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Car Seat Headrest on making one of the best albums of the year

Thursday 29th December 2016

The main idea was simple: Make an archetypal rock record, but with a personal touch.


Will Toledo of Car Seat Headrest

Photo: Supplied

Will Toledo has released 10 albums, two compilations and two EPs, but many people have yet to hear of him.

He’s been recording under the name Car Seat Headrest (formerly a solo project, now a band), since his teens, posting albums to Bandcamp as he made them.

As his online fan base grew, nurtured on sites like Reddit and 4Chan, it caught the attention of an intern at Matador records, who ended up signing the band .

“The whole thing was very ‘internet’, very grass roots,” says Will.

His first album of new material for Matador, Teens Of Denial, has made it into a ludicrous number of Best Of 2016 lists, including Rolling Stone, NME, Pitchfork, The AV Club, even Entertainment Weekly.

Will set out to make it an archetypal rock record. On the album you can hear the influences from ‘70s prog to ‘60s harmonies.

“I grew up listening to the Beatles and the Who and Pink Floyd,” Will says. “As far as punk influences are concerned, I listened to a lot of Clash … It was ‘90s in as much as I was also big on Nirvana and Green Day in college, but my major influences were more or less mainstream.

“This newest album was an attempt to stir all those things together and also be making something that was personal to me. I think people have reacted so strongly because it does kind of do that.”

Crucially, Teens Of Denial is an album that feels fun.

“One of the things that makes a good rock record is having a sense of humour, or a sense of spontaneity,” Will says.

New Zealand audiences will get to see that spontaneity in action, courtesy of one of the year’s most acclaimed musicians, on 30 January at Albert Park, for Laneway Festival.

LISTEN > Will Toledo's interview with Music 101's Tony Stamp: 


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