King Tuff on how Wendy Carlos, Fleetwood Mac & more influenced new album ‘Smalltown Stardust’
Most probably still think of King Tuff (aka Kyle Thomas) as the nasally garage rocker rocker of his 2012 Sub Pop debut, but even if you know his most recent album, 2018's glammy, shiny The Other, his new album will be a surprise. Co-produced and co-written with Sasami Ashworth, Smalltown Stardust is an ode to Thomas' upbringing in Brattleboro, VT where the woods and rivers were never far away. It's gentle, bucolic and maybe his best record yet. Listen to that below.
We asked Kyle to tell us more about the album and he gave us a list of 10 influences, from musicians and musical instruments to his hometown and Italian food. Read Kyle commentary below.
King Tuff will be on tour this spring, including a Brooklyn show at Elsewhere Hall on March 24 with Tchotchke. All dates are listed below.
KING TUFF - 10 INFLUENCES BEHIND 'SMALLTOWN STARDUST'
One of the biggest inspirations for the record was buying a piano. I found myself writing in a completely new way, new chords, new visions for what I could sound like. I was like a baby Mozart with not a care in the world.
Somewhere along the way I got real into green. Green clothes, green beans, green album covers. I knew even before I wrote the music that the album would have a green cover. It’s a very electric color and also highly spiritual.
I was blessed to spend the pandemic with Sasami and Meg Duffy and my brother Luke. It felt like fate brought us all together to make these albums and share a home. I’ve always been most inspired by my friends who are also making things. There was a lot of bad stuff going on, I’m so thankful we had each other to create some light.
My hometown has always been a source of inspiration. It’s a weird place! There’s little Brattleboro Easter eggs scattered throughout the album, but really it’s more of a feeling I was trying to access while I was writing. The air, the landscape, the strange ass townies.
Paul & Linda McCartney - Ram
Everybody loves Ram. It’s so wild and free. There’s incredible moments and also really bad moments and that’s what makes it great. It’s not scared to be itself.
Fleetwood Mac - Tusk
Everybody also loves Tusk. It’s also pretty wild and free. Both of these albums just felt so good to listen to in 2020. It just really made me want to make an album that felt good to listen to!
I ate more tortellini than was necessary during the making of the album. I was so full of tortellini, that’s why most of the songs are slow or mid tempo and definitely not fast.
Who doesn’t love Wendy? You can hear bits of her influence throughout the record. Minimoog arpeggios just make the world a better place.
Painting in the yard
At some point I set up my easel in the yard and painted a fat, human-faced, squirrel. It was a horrible painting but something about it gave me hope.
One day I randomly stumbled upon Ringo filming a music video in Beverly Hills. He talked to me and I almost died. Immediately after that I went straight to Nordstrom’s Rack and bought a Margiela coat. It was perhaps the most inspirational 30 minutes of my life. I’m wearing the coat on the album cover.
KING TUFF - SMALLTOWN STARDUST TOUR DATES:
March 1 San Diego, CA @ Casbah
March 3 Los Angeles, CA @ Lodge Room
March 4 San Francisco, CA @ The Chapel
March 6 Portland, OR @ Mississippi Studios
March 7 Vancouver, BC @ The Wise
March 8 Seattle, WA @ Neumos
March 10 Salt Lake City, UT @ Urban Lounge
March 11 Denver, CO @ Globe Hall
March 15 Houston, TX @ White Oak Music Hall Upstairs
March 17 Nashville, TN @ The Basement East
March 18 Atlanta, GA @ The Earl
March 19 Durham, NC @ The Pinhook
March 21 Washington, DC @ DC9
March 22 Philadelphia, PA @ Johnny Brenda's
March 23 Boston, MA @ The Sinclair
March 24 Brooklyn, NY @ Elsewhere Hall
March 25 Brattleboro, VT @ The Stone Church
March 28 Montreal, QC @ Bar Le Ritz PDB
March 29 Toronto, ON @ Horseshoe Tavern
March 31 Chicago, IL @ The Empty Bottle
April 1 Minneapolis, MN @ The Turf Club
April 3 Kansas City, MO @ The Record Bar
April 5 Santa Fe, NM @ Meow Wolf
April 6 Phoenix, AZ @ The Rebel Lounge
April 7 Pioneertown, CA @ Pappy and Harriet's