The Hussy vocalist and guitarist talks about the new album, his record label, and The Catholic Boys
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Bobby Hussy is just a big fanboy. When The A.V. Club recently spoke to the guitarist and vocalist of the rascally garage-rock duo The Hussy, he spent the majority of the time talking about which other bands inspire him and named at least four different bands the “best in America.” But that kind of passionate appreciation explains a lot about his work. He’s spent the last year putting out 7-inch records by five different bands on his Kind Turkey record label, and The Hussy’s new LP, Cement Tomb Mind Control, pays exhaustive homage to the diverse palette of pop-punk sounds that have influenced the band. The record just received an official release on Chicago’s Slow Fizz records, which the band will celebrate this Saturday at the Cactus Club.
The A.V. Club: The Hussy’s first album, Cement Tomb Mind Control, has been finished for a while, but it’s just getting released. What has the process of writing and then shipping it off to the label been like for you?
Bobby Hussy: We started recording the record around Thanksgiving in 2009. Me and [drummer] Heather [Sawyer] were going to do a project in the winter. We wanted to actually take our time with it. In the past, we’ve always gone to studios, but this one—I’ve had recording gear for years, we just never thought we would record with it. I don’t know why, we just always went to studios. So we went in and recorded the record, and we actually spent four months recording it. It’s the longest I’ve spent on any musical thing ever. Usually it’s a one-day recording thing in a studio because we don’t have the money to spend a lot of time.
It was going to come out in October, and then it was going to come out in February, and it never happened. The guy [at Slow Fizz] didn’t have enough money at the time. He put out a Tyler Jon Tyler record, and I think it finally got enough money that he could put another record out. I’m pretty excited about it.
AVC: Cement Tomb grabs influence from a lot of different corners of garage rock, so who do you see as the primary influences that you drew from?
BH: The Catholic Boys are a huge influence on us, and that’s who we named the record after. The record is titled Cement Tomb Mind Control because their debut LP was called Psychic Voodoo Mind Control, and they’re just the best Wisconsin band, one of the best Wisconsin bands ever. And so we named it after that because we thought it would be funny, and we call the place we recorded at the Cement Tomb, which doesn’t exist anymore.
Other bands, I would say Jay Reatard is a huge influence on me and Heather, has been since we started The Hussy. I remember the first practice of The Hussy, we were talking about Blood Visions with the person whose house we used to practice. We talked about Blood Visions, and Cheap Time had just come out. Cheap Time was the new band, so we were like, “Oh yeah, we can play stupid, dumb music, too, man.”
I’m really proud of the record, and Heather texted me to tell you that she’s really proud of the record and she just hopes that everybody who buys it really enjoys it, and just wanted to thank all her friends.
AVC: You were commuting from San Jose for a while. Now you’re back, but how did that affect The Hussy’s productivity or activity locally?
BH: We took a really big break there. I’m really glad we took the break, because before I moved to the Bay Area, I was really getting burned out. I was working a lot and me and Heather were playing so many shows—just too many shows. And that burns people out not only in the band, but around town, too. And I think we played places like Milwaukee and Madison too much, and it kind of makes people think it’s not an event.
It’s like, you think you can’t lose fans, but you can. It’s really easy to lose people’s attentions, so that’s why we’ve always been a band that plays short sets. We’ve always been a band that just comes out, plays, gets it over with and done. Because if you overstay your welcome, people just don’t care anymore. And I want people to care.
AVC: You’ve also been keeping busy with your record label, Kind Turkey. How did that project get started for you?
BH: I started that with a friend of mine, Robert Rice. It’s equally ours. We started a blog; we had it running for about seven months before we put anything out. We still run it. It’s a review blog, but I’ve been kind of slacking because I just moved back and haven’t gotten into the swing of things. But Robert’s up by Minneapolis and he lived in Madison. I met him at UW-Madison.
I have wanted to run a label for years, and I was finally in a position with the band where I had put out records on labels and kind of seen how it’s done, and kind of seen the finer points of it, and the aspects that I don’t like that people do and the aspects that I do like. And there are so many friends who have had better, bigger labels than I’ve ever been on, and through them I’ve kind of seen how a label works—how you can run a label and how you can get distribution—and I was like, “Hey, I could do that.” And I’ve wanted to do it. There are too many bands around town and around the U.S. that don’t get a chance, or that do get a chance and just have good music that you think there should be more of. That’s kind of why we started it. I wanted to put out music, and we made it happen. You know, people can make it happen. Other people can do it, I think.
AVC: This kind of reminds me of the lyrics to The Hussy song “Social Critique Of Madison,” where you’re sort of cutting down on it, but in a very endearing way. So do you think that is indicative of where The Hussy and Kind Turkey sit within Madison—kind of detached while still ingrained? And what would that mean for the future?
BH: I think you’re one of the first people that I’ve talked to who’s taken that song the right way. Usually people take it the wrong way, because it’s really tongue-in-cheek. It’s really making fun of myself and making fun of Madison, because, dude, I love Madison. Me and Heather both love Madison, that’s why we live here. You don’t have to live anywhere you don’t want to, and Madison definitely isn’t the cheapest place to live. I obviously am not slagging Madison, and I think we are a Madison band. I think we need another Madison band that people care about, maybe. There haven’t been too many, and I think there’s no reason there shouldn’t be in this day and age with the Internet—I’m not saying we will be cared about, but I’m not going to say to myself, “It sucks that people like me.” The more people that like my band—hey, isn’t that the point of playing music? That’s not absolutely the point of playing music, but that’s the point of playing popular music. And we play pop rock ’n’ roll.
[Heather is] my friend thick and thin, and we’re going to play in this band until we decide it’s irrelevant. And I don’t think it’s getting irrelevant right now. I think it matters to people. I see shows in Madison getting bigger and better. I see people that I’ve never seen at shows come to shows. And I’ve been around Madison a long time, and that doesn’t really happen too often with bands. It does happen with bands—Sleeping In The Aviary’s a perfect example. But I feel like we’re onto something. I feel like people care about us around here. I feel like if we left, there’d be a void in the scene. It’d be harder for touring bands to come here. I feel like we have a place here, and that’s why we’re a Madison band, and that’s why Madison matters to me. I don’t want to live anywhere else.