Band of the Week: Car Seat Headrest

MEET THE BAND: Will Toledo (vocals, guitars, organ, piano, mellotron), Andrew Katz (drums, mixed percussion, mellotron), Ethan Ives (bass, vocals, guitars, vibrato switch on organ), Seth Dalby (guitar)

PART OF A MUSICAL FAMILY: Toledo, who grew up in Virginia, says he grew up in a musical family — his dad played the piano — and started writing songs "as far back as I can remember." "Before I knew how to write music, I would write lyrics and song titles," he says. "That was what I enjoyed doing. As I moved on and started to play instruments, it became more real." He says he mostly listened to "older stuff" while growing up and cites the Beatles as an influence. Later, in high school, he became a fan of "Nirvana and Green Day and all that."

FILTERED SOUNDS: Initially, he started recording in his parents' car where he cut his first couple of independently released albums. "I recorded the vocals in their car and the rest of the music in my bedroom," he explains. "Back then, I didn't put much consideration into acoustics," he says. "It was mainly something that would be mixed on my headphones and I put filters on it and everything. I think that's more normal nowadays. The recording environment matters less because of what you can do with it after it's recorded."

THE GREAT NORTHWEST: A few years back, he moved to the Seattle area and put a band together. He now lives in Northern Seattle but says he doesn't like being too close to the city. "I don't like the city life," he says. "I prefer to be in a more suburban area." Katz came to the band via Craigslist and Toledo met Ives at a show. Dalby was an old college buddy who joined up for touring purposes. "When it comes to live performance, I prefer working with the band though I've kept the creative process to myself," he says. "Playing with a group makes the concerts more dynamic."

WHY YOU SHOULD HEAR THEM: Toledo re-recorded a number of his older tunes for his latest offering, Teens of Style, an album of ramshackle indie rock tunes that shows off his brittle vocals and sharp pop instincts. "I was never satisfied with the original recordings," he says. "It was just what I was able to do. I always had the idea that I would go back to them and take a different approach. For the Matador Records release, it seemed like a good time to do that. I pitched that to them and they were interested in it. I don't know if they were expecting it to be self-produced, but I wanted to do it by myself again just to show myself the improvement I have made in the past couple of years." The group has recently recorded a few songs for the next album, which Toledo says is still in its early stages.


WHERE YOU CAN SEE THEM: Car Seat Headrest performs with Lucy Dacus at 7 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 25 at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

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Jeff Niesel

Jeff has been covering the Cleveland music scene for more than 20 years now. And on a regular basis, he tries to talk to whatever big acts are coming through town, too. If you're in a band that he needs to hear, email him at [email protected].
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