Thursday, January 4, 2024

Tysk Tysk Task - "Intolerable" (plus a brief interview!)

Photo by Samm Scho

It's no mystery that I'm a huge fan of Tysk Tysk Task. I've been watching the band evolve over roughly four years now, so when the opportunity to premier their new single came up, I enthusiastically agreed. What makes the chance even better is just how great "Intolerable" is. The new song takes everything we loved about 2022's You're Sorry More and somehow expands on it. For the first time TTT has two guitars, and "Intolerable" takes the crushing blow of Samantha Hartsel's guitar and blends it with the warm embrace of Rick Martel's more shoegaze inspired guitar to create this lush expanse of a song. This new track might not have the sheer force and aggression of the previous album, but it's no less intense. Plus, Hartsel's vocals have never sounded better. They have more of a trip hop feel to them than indie rock, so it's almost like Portishead and Massive Attack filtered through The Jesus Lizard and My Bloody Valentine. "Intolerable" takes all of these elements and comes out as Tysk Tysk Task's most accessible song yet. As much as I loved You're Sorry More, it's a niche album. "Intolerable" is going to appeal to a much wider audience without the band watering anything down.

I also had the chance to ask Samantha Hartsel and Rick Martel some questions via email. You can find "Intolerable" below the interview. For more on Tysk Tysk Task, check out the band on Facebook and Instagram. You can see them on January 6 at New World Tavern in Plymouth, MA, January 13 at Hawks and Reed in Greenfield, and April 26 and 27 at The Town and the City Festival throughout downtown Lowell.

Since we last heard from you, the band has undergone some changes. Who is in Tysk Tysk Task now? 
Samantha: The band is now a two-guitar four-piece for the first time since our creation in 2018, with Rick Martel on second guitar (who serves as a powerful co-songwriter on a majority of the new songs with me), plus Matt Graber on drums and Kyle Griffin on bass. We are fortunate that Rick, an insanely prolific songwriter and producer from the NH Seacoast, is also acting as our producer on these new songs. The single “Intolerable,” also features Ben Cutty Cuthbert, who we met while he was playing drums in Paper Tigers in the 2023 Rumble. Cutty filled in for us suddenly in the Rumble when we were in need and learned the songs so quickly and so well, we took him on the road for the summer and recorded a couple of singles we plan to release over the next couple of months.
Rick: Samantha is the shirt and hat, Matt is the boots, Kyle is the pants. I’m like... the scarf that completes the outfit (it’s winter!). 
S: Lol wow, I did not think of it like that… For sure, we are always a community project and reflective of our contributors. I suppose any frontperson is the shirt and hat to a band but it’s very important to me that Tysk Tysk Task is not a solo project. It’s ours collectively.
You're Sorry More sounded nothing like 2020's Everybody's Worried About Us, and the new song, "Intolerable," sounds nothing like either, but they all sound like Tysk Tysk Task. Do you consciously change up the sound between projects, or does it just kind of happen? 
S: Hmm, I mean, the songs have always reflected a journey and self-discovery for me as I continue to learn and understand guitar as a self-taught musician. You ebb and flow and discover new things every year that you play guitar, I think…
R: I do hear an evolution, but I wouldn’t go as far as to say that the albums sound ‘nothing’ alike. [Editor's note: Since writing this question, I'm realizing that "Intolerable" is a natural extension of You're Sorry More's closing song "On My Own" - Ken] There’s a noisy through-line directing the process of writing and recording (led by Samantha - her guitar work is the heart and soul of this band). Different personalities can jostle and inform the creative process, inspiring new musical discoveries, disrupting old and comfortable habits... who doesn’t appreciate a happy accident? Like when a clumsy cart of hot dogs crashes into a public swimming pool, you don’t ask questions! Just open your mouth and swim!
S: Happy accidents is such a nice Bob Ross-way of explaining what TTT is…  We are growing and evolving as a band especially through our community of collaborators. The first album featured my childhood best friend Ben Kotce on electrified harmonica, which he fed into a shoegaze-deluxe pedalboard of 30 or so pedals. Our last record was indicative of an experimentation with distortion and reviving my personal love and passion for grunge and fuzzed out-guitars.
We get compared to PJ Harvey and Alanis Morrissette a lot and that’s really because there is such a reverence for 90s angsty music in TTT that will never go away. With the mixing and mastering on our newer singles by Rick, he has a vision for his guitar to wrap around mine with a pretty sheen that lacquers the heavier riffs. Neither of us is the lead guitarist - our guitar melodies intertwine. Rick gets all the credit for that. It’s an extremely unique approach to songwriting I haven’t heard before.
I believe You're Sorry More was described as "woodland grunge." How would you describe your new sound?
R: How about “foodland munch?” Sorry, I’m still thinking about those hot dogs.
S: We contain multitudes. But it has always and will likely forever be “indie grunge,” which is just a combo of noisy indie rock and grunge 90s-core in my mind. And bands get heavier or softer with time. Even Yeah Yeah Yeahs are releasing things today (ambient synth dream pop) that really sound nothing like their early 2000s thrashing hits. They’re still a distinctive indie alt rock band and that will be us forever, too. 
You're just sharing "Intolerable" publicly for the first time, but this makes me want to hear more so much that I have to ask... when do we get to hear more from the upcoming album?
R: DO we have an album coming out???!!?!? 
S: Of all the things we talk about, the game plan is still a little in flux… 
R: We’ve got a lot of material written with our lovely drummer Matt, that we’ll be recording soon - most likely for a full-length album.
S: I was thinking we’d at least start on that midsummer. We have about six new songs we’ll be revealing at shows in the coming months. So if you crave new material, you should get to the gig!
2024 is starting off strong for Tysk Tysk Task with new music and three shows in January. What's coming up next for the band? 
R: We’re probably gonna cover that really angsty Hilary Duff song. We’ve been fighting about it. It’s gonna be great.
S: We’re not fighting! Ok, maybe a little… it’s a coin toss between the mastery that is Hilary Duff or maybe Natalie Imbruglia, lol… "Torn" or not, we have some neat new songs for our full slate of shows coming up in the New England area. The best way to see our next gigs is to check our Instagram bio and “Upcoming” story archive for flyers. We keep that up to date.

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