Ty Segall has been called prolific so many times over the past five years that the phrase is starting to become redundant. In the digital age of instant gratification, music fans often ask their favorite bands, "What have you done for me lately?" Up until recently, Segall has provided ample material, releasing up to three full lengths a year. With his latest album, Manipulator, Segall took a different approach, waiting 14 months in between releases and spending an entire month at a studio in northern California. With Manipulator, Segall seems to have turned the mirror back on his audience and the hype machine created by modern technology. While his last album Sleeper was extremely personal, Manipulator points the finger at the rest of the world. We sat down with Segall to find out more about his latest album.
Flyer: When did you know that Manipulator would be a double album? Was it a conscious decision, or did the songs just keep coming?
Segall: I think I was like halfway through writing it, when I went over the single LP line. It was never a solidified thing until we were in the studio, and then it became a reality. I've always wanted to make a double LP. I had 20 songs (for the album), but I'm always the kind of guy that's like "let's trim the fat." The day we were done mixing I was like, "Ok, let's just do a double album."
Who or what represents the manipulator to you? Is the manipulator a vague entity or was there a specific person or thing you are referencing?
There's not like a specific person that comes to mind. The idea is there is a controller or a person who influences other people's lives. It could be anyone for each individual. It could be your boss, your parents, the president. It could be the mailman, and it could be the rock star. To me, it became this story were the manipulator was a magician who would use sleight of hand or distractions to get over on you. The album is a form of commentary. It's a classic rock-and-roll story with technology thrown in there to make it more modern. There's no blatant story line, it's more like a series of vignettes on how different people are affected by their own manipulator.
You spent 14 months working on this album. Do you think you'll take this approach again in the future?
I think I will do it again, but I think it will be even longer. I think next time I'd want to throw something else in there. I enjoyed taking a long time. I was working on the album the whole time I was producing other bands and playing with Fuzz (Segall's other band). I didn't want to take time off from my other projects, and by doing all the other things I do it added perspective and kept my mind open.
The album is called Manipulator, or The Ballad of Susie Thumb, or The Faker Wants Your Place. Who is Susie Thumb? Is it wrong to think "the Faker" and "the Manipulator" could be the same person?
The faker and the manipulator could be the same person for sure. The manipulator is on this other worldly trip whereas the faker is the person you work with, they are more subversively on your level. A lot of these characters in Manipulator could be the same person. Sue Thumb is this innocent child, wide eyed and bushy tailed, she wants to experience the world and make a place for herself but she's also living in this time of technology and this weird self-developed culture, and she wants to be famous just like everyone else. Susie Thumb is like the young innocent girl who gets destroyed by manipulation.
Can you tell me more about the song "Who's Producing You," which is the only song on the album that you didn't write. What made you want to include it on Manipulator?
Mike Donovan from Sic Alps wrote it. He's a good friend of mine, and when I was in Sic Alps we jammed that song. Donovan did this album called Medley that's just 30 second clips of each song, and that song is on the LP for 25 seconds. I was doing the record, and I was almost done, but the song fit the theme of the album so perfectly it was just like too perfect not to put it on there. It's really trippy, because it's not like I had forgotten about that song, I did a demo of it when I was doing Twins, but it just didn't fit. I found it again and couldn't believe it was about the same things I was writing about it. It was really trippy, I was just like, "Holy shit this fits so well on this record."