Slothrust are the kind of power trio that you’d assume had played the second stage at Lollapalooza in 1994… The jams they kick out run the gamut from chaotic power pop to lo-fi, introspective art rock… yet they also have a background in jazz and blues. They have both an impressive sense of humor and an impressive intellect. Their sentiments are easily chantable, but also reminiscent of the most quotable moments of mumblecore. Basically, they’re the most fun you’re likely to have in 2014 without having to feel even a little bit dumb. I recently got a chance to chat with Slothrust vocalist/guitarist Leah Wellbaum about the band’s sophomore effort, Of Course You Do, which dropped this February, and their upcoming show here upstairs at Kung Fu Necktie, on October 15th… which will be my first official concert as a “thirtysomething.”
Izzy Cihak: You released your second LP, Of Course You Do, early this year. What have been the highlights of promoting it, so far?
Leah Wellbaum: Playing the songs out live and taking the music to new cities is definitely a highlight for us. We really love exploring new places and meeting new people. Also I am stoked to reveal that ostrich photo to the world because I have been waiting to bust that one out for over 15 years. I took it when I was a kid at the zoo. I think it was a pretty bold move on my part to try to get that close to the dinosaur of birds.
Izzy: What would you consider to be the album’s most significant influences, both musical and otherwise? You draw a lot of comparisons to both Nico and ‘90s alt rock. Are they things you’re actually into?
Leah: We dig ’90s alt rock and I definitely dig Nico. These songs were written over a really long period of time, some much later than others, so it’s hard to generalize. I can tell you that I consistently have listened to a lot of a John Fahey, Nirvana, and Smashing Pumpkins. Also was listening to a lot of Dead Prez and early Weezer. As a band, we listen to a lot of jazz and funk in the car. There is a live Parliament record that we have listened to a lot of times. Did you know that George Clinton’s granddaughter is named Sativa? She’s seriously wild.
Izzy: How do you feel your sophomore LP compares to your debut?
Leah: We had more control over the recording process for this recent one. A lot of the lyrics on both these records were inspired by detachment and disorientation, both on an external and interpersonal level. I think I got to know myself better in writing both of them. Feels Your Pain felt more like a cathartic purge, while Of Course You Do was a little bit more carefully crafted. I also wrote a Pt. 1 & Pt. 2 song, which I had been wanting to do for a while. I think the record sort of captures the madness that comes out once you have purged all the other shit, and you’re left with dealing with yourself and various baggage.
Izzy: Have you had any favorite reactions to the album, whether from critics or fans, friends, or family?
Leah: People have been really supportive of this record. We really love receiving emails and messages from fans letting us know just about anything they have to say. I especially like hearing from people who tell me about how they connected specifically with certain tracks. This has happened at shows a bit. We get a pretty wide range of reactions and comparisons. We’ve never gotten particularly caught up in who people compare us to. We’re down to hear anything people have to say, whatever. One really great reaction after a live show, was this guy came up to Kyle and said that we sound like if BB King had taught Kurt Cobain to play guitar, and then he worked with the rhythm section from Metallica. Kyle loved that. He loves Metallica.
Izzy: You’re based out of MA, so I’m curious, what are your thoughts on the local/regional music scene? Mean Creek are some of my favorite people in music and Potty Mouth are probably, sonically, my favorite thing going on in 2014.
Leah: We all live in Brooklyn now, although Will and I are from MA. I used to go to a shitton of shows growing up. The punk scene in Boston was killing it when I was growing up. It seems like things have changed a lot though. Not so many punk houses anymore, and almost all of the places I used to go see shows don’t exist anymore. There was an awesome all female punk house called the Cunttree Club. For me Boston definitely had a very defined music scene growing up. A lot of the same people went to every show. It was a lot of fun.
Izzy: You’re about to hit the road and have a super intimate show here in Philly upstairs at Kung Fu Necktie. What can be expected of the live experience?
Leah: Well, we’ve only played the bigger room at KFN so I am uncertain of what the vibe will be like. You can expect us to look completely insane because it is our last tour date. Maybe I’ll cry after the set or something fun like that.
Izzy: And what do you have planned post-tour. What are you currently most excited about for the future?
Leah: CMJ happens less than a week after we get back. We are opening for The Kills at Bowery Ballroom. That will be sick. Also we will play some other shows that week that will get announced later. And then… we are going to record our next record! We will be playing a bunch of the new material on this upcoming tour. Let’s get weird.