Tough As Train Smoke

In the sprawling Sub Pop family of recording artists, King Tuff might be thought of as the slightly dangerous uncles you see once a year, around Thanksgiving usually, or maybe Christmas, but better on Thanksgiving. Some people think they do what they do because of some mysterious childhood trauma. No one knows why they’re the way they are, but they always seem to have more fun than everyone else, which invites envy. Sweet but bitey, opinionated and loud, definitely loud, you know you won’t be getting to bed early as long as they’re around. They arrive with all their gear, of course, piles of aging amp stacks missing parts, the guitars chipped and scarred, bringing their own booze, and you think, has it been a whole year since they were here, parking their vans wherever, in the front yard, on the lawn? The neighbors get worried, but it’s exciting! And you feel it. Where did the time go, you think. Weren’t they just here? (It’s been a whole year since they played the Shakedown in Bellingham, but I could have sworn they were just here last summer.) It feels nostalgic to see their posters go up around town, and to think… they’re coming again, with the rains and the moonless nights. And when they’re ready to pack up and leave again… wherever it is they go, it also feels kind of good, too, because you’re exhausted. If the Tuff have a wall-of-sound theory, and they must have one, it would be dramatic thrashing, with shredded goth highlights and lots of light and smoke. They’re out on the road, well, it’s not clear that they ever leave the road (do they have homes they go to? no one knows), supporting their latest Sub Pop release, “Black Moon Spell.” All we know for sure is that they’ve left the state. Last night was it. They must have left in the night. They never seem to sleep. What’s up with that? Someone’s going to have to clean up the mess, and it won’t be them. Still, I miss ’em. I hope they come back for Christmas, but I know they won’t.