Car Seat Headrest juggling criticism, praise as young band
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MANCHESTER, Tenn. — While rappers and pop stars feud with each other in the form of diss tracks, some indie rockers take to their Tumblr or Medium sites to rip into each other in the form of wordy diatribes. But Will Toledo, frontman behind the indie rock band Car Seat Headrest, decided to jump in the rap diss track game.
Toledo, who started recording music in his car on his laptop, has been praised by critics for his low-fi guitar rock, but he's also been the subject of more than one online roast by other indie musicians.
The latest came this month when a musician named Sam Ray, who plays in the indie bands Ricky Eat Acid and Teen Suicide, penned a lengthy essay in which he called the Seattle-based Car Seat Headrest "bland and lifeless ." Toledo has also been criticized for slamming the Netflix show "13 Reasons Why" for its portrayal of teen suicide while also benefiting from having a song included in the show's soundtrack.
Toledo, who has written his own share of hot takes on other musicians as well, shrugged off the critics during an interview this month at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tennessee. His response was to release a "really bad rap" aimed at Ray and joked he was planning a full album of diss tracks.
"I'm engaged with the online world and when my name pops up, I notice it," said the lanky 24-year-old with shaggy black hair that obscures his eyes. "It is kind of surprising the amount that happens especially when you know we haven't put out a single thing this year musically. It's just something you have to live with I guess if you are alive in 2017."
Toledo went from a college kid recording in his house in Virginia to one of the most buzzed about young rock bands last year thanks in part to building up a fan base online. Toledo put out 11 albums on Bandcamp, before his first official studio release with Matador Records, last year's "Teens of Denial ," which appeared in many "best of" lists for 2016. The band has been hitting many of the summer music festivals including Coachella in California and Governor's Ball in New York City.
"It didn't seem particularly like a fast pace to me because that was all I was spending my time on," Toledo said. "Now we're touring more, it's a bit more difficult to get studio time. If we don't have an album finished by the end of the year now, I'll be disappointed in myself."
Follow Kristin M. Hall at twitter.com/kmhall