King Tuff, the project of Kyle Thomas, announces his long-awaited new album Smalltown Stardust, with a video for its lead single and title track “Smalltown Stardust.” The album is available for pre-order now and due January 27th via Sub Pop.
Smalltown Stardust, which was co-produced and largely co-written with SASAMI, is “an album about love and nature and youth,” Thomas explains. Much like its lead single, the album is an ode to the cherished moments of inspiration and the small towns in which they are formed. Thomas pulled from his nostalgia for where he grew up, where he first nurtured his songwriting impulses, bouncing ideas off other like-minded artists. It’s a spiritual, tender and ultimately joyous record that might come as a shock to those with only a passing knowledge of the artist’s back catalog.
“The truth is I never really wanted to leave my little town in Vermont. I knew it was something I had to do in order to actually pursue a career as a musician, but I loved my life there, and I cried and cried the day I left on a Greyhound bus for LA in 2011,” says Thomas. “In some alternate dimension there’s a version of me still living there, still hanging on the stoop, drawing pictures in the coffeeshop, walking the railroad tracks that run along the river… but alas, in this here dimension, I’m nothing but a townie without a town! ‘Smalltown Stardust’ is a song about keeping that little place and all its strange magic with me wherever I go. It’s a portal that I can access when I need inspiration, or when the city feels too big and hot and I need to mentally escape into some dark woods. It’s a place I found myself going to often in the last few years while I was writing this record, stuck in scorched and crispy ol’ Los Angeles, so it felt fitting as an album title as well as the first song to release into the world. Enjoy!”
At its core, Smalltown Stardust showcases Thomas’s desire to commune with nature on a spiritual level. Images of the natural world, from blizzards to green mountains to cloudy days, fill the songs and create a setting unmistakably far away from Los Angeles, where Thomas resides with SASAMI and Hand Habits’ Meg Duffy. “I consider nature to be my religion,” he expounds, and Smalltown Stardust is nothing if not a spiritual exploration. If the first King Tuff record was content to merely state Thomas was no longer dead, Smalltown Stardust is a paean to what that life means. A statement of belief and a hymnal to the magic still to behold all around us.
Additionally King Tuff has announced a 2023 North American tour that kicks off March 1st in San Diego, CA and wraps April 7th at Joshua Tree, CA with a show at Pappy and Harriets. Tour highlights include shows in Los Angeles, CA, Brooklyn, NY and Chicago, IL. Tickets will be available on Friday October 28th at 10 am local time. All dates below.
SMALLTOWN STARDUST TOUR DATES:
March 1 San Diego, CA @ Casbah
March 3 Los Angeles, CA @ Lodge Room
March 4 San Francisco, CA @ The Chapel
March 6 Portland, OR @ Mississippi Studios
March 7 Vancouver, BC @ Wise Hall
March 8 Seattle, WA @ Neumos
March 10 Salt Lake City, UT @ Urban Lounge
March 11 Denver, CO @ Larimer Lounge
March 15 Houston, TX @ White Oak Music Hall Upstairs
March 17 Nashville, TN @ The Basement East
March 18 Atlanta, GA @ The Earl
March 19 Durham, NC @ The Pinhook
March 21 Washington, DC @ DC9
March 22 Philadelphia, PA @ Johnny Brenda’s
March 23 Boston, MA @ The Sinclair
March 24 Brooklyn, NY @ Elsewhere Hall
March 25 Brattleboro, VT @ The Stone Church
March 28 Montreal, QC @ Bar Le Ritz PDB
March 29 Toronto, ON @ Horseshoe Tavern
March 31 Chicago, IL @ The Empty Bottle
April 1 Minneapolis, MN @ The Turf Club
April 3 Kansas City, MO0 @ The Record Bar
April 5 Santa Fe, NM @ Meow Wolf
April 6 Phoenix, AZC @ The Rebel Lounge
April 7 Pioneertown, CA @ Pappy and Harriet’s
There are times in our life when we feel magic in the air. When new love arrives, or we find ourselves lost in a moment of creation with others who share our vision. A sense that: this is who I want to be. This is what I want to share.
It’s a fleeting feeling and one that Kyle Thomas, the singer-songwriter who records and performs as King Tuff, found himself longing for in the spring of 2020.
But knowing he couldn’t simply recreate this time in his life at will, Thomas—who hails from Brattleboro, Vermont—set out to write a love letter to those cherished moments of inspiration and to the small town that formed him. The one where he first nurtured his songwriting impulses, bouncing ideas off other like-minded artists. The kind of place where the changing of the seasons always delivered a sense of perspective and fresh artistic inspiration. Where he felt a deeper connection with nature and sense of community that had once been so close at hand.
“I wanted to make an album to remind myself that life is magical,” he reflects.
While so much of Smalltown Stardust invokes idealized traces and places of Thomas’s past, the album’s recording process made his communal vision a reality. Thomas’s Los Angeles home in 2020 formed a micro-scene of sorts, with housemates Meg Duffy (Hand Habits) and Sasami Ashworth recording their own heralded albums (2021’s Fun House and 2022’s Squeeze, respectively) at the same time. A shared spirit dominated an era spent largely on the premises, with Thomas serving as engineer and contributor to both records, and Ashworth working as co-producer on Smalltown Stardust. Thomas describes the time with a fitting metaphor: “I’ve always thrived around other people making things. You want to bloom with each other.” Ashworth’s contributions are vital to the album: she co-wrote a majority of the record and contributed vocals, arrangements, and instrumentation to each song. As Thomas notes, “I tried to follow her vision a lot. It helps to open your world to collaborators. You always get something completely different than you would have expected.”
1. Love Letters To Plants
2. How I Love
3. A Meditation
4. Portrait of God
5. Smalltown Stardust
6. Pebbles in a Stream
7. Tell Me
8. Rock River
9. The Bandits of Blue Sky
10. Always Find Me
11. The Wheel