SLOTHRUST'S latest album, 2018’s The Pact, further cements the Boston-based band's place in the city's storied history of alternative music. The city that bred bands like The Pixies, The Lemonheads, and the Juliana Hatfield Three is still spawning top notch bands these days. Slothrust, who formed at Sarah Lawrence College in 2010, is no exception.
The band tours regularly and has made a number of critically-acclaimed albums, combining the sonic characteristics of garage rock with pop sensibilities and their own unique genre-bending musical aesthetic. We spoke to bandleader/guitarist Leah Wellbaum last week, prior to their show at The Jinx on May 9 - presented by Savannah Stopover.
How did you guys find each other?
Wellbaum: We all went to the same college, and were in the music department together. We played in a bunch of blues and jazz ensembles. Kyle [Bann, bassist] and I were in a chamber improv group, and Will [Gorin, drummer] had a hip hop group going at one point.
Wow! So did you guys have influences in common? How did you land on what you do? It’s obviously very different than a lot of what you were doing in school.
Wellbaum: Yeah, we all played in a couple of different ensembles together and kind of realized that energetically we were on the same page with music and improv. It kind of just followed naturally from there.
We all listened to a really wide range of music, for sure. I’ve always listened to a lot of John Fahey, and a lot of Nirvana. So I think in the early days, those two things were really big for me.
It definitely sounds like the band has evolved since the first record, particularly on the latest one. If you could pinpoint one thing that you feel has contributed to that evolution, what would that be?
Wellbaum: I’d say that on our most recent record, we weren’t concerned about being able to replicate the material live. We wanted to really utilize the studio as its own instrument and then figure out the live arrangements from there.
It definitely seems to be more freeing if you can get to the point where you treat both like separate processes.
Wellbaum: I agree!
What’s one example of something on the record that you did to implement that practice?
Wellbaum: A good example of that is definitely “Some Kind Of Cowgirl.” The main thing I did on that song and a bunch of songs is stack my vocals. That’s not something I’ve done in the past because there’s only one of me on stage, so we have to rearrange things a bit and energetically shift things in order to create a live performance that feels like it can convey a similar thing that the recording conveys.
What’s the writing process like these days?
Wellbaum: Generally, I write and demo the song by myself. And then I send the band the demo and we work on grooves and arrangements. We usually try a couple different things. Sometimes the initial idea I had for a groove works, and other times Will and Kyle have an idea for a groove that I hadn’t imagined. Then it ends up taking the song in a different direction.
When you demo songs, are they generally pretty fleshed out or sort of bare bones acoustic recordings?
Wellbaum: It definitely depends - there are some songs that I’ve demoed pretty thoroughly, and others that are more focused around the guitar part and the melody/lyrics.
Is there a song on the new record that you feel particularly attached to?
Wellbaum: Definitely “Travel Bug.” I actually recorded that one myself in my house. It was a demo and we didn’t even recut it.