King Tuff Is Rock'n'Roll

King Tuff Is Rock'n'Roll
Photo by Dan Monick
"It's all a blur to me now, but I remember singing some vocals while sitting on the toilet," admits King Tuff, aka Kyle Thomas. It's not customary for him to record his vocals on the can, but this was one of many ways he did things differently for his third album, Black Moon Spell.

Waking up to my phone call at his home in Vermont, Thomas is groggy but alert enough to crack jokes and laugh after most sentences. "The key was not knowing what we were doing," he explains with a chuckle. "You can't really plan on anything. It was written in the studio, so that's where the uninhibited feeling comes from. In the past I had demos and knew exactly what the songs should sound like. But with this one, I had no idea."

Black Moon Spell is a firecracker of an album, and definitely one that feels like Thomas and his producer Bobby Harlow were flying by the seat of their pants. Using this more spontaneous, relaxed approach, the two were able to counter his 2012 self-titled album's barbed power pop with the rock'n'roll album he originally intended to make.

"I actually wanted to make [King Tuff] more like this album," Thomas says. "More straight-up rock, but we pushed it more into a pop direction. So this one we said, 'Let's do the rock.'"

Yes, Black Moon Spell has more of a straight-up rock sound, but what makes it so damn rock'n'roll was a happy accident in the studio. Upon playing the album in reverse, Thomas discovered some back-masking, giving it an automatic "Stairway To Heaven"-like status. "We found some that we hadn't put in there on purpose," says Thomas. "We just heard it afterwards and thought, 'Oh shit!" We fucking said, 'I wonder if there are any backwards messages on this and there were.' It's a mind-fuck."