- Anna Webber
- Moment of reflection: Car Seat Headrest's Will Toledo reflects on the ravages of time.
Car Seat Headrest's Will Toledo isn't wasting any time. After all, he's getting kind of old.
As the breakout indie rock act of the year — some might say the last few years — his band has been touring extensively, including a lengthy stint in Europe where the band played festival after festival.
Last October, Car Seat Headrest released Teens of Style. Then, in May, came Teens of Denial. And, despite all the touring, the band has already laid down tracks for its next album.
"I've got ideas and I don't want to sit on them," says Toledo. "When I signed with Matador, it was three albums guaranteed. I kind of had an idea of what all of them would be. I wanted to do them before I got too old."
Toledo is all of 23.
Jealous musicians will also be pleased to know that Teens of Denial is Car Seat Headrest's 13th album. From 2010 to 2014, Toledo self-released no less than 11 home-recorded albums on Bandcamp, most of which were recorded while he was attending the College of William & Mary in his home state of Virginia. After graduating in 2014, he moved to Seattle and started putting together a group at about the same time he signed with Matador.
Actually, Toledo first started making lo-fi music in high school, climbing into the backseat of his parents' cars so he could record the lyrics without being heard. As he was doing so, he was looking at the headrests on the front seats — hence the name of what became a band.
Car Seat Headrest's lyric, he says, are taken from his life.
"I don't just make it up," he insists. "I'd say they're rather autobiographical. Some are hypothetical, rather than lived experience. But they all come from a personal place. I've tried writing for characters, but they don't hold the same weight for me."
As for the music itself, Toledo and his band actually sound nothing like Pavement, or the other indie rockers to which the album is often compared.
"I've been a little frustrated with the tag, too," he acknowledges. "I understand why, because we're on Matador Records and that's the way it was presented. But I grew up listening to older rock bands like The Who and The Beatles. I wanted to do something that fit in that canon. I wasn't thinking of indie rock when I made it.
Growing up, he was also a fan of Nirvana, whose early producer Steve Fisk took the reins on Teens of Denial. "People my age don't have those points of comparison," says Toledo. "They can point to The Strokes and bands like that, from the last 10 years, who were drawing on the same sources we are."
Meanwhile, as the rest of us try to keep up, Car Seat Headrest intend to keep moving forward.
"I can see what Teens of Denial is — in retrospect — and I want to advance," says Toledo of the songs that will be coming soon. "It's important to me to start recording them, before I forget what I want to do."