This heavily hyped Seattle band may seem to have come from out of nowhere, but 23-year-old frontman Will Toledo has been honing his craft since middle school. Here’s how you become an overnight success with your 10th album.
It has truly been the best of times and the worst of times for Car Seat Headrest. The Seattle band have enjoyed unanimous acclaim for their new album Teens of Denial but ran into a legal snag with the Cars’ Ric Ocasek that forced their label, Matador Records, to recall and destroy initial pressings of the record on vinyl and CD just as they were about to ship out to stores. Luckily, this hasn’t damaged their momentum too much, and the physical release will be out this weekend, just ahead of their appearance at the 4Knots festival in Manhattan and the Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago.
This interview with band leader Will Toledo was conducted just before the recall, so that isn’t addressed. Instead, we talked about how Car Seat Headrest evolved from a high school solo project to a full-fledged band, the relevance of rock music in 2016, and how Toledo approaches writing about depression, anxiety, and drugs.
There’s a lot of conventional wisdom over the past several years that young people don’t care about rock music, and it’s over and only for old people now. But that’s clearly not the case, as there’s a lot of good bands full of people around your age or even younger, and people your age go out to see the shows. What do you make of that, as a 23-year-old guy who makes rock music?
I can see where it comes from. I think it true that less kids care about rock now than they did 20 or 40 years ago. I was kind of an oddball as far as my musical taste went growing up. I listened exclusively to older music; I started out with a lot of ’60s stuff and then gradually started checking out more recent stuff, like ’70s and ’80s.
Did you just move chronologically forward in time?
Basically, yeah! Elementary school, early on, it was like Beatles, Beach Boys, the Who. And then in middle school, I had a Pink Floyd phase, and then in high school it was Nirvana and Green Day. I was just slowly moving towards the present. I think that’s atypical — more people grow up listening to pop music. But at the same time, all the people around me had this awareness of the older music too. I was in a band in high school and the guitarist was also a big Pink Floyd fan. For most kids it was not ignored, but part of a larger picture along with contemporary music — but that wasn’t so much the case with me.
By the time I started really making music, I had this basis for understanding music that was probably different from what is usual for someone my age. I was always blending more contemporary elements into Car Seat Headrest, like synths and drum pads and stuff like that, but Teens of Denial is the first record where I really didn’t do any of that. It wasn’t really an intentional statement as far as being anti-mainstream; it was sort of a homage to the records I grew up hearing.
First published here: http://j.mp/29wHJsU