Car Seat Headrest is the project of multi-instrumentalist-songwriter Will Toledo. (Courtesy Matador Records)

Will Toledo takes Car Seat Headrest to new levels

Ever since he was a young music fan growing up in Leesburg, Va., Will Toledo was fascinated with outtake-and-obscurity-centered releases, such as Nirvana’s “With the Lights Out” box set.

“I always had an interest in hearing bands’ less-official output, even if it just recorded studio chatter, And I was frustrated that it wasn’t really commonplace to record yourself beyond the actual songs themselves,” says the musician, who brings his band Car Seat Headrest to town next week.

He began documenting every rehearsal of his high-school combo, and later, his solo home-studio experiments of Car Seat Headrest, on cassette. He amassed quite a catalog.

Under the Car Seat Headrest moniker (named because he tracked his Ray Davies-ish vocals in the family Subaru and/or Toyota Sienna minivan), he issued eight albums and two EPS in five years before indie imprint Matador signed him for 2015’s “Teens of Style” and 2106’s followup “Teens of Denial.”

“I just liked getting everything I was working on recorded, so it existed outside of my mind. It was a constant process,” he says.

It’s a Horatio Alger tale for the millennial era.

Toledo taught himself to play several instruments and began composing in his bedroom via a PC Windows program, then via GarageBand once his parents bought him a MacBook.

At first, he tried to interest his classmates in the experimental, self-produced music he was making. They paid no attention.

He decided to post his material on Bandcamp, where it gradually developed a cult following.

“As people started paying attention, I grew into a more accessible style,” he says. “But by the time Matador came along, I had a full band lineup.”

“Style,” he explains, was essentially his greatest-hits anthology, re-recorded for better clarity.

“Denial” is a collection of his most recent material, played with his group and produced in his new home of Seattle by Steve Fisk.

It bounds through Replacements-trashy garage (“Fill in the Blank,” “Unforgiving Girl (She’s Not An)”), Cars-retro new wave (“Not What I Needed,” “1937 State Park”), and even Sabbath-molten metal (“Destroyed By Hippie Powers”).

“I played organ, mellotron, other keyboards on the new album,” he says. “And I still play guitar because there’s no one else to do it.”

Otherwise, Toledo has no complaints about his DIY career path. “I think it’s an ideal time to be a musician,” he says. “There are so many outlets where you can make the music you want without a lot of resources, and you can put it out to the same audience as the biggest stars in the world. The internet is a great equalizer.”

IF YOU GO
Car Seat Headrest
Where: Great American Music Hall, 859 O’Farrell St., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Nov. 14
Tickets: $16
Contact: (415) 885-0750, www.slimspresents.com

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