An Interview with Ttotals [GOLDRUSH Edition]

What day is this? Oh... oh yeah. It's that day. TODAY is that day. Friday, Sept. 21st. Day one of GOLDRUSH Music Festival. It's finally here after hour upon hour of hard labor, planning, ticket sales, promoting, writing, thinking, preparing, practicing, organizing. It's all come down to two evenings of incredible music at the coolest DIY space in Denver. To celebrate, we at the TOME have contacted one more of our performers for a little Q&A before they take the stage on Saturday night (night two, that is): the Nashville, TN "outer blues" outfit, Ttotals. The reason I especially wanted to get some words out from this particular GOLDRUSH performer has to do with the fact that I, myself, don't really know much about them. Introduced by fellow Foxy Digitalis contributor, Marc Roberts, research into Ttotals' back-catalog revealed they have release out on two of the TOME's very favorite small-run labels, Lee Noble's No Kings Record Cadre, and Frank Baugh's 3-inch CD-R lable, Kim Dawn. The duo has quickly become one of my favorite things going these days, mostly because how refreshing their straight-ahead rhythm, supremely psychedelic reverberations and generally aggressive style ploughs their music (and subsequently, your mind) through the stratosphere. The group's most-recent release, Silver on Black, is an all-out awesome combo of Spaceman 3 spaciness and the drowsy, lamenting blues of bands like The Doors, although that latter comparison really could all just come from guitarist/vocalist Brian Miles' apathetic, breathy delivery. I sent Miles and drummer Marty Linville a few questions in anticipation of the fest to get a deeper look into the largely untapped Nashville scene, ask about their live setup and sneak a peek into their tour van playlist. Take a look below, and don't miss them tomorrow (Saturday) at the Deer Pile in Denver! (Oh, and while you're at it, make it out to GOLDRUSH Music Festival tonight at the Deer Pile too, whydon'tcha!)

The TOME: Where are you from originally, and how did you wind up in Nashville, TN?

Brian Miles: I grew up just outside of Nashville in a suburb called Hendersonville. Not sure how i feel about it, but it's also hometown to Taylor Swift.

Marty Linville: I grew up in Colorado Springs and moved to Memphis to go to college. I moved to Nashville around 1999 to get out of Memphis.


Tell me about each of your first bands: name and style.

BM: I guess my first serious band was called Trabant. we were this sort of Can, Stereolab-ish, free-rock sort of thing with seven members. 

ML:  I played guitar in bands since I was kid. My first paying gig was playing guitar for an Elvis impersonator. He fired me because he wanted to do Vegas Elvis, and I couldn't let go of that old Sun Studio, Carl Perkins sound. In Memphis I was in a band called pisshorse. You could call it punk, and not be wrong.


What's the one band you hate being compared to, and why?

BM: Tool. Well, enough said.

ML: I hate it when we get compared Dio. It's disrespectful to Ronnie James' memory.


I'd like to hear a little bit about your instruments. Marty — I'm especially interested about your drum set up. What kind are they, and when did you start using the stand-up setup/style? Brian — tell me about that hollow body. Where'd you get it and how come you use that kind of guitar? Does she have a name? (...He?)

ML: In Memphis I got to watch the Oblivians a lot, and seeing what they could get away with using just a floor tom, snare and cymbal always blew my mind. I'd played some normal drums in the past here and there, like with people like Dave Cloud, and having that foot available on the kick as well as both my hands allowed me to overplay, so doing it standup sort of forces me to strip down what I do.  Also, I operate some electronics with one hand and one foot — it's a bank of organ chords run through a bunch of toys.

BM: My guitar is an Epiphone Sheraton. No name. It'ss actually an extension of my body, so, I guess you could call it Brian too. I found it at a used music store in Nashville called Nashville Used Music. I couldn't pass it up.


I'm curious about Nashville's scene. Who are you playing a lot of shows with? Any other bands doing the "outer blues" thing, or where does Ttotals fit in in Tennessee?

BM: We kinda don't fit very neatly in Nashville's scene. We've been trying to figure that one out for years. We have tons of bands and friends that we've connected with through playing music. A couple of Nashville bands fit into the outer blues. Like Altered Statesmen and Dirty Dreams. Diamond Center, Nervous Ticks (both from Richmond, VA), Creepoid (from Philadelphia) and Lead Stones (from Brooklyn) to name a few all do the "outer blues." It's more a state of mind than music style.

ML: Nashville is interesting in that there's still that old guard mentality that you have to actually be able to play your instrument to get respect. Anything that sounds like outsider music is greeted with a bit of suspicion, like you're faking or something. I like that in a way, like when you see somebody like Keith Urban play and you discover that he can actually wail on guitar. In our case, however, doing garagey stuff, the big time folks aren't sure what to do with us, because in their eyes we might be faking.


Tell me about how you first got involved with Lee Noble and Frank Baugh. Are you still working with them?

BM: I met frank through a mutual friend and we got to talking. He expressed interest in some recordings we had laying around and decided to put 'em out.  We then put out those same songs on a 12" and hit the road and toured the West coast for our first tourcation where we played Grady's Record Refuge. Grady was ever kind enough to record us. That is where Lee came in and put out those recordings. We first meet Lee at a house party we were both playing in 2008 and got back in touch with him when we were coming through LA on that same tour.


Now that the 10-inch is out, what else is on the horizon for Ttotals recordings-wise?

ML: We're working on a cover of Teddy Pendergrass' "Turn Off the Lights" for a compilation of psych bands doing quiet storm songs.

BM: Don't listen to that guy, he's always hounding me about the "Teddy Bear." We just turned in a song for a 7-inch series on Sonic Cathedral in the UK. We are looking to see if we can do a full-length sometime, maybe in the new year.  

You guys are about to make a pretty long drive... care to share a couple of albums you're sure to be blasting on the road?

BM: Our usual van listening goes something like this: The BeatlesRevolver or Rubber Soul, Creepoid, Nervous Ticks, some Times New Viking, the odd T. Rex or Black Sabbath album. Our friend Burrito made us an old-school rap mix CD that we should play more often. Oh, and then some Royal Trux thrown in there somewhere.

ML: I've noticed spotify has very little Pussy Galore, all Jon Spencer, and no Royal Trux... I'm not pointing any fingers, but I'm starting to think Neil Haggerty has something to do with it. What's the deal, Neil? Seriously, though, we're gonna rock a lot of Teddy Pendergrass... you can't go wrong with the Teddy Bear.


I want to know who did your artwork for the new 10-inch — the screen printing is amazing, and so is the poster!

BM: Our friend, Dan, who plays in this awesome band from Louisville, KY called Gangly Youth did the printing on our record covers. his print company is called Kinship Press. Super killer guy. Our friend and little brother, Tim Norton, designed the skull. We think he did a great job of capturing what we think our music does.


Interview by Crawf

Audio stream of Silver on Black ::

September 21st, 2012