By the time that Ty Segall hit age 26, he had already recorded and released six solo albums, appeared or collaborated on a dozen or so other albums of frantic guitar rock, issued 20 singles or extended-plays through various record labels, appeared on dozens of compilations and composed a few hundred songs.
In that burst of inspiration, the Laguna Beach, California-born guitarist, singer, surfer, skater and songwriter toured nonstop, gigging hundreds of shows across the country.
He produced similarly minded bands, played punk and indie festivals and tore through many wickedly searing guitar solos. The Memphis garage rock label Goner had already released the first Segall singles collection by the time he was 24.
Then, in 2013, the artist, Midnight Cowboy-handsome with a surfer’s wash of dirty blond hair, stopped touring and churning and, for the first time in his creative life, pulled back. He returned to Southern California from his then-base of San Francisco and called a timeout and issued himself a challenge: “Let’s try and make something like back in the day, when they had a ton of money, like a glam rock album. Let’s try and pull out all the stops.”
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Enter Manipulator. Sounding at various times like a mishmash of T. Rex, the Who, Nirvana, candy-coated guitar pop, early ’70s boogie rock and Segall’s avowed major loves, the Kinks and Hawkwind, the album’s songs are as confident and catchy as they are surprising.
“Usually I’ll spend six months writing a record, and then I’ll record it. This record I wanted it to be the opposite,” he said, then tossed out one of many rock references from his encyclopedic knowledge of guitar music to David Bowie’s longtime producer. “A Tony Visconti kind of record.”
Segall is deliberate in his answers and has a demeanor of someone OK with saying no when he needs to. “I think I accidentally got a reputation as a dude that doesn’t want to work with certain kinds of people,” he said of various label deals he’s been offered over the years. “Which is cool. I’d rather have that reputation than the opposite.”
Los Angeles Times
Segall plays The Stage, 70 NE 38th St., Miami, 8:30 p.m. Sept. 11; holdmyticket.com.