thee Oh Sees, the late Jay Reatard, and many more. I found my $6 copy by chance while flipping through the new 45s at Mono Records in Echo Park. At that point, I was officially obsessed with Fuzz. Apparently, so was their audience, because their singles were becoming increasingly impossible to find.

In July, Spin announced that Fuzz would release a full-length album, their debut, due out on October 1. Meanwhile, in September, just to keep us all thirsty, In The Red released a third, and final, single from the band. It featured “Sunderberry Dream” as the A side, a track that will seriously make your neck hurt, and “21st Century Schizoid Man” on the flip.

trouble in the mindOctober arrived, and Fuzz released their promised album, Loose Sutures. Like clockwork, it sold out online. In The Red posted a statement on their website explaining that: “The volume of orders we received on the new Fuzz release is unlike anything we’ve experienced before.” I bought my copy from Midheaven, an independent music mail order website that distributes albums from most of the bands in the Bay Area. The cover artwork, done by Tatiana Kartomten, has a demon dragon creature with horns and a halo, and appears to be made of flames. Beneath the dragon: Fuzz. All set amidst a galactic sky. It’s super psychedelic. The gatefold opens up to reveal a blurry picture of the band washed out in red.

“Sleigh Ride,” off the second single, is the only one that made it on the album. All of the songs on the B-side are instrumentals except for “Loose Sutures,” the title track, which most clearly reveals the band’s musicianship. “Raise” is a refreshing standout, with Moothart taking over lead vocals. The album’s almost perfect — perfect in a way you know the band thought was perfect — not because a record label or a producer tried to snag some credit for last minute manipulation. It’s cohesive. It’s Fuzz.

Ty Segall recently performed at Fernwood Tavern in Big Sur, on a mini tour to support his new album Sleeper, from Drag City Records. Halfway through his set, an audience member reportedly shouted, “Play Fuzz!” Segall responded politely, and said that Fuzz was a different band. And it is. It’s Segall and Moothart and Cosio doing whatever the fuck they want, as loud as they can, because music is fun.

“We both really love those guys’ music,” Bill Roe said, “so it’s just exciting for us to see them do what they love and write the kind of music they want and have people respond to it in a SUPER positive way.”

Music is not about money or celebrity or recognition or publicity stunts. It’s about the fucking music. Record collectors know that.

Loose Sutures was released on In The Red Records on October 1. Good luck finding it.

 

Maya Eslami spins records on Mon. nights at Footsie’s Bar in Highland Park, CA. She’s written music reviews for The Hollywood Reporter. Read her blog, It’s All Downhill From Here at: mayaeslami.blogspot.com

 






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