Ty Segall on all the tacos he’s known and loved

Ty Segall on all the tacos he’s known and loved

The Internet features more than its share of negativity and snark—sometimes you’ve just gotta vent. But there’s plenty of room for love, too. With Fan Up, we ask pop-culture people we admire to tell us about something they really, really like.

The fan: Garage rocker Ty Segall works a lot. A lot. Segall is in a several bands and has released 14 records since 2005. Last year alone, he released two full-length records and two excellent EPs. His first record this year, Sleeper, is out now on Drag City, and he has another record due out later this year with his new band, Fuzz. He also tours constantly, and will be playing all over the country this August and September.

The fanned: Tacos. Just tacos.

The A.V. Club: Why do you love tacos?

Ty Segall: Growing up in Southern California and moving to Northern California, tacos are a part of the culture. Also, I don’t know why, but it’s always been more of an excuse for me to spend time with people eating a taco, especially in San Francisco. There was this one place, El Castillito, that we’d always go, and me and my buddy John [Dwyer] from Thee Oh Sees would always meet there twice a week and get a taco. It’s a pretty rad excuse to just sit and eat and talk. I don’t really have any other foods or places in my life that are excuses to hang out with people. 

AVC: What makes tacos good conversation food? 

TS: I don’t know, really. Maybe it works that way for me because I think tacos take the longest to eat. It’s a very personal thing where you’re forced to sit down for an hour to eat a taco, especially because there’s so much stuff all over it.  

I think tacos are just so personal, too. There’s so much you can do with a taco, and there are so many options. 

AVC: What makes a good taco?

TS: So many different things. I’m a huge fish taco fan; that’s my favorite thing. 

A good taco, though, is effort. It doesn’t matter what’s in it because it’s like love in a tortilla. That’s what a taco is. Burritos can work, too. But a burger doesn’t fit that. No single entity of food really fits the kind of warmth or the love of a taco. Maybe because its shape is open, you know? It’s like wide open for interpretation, and it’s got an open mind. 

AVC: It’s giving you a hug. 

TS: Yeah. I can get wrapped up in a taco. Burritos are closed-minded and finished. 

Maybe that’s what it is. Burritos are already finished for you whereas with a taco, you can just add what you want on top of it and keep going.

AVC: Is El Castillito in San Francisco your favorite taco place ever?

TS: That’s my favorite place. There are a few in San Francisco, but there’s only one that’s the jam. There’s one downtown, but that’s not the jam; that’s a different chain. The one I’m talking about is on Church and Market. It has a veggie taco that’s the size of your head for $2. 

One of the few constants in my life has been tacos, specifically veggie tacos. When I was 20 or 21, I couldn’t hold down a job because I was playing and touring. I’d make $100 at a show, and I’d play three or four shows a month, hopefully at least, and then maybe a few more here and there. I was living in a closet and scraping by, and I would always rely on this $2 taco that was the size of my head to get me through. That was the most reassuring thing: It was always there and will always be there. 

AVC: Do you miss that taco when you’re on tour?

TS: Dude. Every time I come back or go up there, the first thing I do is to get this taco. You can ask anyone who knows me, and they’ll know about this taco and me. It’s a thing; it’s an obsession. It’s not the healthiest thing, because I’m eating all this cheese and sour cream all the time, but man, is it good. They’ve got the best green salsa. 

Food is a comforting thing or a reassuring thing, especially when it’s something you can rely on. I’m always traveling, I’m always touring, and I rely on this taco. It’ll always be there, hopefully. It’s there now, at least. 

Another thing that tacos have over burgers is that you can travel and try and find crazy tacos. 

AVC: What are some of your favorite tacos on the road?

TS: Torchy’s Tacos in Austin. They’re so good that it’s insane. I love the Tex Mex-style tacos, too. I love the little differences. Chicago has a good taco, too. There’s those three or four La Pasaditas right next to each other. That area is radical. 

AVC: They have excellent lengua tacos. 

TS: Is that tongue? I got tricked into eating one of those once. I don’t eat meat except for fish, and my buddy was like, “Dude, try it, man. This is rad.” And I was like, “What the fuck is that?” He was like, “It’s tongue. Hahaha.” Awful. But what are you going to do?

AVC: Fish tacos are kind of a California thing. You can’t get them everywhere. Or you can, but they’re not always very good. 

TS: Yeah, I don’t usually go for the fish tacos if they’re not in a coastal zone. Boston has some pretty killer fish tacos. I had some radical fish tacos in Toronto. I think it has to do with coastal regions really, the fresh fish thing. 

AVC: How do you find out about good tacos? 

TS: I’m constantly asking where the taco jam is whenever we’re in a new spot. 

We actually did an experiment on the first tour I went on with my band. We called it the BurriTour. We ate, like, 140 burritos the whole time, and we were trying tacos, too. It was one of the gnarliest things I’ve ever done because you couldn’t skip out on burritos. You couldn’t be in a city and not try a burrito. You could do a taco, too, but it was one or the other, and if you didn’t do it in that city, you forfeited all bragging rights of being a part of this movement. I gained like 20 pounds on that tour, so it was super fucked-up. We hadn’t really toured that much and there was all this beer and so many burritos and tacos. It was fucking insane, but it was so rad. We made it to like 150 burritos in 22 days. 

AVC: You probably ate some horrible burritos on that trip. 

TS: I got to be honest: southern Illinois, no good. No good, man. We got some square burritos and we were like, “What the fuck?” Taco Bell sometimes was our only savior, and even Taco Bell is not a constant. You can’t rely on Taco Bell when you’re in Minnesota or wherever. 

AVC: Taco Bell can be pretty gnarly if you’re a taco purist.

TS: There is some good Taco Bell, I’ll tell you. I think Southern California Taco Bell is radical.

AVC: Do you like it better than Del Taco?

TS: No, I like Del Taco more, but the best out of all the fast-food stuff is El Pollo Loco, hands down. That’s quality, and they just started adding avocado to stuff. So you can add avocado; taco, burrito, whatever you’re doing. 

I just moved to L.A., so I’m in a new wonderland of tacos. I have my Orange County taco spots that I frequent now: Taco Loco in Laguna Beach. Talk about some good fish tacos. They’ve got some toasted potato tacos that are quite good. And now when you go around where I moved to, they have the best fish tacos. Ensenada, Señor Fish, the taco trucks. Don’t even get me started on the taco trucks. There’s one called Rambo’s that just has a big portrait of Rambo blasting a machine gun on the side of it. They’re usually on Eagle Rock Boulevard. It’s fantastic. 

AVC: Your publicist said you took her to some amazing taco place in L.A.

TS: I took her to CaCao. They have gourmet taco jams. You have to get six of them because they’re tiny, but it’s totally worth it. Plus, they have agave wine margaritas. Radical.

AVC: Do you ever make tacos at home? 

TS: I always make tacos. I’m a fan of the breakfast taco. You get two corn tortillas and you make two quesadillas with barely any cheese, and then you put the eggs and the rest of the things on there. Two of them are a great Sunday morning jammer. 

AVC: So you prefer corn tortillas to flour?

TS: For burritos, flour always. For tacos, corn always. I don’t know why that wasn’t the truth when I was a kid. Something happened when I grew up, you know? I started maturing. 

AVC: What’s the craziest taco you’ve ever had? 

TS: I had asquid taco that was pretty crazy at Taco Loco in my hometown. The lengua taco was pretty gnarly, too, and I think I had a cow brain taco once. That wasn’t cool.

To be honest, those Torchy’s tacos were pretty gnarly. I’ve definitely had some puking, overeating moments. I eat too fast, and then I’m playing a show, then puking. Actually, one of the last times I ate beef I had a taco, and I’ve never thrown up so much in my life. It was all over my friend’s bathroom, and I was like 19. It was pretty brutal. 

AVC: Cleaning up puke after you puke is the worst. 

TS: The same thing happened when I ate a bunch of my grandma’s chili when I was 8. I ate two giant bowls of chili—like serving-bowl size, not individual size. I don’t know what my grandma was thinking. She just let me eat all this. I went to sleep, and I remember waking up and just puking. She had a bathroom with two sinks, a toilet, and a bathtub. And I puked in the one on the left first and filled it up. Then I puked in the one on the right then I puked on the floor then I puked in the toilet. And this was like potent, purple, chili puke. Then I went to sleep and didn’t even clean it up because I was 8. My grandma had to clean it up the next morning. Isn’t that awful?

AVC: It’s easy to do stuff like that when you’re little, because it makes sense. You thought, “Well, I’m sick. I have to go to bed.”  

TS: Isn’t that weird, though? When you’re a kid, you don’t really understand the feeling of when something’s so great. You get so excited, and you don’t understand. You just keep going. “Of course I’m going to eat all this chili.” 

AVC: One more taco question: Have you ever written a song about tacos?

TS: No, but I should. That’s next on the list, man. 

AVC: You could do a whole taco-themed album. 

TS: That’s a good idea. I’m just going write a love song about tacos. 

AVC: You could work with John Dwyer and put together a compilation of different bands singing songs about tacos. 

TS: I wanted to get sponsored by El Castillito, and I would totally do that for them. 

AVC: You could do commercials and write jingles for them. 

TS: I would totally do that. I would do anything to get their tacos for free for the rest of my life. 

AVC: There’s a restaurant in Chicago where, if you get their logo tattooed on you somewhere, you get free hot dogs for life. 

TS: If El Castillito had that, I’d do it. Fuck it, man. I might as well do that anyway, get a tattoo of El Castillito. I might do that tonight or tomorrow.

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