Sunday, May 8, 2016

Slomatics Interview

1.Can you give us an update on what has been going on with the band since the recording of the new album?

We finished mixing in February so it's not been that long really, and we've been wrapping up the art/mastering/pressing stuff for a while. We've played a couple of shows too, one in Belfast with our friends Conan and then we played Desertfest in London just last week. Beyond that we've started work on new material, just piecing ideas together really, but already thinking about the next recording. We like to stay busy!

2.You have a new album coming out in September, how would you describe the musical sound that is presented on the recording and also how does it differ from the stuff you have released in the past?

This album is the third in the sequence we started back in 2012 with 'A hOcht'. It's the final piece of that three album concept so hopefully it'll ties things together and give a sense of finality. I think we tried to push all the different aspects of our sound as much as possible so we've made more use of synths and vocal harmony but also tried to push the heaviness of the riffs. Every recording is really just a document of where the band is at that time, so in terms of differing from what we've done before it's not really something we think about too much. I'd like to think every record is a progression but really that's for the listener to decide. I suppose there's at least one song on this record that might be seen as a departure, it's hard to say really, as we don't consciously try to do things differently.

3.What are some of the lyrical topics and subjects the band explores with the newer music?

As I said, this record is the third in a series so the narrative continues from where 'Estron' left off. There's very much a concept going on and our singer/drummer Marty definitely puts a lot of effort and meaning into what he writes. As unsatisfactory an answer as it is, we really prefer to leave interpretation of the songs to the listener, and let the lyrics be a little ambiguous. I remember buying 'Houdini' by the Melvins, and being really shocked when I read the lyrics, as they're just a load of weird phonetic sounds and made up words. I really loved that it made no difference to the emotional resonance of that record, so I suppose I'd rather leave ours for the listener to interpret however they please, which I realise is pretty much avoiding the question. Sorry!!

4.Most of the band members at one time where in 'The Naught', is this a continuation of your old group?

I suppose in a way it is, in that it's the same line up as the early line up of that band. When the Naut split Chris and I formed Slomatics, and Marty went on to form War Iron, who he still plays in. It took nearly eight years for us to be reunited and I think we all see that as really a new thing. We've certainly been more prolific with Marty than we were in the previous line up, and I think we're all finally getting to produce the music we really wanted to all along. We're slow burners for sure! Musically it's very different, the Naut was quite fast and more harsh, but I suppose given its the same people then maybe we'd have ended up here anyway.

5.What is the meaning and inspiration behind the name 'Slomatics'?

Ha ha, there really is no meaning! We started jamming straight after The Naut split up, and were offered some gigs right away, so we needed a name in a hurry. The ones we came up with were all taken, and with about a week to a gig we just went with Chromatics as it was on our tuner pedals. We found out that was taken too, so almost as a joke, given the slow songs we'd written, we changed it to Slomatics. I've kind of regretted it ever since as its a fairly terrible name but after all this time it's just become what it is. I mean, 'The Melvins' is definitely worse, and 'Harvey Milk' too. I remember when Jon Davis told me he was calling his band Conan I was gutted, and really wished I'd thought of that myself!

6.What are some of the best shows that the band has played over the years and also how would you describe your stage performance?

I know it's only a week ago, but the Desertfest gig really was something special. It was absolutely rammed and the crowd were really into it which amazed us, we'd not expected that kind of response at all. That fest is so well organised too and really does have just the greatest atmosphere, it's so laid back. Jon from Conan did a song with us too - which he's done before - but given the support he's given us over the years and our great friendship it was a real buzz. The Tombstones fest in Manchester last year was another real highlight, and also the Incubate fest in the Netherlands which was Marty's second gig with the band. Honestly we always feel really lucky with gigs, there's rarely one which isn't a blast. It's always great to play with friends so shows with Conan, Headless Kross, Ommadon and Hornets always feel like highlights. As for stage performance, it's not something we really think about. We try to put sets together that have a nice flow, and we take the playing bit seriously, but we just really enjoy playing live and feel relaxed about it. We don't have any sort of stage schtick or gimmick, it's just about having fun.

7.Do you have any touring or show plans once the new album is released?

We're heading to Scotland again in the summer for some shows with Headless Kross, and are booked for the HostSabbat festival in Norway in September, both of which we're really excited about. We're firming up dates in Manchester, Jersey and London too, along with a couple of pretty special Irish shows. There's talk of more shows in mainland Europe too. We don't tour as such, due to work and family commitments, but I'd say we'll get out and play a bit more off this album than before.

8.Over the years the band has been a part of a numerous amount of splits, can you tell us a little bit more about your the decision behind partaking in all of these

We all come from the Hardcore DIY scene where splits are fairly commonplace. I like it as a format, and it's a real honour to have shared releases with the likes of Conan and Holly Hunt. In the early days it was often just something that came about through sharing bills with different bands, and it's a good way to share the costs if it's self released. We have to be into the band the split is with for sure though. It's something we'd do again if the right thing came up. Like when Conan or Holly Hunt talk about doing a split, you don't say no!!

9.Over the years how has the feedback been to your music by fans of sludge and doom metal?

It's been great. The reviews and response has always been overwhelmingly positive which is a constant surprise to us. Of course we get the odd bad review but we never take it personally - my favourite was one that simply stated 'This band are a joke, this music is shit.' Nicely put!! What really blows us away is when folk who are completely outside of the heavy music scene are into it. There's an amazing producer in Belfast who performs really cool trance music under the name LOR, and he's played synths on out last three or four records. To have someone like that get what we do really is something else!

10.Where do you see the band heading into musically during the future?

I'd like us to be as prolific as possible. We're all older guys, and we're well aware that everything we do could end up being the last, so we try to keep moving and write all the time. It's not like we're trying to make it big or anything, this really is a hobby to us. We like to release an EP or 7 inch between albums, so that might be where we go again. There's talk of recording some all-synth stuff in the studio we use in Belfast, and we'd like to go to Skyhammer again too, so something might come from that. We're finished with the concept we've covered over the past three albums, so it might be fun to go for something more direct.

11.What are some of the bands or musical styles that have had an influence on your newer music and also what are you listening to nowadays?

It's hard to say, as we all listen to quite different stuff. In the early days, Chris and I were spending a lot of time listening to the first Floor record and watching Pink Floyd live at Pompei, so I guess that is probably still there somewhere. We definitely initially tried to combine that heaviness with a sense of melody, I don't know how successful that's been though! We played some shows years ago with an amazing band from Leeds called Like A Kind Of Matador who were a big deal to us, and got us going with alternative guitar tunings and unconventional structures. When you're as old as we are and have being into music for 30+ years there's never going to be one single influence, what we write is just a product of a lifetime of listening to music. we're definitely influenced by bands we play with of course, bands like Ommadon, Bismuth and Hornets really fire us up to try and write better songs.
Nowadays a lot of what I listen to is stuff I grew up on, Mudhoney, Kraftwerk, Pixies, Sonic Youth. In terms of new music the stuff I like mightn't score any cool points in the doom community - stuff like Thee Oh Sees, Hinds, Ty Segall, Budos Band. I really like the Serial Hawk record, it's a great album.

12.Does Occultism play any role in your music?

Not at all. I'm afraid we're not spiritual people in any shape or form. I mean, the imagery that goes along with that stuff can be cool when it's done right, but I find it a bit gimmicky generally.

13.What are some of your non musical interests?

I've a young family, so spare time is a rare thing! I'm actually a massive cycling fan, I could happily watch full coverage of all three weeks of the Tour De France if I had the time! I cycle a lot myself, I love being out early on the bike miles from anywhere. It's weirdly serene. I read a lot too, bits of everything - I'll read pretty much anything music related, but I like fiction too.

14.Before we wrap up this interview, do you have any final words or thoughts?

I'd just like to say thank you for taking the time to interview us, and for your interest in the band, it's much appreciated. Hopefully we'll get to see more folk on the road over the next year or so, we're friendly people so please do say hello, and if you really want to - yes, we would like a beer. CHEERS!

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