The Slums are a four piece Indie/Rock band from Buffalo, New York. They certainly haven’t reinvented the rock and roll wheel but they have definitely found a new sound that many other music writers have had trouble pinning down into one genre.
Combining the angst-ridden lyrical content and distorted vocals of the grunge era with technical, yet accessible guitar work coupled with a solid rhythm section of snarly growled bass guitar and song supporting creative drumming; The Slums have developed a unique blend that has something for all rock fans.
After releasing a 3 song EP in September of 2014, The Slums have been honing their live show into a well oiled, Buffalo made machine. Evensound was fortunate enough to be completely blown away by one of their performances at The Mohawk Place in February where they premiered their newest song “Plain Pine Box”.
They have since gone on to continue their promising relationship with the soon-to-be-local-legend, Paul Besch of Quiet Country Audio, where they recorded their most recent creations. After releasing “Plain Pine Box” they have gone into a writing-hibernation to prepare a full length in time for Summer. Luckily they were still willing to pull back the curtain into their world by participating in a quick Q&A with us here at Evensound.
How did the band and name form?
It took way too long to find a band name. Starting a band is and always has been about having ideas and putting them together with the right people, and we had absolutely no problem doing that. Tomorrow is literally the one year anniversary of our first practice, and we wrote two songs that night. And then it probably took us a month or two after that to finally agree on a name. 3 out of 4 of us would agree on a few and then we couldn’t find a complete consensus to save our lives. The first rehearsal space we had was separated into two parts, the heated, windowed, comfortable section, and then in the back there was a warehouse section. Our friends practiced in the front, and we practiced in the back in a room with a wheelchair ramp that led to nowhere and gave Matt hip problems. So during writing when we would have a drink and dread heading back to the dirty section of the space, we would always say, “Alright boys, back to the Slums”, and that settled it.
What is the song writing process like?
Like I mentioned in the first question, this band is nothing without democracy. Steven is obviously an experienced and successful songwriter, and everyone here respects that, but with that being said, nothing in this band happens if all four people don’t agree. No one in this band is a hired gun. No one in this band is expendable. Steven writes a lot alone, and then we all write collectively. Often times that means taking a grand idea and turning it into a simplified version of insanity. More or less, I think we represent that. Controlled chaos.
Recently a publication referred to you as “hardcore”… How do you feel about that and how would you characterize your sound?
Well, first and foremost, we incurred a little bit of backlash for mentioning that “hardcore” bit, because apparently that was a typographical error and it was supposed to say “post-hardcore”, but even then, I don’t think we fit into that. Young Widows, Pianos Become the Teeth’s first record, Touche Amore, maybe even Torche, to us, that’s “post hardcore.” And we listen to that. And we listen to Cursed, and Every Time I Die, and Daughters, and Gaza, and so many things that we and most people would consider hardcore, and yet we have no place in that realm. We also listen to Arctic Monkeys, Tokyo Police Club, Pup, and we grew up on The Get Up Kids, Fear Before the March of Flames, Pedro the Lion, Death Cab For Cutie… We listened to MxPx. We listened to Jay Z. I don’t know how to categorize it, and I think any sane and capable music journalist would have a hard time too. We live in a time when everything is post-this and post-that. We’re a rock and roll band. We’re not signed. That makes us an independent rock and roll band. I guess that’s that.
How did you get hooked up recording with Paul Besch at Quiet Country Audio ? What was that process like?
Paul has been a friend for a long time. Jake and Paul go way back, Paul’s band Believe in You used to play at a coffee shop I worked at and we all frequented. He’s always been a gentleman, and in the aftermath of his days in bands, he more than made a name for himself in the recording spectrum. Everything that comes out of QCA is gold, and it only gets better. We did our first three songs there, and it was effortless, because his thought process is just like ours and he’s usually right about the choices he makes in the studio. Only for some reason he thinks Nevermind is better than In Utero, and he’s wrong. Fuck you Paul.
How would you describe the Buffalo music scene?
Buffalo’s music scene right now is ripe for a New York Times feature. If Gothamist is going to write about a Buffalo Resurgence and the idea that “Millenials” are migrating here for a new lifestyle, then Stereogum should write about the obscene amount of creativity happening here. Made Violent is on Columbia Records now. Del Paxton just signed to Topshelf Records. The Traditional is on Anchor Eighty-Four. Malfunction is on Bridge 9. We have so many bands, we have small and very personal labels that are pushing the limits, we have artists that are pairing visuals with music in a way that hasn’t been done since Kevin Barnes started out with Of Montreal, and if you’re coming from out of town, no matter what the date, there’s a place for you to play and people will show up. If there isn’t, we’ll find one. All of this in the third poorest city in America, where the talent to population ratio is absurd. Buffalo has always prided itself on being an artistic community, and it’s only getting better.
How important is it to make a statement with your live show?
Making a statement with the live show is essential. Making a mockery of a live show isn’t. Obviously there’s a certain level of theatricality in rock and roll and there always has been. You’re there to play music and people are there to see you put on a show, but to us, the theatrics need come from an organic place. Stage moves aren’t rehearsed, you don’t fall on the ground at the same part of the same song every night of the tour. Being genuine and authentic in a live setting and not letting the visuals take away from the music is a belief I think we all stand behind.
What are the goals for the next year for The Slums?
We’ve been holed up in writing mode for a while now, and the results have been nothing short of inspiring and they’ve reinvigorated this band. We’re looking to self-release a record this summer, and hopefully get it into the right hands of people who will then help us get to the next level. Throughout summer and fall, we’d like to get out to as many cities as possible and show them what we’ve been cooking up out here in Buffalo, and naturally I think the end game for any band is to get signed to a label, but we’re not interested in rushing that. As individuals, we’ve been doing this for a really long time and we know how difficult it is to become even remotely successful. We want to end up with the right people who want the same things we do and can help us get where we’re going. Hopefully the future holds that for us.