King Tuff is the alias and band of Brattleboro, Vt. native and L.A. resident Kyle Thomas. His music varies from mellow psychedelia to blazing power pop. Imbued with Mr. Tuff’s righteous guitar parts, every bit of it is worthy of earnest Bic salutations or fully engaged fist pumps. You can see King Tuff play live on Monday at the Launchpad with similarly amazing L.A. band Audacity. In the meantime, eavesdrop on the telephone conversation King Tuff and I had about jock jams and the magic of music. And I totally was not the stoned one.
What are you trying to accomplish?
I just want to write good songs and probably play ’em real loud. That's the main goal.
What kinds of things interest you most about music?
Music is really crazy if you think about it: What is it really? Sounds? It's just kind of like a magic spell. I'm interested in the magic of music. It can really change people's lives, it can really change their mood, it can really make you feel a lot better. And it's really just sound. It' s pretty interesting.
Who did your album art?
Uh, me and my brother.
Is “spooky” an intentional theme in all of your work?
No. I mean, the artwork on my other album isn't like that, but me and my brother have always been kind of drawn to that sort of imagery. It's just always spoken to us. So there's always a strong horror influence in our stuff.
What do you do besides bands?
Uh, drink a lot of espresso. [Laughs.] Sit around a lot and look at people. Um, draw and stuff. Take photos. I like to take photos at night.
How do you describe your sound—do you like to put it into a certain category?
That seems a little inaccurate, but ...
Whyyyyy? That's not any less inaccurate than lo-fi. That's actually way more accurate than lo-fi: Lo-fi isn't even a style of music, it's a sound quality. And that's what I get described as more, but I think I'm more like jock jams because the jocks come to my show and they jaaaam. [Laughs.]
Speaking of jock jams, what's your favorite embarrassing music to listen to?
Totally. I also like every song on the radio. I love Nicki Minaj "Starships." And what's that song, [sings] "Somebody that I used to know"? [Laughs.]
So, do you like every single thing you hear?
I try to. I try to be open to liking every single thing. And usually, if I'm open to it, I will like it. I mean, what's the point of being a hater all the time? I mean c'mon. Everyone just likes to hate on everything—if you put that negative energy out in the world that shit comes right back at you.
Why did you choose to live in Los Angeles?
I didn't really know where else to go. I lived in Vermont my whole life then L.A. was the first place that called to me. So it just seemed right.
Do you have anything you want people to know—about anything at all, or just King Tuff?
Do I have anything that I want anybody to know about anything at all. You are so stoned right now, aren't you?
No, I'm not. I’m pretty sleepy though.
You just sound high as hell. [Laughs.]
You sound high.
No, I just goddamn woke up. That's what I want people to know. And I feel great.