King Tuff

The Other Tour

King Tuff

Cut Worms

Tue, May 22, 2018

Doors: 7:30 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

Showcase Lounge

$18 advance | $20 day of show

This event is all ages

King Tuff
King Tuff
When asked to describe the title track from his new record, Kyle Thomas—aka King Tuff—takes a deep breath. “It’s a song about hitting rock bottom,” he says. “I didn't even know what I wanted to do anymore, but I still had this urge—this feeling—like there was this possibility of something else I could be doing… and then I just followed that possibility. To me, that’s what songwriting, and art in general, is about. You’re chasing something, there is something out there calling to you and you’re trying to get at it. ‘The Other’ is basically where songs come from, it’s the hidden world, it’s the mystery. It’s the invisible hand that guides you whenever you make something. It’s the thing I had to rediscover—the sort of voice I had to follow—to bring me back to making music again in a way that felt true and good.”

After years of non-stop touring, culminating in a particularly arduous stint in support of 2014’s Black Moon Spell, Thomas found himself back in Los Angeles experiencing the flipside of the ultimate rock and roll cliche—that of an exhausted musician suddenly unsure where to go or what to do, held prisoner by a persona that he never meant to create, that bore little resemblance to the worn out person they now saw in the mirror. Thomas was suddenly at odds with the storied rock and roll misfit mythology that he’d spent the past ten years, four full-length albums, a handful of EPs, and multiple live records, unwittingly bringing to life.

“At that point I had literally been on tour for years,” recalls Thomas. “It was exhausting. Physically and mentally. At the end of it I was like, I just can't do this. I’m essentially playing this character of King Tuff, this crazy party monster, and I don’t even drink or do drugs. It had become a weird persona, which people seemed to want from me, but it was no longer me. I just felt like it had gotten away from me.”

For a time, Thomas involved himself in projects that gave him space from all things King Tuff, and allowed him to, as he says, “go out and play music without having to actually be the boss.” Eventually, after being asked to play a handful of solo shows, Thomas began to see a way through to making new music. “I’d never played a show with just an acoustic guitar,” he says. “It just seemed like the scariest thing. I knew I wanted to write some new songs that could stand up in that kind of setting, which really opened the door to a new way of working.”

“I knew I wanted to record myself on my own time in my own space, so I put together a studio in a room in my house we called the Pine Room. It was like being inside of a wood-paneled spaceship. Suddenly I had all of this new crazy gear that I had no idea how to use in any sort of technical or ‘correct’ way. I just embraced the beauty of not knowing, which I think is where you get interesting things happening." Thomas self-produced the record, as he did his debut, Was Dead, but on a far grander scale, this time playing every instrument aside from drums and saxophone. He pulled Shawn Everett (War On Drugs, Alabama Shakes) in to assist with the mixing process. "From the moment I started recording, it was like going home, like I had finally found myself again.”

While it would be easy to think of The Other as a kind of reinvention for King Tuff, Thomas views the entire experience of the record as a kind of psychic reset, and something not totally removed from what he’s done in the past. “I can’t help but sound like me,” he says. “It’s just that this time I let the songs lead me where they wanted to go, instead of trying to push them into a certain zone. King Tuff was always just supposed to be me. When I started doing this as a teenager, it was whatever I wanted it to be. King Tuff was never supposed to be just one thing. It was supposed to be everything.”
Cut Worms
Some say, if there’s anything in the world you could be doing other than music, please god go do that thing. Well, Max Clarke could have done a number of things; after going to school for illustration, steering toward a career in graphic design, and taking some handy-man type jobs, he realized that songwriting, a pastime since he was twelve years old, was the only type of work that didn’t feel like just work. Writing and finishing songs had never been an effortless task for Max, more like a trip “through heaven and hell,” but he wanted to spend his mid-20s energy on something important and personal-  and hey, a little hellfire is good for the complexion.

“Alien Sunset” is a collection of home-recorded “demos” from Max’s time living in Chicago (Side A) and New York City (Side B), written in spurts, like little designated creative coffee breaks. Following the example of a prolific roommate who had endeavored to write a song a day for a year and did so for FOUR years, Max decided to dedicate his daily hour of free-time after work to mindful musical regimen. He challenged himself to record two songs a month and release them online - for better or for worse, praise or criticism. Expecting little more than a few constructive comments regarding his 8-track fidelity, he was surprised by the positive reactions to his antique sound, classic voice, and Everly Brothers style close harmonies.

For Max, making music is free passage back to the realm of ecstatic teenage feelings, and “Alien Sunset” is full of that intense, feels-so-good-to-feel-so-bad energy. Even when the lyrical content broods, the spirit sparkles, and Max’s emotive vocal performances bubble over with the tipsy dancing and diaphramic laughter of a writer lover fool who, having his wrestled his demons, hit his head upon a multitude of dead ends, and failed thrice and half times at self-immolation, has nowhere left to go but relief.
Venue Information:
Showcase Lounge
1214 Williston Road
South Burlington, VT, 05403
http://www.highergroundmusic.com/