Interview: King Tuff

By Shirley Griffith

January 21, 2015

In an effort to keep new, fresh music at my fingertips without having to rely on Pitchfork or (god forbid) Billboard, a friend and I have set up a forum on which we send each other daily tunes that catch our ears. A few weeks ago, she sent me a link to King Tuff with a caption warning me: “FUCK YEAH. I LOVE this.” Within the first frantic, distorted thirty seconds of title track “Black Moon Spell,” off King Tuff’s 2014 release, I was hooked. I dove headfirst into the psychedelic, grungy filth of the purple record, allowing it to drench my brain in brown liquor and punchy glam rock. Not only did Ty Segall play drums on the album, but King Tuff has been hanging out in Vermont this whole time playing with legends like J Mascis and contributing his unique, lo-fi sounds to impressive stoner metal and fuzzy pop bands.

King Tuff
King Tuff

The song I sent my friend that day was Ex Hex’s “Don’t Wanna Lose” off their debut Rips, unwittingly knowing the two bands were touring together. The female trio uppercut their glitzy power pop with gracefully raw execution throughout Rips.

Ex Hex (from left: Laura Harris, Betsy Wright and Mary Timony)
Ex Hex will be playing with King Tuff on January 21st at Neighborhood Theatre. Photo by Jonah Takagi

Come give the triceratops-loving goblin a hug on January 21 at the Neighborhood Theatre with Ex Hex. Here is my recent conversation with the man behind the King Tuff moniker, Kyle Thomas.

CLTure: If you could promote yourself/your album in a really unique way, what way would you choose?

King Tuff: Some kind of Willy Wonka-type situation with lots of dangerous body-altering candies.

King Tuff – charattack.com

CLTure: You’ve toured before, but never really under the fame you’ve recently found and the support of a major label like Sub Pop behind you. Have you noticed any differences in the reception of your performance now that more people know what you have to offer?

King Tuff: Not really other than that there are a few more people at the shows now and we get more hugs.

CLTure: Vermont doesn’t seem to have a much of a punk/garage scene, correct me if I’m wrong on that…how did you find and cultivate your sound?

King Tuff: It’s mostly jam bands and folk and old timey type stuff. I was into punk from an early age so I just sort of hunted around for any records I could find. There was no internet and it wasn’t easy to find good records, but eventually I worked in a record store and got turned onto a lot of things.


CLTure: You’ve said before how important it is to just be yourself and how far that can get you in life. Do you ever come across any struggles where you have to really hold yourself up as the man in the mirror? How do you stay true to who you know yourself to be?

King Tuff: It gets confusing, and it’s easy to lose sight of what you set out to do in the first place, especially when money gets involved and you have all these people working with you telling you different opinions. But the second I pick up the guitar and the electricity is going through my fingers I’m reminded of what my purpose in life is and who I am; a small goblin who likes to rock.

CLTure: How do you choose which pins/studs/flare to apply to your guitar?

King Tuff: Well that guitar is a new project. There are some things on there that have meaning- a pin from my favorite coffee shop in Vermont, a photo of my best friend Ruthie, an ancient roman coin. I’m sure it will evolve over time as I come across more weird-ass treasures in my travels.

Photo by Collette Pomerleau

CLTure:  What’s your favorite literary genre? Read anything great recently?

King Tuff: I like stuff like Brautigan, Vonnegut, Dellilo; stuff that’s kinda weird and imaginative.

CLTure:  Dinosaur Jr’s J Mascis played drums for an earlier band that you fronted, Witch. How’d that come about?

King Tuff: I don’t know…we’re both weird New Englanders.

Photo by Abby Banks

CLTure:  What is your favorite dinosaur and why?

King Tuff: I like triceratops cuz his head is so crazy lookin’.

CLTure:  Have you figured out how to eat better when you’re on tour? Have you eaten anything exciting in Charlotte yet? If not, I highly suggest either Pinky’s or The Diamond.

King Tuff: It’s impossible to eat healthy in tour. I just ate Whattaburger and now I feel like a slug. Feed me something good!

kingtuff copy
King Tuff

CLTure:  Settle the dispute: pancakes or waffles?

King Tuff: Waffles, duh.

Catch King Tuff with Ex Hex at the Neighborhood Theatre on January 21st.

Follow King Tuff on twitter and facebook.


In this article