There’s something cartoonish about King Tuff. Most of his album art portrays hand-scratched drawings of large-nosed longhairs and magic bats. In his music videos, a paint stick follows him around to shimmer the scene neon every once in awhile. His band could also emanate this kiddishness, with make-believe aliases like Magic Jake (his bassist), and Captain Cox (his engineer). But there’s something about his sound, too, that illustrates him. It’s this rabbit-from-a-hat sonic madness of hard drum patterns and fuzzed-out electric guitars. It’s also his voice, which until you see him live doesn’t quite make sense — like a hoarse Alvin the Chipmunk might sound when you slow down the recording just enough so that it could be considered human.
This year, his 2008 record, Was Dead, was reissued and released on Burger Records — for which anyone with footing in the sounds of all of those fuzzed-out garbage pail kids coming in from the West Coast (Ty Segall, No Bunny, WAVVES, the Memories, et al.) should be eternally grateful. It is a record filled with a series of hooks strung together in one cleverly-crafted album. There’s nothing to skip, it’s all here re-packaged in a vibrant blue sleeve with the hot pink scribble-scrabbled face of King Tuff himself.
“I recorded Was Dead with my friend in a giant ballroom, this was was in Vermont,” Kyle “King Tuff” Thomas explains over the phone last month. The longtime guitarist and songwriter moved from Vermont to Los Angeles a little over two years ago and jokes “I haven’t done shit since I got to LA… just frying my mind in the rays.”
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