Ty Segall Lands in Omaha Once Again
By Kyle Eustice
In June, Laguna Beach native Ty Segall announced a monumental international tour in support of his upcoming album, Manipulator. It kicks off in Los Angeles, California on August 23 and wraps up November 12 in London. Along the way, he makes a stop in Omaha at The Waiting Room on September 25. He’s come a long way since playing in underground bands around Orange County. With his penchant for fuzzed out guitars and ‘60s-inspired psychedelic rock, Segall electrifies the soundscape on every track he plays. His last three albums have been with Drag City Records and his fourth is no exception. Manipulator swells with Segall’s polished guitar playing and brilliantly showcases his love of vintage sounds. From opening track “Manipulator” to its closing track, “Stick Around,” not a single song on the 17-track effort is worth skipping. Segall took some time to talk about growing up in Laguna and fleeing for his new town of San Francisco.
Shout Omaha (Kyle Eustice): I read somewhere that when the MTV reality show, Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County debuted; it kind of ruined your hometown. What were some of the differences you noticed?
It just got too much attention and all of these new business showed up and all of these new kids that were going to school for all the wrong reasons. Some kids wanted to get famous and their parents supported that. A lot of the really cool, older restaurants shut down because they couldn’t keep up with all of the new businesses. New laws popped up for awhile, like no skateboarding. For real, it was super weird. A lot of really weird things happened. It’s getting better now. The notoriety has worn off, which is cool. It’s just a trip. It happens to every town because of a show.
Is that why you fled for San Francisco?
The show didn’t come out until I was in college so I was already in S.F, but I liked everything about S.F. It’s far enough away that I had to be completely independent, which is what I wanted to do. I just wanted something different. Also, I loved the music scene and all of that stuff, too. The city itself is just amazing. I was a fan of the San Francisco early 2000 scene like The Numbers, The Hospital, The Coach Whips and stuff. I loved all of that before I moved there. I was super psyched. It was the noise rock of San Francisco.
When you did first realize you had a talent for guitar and that you wanted to try being a professional musician? I’ve seen you play guitar behind your head. That doesn’t look too easy.
[Laughs] That was a big joke. It was Black Flag that made me go ‘I want to play the guitar.’
I just interviewed Keith Morris before a performance with OFF!
Keith rules. That’s so cool, so cool. Black Flag made me think I could learn riffs and that it didn’t really matter if I was good or not. Don’t get me wrong. Gregg Ginn is amazing. I’m not saying that. It was just a different kind of music. It wasn’t like Led Zeppelin and Cream where you had to be a virtuoso. You can make up your own rules. I was like, ‘oh shit I can do that.’
Do you listen to any music that would surprise people? Any secrets?
I listen to a lot of Lil’ Wayne. I’ve been listening to a lot of Nikki Minaj, too.
Oh no! Tell me you’re joking.
I’m not kidding you. It’s good. I have a few dark secrets. I’m into like everything, man.
I have to confess. A managing editor of mine is extremely jealous I am talking to you right now.
Tell that guy I love him and I’m sorry.
He told me, ‘you don’t even like garage rock!’ [Laughs] Don’t you think the whole genre thing has gotten out of control anyway?
I just try to keep it simple. Rock-n-roll is rock-n-roll. I don’t know. It gives me a headache thinking about all that stuff. Keep it simple.
I always wanted to be a drummer because you don’t see too many females doing it these days. You have Emily Rose Epstein behind the kit. Does that ever cause problems?
Originally, we didn’t think about it as sexes. Emily just rips. There has been some funny baggage that comes along with that with morons that say stupid shit, but she rips so hard that they always look like morons. It’s pretty annoying, but it’s really great to blow their minds when she gets up there and rips. That’s the coolest part. It’s awesome to prove a point. It’s awesome to operate on that level. That’s how we operate just inherently because we don’t think that way. It’s been nothing but positive and awesome. Proving people or making morons thinks differently is rad.
It shuts them up, I bet.
You played drums on your first record, Twins. Does Emily play the drums permanently now?
She’s on Slaughterhouse. We all wrote that together. She’s on Melted. I played all the drums on Twins and most of the drums on my solo stuff, but she’s on a couple of the songs and on Slaughterhouse, she’s the dominating force.
Is there anything you don’t like about being in the spotlight or “fame?”
The only thing that bums me out is I try to operate on a normal level with people and it’s hard when people don’t reciprocate that, like if someone’s rude. Like when I’m having a conversation with someone and they interrupt to give me a compliment, which is nice, but it’s still like the normal things of being a human being aren’t there. I try my best to talk to people in a normal way. That’s my only complaint. We’re just people. We’re not different than anyone else. It’s awesome and a massive compliment, but it’s hard to get across that we’re just people.
I hate groupies.
I’m not a fan of groupies. It makes me uncomfortable. It’s very strange. I can understand worshipping the music or an album, but that’s it.
Do you sometimes have to run to your hotel rooms to hide?
It’s not that crazy. We don’t have those kinds of things. People are usually pretty nice. In London, I was freaking out a little because it was a little overwhelming.
Nothing like Lil’ Wayne.
So do you skate?
100 percent, man. I cruise. I’ve always used it as transportation. I cruise around and can do some stuff. All of my friends are skaters. That’s how I got into music, was through skateboarding. All of those 411 videos are how I found out about everything. I’ve been reading Thrasher since I was 15.
Tell me about your experience on The David Letterman Show. I heard you couldn’t be on it if you’ve already been on network television.
Weird. Then we shouldn’t have been on it. I guess it wasn’t network television. We had played on cable before.
So what was it like?
[Pause] I will preface it with this. I am so thankful we got to play that show and everyone that works there is super awesome, but David Letterman is an asshole. And he doesn’t care about anything, I’m pretty sure.
He seems like a real big dick.
He was making fun of us and thought we were a joke. We’re way too loud and weird. We won though and somehow snuck through the system. I don’t know how it happened, but yeah, he’s a total jerk.
Well at least you can say you’ve been on stage where hundreds of incredible musicians have played.
It was so awesome. No, don’t get me wrong. I’m so thankful to have played it. So happy, so cool, so rad. I mean what do you expect? He’s David Letterman. He will be David Letterman forever, you know.
Are there any artists you’ve worked with that have blown your mind?
We opened up for Jesus and Mary Chain. We played a couple festivals with people that were just insane. I met Rollins twice now and that was awesome. I played with OFF! and hung out with Keith Morris and he’s said things about me in magazines before and that was insane. That was pretty crazy.
Have they offered you any valuable advice?
Mostly just stick to your guns and do what you want to do and don’t compromise if you don’t want to, which is awesome advice. It’s going well so far.
With some many young kids dying from substance abuse these days, do you think artists have any social responsibility not to glorify those things?
I do feel that everyone has their own social responsibility to at least share their opinions. I mean, we have microphones and we’re in front of crowds. Drug use and experimentation in a healthy way is perfectly fine. I never felt comfortable with speed, heroin or hard shit like that. I’ve tried some hallucinogenics in my life and some other drugs. I drink alcohol and that’s about it. I don’t smoke weed or anything like that. Substance abuse is just more recognized now than it was in the past. I think it’s good for people to have it on their minds that you can get out of control. I think that’s been a problem for people for as long as there have been substances. It’s worth sharing how they feel. My fans are always surprised that I don’t smoke weed. I get a lot of flack for not smoking.
Do you struggle with that paradox then?
I mean dude, it’s hard to tastefully be social communicative and share your ideas. That’s the hardest part. You can’t go on stage and go fuck drugs! People are going to be like, that’s not fun. They will probably go to the bar. To be honest, I’ve been sober this whole tour. I’ve been kind of sick and I don’t think I’ve even had a beer. My whole thing with substances is maybe it’s ok for the right occasion, but people shouldn’t feel the need to get fucked up every night. It’s all a matter of choice. Letting people know, also, too. I’ve noticed a lot of people that have parents who didn’t let them experiment a little bit, those kids end up being way more fucked up on drugs and alcohol. I was one of those kids that didn’t get to experiment that much. I kind of flipped out when I was 18 or 19 and drank too much. I still get drunk, but I pulled back a lot. People should try things, but if you take mushrooms 100 times, I’m sure you’re brain will be different than it was before [laughs].
It’s better to be open minded and talking about it. Just talking to people about it is rad. My mom is an alcoholic and a super messed up person so I don’t really talk to her, so it’s all good. My sister didn’t get into drinking and drugs as much as I did.