Saturday SOS Interview: Car Seat Headrest

Will Toledo's bedroom confessional becomes a rock brigade – with empathy!

"I want to produce something that cements my reputation as something more than a one-album-wonder."

That's the hope of Car Seat Headrest brainchild Will Toledo, anyway. In one year's time, the Virginian swelled his bedroom project into an ever-touring rock fourpiece with two label-supported LPs. Last year's Teens of Style marked the then-23-year-old's Matador Records debut, trailed by May's Teens of Denial. Mingling the early naivete of Ben Kweller with Guided by Voices' finessed alt-raucousness, the South by Southwest veteran's songs capture life as-is: good, bad, bewildering.

"Pushing outside your comfort zone is a big part of making art," says the College of William & Mary graduate. "I've always tried to make my music personal. Denial is definitely in that vein."

This year's disc lessened the guitarist's initial lo-fi while upping the decibel quotient. Spilled guts, as always, fell front and center. Particularly stirring, "Costa Concordia" climbs slowly toward its peak, the English major's free-flow laundry-list one of confessions/resentments: "How the hell was I supposed to steer this ship?" he pleads.

"That's a song we don't always put on the set list," he admits. "It's difficult for me to perform."

Toledo's brainy/innocent air – Rivers Cuomo meets McLovin – continues scanning far wiser than the work of most twentysomethings.

"Many of my favorite artists were making music at my age," he notes, citing David Bowie and Kurt Cobain's respective magnum opuses, Space Oddity and Nevermind. "Now seems like the appropriate time to be fronting a rock band!"

When not touring, the Airbnb-hopper writes CSH's next album.

"If there's one thing [Denial] lacks, it's empathy," he says. "The next record is all about empathy. I'm in a better mental state this year. The next album will reflect that."

Car Seat Headrest

7:10pm, Forest stage

Check out our daily Sound on Sound coverage with previews, reviews, interviews, photos, and more.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Car Seat Headrest
Phases & Stages
Car Seat Headrest
Car Seat Headrest (Record Review)

Libby Webster, Aug. 12, 2016

SXSW Record Reviews
Car Seat Headrest
Teens of Style (Record Review)

Neph Basedow, March 18, 2016

More by Neph Basedow
Top 10 National Albums of 2016
Top 10 National Albums of 2016
Our favorite picks from across the country

Dec. 30, 2016

Critics Poll
Critics Poll

Dec. 30, 2016


Car Seat Headrest, Sound on Sound 2016, Will Toledo, Ben Kweller, Guided by Voices, Rivers Cuomo, McLovin, David Bowie, Nirvana

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle