Music » Local Music

Direct, but not simple

Bobby Harlow on recording King Tuff



The Go and Conspiracy of Owls singer-guitarist Bobby Harlow produced this sophomore self-titled LP from New England's wispy-voiced, fuzz-sweetened, garage-storming pop auteur King Tuff. Harlow said he was attracted particularly by Tuff's "direct way" of songwriting. "Directness doesn't mean simple," said Harlow, who hosted Tuff for recording here in Detroit in February.

Tuff gives listeners "the opportunity to visualize the true-life scenarios" inspiring his lyrical depictions. "Tuff and his audience are all insiders. Inside themselves." 

Trust is key in a project like this — Tuff's first disc for Sub Pop — and Harlow says Tuff's trust in him was "absolute," giving him carte blanche to act upon anything "unique" that Harlow heard "developing." Harlow acknowledges many reviewers compare this bubblegum-bending stomp-and-jangle style to various "glam-rock" types. But Harlow insists Tuff's got his own style —"the wiggle," as Harlow calls his unique guitar technique. "It's rather otherworldly; a bite and an edge." Warm, windy, woozy, Tuff's hazy voice often intertwines dazzlingly with his signature guitar-fuzz. Harlow: "This is a contemplative record. It's best to be venturing inward; Tuff does it well without wearing it out." —Jeff Milo 

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