The cerebral, bluesy, jazz-infused power-pop/grunge of Slothrust exist in its own sonic universe.
Born in Boston, Mass. in 2010 around lead singer/guitarist Leah Wellbaum and drummer Will Gorin while students at Sarah Lawrence College, Slothrust rooted itself in the alternative rock/grunge universe created by Nirvana early on. Bassist Kyle Bann joined later, grounding the rhythm section that backs Wellbaum’s songs.
They released their debut album, “Feels Your Pain,” in 2012. The track “7:30 A.M.” was later picked up as the theme song for the FX show “You’re the Worst.” They followed that album with 2014’s “Of Course You Do,” which was released first on Ba Da Bing Records and later picked up by the California indie punk and garage rock label Burger Records (King Tuff, Ty Segall, Black Lips, Jacuzzi Boys, Thee Oh Sees).
In 2016, they shifted to Dangerbird Records for their third album, “Everyone Else,” which was followed by 2018’s “The Pact.” The latter of which was recorded with producer Billy Bush (Garbage, Muse).
Presented by Savannah Stopover Music Festival, Slothrust perform May 9 at The Jinx. Doors for the show are at 8:30 p.m. with Summer Cannibals going on at 9 p.m. Slothrust will hit the stage at 10 p.m.
Do: I am curious about the genesis of this band. How did it first come together? And how has the chemistry evolved since?
Leah Wellbaum: “We all met in college in the music department. We played in a bunch of different ensembles together and mostly did covers and improv. The chemistry was pretty immediate and it's evolved naturally from there over these past years.”
Your music seems mostly untethered from a specific genre. What acts as the Northstar/guiding light when writing a Slothrust song? Is it more feeling than a cerebral intention?
“I try to let songs come to me naturally without having any preconceived notion of what they are supposed to sound like. I find some of the more powerful songs I write seem to come through me without much effort.”
How has the writing process evolved for this band over the years?
“I have always written the songs for Slothrust. When we had more time as a band we definitely jammed a lot and that was helpful in thinking about arrangements and ways in which improv could play a role in the music. These days we are on a bit of a tighter schedule so usually, I start with demo-ing the song by myself, and then I send it to the guys, and we work on a secondary demo from there where we can lock in a groove and discuss other elements to add. Sometimes my vision is relatively fixed, and others it is very open. I will say we are all quite thorough people when it comes to music.
Following the free association writing process you’ve talked about before what comes first for you, the lyrics, melody or the riff? Or is it less-constrained and formulated than that?
“There is no generalization about what comes first. Sometimes it all comes at once, and other times its fragments that get jigsawed together a bunch of different ways.”
The shift to Dangerbird seemed like a move you were happy with. How has working with them been beneficial for your creative output and the all-too-necessary business side of being a musician?
“Dangerbird Records is lovely to work with. They are supportive of artists doing what they want to do creatively and are encouraging in the process. They also have an amazing studio that has really changed the way we've been able to make records.”
The music industry has changed drastically in the last decade. It seems much harder to make a living now. Do you see a path forward for working musicians?
“Sure, but everyone will have to be creative in carving out their own path. They will definitely have to think outside the box.”
How was it to work with Billy Bush? Did he help foster creativity in the recording process? Was that a change for your normal recording process?
“Billy Bush has brilliant ears and he brought a lot to the project sonically. He also is a grounding presence generally speaking and someone who is calm and inspiring to be around.”
I am curious about the selection process and criteria for 2017’s “Show Me How You Want It To Be.” Being that it’s so varied, was it more of highlighting your influences as a band or just picking your favorite songs you wanted to cover, or both?!
“We had a lot of the covers ready to go already. They all came to us naturally. "Sex & Candy" for example we never even really talked about, we just started playing it one day at practice and all knew it.”
I know you’re touring on "The Pact," but will your setlist include any tracks from the other albums?
Have you ever played Savannah before?
"Yes, we played the Jinx twice with our friend Highly Suspect. We have never headlined there before though and are so excited to come back. I wish we had a couple of days to spend in the city; it's a beautiful one."