Much has changed for power trio Fuzz in the last two years. Since the release of their debut album, Fuzz, in late 2013, the Ty Segall-fronted (or backed, since he sings from behind the drum kit) project has gained a new bassist: Chad Ubovich, mastermind behind one of our favorite groups to emerge out of the local scene in 2014, Meatbodies. And when it came time to write their forthcoming LP, Fuzz II, out Oct. 23 on In The Red, the group took a stab at a songwriting process that was foreign to each of them, resulting in a much darker, doomier and, as Ubovich notes, “way more evil” sound.
“We all kind of did something we’ve never done before, which was write together as a band,” says Ubovich, describing Fuzz’s approach to their sophomore release. “That was a first for all of us. Usually in our respective projects it’s all about writing on our own, and that process. This time we tried something definitely new.”
Segall, Ubovich and guitarist Charles Moothart essentially locked themselves away for weeks as they communally penned lyrics and built upon the creative bricks each of them had to offer. “We made it like a job … we really went into it. We didn’t see friends for a while, we were just around each other for a couple months writing,” says Ubovich.
“Mainly the way it worked, which is how Fuzz primarily works at the moment, is Charles writes the majority of the riffs,” he continues. “He comes to us with these riffs and is like, ‘This is the song,’ and either that’s the song, or we rearrange it, and Ty sings on it. But like I said, it was very communal; we all sat down and wrote lyrics. I wrote two songs on the album, 'Pipe' and 'New Flesh.' Ty sings on that one ['New Flesh']. Ty wrote the second half of 'Pipe,' but I sing on it. It’s just like a little mash-up.”
As a whole, II is conceptually far more bleak than Fuzz’s debut. Although it isn’t intended as a political album, Segall, Ubovich and Moothart drew upon their individual perceptions of the American lifestyle, where it is currently, and where the band feels it is headed.
“With the lyrics, we were trying to capture the concepts of doom, like a doomed world, and societal mishaps, like the mistakes of society, and pretty much the impending doom that comes from the choices that we make,” says Ubovich, noting that the album’s second to last track in particular, “Silent Sits the Dust Bowl,” with its gorgeous string work, illustrates a planet on the brink of collapse. “Pipe” is about a cult leader, and “Bringer of Light” gets biblical with its tale of an evil deity. “Doom, control and inevitability, that’s what the album’s about.”
When asked if any of the songs were a critique of specific happenings, Ubovich clarifies. “There weren’t any particular events, naturally that’s just where my mindset has been, just living in this weird eye of the tornado of America. … It’s scary, it’s all scary, and I think we’re scared, and I think we’re taking back our own personal power by trying to scare others, or at least run along with the scariness.”
The trio recorded II at Hollywood’s Sunset Sound using their own gear, which they then brought back to Segall’s home studio — a very small, very hot converted laundry room — to mix, master and add vocals. “We said, ‘Let’s track it in a really crazy room with crazy mics and then take it home and screw around with it and do what we please,’” says Ubovich.
With one of today’s most talented and prolific producers at the helm of Fuzz, it’s no surprise the group would take advantage of Segall’s behind-the-scenes expertise. But Ubovich and Moothart had the opportunity to exercise their recording skills as well, making the album not only communally written, but also communally produced. “We, all three of us, are pretty interested in the recording arts,” Ubovich explains.
In addition to Fuzz, each member also has other projects to manage. Segall is infamous for coming out with a new band on what seems like a weekly basis, constantly recording solo tracks, collaborations, and somehow finding the time to work on other artists' albums, consistently churning out masterpieces at every level. He’s currently working on his next solo release, as is Moothart — both are due out in early 2016. Meanwhile, Ubovich is tracking demos for the next Meatbodies album, which is also due early next year in February.
Despite juggling multiple projects, they all find a way to balance and channel their creative outputs, intuitively deciphering what belongs where. “If you have an idea, you can make it, and then it’s up to you to choose what medium to put it out with,” says Ubovich. “Sometimes it’s not right for Fuzz, and sometimes it’s not right for Meatbodies, and sometimes it’s not right for either and I want to do something else. It’s just the process of being who I am, or who Charles is, or Ty … we all make stuff, and if we don’t, we feel insane.”
But what makes a song “right” for Fuzz? “Sometimes you just know automatically. You make and then you know,” says Ubovich. “I don’t think there’s definitely criteria. With this band, you could easily start putting yourself into a box and be like, ‘This is Fuzz, this how Fuzz sounds.’ But I don’t really think we’re even trying to do that. The only solid sound of Fuzz is what the three of us come up with together.”
Fuzz opens for Mudhoney on Tuesday, Oct. 20 at the Regent Theater.