Florida punker Waylon Thornton is a purist when it comes to scuzzy garage punk with a Southern twang and his latest release Domino Sugar is the perfect tapestry of sordid pleasure. Today, we're delighted to premiere Thornton's latest solo release along with asking him a few questions about how he crafted Domino Sugar and how he's found freedom recording by himself.
Waylon Thornton has been in a plethora of lineups over the years including being the main songwriter behind Waylon Thornton and the Heavy Hands and Damage Brain while also running the Gainesville-based punk label Floating Skull. He's also been releasing music under his own name, delivering the playfully scuzzy and subversive Gargoyle? back in January. Today, we're premiering his latest album Domino Sugar, which features killer songwriting that's full of snotty energy and a perfect balance of lo-fi garage-psych punk and solo experimentation that oozes in an oddly viscous charisma with greasy Southern flavors.
Along with the premiere, we asked him a few questions about how he crafted Domino Sugar and how he's found freedom recording by himself.
Paperface Zine: How is this new solo venture different from your previous musical endeavors? What have you enjoyed most about playing solo?
Waylon Thorton: To be honest there's not much of a difference. In the past when I was doing Waylon Thornton and the Heavy Hands all of the songwriting and recording was done solo, but with a drummer for live shows. I'm not great at working in a "band" setting because I'd much rather lock myself in a room for a while and knock out things by myself.
So what's the freedom been like recording by yourself?
I've always recorded by myself and I wouldn't really want to do it any other way. Being able to write and record a song as a streamlined process at home adds to the "in the moment" nature that I want my music to have. Plus being surrounded by all of the art and what not in my house makes it a more immersive experience.
Any particular musical influences you draw from? I hear a bit of Ty Segall, Black Lips, One Foot in the Grave-era Beck, and '60s garage rock bands like The Standells.
A steady diet of Pebbles and Nuggets comps, Syd Barrett, and Hasil Adkins. I’m never trying to reinvent the wheel ha. It's funny that you said Beck, I picked up a used copy of Guero months ago and have been keeping it in rotation in my truck. I draw from a lot of '60s bubblegum as well, it's so whacked out and goofy. Gumdrops and lollipops and all that shit has been a good distraction while living in our current hell world.
What was the recording like behind this new release?
Domino Sugar came from a batch of songs that I'd already written to be part of Gargoyle?, but I had to cut the recording short for that one, so I split them up. My dad passed away in late February and I moved into my childhood home out in the woods, so when I finally got my head out of a hole and set up things to record I just wanted to make something that sounded lively. It probably sounds as manic and barely together as I've felt lately, but that's show business baby.
Were there any songs on this release that turned out way different than their initial idea? Were there any that really surprised you?
"Mighty Cinnamon Tiger" is one that I wrote and recorded in about 20 minutes when I was sitting down to do a final mix on everything. I had that phrase "mighty cinnamon tiger" written in a notebook and had been singing it in my head all morning. Again, the benefit of working alone is being able to do that. I'm also playing a Yankee Candle as percussion on there, not cinnamon scented unfortunately.
How did you approach the songwriting on the new album and how did your original ideas for the tracks develop?
Generally my songs start with a song title first, lyrics later. I keep several notebooks of phrases or little nonsense poems and when I feel like writing a song I'll pull from there. There's a running list of words I think sound cool that I cobble things together from, as well. To me writing a song is more like drinking a Coke, it tastes good and the can is fun to look at. Not to say a rock 'n' roll song can't be important, but damn do they all need to be?
Who did the cover art? I noticed there's a similarity in the photos between this one and your previous release Gargoyle?.
Most of the time the cover art is done by me. Gargoyle? and Domino Sugar both feature polaroid photos I took. Since they're like sister releases, I wanted them to be similar, so I used two rubber Halloween masks that had the same look. Visual art is a big influence on my music, and when I'm not writing music, I'm painting, collaging, or taking photos.
What more can we expect from you in 2022?
I've already started recording for the next release and hopefully things keep flowing at this pace. If I put out a batch of songs every couple of months I'd be happy with that. There will be a Gargoyle? + Domino Sugar cassette on my own label, Floating Skull. Otherwise you can catch me riding around with the windows down takin it easy, but definitely takin it.