If there's a Mozart of garage rock, it's Ty Segall. He's put out at least a dozen albums of face-melting, critic-adored low-fi rock, in the style of bands like The Troggs or The Stooges — not to mention his work with other bands and in other styles.
But his newest album, Manipulator, is different: more produced and polished. Segall came to NPR West to talk about the album with NPR's Arun Rath — and play a few songs for us.
Hear the conversation at the audio link.
ARUN RATH, HOST:
Brace yourself for a goofy music analogy. But if there's a Mozart of garage rock, it's Ty Segall. He's put out at least a dozen albums of face-melting, critic-adored low-fi rock in the style of bands like The Troggs or The Stooges. Not to mention his work in several other bands and other collaborations in a ton of different styles. And he's barely 27 years old.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "GIRLFRIEND"
TY SEGALL: (Singing) 'Cause she don't mind nothing, nothing.
RATH: But his newest album, "Manipulator," is something.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SUSIE THUMB")
SEGALL: (Singing) Susie wants to do all the latest moves. Sitting on the screen...
RATH: "Manipulator" is much more polished and produced. Ty Segall's a southern California boy, so he came by our studios at NPR West, guitar in hand, planning to - in his words - rock out, acoustic style. I started by asking him why these songs weren't as rough around the edges.
SEGALL: Yeah. There's only so many times you can, you know, make a record on a four-track or an eight-track. And we were really lucky to have the opportunity this time to go into a studio for like a month. So it's very rare these days that you have an opportunity if you're not, like, signed to a big label or, you know, you don't have a bunch of money. It's very rare to get an opportunity like that. So it's just, like, let's go for it, you know.
RATH: But would you say with this new album - I mean, you didn't just take longer to produce it in the studio. There's a different sound here, right?
SEGALL: Well, yeah. I mean, I took twice as long to write it than I've usually done. I'm a pretty impatient person with myself. I like to - at least, in the past - like, first take's the take, or try to do stuff live with a band a lot. You know, I think there's a beauty in non-perfectionism. Like, all the old records that are just, like - "Louie, Louie" is just, like, the guy screws up. He starts singing one of the words before the verse starts, and that's my favorite part of the saw.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LOUIE, LOUIE")
THE KINGSMEN: (Singing) Day - day by day...
SEGALL: So that's where my head has been, but as an antithesis to that, I'm also a huge fan of, like, Tony Visconti, Bowie - all these, like, beautifully, like, very, very lush and well thought-out records. So I was like, let's try to do one of those. That's where the idea kind of came from.
RATH: It feels - does this have kind of more of a glam rock feel to it, would you say?
SEGALL: Yeah. We were trying to go for a Tony Visconti record, you know - Mick Ronson, Tony Visconti style.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG)
SEGALL: (Singing). (Unintelligible).
RATH: So you're sitting here with your guitar. I don't want to talk too much longer before getting to hear you play. Now, the album, like we said, is very produced, but you're just here with your guitar. So what are going to play for us from the album?
SEGALL: Yeah. I was thinking about songs that would fit. And I thought that the song "Green Belly" would fit. It's kind of about - it's, like, about Hollywood or something like that.
RATH: Perfect. (Laughing). Just around the corner from Hollywood, here.
SEGALL: Yeah. Here we go.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "GREEN BELLY)
SEGALL: (Singing) I've seen the green in the belly of your eyes. That scene you've seen - yeah, give me no surprise, yeah. He's going to make a movie of his entire life. He wants to figure how to do it right. Oh, yeah. So he needs that big man with a big plan to step right in. He fell down from the sky and knew why he had to win, yeah. He's going to make a movie of his entire life. She will cry. She will cry, why? Oh, yeah. Yeah, he's going to make a movie of his entire life. She will cry. She will cry, why? Oh, yeah.
RATH: That's Ty Segall performing "Green Belly" from his new album, "Manipulator." And again, I should emphasize this is sort of NPR unplugged here because the solo version's here just you and the guitar. It's very different from what we heard on the album.
SEGALL: Yeah. Yeah.
RATH: So you grew up here in southern California. And I read you actually went to the Laguna Beach High School, which is famous for the reality show...
RATH: ...Which is kind of funny with you sitting here and talking to you because you kind of seem about as much of the opposite of what you see on that show...
RATH: ...As somebody could imagine.
SEGALL: That show is insane. I knew a lot of those kids. I knew most of those kids. They started filming that when I was a junior or a senior, so they filmed my graduation. There's an episode of my graduation.
RATH: Can we spot you on a...
SEGALL: Whenever I saw a camera, I was like, get away from me. We'd throw water balloons at them, and we were like, get out of here.
RATH: Why would you not want to be associated with those people?
SEGALL: Oh, man.
SEGALL: I don't know.
RATH: Well, having spent some time in L.A. now - I'm recent transplant - but I can kind of understand how you have so many different files in your style because there's everything here.
SEGALL: There's so much. It's cool. Yeah. Growing up here, like, got me into noise music. And I'm from Orange County, so it's, like, surf music. So I'll just - I'll have reverb. I've always had reverb on my guitar for some reason. I think it's 'cause of Orange County.
RATH: Blame Orange County for the reverb.
SEGALL: Yes, it's their - yeah, it's...
RATH: Among other things.
SEGALL: It's their fault.
SEGALL: Yeah. The reverb and the nihilism - Orange County. (Laughing) I'm just kidding.
RATH: That's Ty Segall. His new album is called "Manipulator." It's been such a pleasure speaking with you. Thank you so much.
SEGALL: Thanks, man.
RATH: And can take us out on one more tune?
SEGALL: Yeah. I'll play one more. Let's see.
(SOUNDBITE OF GUITAR STRUMMING)
SEGALL: OK. This one's called "The Feels."
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE FEELS")
SEGALL: (Singing) And when I look into your eyes, I realize you're the same as me, just wanting to be free.
RATH: And for Sunday, that's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR West. I Arun Roth. Check out our weekly podcast. Look for weekends in ALL THINGS CONSIDERED on iTunes or on the NPR app. And you can follow us on Twitter at NPR WATC. We're back next weekend. Until then, thanks for listening and have a great holiday.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE FEELS")
SEGALL: (Singing) It just can't be. You'll never be free. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.