Indie rocker Ty Segall loves being loud and prolific. But he's trying to be less of both


LOS ANGELES — For a rock star, Ty Segall may come across as surprisingly unassuming and demure — perhaps even quiet. And although the indie musician doesn’t make a habit of talking during his shows, that muted posture shifts when he steps onstage with his electric guitar and facilitates the kind of religious experience that can only come from basking in music that is really loud.

“There is such a cool thing that happens when people communally are together, not only just in front of live music, but there’s something about a loud thing that kind of shakes you,” he said. “I’ve always been attracted to that.”

Indeed, it was the almost primal release that came from listening to rock and punk music as a kid that inspired the young Segall to teach himself how to play.

“It did feel very in tune with like the physical nature of sound, how sound affects you physically, how it rattles your body,” he recalled of the songs that shaped him.

And while he still relishes the enveloping power of blaring music as he gears up to release his latest album, “Three Bells,” on Friday, he concedes he has had to tone it down a bit in recent years.

“I went too far, I think,” he smiles, acknowledging the importance of variation within a song. “Dynamics is crucial. You don’t want to just blast everyone constantly. If it can have peaks and valleys and there can be a journey, then it’s rewarding.”

That restraint is evident in the relatively laidback sound of Segall’s latest LP, though he does long, in one track, to go to “the place where the music’s louder.” But he channels that mind-body connection on this record elsewhere — through an increased attentiveness to drums in the songwriting process.

“I have a different language with drums than I do any other instrument. It’s kind of the only instrument I can really, I don’t know, express intuitively or in like a raw, outside-of-my-brain kind of way,” he reflected. “I think of drums sometimes as like singing where I can almost sing the drum part in my mind.”

The 36-year-old singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist is known for his prolificacy and psychedelic style of music. His sophisticated guitar solos and use of distortion channel a nostalgia for a bygone era of rock ‘n’ roll, while still simultaneously pushing the genre forward.

Asking Segall to explain his songwriting process is a bit like asking the notoriously opaque David Lynch — of whom Segall is a fan — to explain his movies, perhaps because both count on a certain level of mystique to inform how people experience their art.

That Segall is a highly skilled musician who knows how to make songs that are pleasing to listen to is apparent, but he often plays with how much dissonance he can create and discomfort he can get away with while still keeping listeners engaged.

He frequently resists conforming to traditional song lengths — his longest on the album is nearly seven minutes — and structures, a habit he leaned further into with this record.

“It’s fun to be like, ‘There’s these three mini songs. Let’s put them together into one,’” he said.

“Three Bells” marks the 14th solo LP release for Segall since the Southern California native began his professional career nearly two decades ago. That’s not counting the myriad side projects and bands he has also recorded with during that time.

And while Segall is proud of his output, he has of late began to rethink how often he wants to release music moving forward.

“I love being prolific, but sometimes it lessens the whole thing, I feel like, which isn’t what I would like. So, I’m actually trying to not release as much anymore,” he explained. “I just didn’t really think about it that much and kind of led with what felt right. I have no regrets about putting out that that much stuff, but we’ll see how it holds up over time.”

His appeal for listeners to understand the level of care that goes into his music feels particularly appropriate with this album, given that it was lyrically his most personal — albeit still cryptic — to date, with songs about everything from existential dread to his dog, Herman, to his wife, Denée Segall, with whom he co-wrote five songs on “Three Bells.”

And although he intends to take more time between albums, Segall has yet to give any indication of slowing down his impressively frequent touring schedule — an important financial buttress for musicians in the age of streaming.

While Segall is grateful to have established a loyal fanbase prior to the ubiquity of platforms like Spotify and Apple Music, he laments the challenges they create for musicians just starting out.

“I just feel like if the royalty rates for streaming just got like this much better, it would really make a huge difference,” he said, before granting that it’s never been an easy industry. “It’s also an artistic job. So, that comes with the territory.”



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