Droney and atmospheric, rougher and more vulnerable ( from: Clank for Breakfast)
With their EP “Hopeless But Otherwise” (2011), a split vinyl single in 2012 with Dead Leaf Echo, and last year’s debut album “For Those Who Wish To See The Glass Half Full”, Slowness managed to seduce our ears and conquer our hearts easily. A couple days ago, the 2008 formed US band unleashed their second full-length menu: “How To Keep From Falling Off A Mountain”. Once more, Slowness celebrate a compelling, highly melodic shoegaze kisses drone pop journey. Before founders Geoffrey Scott (guitars, keys, vocals) and Julie Lynn (bass, vocals, keys) as well as Scott Putnam (drums) and Greg Dubrow (bass) head to Europe to play a couple shows, Geoffrey took the time for a chat.
How would you personally describe your musical journey from “For Those Who Wish To See The Glass Half Full” to the new album?
Geoffrey: To some degree the making of the two albums overlapped. We were demoing these new songs before we released “For Those Who Wish to See the Glass Half Full”. We didn’t tour that record so we got to work right away.
Were there certain goals you wanted to achieve when starting the songwriting process, like trying new sounds, instruments, ways of writing? Do you feel like with the release of this album you were able to get everything out you wanted? Or is there always that certain feeling of “I could do a little more”?
Geoffrey: The only thing we wanted to do was to make this record sound less polished and poppy than “The Glass”. We also wanted it to be more droney and atmospheric. And we wanted to get more people involved on the record. Greg Dubrow plays half the songs on bass, we had an additional drummer, and we had three additional guitarists. Overall, we had nine people play on this record. And we did it quickly, and didn’t overthink it, so it’s a bit rougher and more vulnerable than “The Glass”. Ryan (Lescure), from Blue Aurora, says it sounds more bluesy – which we didn’t intend at all. We always feel a little insecure when we put something out, but when we listened to the test pressing, we got close to calling off the release and going back into the studio, mainly because one song in particular didn’t come out the way we wanted it to. But eventually we let go and just moved forward with it, realizing that songs should become something different from what you originally intend.
Like “For Those Who Wish To See The Glass Half Full”, also this album’s been co-produced by Monte Vallier (Weekend, The Soft Moon), and mastered by Kramer (Low, Galaxie 500). Was this a given when you started with the album? How would you describe the work process with them?
Geoffrey: Yes, it was a given. Everything we’ve recorded has been done with both of them. They both have been so good to us. Their main focus is our music – not their own agenda or notoriety. They have superior ears and help us sound way better than we would without their involvement. The process with Monte has morphed a bit over time as we’ve become a little more self-sufficient recording the basics. We recorded most of this record ourselves with the help of two talented engineers. Monte’s forte, and what I think he enjoys most, is mixing. That’s where the songs take on real life, and when he’s done, we send them to Kramer for the extra shimmy.
You wrote and recorded the album in San Francisco and New York City. Did those two cities have any influence on the musical result? Or would the album be like it is when you would’ve been in say Tokyo, Paris, Moscow or Melbourne?
Geoffrey: Honestly, I don’t know. I do know, however, that being bicoastal right now lends a sense of urgency and excitement to the recording process, in that when I go back to San Francisco, or when Jules comes to New York, we have great friends in both places ready to play and record with us, which keeps things interesting and breathes life into the project. As for those other cities, I’d love to plant ourselves in one of them, or many others, and see how it would affect a recording. Hopefully someday we’ll be able to afford that luxury.
When you’re in the studio, does the ability or ease of playing them live ever factor in at all?
Geoffrey: We’re rarely ever prepared enough to record live. The most live recording we’ve ever done was for our EP. We were house sitting and had a huge living room to work in for about six weeks before we went into the studio. Apart from taking care of plants and animals, all we did was rehearse and write. We tried to record “For Those Who Wish to See the Glass Half Full” live, but it didn’t come out so great because we weren’t sufficiently prepared. And for the new record we did zero live recording. The current nature of the band right now – apart from the quartet we have going to Europe – is not really a band, per se, but rather a collective. The songs get written and arranged as they’re being demoed, and the demos turn into proper recordings and get edited into their final structure in a piecemeal fashion. I’m not sure it’s the best way to do things, but that’s just the way we work, for now.
How did the idea come up to entitle the record with “How To Keep From Falling Off A Mountain”? How does it relate to the lyrics/themes and cover art of the album?
Geoffrey: As always, there’s a list of ideas for titles, and you run them by the band and your friends to see which ones raise eyebrows. When we’d narrowed it down to two, I asked a friend of mine, who’s a writer, which one he liked best and this is what he chose, so that’s what we went with. The cover is a picture of our friend Christy (who plays drums on “Anon, part IV”). There was no real meaning or connection between the album title and the image, but I suppose if you were to crawl into that picture and have a drink or two, and talk about the times, or books, or movies, or music, or what have you, I’m sure she’d help you avoid falling off a mountain, let alone climbing one to begin with.
Can you tell us about how the idea came up for “Anon” (a requiem in four parts)?
Geoffrey: I’ve always wanted to do really long songs, or have songs bleed into one another, sort of like Pink Floyd, but more like early Spiritualized. The idea was simply that one side of the record would be one song. The four parts are connected musically and tell the story of someone in great need of change.
Do you need to be in a certain mood when writing on a song, or doesn’t it matter too much?
Geoffrey: I need to be at peace.
Since it’s not really easy to make a living based on being in a band, what are you guys doing as day jobs? Would you risk giving up your day jobs when the band would grow to a point where a certain amount of cash would enter your band accounts, or would you keep the day jobs for safety reasons?
Geoffrey: Everyone in the band works in education. I used to too but I dropped out, because I didn’t have the energy to do both. Now I scrape by. I’ve left a lot of jobs to pursue endeavors like this, and it creates a lot of risk. No one else in the band would leave their job because they all have certain responsibilities and because they’re smarter than that. As Americans, and at our age – we’re no spring chickens – it’s almost crazy to give up a job in this climate. It’s incredibly hard to get one again once you leave.
Alright, let’s hear it … what’s the best 3 albums released this year so far (and no, yours not included 😉 )?
Geoffrey: The new Brian Jonestown Massacre is the only thing I’ve heard that I love. And oh yes, I like the new War On Drugs record too. But honestly, I’m out of it when it comes to new music. I’m spending my time doing other things like watching movies and reading books, fighting to stave off the inevitable ADD.
So you’re about to head to Europe regarding live shows. I bet you’re pretty excited about that. What are your hopes and expectations?
Geoffrey: Julie booked this tour, pretty much single-handedly, and of course with some help from the bands we’re playing with. And we are doing all the so-called promotion ourselves. Apart from direct contacts we’ve made, we have no booker, no promoter, and no outside help, financial or otherwise. But that’s what “indie” means, right? So we’ll see how far this grassroots/DIY thing can take us. Ultimately, my hopes are that we’ll have some good shows, meet some good people, sell a few records along the way, be safe, and have fun.
Thank you, Geoffrey!
Tomada del blog: Clank for Breakfast
Algo parecido a lo que sentía por momentos el protagonista de la genial película de Zulueta: Sentimientos a flor de piel. La música de Slowness nos sigue pareciendo de lo mejorcito que podemos encontrar en el panorama Indie actual.
Los californianos vuelven a sorprendernos en este segundo álbum de estudio. Vuelven a intentar dar un giro de tuerca a lo realizado con su majestuoso For those who wish to see the glass half full (2013).
Para How to keep from falling off a mountain, los californianos han vuelto a repetir colaboración con Monte Vallier (Weekend, The Soft Moon, Wax Idols) en tareas de producción junto con su guitarrista Geoffrey Scott, y el encargado de las mezclas ha sido Kramer (Low, Galaxie 500).
En un primer bloque del disco, Slowness retoman más o menos donde lo dejaron: la triada Mountain, Division e Illuminate abordan el Pop Psicodélico desde un punto de vista digamos que Shoegazy, pero sin dejar de lado en ningún momento el sonido Jangle (Mountain). Slowness declaran su admiración por los REM de Murmur o por los Feelies.
Division es un corte algo más convencional pero lleno de detalles, de voces perfectas, de paisajes Dream, de teclados atmosféricos… mientras que Illuminate es el Pop visto desde el prisma del Drone:
“I originally wanted to have a “drone band” but couldn’t get away from making Pop songs. So we prefer to think of ourselves as a Drone Pop band” (Geoff Scott)
Con Anon comienza el segundo bloque del álbum. Una parte en la que parece que Slowness quisiera dejar volar su imaginación, dejarse guiar por el espacio buscando el espíritu del Rock Progresivo, dejándose ir en un devenir de reiteraciones, de loops hipnóticos y de acordes mágicos. Un viaje en el que parece que la intensidad va decreciendo, para rematar, en la edición digital, con un compendio de las cuatro partes en las que se divide Anon, una especie de ópera Pop, de viaje interestelar al universo de Slowness.
Un disco sorprendente, que se aleja conscientemente de cualquier moda Pop (no les importa embarcarse en cortes de siete minutos), un trabajo en el que el grupo demuestra que no se quieren quedar quietos, que quieren continuar explorando su sonido. A Slowness les queda cuerda para rato…
Belleza y mezcolanza
Escuchando los primeros acordes de Day for night, el primer corte de For those who wish to see the glass half full (2013), el segundo trabajo (y primer largo) de Slowness, uno se da cuenta inmediatamente de que aquí huele a disco grande. A uno de esos trabajos que te impresionan desde el primer momento, de esos que te enganchan con esa variedad de melodías, de arreglos sencillos y efectivos, de voces trabajadas, y de canciones redondas. Es un álbum corto, con ocho temas, pero de los que no podría descartar ninguno. Una colección impresionante de canciones que son, a su vez, reflejo de sonoridades que en seguida reconocemos, pero que aparecen convenientemente mixturadas.
En For those who…, Slowness se distancia algo de la huella Shoegazer más identificable en su primer trabajo: Hopeless but otherwise (TJB, Mayo 2011); pero en cambio encontraremos muchas huellas sonoras. Desde el Jangle-Pop vía Rem de Energy, a la huella de más clara de Ride identificable en Race to Mars o en la majestuosa Calm & dispel. El Space-Rock de Repeater al Indie de Wired o Walls of blue. La impresión más Shoegaze-Drone la podremos encontrar en Day for night, el corte que inaugura el álbum.
Como dije, For those who… es un disco sin desperdicio, donde nada falta ni sobra (bueno, igual nos faltan más canciones…) Slowness consigue facturar una obra coherente y unitaria con una producción justa (Monte Vallier –Weekend, The Soft Moon-; Kramer –Low, Galaxie 500, Bongwater-), sin alardes pero tremendamente efectiva y brillante. Un disco donde la belleza se impone a los fuegos de artificio y donde esa mezcolanza de estilos conocidos hace que en seguida nos encontremos reconfortados con la música de este trío de San Francisco. Como probablemente dijo alguien, la belleza quizás radique en las cosas más sencillas…
“February 2013 has us anticipating the debut LP release from San Francisco’sSlowness, “For Those Who Wish to See the Glass Half Full,” set for official release on 2/14, though pre-orders are being sent out as early as today! The eight tracks of shoegazer-tailored dream pop is a follow up to 2011′s “Hopeless But Otherwise” EP. Much like their partners-in-crime, Dead Leaf Echo, Slowness tediously took their time (spanning over a couple years) to put all the pieces together in terms of ideas for songwriting and performing, so as to ensure the quality of their first full-length was totally up to their standards. And you can tell in every subtle detail that this album has been tended to with an attitude of intent [for vinyl], striving to aurally illustrate a masterpiece of interwoven auras blending into a surreal collage of sounds.
The quintet achieve this aesthetic with the gaze of reverberating, jangly and fuzzily distorted guitars; a warm and smooth bass sound that seems to ride on the surface of the sound like the slick groove of a rock skipping on a lake; brooding, yet dreamesque male and female vocal harmonies ethereally floating in the mix; and the propelling pulse of a tight drum kit, dually serving as the anchor in the intricately heady wall-of-sound. Slowness is not just a band of musicians, they are audio engineers– as much scientists as they are artists– dialing into the perfect settings on their blanket of pedals to realize such a distinct, yet familiar sound. The drone pop swells are easily ear candy enough to lull you into a psychedelic daydream. And to witness the vinyl experience would only infuse the already pleasantly ambient vibrations with a warm, analog flavor, no doubt coaxing goosebumps down our spine and a buzzing euphoria within our soul.
Slowness also collaborated with collaboration with G.Diesel, J.Marten, and Alex Jorgenson to produce artistic and visually stimulating music videos to compliment six out of the eight songs off of the LP. The playlist of all six videos is linked above and is one of the only ways to preview most of the new songs while you wait for your wax to be shipped over, so enjoy and spread the word:Slowness has got a new record!” (tpr-mag.com)
La aproximación al Ep de debut de Slowness: Hopeless but otherwise (2011), es paralela a la música que nos vamos a encontrar en el disco: Un tanto lenta y parsimoniosa. Slowness practican un Shoegaze denso, en detalles y en musicalidad, cercano al Drone e incluso al Post-Rock. La influencia de los primeros Ride es evidente en temas como Black & white o Duck & cover. En la producción del disco han sabido conjugar con eficiencia sus voces, que quedan más o menos limpias y unas murallas de guitarras que en ningún momento consiguen destrozarnos los tímpanos, pero que sí son un estilete que penetra con fuerza en nuestro reproductor (el final de Duck & cover es sencillamente espectacular). Para ser un disco de debut, su sonido está bastante madurado, sus loops son espectaculares, y no hay ninguno de los cuatro temas que desmerezca, llegando a antojársenos un disco demasiado corto, pese a sus veinticuatros minutos de duración. A ello contribuye eficazmente el largo desarrollo de Little king, el corte que cierra el disco de este más que prometedor trío de San Francisco.
“The new EP from San Francisco’s Slowness, Hopeless but Otherwise, is an intense trip beyond polar certainty and into a maze of melancholy. Truth is better in color, as the opening track “Black & White” declares, but it’s also messier that way: The band uses beautiful shoegaze guitar textures laid over ominous bass marches and driving drums to take the listener down some subconsious back alleys we all usually avoid.
While the sonic scenery may be dark, the band never leaves the listener’s side, guiding the way with points of catharsis to reveal the beauty in discomfort. Lyrically, Slowness walk the line between the political and personal, with the words equally fitting to a relationship as they would be to a protest; anger mixing with sober reflection. They call for reshaping institutions and decry “evil scheming lies,” but then recommend a “reckoning and levity.”
Not that you can really hear the words. The ethereal, male/female harmonies by bassist Julie Lynn and guitarist Geoffrey Scott are more an additional texture than mouthpiece. (Erik Gross plays drums on the record but the band has since found a new drummer, Scott Putnam.)
The overall impression of this complex EP is that the band is just beginning. In some ways they’ve barely started on what promises to be an epic journey into drones unknown. I highly recommend spending some quality time with the songs and checking Slowness out next time they play. They are a gleaming jewel in San Francisco’s indie tiara” (signalandnoise.com)