Ty Segall is 10 minutes late to our interview at Footsies in Highland Park. I’m sipping on a whiskey in the back when he shows up, yellow paint on his hands and arms and maybe his clothes. What’s with the paint? He whips out his phone to show me. “This is a portrait of my girlfriend,” he says, revealing the explanation for his lateness. The portrait is amazing. There’s a psychedelic American flag in the background, filled with the kinds of colors you see while on acid. Bright, not at all complementary, yet somehow soothing, seductive. “I have a character named Assman,” he says, and so begins our interview. —Maya Eslami
WHAT YOUTH: Where does the character come from?
TY SEGALL: I have no idea. So that’s Assman. But instead of [him holding] a hot dog, it’s usually an ass.
Why’d you change it to a hot dog?
You know, you gotta mix it up.
When did you start painting?
I’ve always drawn these weird [characters], like that Assman guy. But then I got dared to make a painting, like seven or eight months ago, to be in this communal art show. And so I did it, and then I just thought it was super fun. I’ve only made a couple of things.
Did you paint when you were younger?
No, I was too hung up on the process. It’s stupid because music takes a lot of concentration and repetition, too, so it doesn’t make any sense, but that’s why I didn’t get into it. But now that I’m doing it, I do it really quickly. It’s fun for me that way. I like doing things fast, where there’s not really any meticulous work. You kinda turn off your brain and just go. That’s how music is for me. I think if it wasn’t like that, I wouldn’t like it.
Do you have any artists in your family?
My mom’s an artist, I think that has to do with it, yeah. But my parents didn’t push any artistic shit on me, at all. They were really just pushing academic stuff.
Tell me more about Assman. I really wanna know where that name comes from.
He’s just a guy that really loves asses. And it’s not even necessarily getting ass. It’s any scent, color, sex, religion… he likes it all.
All-inclusive. Is Assman usually looking at an ass?
Yeah. Well, he’s usually licking them. Or his tongue is out while looking at them.
Are they usually nice asses?
The ass is in the eye of the beholder. And occasionally Assman will have a hot dog in his hand. I’m a fucking weirdo, I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing. It’s like a kindergartener painting pornographic art. I think Assman is probably just me. I’ll admit to that one.
You’re Assman after all?
Sure, I’ll go ahead and just say that.
You have a new album out called Ty Segall. Why another self-titled?
Most of the time, there’s kind of a loose concept or something with my records, and this one just didn’t pan out like that, which was cool. I’ve been doing loose concept-ish records the past few records, so it ended up being a nice change, for it to just be different songs. I just felt like the idea was to be transparent. There’s really no theme or anything, so let’s call it self-titled [again]. Kinda ripped the idea from Royal Trux; they had two self-titled records. But it’s cool because it’s the first record with a band and me playing live in a studio.
Is that the first time you’ve ever done that?
It is. For one of my records [under Ty Segall], yeah. We did this record, Slaughterhouse, that was a collaborative record [with the Ty Segall Band]. But this is the only one where they’re my songs, with a band playing my songs.
How’d you like the process?
It was great. Most of the classic records are done like that. Like Sticky Fingers, the band’s playing live.
Where’d you guys record?
With Steve Albini at Electrical (in Chicago).
And the new band is Mikal Cronin, Charles Mootheart, Ben Boye, and Emmett Kelly, who was with you in the Muggers, RIP.
That was only supposed to be one tour cycle.
That was the intention all along?
Everybody in that band has a ton of other stuff going on. Everybody’s doing their own thing, and I don’t wanna ever take away from that. We had talked about doing a record, loosely, and maybe we’ll do that, one day.
In the Muggers, you were the singer. No guitar. No drums. Did you like that?
It was really cool to be a front man, just singing, but that’s not really my cup of tea. I mean it’s cool, I wouldn’t trade doing that for anything. But I’m just really happy to play a guitar again.
Are you playing guitar with the new band?
Yeah. It’s a really weird experience to not have a guitar. It’s like someone taking away your security blanket when you’re a kid.
For the rest of the interview and the full 17 frame Assman comic strip, pick up your copy of What Youth Issue 17 here.