Emily Rose Epstein, badass barefoot drummer for SF's own Ty Segall, is back from the road and in typical rock-slave fashion, she’s sandwiched some stage time at home for Treasure Island Music Festival this weekend in between European tours. Here’s what she had to say:
Have you guys played Treasure Island Music Festival before? I've never been on the Isle.
We've never played Treasure Island before. I actually have only been to the Island once with my parents for the Treasure Island Flea Market. I spent the whole time watching this great soul band that had a five-year-old drummer who was ripping so hard. My dad and I were blown away.
What do you miss first about SF when you hit the road for a tour?
Burritos! We really miss good Mexican food when we're on the road. Avocados too! Friends, my house, sleeping in my own bed, waking up to put on a Hank Williams record or something and getting to sing and do whatever you want in your own room.
What are some of the weirder aspects of touring and travel?
There's a lot. Adjusting to time zones and climates, but always having to be on your A-game when you get to a show is definitely weird. Figuring out who your real friends are on the road can be a weird head trip too. I guess there are sort of two sides of that.
Have you been burned?
There's the strangeness of always being surrounded by people at shows who already know and (hopefully) like your band. It’s an odd relationship from the get-go. Then there are times where you think you are making a new friend and they do something weird like flirt with my boyfriend or try to sleep with one of the totally-not-single members of our band, or try to sleep with me, or just act like a creepy stalker. It's always nice to know that you have your band to count on. They never let me down.
The Slaughterhouse LP definitely sounds like seeing your band live (obviously because it’s written and recorded with the full band). What was the personnel lineup?
Yeah, I think it also sounds like us live because we recorded it almost entirely live! The lineup was me on drums, Charles Moonhart and Ty shredding on guitar and Ty and Mikal [Cronin] both sang. Mikal did all those pretty little harmonies. Chris Woodhouse recorded it. That's why it sounds so psychotic, like we're lost in space or something.
Ty and Mikal mostly wrote the lyrics, but the songs themselves and the ideas of what they were about came together as a group, kicking around ideas and jamming in our practice space. That's why you can hear everybody's distinct style on that record.
Photo by Dallis Willard
I've seen you play with Ty pretty much since you started. In the beginning you tended to bury yourself in your hair and avoided eye contact with the audience. In more recent shows, you seem more upright and show the audience your face more. Do you think you’re confident on stage now?
I am really shy! I always have been. I feel very awkward being up in front of a lot of people and I used to combat that anxiety by hiding behind my hair! It's true though, I am much more at ease with crowds now and I don't hide as much. I just realized after a while that it's way more fun to let loose and just not think about it too much. You play better that way too!
I hate being publicly barefoot because it makes me feel exposed, vulnerable or prone to accident. You, however, drum that way. Is it better that way?
I don't know if I drum better that way or not, I just like how it feels! I think I would do a lot more things barefoot if I could. I guess I should be more worried about stepping on gross stuff, but I just try not to think about it! So far, so good!
Slaughterhouse is harder sounding than a lot of the psych-soaked stuff Ty had previously put out. Do you prefer thrashing rather than the softer stuff?
I think that when we all get together and are in a live setting, we just like to get wild and go crazy. I think it's kind of boring when you go see a band and they sound exactly like their records. I really appreciate softer music, but to be honest, I find it more challenging to play. I think I'll always have more fun when I can head bang and lose myself in some chaos. It's the best kind of high, you know?
What's next for the band?
Next, we go to Europe, and then take a little break for the holidays. I'm actually helping an old mentor of mine write his memoirs right now and I'm pretty inspired and excited about that. It will be nice to dedicate more of my time and focus on that.
Well said. Watch Emily Rose Epstein drum barefoot while she head-bangs with Ty Segall and the rest of the band on the Tunnel Stage Sunday afternoon (3:35-4:15 p.m.) at Treasure Island Music Fest. It’s gonna be chaos!