In the Studio: Ty Segall

Ty Segall with Chris Woodhouse
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Ty Segall has a new solo creation on the way. Manipulator (Drag City) is the first album he’s made on his own in a proper studio. “I’ve worked with Chris [Woodhouse, in his studio, The Dock] in the past with the bands I’m in, Slaughterhouse and Fuzz, and he’s an amazing engineer, but when I’ve done solo records, everything was with friends in home studios.”

Another process change for Segall: Whereas he’s commonly written and recorded songs in the same session, in the moment, this time he spent a year writing, arranging, and demoing tracks—in analog. “I was at home with my 8-track reel-to-reel,” he says. “Finally, I just brought all the demos to Chris and tried them all out.”

The new songs explode with spectacular sounds of ’60s punk and psychedelia—killer distortion meets virtuosic spacey soloing, with Segall playing almost all of the parts himself, piece by piece, to a Studer 16-track tape machine in The Dock. Segall’s vintage-awesome guitar sounds are captured with a Shure SM57, placed up close to his “lucky amp”: “I’ve got this one magic amp—the only amp I’ll ever use,” he says. “It’s this ’72 Fender Quad Reverb silver-face, and I think it’s broken. It breaks up way too much. It’s way too distorted. I have played out of other Quads and they’re a lot cleaner. I don’t know why mine is so screwed-up sounding, but it’s my lucky amp.

“There’s basically two [guitar] sounds [on this album],” Segall continues. “There’s a tube distortion sound, and that’s just the amp. I turn every knob to 10, but then we master at like 7 or 8, and that’s just golden distortion. The other sound is, I have the [Death by Audio] Fuzz War pedal, which is the only pedal I use. Through the lucky amp, it’s really f*cked up sounding, which I love.”