Introduction by Susanna de Martino interview by Nicole-Ann Lobo
Won’t Shake // Bones // TV Shows is a three-song EP from Bobby T. and the Slackers, the Los Angeles-based band of Robert Tilden (Half Brother, BOYO). The EP serves is out on Danger Collective Records, a “small artist-supported label based in the scummiest valley of Southern California.”
Bobby T.’s 2013 EP, Peach Fuzz, fit more neatly into the “scummy” L.A. garage rock scene, drawing heavily artists like Ty Segall, The Oh Sees, and together Pangea. Won’t Shake // Bones // TV Shows sees the band moving in a new direction, building cleaner, tightly composed pop structures while still retaining their characteristic fuzzed-out sound. Though the three songs are pulled off a forthcoming album, the first two manage to create a narrative arc — the first an anxiety-driven ode to clinging to a fleeting relationship, the second about dealing with the subsequent loss.
“TV Shows,” released as a single prior to this EP, comes bundled as its closing song and the most adventurous track of the three. Tilden starts off monotone, sneering “I hate all my friends” over a driving rhythm guitar before veering into a falsetto, longingly proclaiming “I always wanted something more” over a sprawling, psych-y riff. The juxtaposition of cynicism and optimism ends with a caterwaul, the distortion and background noise picking up until finally petering out with a screech. Some emotions, Tilden seems to imply, are too disparate to easily reconcile, and this frustration necessarily leads to conflict.
Won’t Shake // Bones // TV Shows falls primarily into the category of "EP as hype tactic" for an upcoming full-length, but it also reflects an uncertainty in the project's future: whether the said forthcoming album will veer more towards its nosier roots — which still crop up frequently throughout the EP — or towards the more constrained psych pop the three songs portent.
Rare Candy: What are the origins of the project?
Robert Tilden: It started with me in my basement recording rock’n'roll songs; now I'm doing the same thing except with friends and in a few different basements. My good friend Julien had come up to me at school once and told me that if I ever started a punk bank it should be called "Bobby T. and the Slackers." We definitely aren't a punk band anymore, but Julien's always got little ideas up his sleeve.
RC: Where does your songwriting come from?
RT: Pretty basic, everyday human things — feelings and questions. I try not to be too overly philosophical or profound in songs, it’s all pretty to-the-point. Whenever I try to say something too brainy or meta it sounds forced. I think people can tell when you're trying to be something you're not, especially when you put on some rock’n’roll hat. I try to be very plainly honest and transparent in songs, which sometimes makes me feel weird in the stomach and a little cringe-y when I play them live, but.
RC: How do you envision yourself in the context of the LA garage rock scene?
Different iterations of this band have been kicking around and playing shows for a few years and we always manage to find some friends to play shows with. I wouldn't personally label our new stuff garage rock though. I want to be like Ween one day where everything we release comes from the same little world but isn't strictly classifiable as one sound or "thing."
RC: And the direction for the new full-length?
Things with noisy guitars or guitars that don't sound like guitars. I was obsessed with the idea of making music that sounds sentimental but a little haunted. Something that's generally straightforward with something also little off.
Peach Fuzz was my sixteen-year-old self working through issues, mostly involving troubled romantic relationships, in the form of scuzzy bedroom punk. It’s more a tiny collection made for tapes than it is a complete thought or even an album. I think it would be really hard to stay like that forever because I don't think I could write another one of those songs again. The current band lives in a very different space than that and deals in different sounds and feelings.
Stream and download Bobby T. and the Slackers' new EP at the band's Bandcamp.