King Tuff's Kyle Thomas: "I Am a Goddamn Wild Card"

Categories: Interviews

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Kyle Thomas of King Tuff
One listen to King Tuff's eponymous sophomore effort and you will be hooked. Whether it's the glam-inspired "Anthem" or the painfully catchy "Alone and Stoned," the 12 cuts vary wildly, but are linked by an intensity that is as disarming as it is unique.

Speaking from a tour stop in Tampa and in anticipation of Sunday's show at Dada with Sic Alps and Natural Child, King Tuff frontman Kyle Thomas spoke about his band's distinctive sound and how he wants to be friends with Lady Gaga.

One of the best songs off your new album is "Alone and Stoned." How many times have you been in that situation?
Oh, you know, it happens.

In the song, you sing that there is nothing better.
Well, that's just a figure of speech. There are a lot of better things in life. I'm not a constant weed smoker. I do it in phases. I'll smoke weed for a little bit, but then I won't do it for a month. I am not a slave to it.

The album came out earlier this year and it knocked Jack White's album out of the number one position on the Billboard chart.
I didn't care what album it knocked out. I was happy that the music was getting out there and people were picking up on it. It was exciting just to have an album out. It's all you can really ask for is for people catch on to it. That is a good feeling.

The album is stylistically all over the map. Does that make it more difficult to find an audience?
I am not trying to write just one kind of song. I write songs and they come out different ways. The live show is more cohesive. There is more energy.

Do you think your band name sounds more like a rapper or a reggae outfit?
The name came to me about ten years ago. I was a teenager. It was a play on my initials and it kind of sounded like King Tut. I was stupid, but I was a teenager. The name just stuck with me. I think the name is totally fitting and that is probably why it stuck with me. When I say stupid teenager, that's only because teenagers are not the smartest people around.

Your music has been described as laid-back garage pop. How would you describe it?
I just say it's rock and roll with a focus on songwriting. I don't write songs in any particular style. I don't consider myself to be the next big thing. I am just a songwriter.

Do most rock and roll bands not focus on songwriting?
I don't know. I think a lot of bands go for more of a sound as opposed to writing songs. Do you know what I am saying? I think that is just as cool. It's just kind of a different thing. Who's to say what other bands go for? I just know that I focus on trying to write songs that stick with you and make you want to listen to them over and over again.

One reviewer wrote that you mix '50s rock, '60s pop and '70s glam. Must be hard to represent three decades.
I think there is maybe some 8'0s punk in there as well. That's where my heart is.

Your record label, Sub Pop, has certainly gone a long ways since the days of grunge. Back in the day, they would have never signed a band like yours.
I think after grunge the label became more focused on folky stuff, stuff like Fleet Foxes. But now, they are getting back into rock. I couldn't be happier with the label. The people are easy to work with.

The label is certainly not going to get any folk music out of you.
You never know, bro. I am a wild card. I am a goddamn wild card.

You grew up in Vermont and now you live in Los Angeles. That's quite a big move.
You just get in the car and go. My family and friends still live in Vermont. I go back there as much as I can. There aren't many opportunities there. It is a good place to hone your skills. There's a lot of great music coming out of there, but there aren't many places to play. It was a real easy transition to L.A. I did really miss the seasons of Vermont. There is a cycle of life thing there, that dying and rebirth every year. I was used to that. It was weird coming to L.A. and everything being beautiful all of the time. It was surreal.

Do you have any guilty pleasures as far as bands go?
I've been asked this before and I usually say Coldplay.

No Lady Gaga on the mp3 player?
I love Lady Gaga. I have a lot of Lady Gaga. I've always had this feeling that we would get along really well. I feel like we would be friends for some reason.

King Tuff performs with Natural Child and Sic Alps on Sunday, November 4, at Dada.

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