The Logic of Fuzz
Like so many bands that litter the course of rock-‘n’-roll history, Fuzz started at home with nothing more than a single riff. This riff, however, sprung from the brain of one Charles Moothart, a longtime collaborator of Ty Segall and a guitarist in his live band. So when this first riff, the spark of the project, made its way from brain, to fingers, to guitar, to amp, it was almost self-evident that the chain would eventually trickle down to the ears of listeners. The project had as humble beginnings as any, but when Moothart enlisted Segall on drums and vocals duties, Fuzz was already destined for more than garage-band obscurity.
Moothart and Segall already had a good gig going with the Ty Segall Band. Though this new project of theirs was indeed conceived with the intent to release records and hit the road, the idea was to do so without any of the associations that might surround yet another Moothart and Segall project. This one was to live in the realms of bong rips and doom riffs and old, beat-up copies of Paranoid. So when the trio (with bassist Roland Cosio) revealed themselves as the force behind an anonymous 7″ released in December on Trouble In Mind, they did so not with the pretense of a big PR reveal, but with cheesy “you caught us” grins. After taking their once homebound project to a studio alongside bassist Roland Cosio, they’ve emerged with a self-titled debut LP that rivals many of the stoner rock anthems they recall throughout. We caught up with Moothart, who called in from his San Francisco home, to talk about the roots of the Fuzz project and embracing the craziness that embodies the way that he and Segall work.
COLIN JOYCE: I want to start at the very beginning of the idea. How did this more aggressive proto-stoner metal project come to be?
CHARLES MOOTHART: We’ve always been into that kind of stuff. We don’t usually feel comfortable touching it. There wasn’t ever really the possibility of doing this kind of thing. I was sitting in my house one day, before I was in Ty’s band or anything, wondering how hard it would be to write a song like that. I was trying to figure out if it’d be ridiculous or sound like shit. I just tried and then eventually showed the stuff to Ty. He was stoked on it and then we tried to jam together. It was really more to have fun. He mentioned playing drums. We wanted to play music like that, just to see if it was possible.
JOYCE: How long ago was it that you started messing around with this style?
MOOTHART: It was probably around three years ago, maybe a little bit more. Everything is pretty haphazard.
JOYCE: If this sort of music is something you’ve been into for a long time, when did you first get exposed to it?
MOOTHART: My dad was a really big Black Sabbath fan. He’s not really into music now, but whenever we’d talk about music he’d say, “Oh, Black Sabbath is the greatest band ever.” I was raised with that idea. Over time, not really directly trying, I picked up some random heavier records. My buddy Jeff showed me Blue Cheer when we were living together six years ago. There was never really a moment when I was like, “Oh, I want to listen to stoner rock.” It slipped into my taste slowly.
JOYCE: And it seems like it’s slipped into your playing slowly too. There’s always these little flourishes in both yours and Ty’s guitar work that’s reminded me of that type of music.
MOOTHART: It is funny to step back and look at it. It’s a weird thing to analyze. We’ve always just liked that shit. It’s not a super artistic statement or direction. It’s just something that happens.
JOYCE: When the first Fuzz 7″ came out on Trouble In Mind, why’d you choose to release it anonymously?
MOOTHART: There were a couple of different sides to that. We wanted to not just fall into this “side project” category, which it is. We’re not trying to avoid anything that’s clearly unavoidable, but we wanted it to float out there with no expectation. We didn’t want it to be compared to too many things. We just wanted it to stand on its own, and we wanted an honest reaction. If people thought it sucked, we wanted to hear it.
JOYCE: You didn’t want people coming in with preconceived notions about what your music already sounded like.
MOOTHART: Totally. We thought it was funny to float it out there. We thought maybe people would actually think it’s an old record, or maybe they’d see right through it immediately. We just wanted to see where it went. It was funny.
JOYCE: Even at that time, was it clear that this was a project where you were going to release an album and do some touring?
MOOTHART: We had a handful of songs that we really needed to work out. At that point we really didn’t have an LP together, but the way we operate as people, it was obvious we were trying to write as many songs as we could. The whole point of the band is to not have any pressure. We knew we were eventually going to work toward an LP, it just took a lot of figuring out.
JOYCE: If it started out as a low-key fun thing, has it been hard to keep it that way? I read that you recorded the album in two days. There seems like there’s some inherent pressure with that.
MOOTHART: That was actually a total misquote. We tracked all of the live tracks in two day, but we were in the studio for a week. I thought that was funny when I read that; we definitely took our time with this record. It’s not hard to keep that mentality, because that’s the mentality we’ve always kept with Ty’s band. Everything has been fun. When we say that this band is about fun, it doesn’t mean that we’re not having fun in music overall.
JOYCE: So in the middle of a long tour, it never feels like it’s dragging on?
MOOTHART: That definitely happens. In my opinion, and I know that Ty and everyone we’re involved with would agree, that’s part of the fun. When you hit a wall in the middle of tour and you feel crazy and tired and dirty, the next show makes it all worth it. It’s all part of the experience. If it was all flowers and smiles, it wouldn’t be worth it. We wouldn’t have the drive to do it. Even if it’s not fun in the moment, to me that’s part of the fun.
JOYCE: How was the first Fuzz tour that you did over the summer? Was that something that felt lower-key?
MOOTHART: It was definitely a testing ground, but it was rad to take a step back and play shows that were a little bit smaller. We didn’t go back to square one or anything, but we felt like we were building a different foundation.
JOYCE: As far as the actual recording process, if you tracked the whole thing in two days, was that normal for you guys?
MOOTHART: This record, we actually took more time to do than any record that I’ve been involved with. It’s hard to say, because Ty records his records all by himself. It felt like more than enough time at the end of the day. We could have spent more time tracking it, but we prepared pretty well going into it so we just banged it all out and left ourselves time to mix and do overdubs. We tried to keep it as lax as possible, but that’s just how we operate. We charge through things because it’s fun. We can’t really stop, you know?
FUZZ IS OUT NOW.