Will Toledo: Yeah, I kind of feel like that’s slowly draining out of it, as the years start to divide me from my college years, but definitely at the time there was a sort of a poetic ambition to what I was writing. I never thought I’d get to have conversations with musicians I considered legends, whose music defines and describes me and my life in a way that non-music fans will never understand — and I never thought I’d find a legend of my generation (indeed, younger than me), prolific enough to add to the lineup of my beloved rock heroes, in an era where vital artistic voices are more crucial than ever. Do you think you’ll keep producing records? “That right now is appealing to me as a way forward.”, His years of home recording mean that he’s comfortable making music on his own, but it’s not a choice he would have made for himself. Yeah, for sure. 306. “But I was the only one who really liked that music. Since its release in 2011, the album has amassed an online cult following, with the internet forums 4chan and Reddit playing major roles in the album's success. To first rehash some facts: the better part of a decade ago, Will made a whole bunch of DIY albums in his home state of Virginia, in the back of his parents’ car and while off at college; got signed by Matador Records and built his band in Seattle with Andrew, guitarist and singer Ethan Ives, and bassist Seth Dalby; found critical and commercial indie success with 2016’s Teens of Denial (the album that changed everything for me) and the reworked, 2018 version of his cult 2011 Bandcamp hit Twin Fantasy, whose promotion included global tours, festival appearances, and a set on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon (their second appearance on there, actually), with a year-plus addition to the core Car Seat Headrest band of hard-rocking Seattle trio Naked Giants for extra instrumental muscle — commemorated with the 2019 release of Car Seat Headrest’s first live album, Commit Yourself Completely; and became the subject of a three-part TIDAL documentary, which provided the most current views of where Will and Car Seat are right now, in 2018–19. Last October, toward the end of recording his band’s new album, Car Seat Headrest frontman Will Toledo found himself in the middle of a terrifying panic attack. share. Are you guys recording the album already? She’s actually one of two albums, or artists, that I’ve been working with…that album was in the works for a while, I went onto that right after Twin Fantasy, and then I did my mixes for it, and then she was working with another engineer on it for a while. share. But Will is great because while in various ways he is a new Paul McCartney for the 21st century — a stunningly innovative songwriter, an artist who put their time in to hone their craft, an enigmatic and charismatic figure on stage, an emotional artist who can effortlessly switch between cathartically rocking out and making you cry with devastating lyrics — as an individual, he could just be another low-key student from my humanities classes over the years. 7 comments. But it’s unfortunate that no one’s looking at it from that angle, and what can we do to keep that idea alive and preserve it in a more sustainable way. But I like the sort of anti-algorithm approach, of just completely random. Not to be overly hyperbolic, but it’s like someone handing you the phone and saying, “hey, here’s your chance to talk to Bob Dylan [or your legend of choice] for an hour — have fun, make something great out of it, and oh yeah, don’t f*ck it up!”, It’s fitting to finally have a piece devoted to Will here at Houseshow — a self-published digital magazine that focuses exclusively on DIY and indie artists — given the facts of Car Seat Headrest’s inspiring, now-mythic DIY origin story, a story built into the name of his band. I really liked the kind of Car Seat-esque vibes that were brought to bear, albeit on her music. The yelps and shouts that resulted made it onto the album. Twin Fantasy began as a solo album released by Car Seat Headrest's lead singer/songwriter Will Toledo on November 2, 2011. If a song can do everything in three minutes, what world is it going to explore in that additional amount of time? It’s not too shabby for both Will and I to be where we are now, two kids from the American suburbs of the East Coast: a guy who started out as a teenager recording music in the back of his parents’ car, and me, living out my fantasy from when I was 13 (lol, a very long time ago now) of being rock writer William Miller in Almost Famous — or his mentor, the real, legendary rock writer Lester Bangs — a fantasy which implanted itself in my brain in tandem with my teenage music fan angst about my inability to meet Julian Casablancas when I would see The Strokes play in Boston, or the time my parents blocked the opportunity I had to meet Lou Reed at a record store signing. I’m not always great at whatever it is I do here.). Well, actually, that came about because Matador didn’t really expect to us to do that, they expected us to trim down the original version into three and a half minutes, I heard what they were doing and was like “no, you can’t do this, like, you’ve turned ‘Drunk Drivers’ into half of a verse and then a bridge and that just doesn’t work.” So, you know, my mind naturally started turning towards how could you make it work, and how much do you have to change it to get to that point. But there’s actually whole playlists of covers on YouTube if you look hard enough — I’ll leave finding those to my fellow hardcore fans and internet people. hide. Will Toledo dared himself to listen to more pop music before making the band’s new album, ‘Making a Door Less Open.’ The result was a thrilling reinvention from one of indie rock’s top talents. At that point in life, I didn’t have anyone to relate to in regards to being gay until I realized that Will Toledo, the singer of Car Seat Headrest, was singing about a boy he had fallen in love with. Can't Cool Me Down 3. So, as a last question — my magazine came out of Chicago’s DIY community, and I was wondering what you would tell kids coming up today who want to be musicians or creatives, and what DIY might mean to you. His sound profile that he builds up is very different from my comfort zone, and so for a while I didn’t see a way to really combine it. Am I going to not be able to deal with it?’”, Around the time of the Twin Fantasy tour, Toledo began considering the Sixties pop he’d grown up on from a different angle. Like a new challenge, challenge yourself. share. I was just like, these drums are just better than anything than that’s on the Car Seat album currently, and I’ve been working on it for months, so I’m just gonna hand over the drive to you essentially, and let you craft your version of these songs, so that is what is about to happen, basically. 277.  You have to like the music and the artist that you’re working on, but if you do, it can definitely serve to inspire you in your own material. A re-recorded, new, single version of the song Beach Life-in-Death, previously seen on Car Seat Headrest’s 2011 album, Twin Fantasy. Interviews; Lists; Streams; Videos; All Posts; Recommendations. Even as conventional wisdom says rock is dead, or kids don’t listen to rock anymore — it couldn’t be further from the truth. On Making a Door Less Open, the album that he and his bandmates were trying to finish that day last fall, Toledo pushes even further into strange, exciting new territory, with more ideas than ever competing for air. A fantastic listen. Shop for Vinyl, CDs and more from Car Seat Headrest at the Discogs Marketplace. Formed . Watching fan-made videos of the performances over the past few years show how he’s made it his own, culminating in the April 2018 video above, which visually documents the version of “Ivy” that made it onto Commit Yourself Completely. It’s an ambitious song cycle that’s been held up by his small but fervent online cult as his masterpiece. … What did I like about that older music? Obviously, that’s all just come with doing music full-time and living the lifestyle, instead of just writing in my free time. One person found this helpful. So I kind of enjoyed the idea of working with that approach, where you just had to very quickly put stuff together. Car Seat Headrest discography and songs: Music profile for Car Seat Headrest, formed 2010. It’s a great concept — that you can be DIY, or you can be a huge label — you can listen to anything, from anywhere. Just glancing at comments and posts about Will and Car Seat across social media show fans around the world talking about how his music made them feel better, helped them come out to their family, helped them during mental health challenges and tough times. I follow you on Spotify, with your playlists there —. Yeah, we have our sound guy [John McRae] who also tours with us, he’s been the engineer in the studio, which just means he’s setting everything up and hitting the buttons, and then outside of that, it’s just been me and Andrew. “Once it came out, that was a big moment for us,” he says. 2010 in Leesburg, VA. Genre. Human bobert from amazing world of gumball is literally just will toledo. And in thinking about that, I ended up thinking a lot about that sort of shorter song structure, and how people do more with less, essentially. I saw him perform it in Chicago that September, and it absolutely blew me away. What more cross-generational, old-guard, rock n roll validation do you need? I’m also interested in how the variety of cross-genre influences he absorbs, as documented through his Spotify playlists, are making an impact on his creativity, and I am very curious to see how they make appearances on the next record. Maybe we’re not quite at that stage yet, but sort of coming from a different place from the rest of the tracks on the album, which makes it a bit of a challenge to make it fit and feel coherent. I don’t think that was a great way of making money either. During the winter 2019 tour (the continuation of their Twin Fantasy touring), the band also debuted a track called “Weightlifters.” So that’s three new tracks on hand as of late 2019. 277. His exacting search for musical greatness has made him one of indie rock’s top auteurs, adored by fans and critics for his way of turning interior turmoil into hook-filled guitar anthems like the ones on 2016’s brilliant Teens of Denial. At age 19, Will Toledo, under the alias of Car Seat Headrest, composed the album Twin Fantasy. It just feels like I wasted my time. Hollywood 5. While it’s true that many of the legends we rock fans worship tend to be in the septuagenarian or even octogenarian category these days, younger artists like Will, who is succeeding at so many of the things we valued about the rock artists of the past, show us that it’s still possible for songwriters to create lyrics that get under our skin, melodies that stick in our heads, and that you can’t beat drums, guitars, and bass for creating the perfect mosh pit. I found this album before I had come out to anyone. Until our interview! Given the DIY origins of Car Seat Headrest, which has morphed into the high costs of song sampling (the infamous situation with The Cars and Teens of Denial), most of these covers live online, rather than being enshrined in the Car Seat Headrest recording catalogue. I’ve really loved the really long songs you do, and I was kind of wondering how you developed those, cause it’s something you’ve been doing since early on. With this new iteration of Twin Fantasy, it's tempting to say Will Toledo has come full circle, at least in a narrative sense.That's not to say this is some grand finale record. Creating music from that immediate musical perspective, rather than thinking about it and trying to generate something out of my own mind. My other favorite covers of Will’s and his bandmates include The Smiths and Pink Floyd. I need to explore more before I turn to greatest-hits legacy band touring.”, Years earlier, when he was first imagining what a life in music might be like, Toledo had thought a lot about Brian Wilson, a key early influence. But that’s the goal, if it’s longer it should still feel like it’s there and gone, essentially. But the more that we work together — him touching up Degnan’s stuff, and then we also worked together on the live album that just came out — it’s a lot clearer to me now that he can sort of lay the groundwork, and then I can come in and change it afterwards, and it ends up just basically sounding a lot clearer than my natural range would be. So we ended up re-recording a few tracks from that album to be right around that length of three and a half minutes. Yeah and I think the live shows are where we’re able to continue doing that. Because when you look at the numbers, at how many people are paying for streaming and how much they’re paying, versus how much they’re streaming and how much money needs to go out to artists — they’re operating at a loss, essentially. And certainly not only for me, but thousands of other enthusiastic fans around the world. Twin Fantasy isn’t just another one of Toledo’s Bandcamp albums. So it’s kind of a way of giving myself a full education in whatever the book is talking about — there’s been several music books of that nature that I think I’ve gone through. (For those paying attention, this is indeed the fourth piece I’ve written around Car Seat Headrest, including my pieces about their comedic side project 1 Trait Danger here at Houseshow and at Hard Noise, and my recent interview with hilariously brilliant drummer Andrew Katz, but this is the first entirely about Will as Car Seat’s songwriter and bandleader.). Martin 7. As Joni Mitchell once said, “an innovator must change what went before.”. I get no satisfaction out of the delivery, because I give 100 percent in the creating, and then I’m just kind of spent.”. I think if you’re working or trying to write in a vacuum, that’s very difficult. Or make the music that’s on there inaccessible — it feels like whenever they move closer to the algorithm, it feels like they’re one step closer to just basically becoming a distribution service where most of the music that you want to hear isn’t going to be on there. “Usually, once I finish something, I go through mourning, like postpartum depression,” he says. But someday it’s going to happen. “It’s written to match the perspective of someone who’s out of the loop, who doesn’t know what is going on but is hurting and seeking some sort of outlet,” Toledo says. You don’t have to party, or trash hotel rooms, or be an obnoxious egomaniac to be a figure that entertains, inspires, and brings comfort to thousands around the world through your art and performances. Will and the band are currently working on what will be Car Seat Headrest’s first collection of new material since Teens of Denial (1 Trait Danger albums notwithstanding), and I know that I, along with thousands of other Car Seat fans are eager to hear how Will’s songwriting and musical vision has continued to evolve in tandem with the skills of his consummately talented band. Car Seat Headrest founder and frontman Will Toledo talks about relating to Kanye West and not wanting to be an indie singer-songwriter who taunts the industry and fans. There are pretty much a billion things you want to ask them, most of which you can’t because they’re a stranger, even though you feel like you know the depths of their soul or whatever (and that they know yours, which obviously they don’t), so you keep it light and high-level and try not to sound like an idiot — which I think I can say I somewhat succeeded at, although sometimes I only had “cool!” to say in response to Will’s comments, which is goofy for my supposedly having years of experience in this. I’m so nervous that Spotify will just like, disappear someday, or something. 10 comments. It’s a pretty fascinating experience to formulate a conversation with an artist whose music you consume just about every day — it’s shockingly normal (it’s just a conversation with a fellow human) and yet so surreal. I’m talking about honing stuff down for the album, but I think once you put it on a stage, you can really expand it back out again — if it goes into a jam, that can happen, or it can be longer, or it can go to different sections or repeat things more often. Deadlines (Hostile) 4. It felt like Toledo and his bandmates were in a sweaty wrestling match with the classic-rock tradition. Good, yeah, you can probably tell from the video it’s one of the longer pieces. I guess there still is, but it’s sort of tempered by a lot more different experiences, and more direct social activities. It’s just the flexibility of us being the people who mix it, and being able to mix it wherever as opposed to in a studio. And as an anonymous person on YouTube said, Will is basically single-handedly saving rock music as we know it — which you can see reflected in Car Seat Headrest’s sold-out, cross-generational shows, where you can find everyone from the kids born in the 2000s to their grandparents who saw Neil Young live in the 1970s singing along to “Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales” and “Drugs With Friends,” or moshing to “Beach Life-in-Death” and “Destroyed by Hippie Powers.” Whether you’re a fan of rock-pop, post-punk, grunge, alt-rock, guitar feedback, unconventional song structure, or introspective lyrics, there’s something for everyone. hide. hide. I’m assuming these three songs will make it onto the album, but who can really say, besides Will of course. It’s not exactly a cover as much as a remix, with Will interpolating his own lyrics, including a snippet from “Beach Life-in-Death” (“in the mall in the nighttime / you came back alone with a flashlight”) — while he had also interpolated in a lyric of Frank’s, recorded backwards (“it was the start of nothing”) in the 2018 version of BLiD. While I wanted to include the transcript of our whole conversation in this article, I tried to select more of what hasn’t been covered before in pieces about Will and Car Seat. Um, do it! (By the way, it took me only like 10 years of being a Cohen fan to discover “Memories,” and 2 years of being a Car Seat fan to find Will’s cover. If you’re gonna do it, you should do it all the way.”. While just about any musician gets their start in both playing and songwriting by covering artists they admire, there’s something special to me about the covers Will has done, on his own or with the larger band. From a musician standpoint, I really don’t feel like there’s a great injustice in the way streaming services pay artists, but I think that artists who have a problem with it, they’re coming from a very different perspective. Everything Indie Music related; from the newest releases and news, to discussion … I think that’s what so great about your longer songs, is that they really keep the energy and the interest there, cause otherwise folks would be bored. The industry is trying to change to keep up with the DIY aspect of it, and I think that’s resulted in a very good place to be for musicians. Other songs on the album dip successfully into ambient loops (“Can’t Cool Me Down”), festival-ready dance-pop (“Famous”), outsider-art oddness, and more. You can see and hear how he experiments, pushes boundaries, assesses his strengths and weaknesses, and tries new strategies to be better each time. I truly can’t wait to see how this next album comes together, and to be on this journey as a fan, and now documentarian of sorts, of the work and evolution of Will Toledo and Car Seat Headrest. Yeah, that was another thing, before these services, the only thing that was around was iTunes, and it was super hard to get anything on iTunes if you were an artist. 7 comments. I can only hope copyright and licensing laws don’t squash the next phases of artistic innovation. I’m impressed with anyone who bothers to follow me on Spotify. “To me, that puts it in line with a lot of Teens of Denial, which also talked about alienation in its own way.” Still, it feels new enough to surprise and disorient. Usually, when I’m on Bandcamp, I go to “recent arrivals” from all genres, and that’ll just stick you on a bunch of completely random albums and I like being able to sift through those, like I’m at a weird record store. Growing up in suburban Virginia, Toledo had dabbled in other forms of expression, “writing short stories and making weird little movies with my friends,” before settling on songwriting toward the end of his teens. But I can change my mindset and take advantage of being the only one at the wheel for a while.”, If all goes well, he hopes that he can shape the beginnings of something to record with his bandmates when conditions allow, with the goal of finishing a new album to perform alongside Making a Door Less Open at some later date. And if that’s what was filling the music industry with money, I think that came at the expense of the consumer. Posted by 6 days ago. That’s more or less what happened — there were a few pieces where we had to go back in to the studio later to finish because we hadn’t quite finished writing them, but I think that the songs sort of benefit from that direct approach, and not having a lot of bullshit attached to it. By the week of the album’s release on May 1st, he’d gotten back into work mode, starting by taking a fresh look at a handful of long, unstructured jams left over from the recording of Making a Door Less Open. I try to be listening to music more than I’m thinking about making my own music, because I think the more time you put stuff into your head, the easier it is to get something out. “We were riding for a while on the success of that.”. That was sort of a similar setup, where we had a limited amount of time in the studio, and then for the rest of it I was just mixing on my own, putting the rest of it together. I’ve just been actively trying to look for different types of music, and staying on top of that. Around this time, Toledo began performing live shows with fellow students Katie Wood, Austin Ruhf, and Christian Northover, recording and releasing a short live album in July 2013 entitled Live at WCWM: Car Seat Headrest at the university's studio . So that’s three new tracks on hand as of late 2019. Yeah, although so far, there’s only been the live version, and that is already sort of more expanded from what’s laid out right now. I think other DIY artists would argue that point, but yeah I would hope that I end up not being a significant example, as far as I hope a lot of people can come up in the same way that I did. Getting the chance to talk to someone like Will, and write about it, is truly more than I could’ve ever imagined, and mostly makes up for the earlier angst (although I’ll never get over the Lou Reed thing), so thank you Will, and universe. I tried to restrain myself, but as you can see by the length of this piece, I only partially succeeded. I guess I’ve listened to a lot more music and especially live recordings in the past five years or so, where that’s basically the scene, where artists will have three-minute songs that turn into ten-minute songs, or whatever, and just sort of get into a groove and keep going with it. (To accompany these dramatic shifts, he’s been wearing a custom-designed mask in nearly all his press photos for this album. save. I don’t really consider 1 Trait a different artist, it is literally just me and Andrew, but the things I’ve learned from Andrew is stuff that we’re incorporating, or even just letting Andrew handle the mixing on this album — it probably wouldn’t have occurred to me unless we were working on the 1 Trait stuff. Explore releases from Car Seat Headrest at Discogs. As a lifelong fan of rock music, discovering the music of Car Seat Headrest was like finding some friend through space and time that I had always known. So I was working on that, and I was also working on my friend Degnan’s album — [the band] Naked Days — and we’re actually still working on that now, but I’m hoping to be finished with it soon. So in that sense, 1 Trait has definitely affected my own musical output. Yeah, we’ve already made some headway with it, we’re sort of working in opposition to the way previous albums have been done for Matador, and more like what I used to be doing, where it just starts on the computer and gets built up gradually. He experienced a significant breakthrough using the launch of his 2016 recording Teenagers of Denial, which gained praise from shops like Rolling Rock. A fantastic, more recent cover featured the full band, including Naked Giants, doing DEVO’s “Uncontrollable Urge” at KEXP in Seattle, where they and DJ Cheryl Waters (clearly a fellow Car Seat fan) seem to be having a great time. I took a video of it in Boston, and I was like “oh, this is a short song,” but then, “oh, I forgot about this whole intro, and outro…”. Meme . “But it was huge for months and months, repetition after repetition, and the production started sounding really good to me.”. Whereas the success of many rock gods of the past hinged on their ability to be highly flamboyant, the hard-living ids of their audiences, Will being the frontman of Car Seat Headrest is like the fulfillment of the fantasy of being a rock star for every quiet or unconventional kid who ever picked up a rock record and dreamed of being on stage. “There’s no way to avoid it,” he says over the phone from his Seattle home. Teens of Style is the Matador debut of Will Toledo, a young songwriter who blends the cracked pop oddity of Guided by Voices with the emotional directness of Belle and Sebastian. There Must Be More Than Blood 11. These were songs made for streaming tallies in the billions, with a sleek, minimalist architecture that sounded better, not worse, the more overplayed they got. So the idea that things should be honed down rather than expanded is interesting to me, and that’s sort of the approach we’re taking with this [next] album. He’s molded and shaped his distinctive voice into a highly versatile instrument, a singer in the tradition of Dylan or Neil Young or Leonard Cohen, artists who may not have had Sinatra-smooth voices but whose emotional honesty and relatability is enhanced by their poignantly raw, authentic style. He actually had given me a song to do vocals for, I think maybe a 1 Trait song but we don’t have any lyrics for it yet. twin fantasy album cover in real life. And Bandcamp has its own sort of field of music, and that’s good for stuff that is completely unknown. https://rateyourmusic.com/release/album/이달의-소녀/_x-x/ https://rateyourmusic.com/collection/defnotwilltoledo/recent Tue, 09 Apr 2019 19:40:39 +0000 For a while, I wanted to do the studio thing, and have the studio setup, and have the producer, and I think I learned enough from those sessions, and those albums, that I felt like I could go back to what is more my comfort zone of having these songs that get slowly built up out of nothing. On the morning of Friday, February 16, 2018, I did an emotional deep-dive into Twin Fantasy, the newly released and reworked version of Car Seat Headrest’s 2011 album of the same name. The fact that they would create basically a legal version of music piracy, where artists do get paid, is really impressive to me, and I think that a lot of people overlook that in favor of saying “well, they don’t get paid very much.” Honestly, I think the real thing to look out for, is at what point streaming services are going to need to be profitable, because I really don’t think that they are generating a lot of money right now. Well, the next time the universe offers you the opportunity to have a cross-coastal phone conversation with one of your favorite musicians/artists/creators of all time — one of the premier songwriters of your generation — plus the chance to write essentially whatever you want about it, and tell the internet: let me know what you come back with. Synths and streamlined melodies entered the picture, as did a brash, over-the-top sense of humor. 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