Critical Questions: Slow Country
A chat before a Brooklyn show.
Before they took the stage for an intimate Saturday night show at Greenpoint bar Matchless, I got to chat with the guys from the back-to-basics-indierock-meets-lush-alt-country band Slow Country, who we've featured before on a Track of the Day. Though one of their frontmen, Chase King, wasn't able to make it, their set was solid: I was fighting some nasty seasonal allergies and regardless found myself swept away by their grounded-yet-dreamy vibe.
Here's my conversation with Boyd Shropshire (the other main vocalist who has a Thurston Moore-meets-Michael Cera look and sound about him), Aaron Jordan (guitar), Stirling Krusing (guitar, bass, lap-steel guitar), Todd Weissfeld (drums/percussion), and their publicist Mike Zorilla.
CM: So on our Track of the Day that we had, our music editor who wrote the piece made the observation that your album's cover art is very Neil Young Harvest. Is there any story behind that, I mean other than just the obvious?
BS: Well, Aaron and I were way into Neil Young in college, and just four or five years ago we were like sucked into Neil Young, so I'm sure that played into it. Yeah, it's funny, once I read that I was like ‘oh, yeah', but at the time I didn't think about it when I was designing it.
Really? That's hilarious.
BS: It's just, it was something I got the graphics from, that I was inspired by.
Like it seeped into your subconscious or something.
BS: Yeah, because I drew the logo, you know? It was like hand-drawn. But I was definitely flattered by that because, you know, I love Harvest.
What's your favorite Neil Young song? Any of you guys can answer that.
BS; What was the one we played, Aaron?
AJ: "Comes a Time".
BS: Yeah, "Comes a Time", that's one of my favorites.
TW: "Hey Hey My My"
SK: I'm kinda partial to "Takes a Lotta Love". I kind of thought it [inaudible] original, but it's still good.
TW: The actual song "Harvest"
If you guys could listen to one side of an album forever, which side and which album? Or like if you had to listen to one side on one album.
BS: Lately it's been Graham Nash. It's really hard to pick only one side of Graham Nash. There was an album called Songs for Beginners that we've all been obsessing over pretty much since I found it and started playing it for these guys. It's like our favorite record lately. I'd say it's hard to pick the first or second side of that, but I'd probably say the first side.
AJ: Yeah, definitely.
What about you guys [Stirling and Todd]?
TW: I'd probably do Black Flag, First Four Years, because that was the first tape that I bought as a kid [inaudible], it's not really an album, but it's on one disc.
AJ: He [Todd] really likes Nirvana. We were just having a discussion about ‘oh do I like it, do I not?'
TW: I don't know if I could listen to one album for the rest of my life.
Might be a little depressing. So, besides Neil Young and Nirvana potentially, who do you consider to be your biggest influences or inspirations?
BS: Probably my favorite artist is Will Oldham. I really got into him in late college. I've just been really inspired as far as what he's done as a musician: kind of re-inventing his songs constantly, especially in a live setting, which I consider a big inspiration as a musician. I'm inspired by the way he changes songs, plays with different people. That'd be mine.
SK: For me it's Robert Fripp and Brian Eno. Not necessarily together, but the atmosphere that they bring to rock music [inaudible] it was a game-changer for me [inaudible].
AJ: I dunno if I have one. As a kid I listened to a lot of Smiths. I was always listening to Johnny Marr and Morrissey when I was a kid for years, so that was kind of my thing.
Growing up was there someone in particular you admired? Or that you looked up to as a musician? That is, if you were musically inclined when you were younger.
BS: I dunno, I started playing when I was like 14-ish.
What made you want to start playing?
BS: I guess I could say I was inspired by this kid that was my neighbor , I used to play basketball with him [band members laugh], he used to live at the end of my street, like cul-de-sac, so we played basketball and whatnot. And he was really into Bush at the time. And I was 14, and I really liked "Glycerine". He could play "Glycerine" on guitar and he ended up selling me his amp-that was my first amp, I got it from this kid. And that was inspiring because it was just, like, barre chords, you know?
I think that was definitely one of the five songs I knew how to play at 16.
MZ: "Glycerine" and "When I Come Around" are like the same fucking chords, just like sped up, I was like ‘two for one', awesome!
BS: Yeah, totally.
TW: I'd say the biggest influence for me was Ian MacKaye in terms of like the idea of why I started-[inaudible], DIY, making things happen for yourself.
Yeah, I feel that from you guys. So did you guys start all playing from when you were in your teens?
SK: I was 17, my dad was an amateur player kind of [inaudible] style. He showed me a couple of things, and then my mom's boyfriend had like a Bluegrass band kind of more like an edgy kind of guy, he showed me a lot of things too, so I combined the two.
AJ: I didn't come into it early, I was like 19 or 20, I got a late start.
What was the last live show that you saw that was awesome, totally blew your mind?
AJ: Sea and Cake. Sea and Cake were amazing. I wasn't expecting it because, I felt a little bit their day is kind of done maybe, and they were articulate, on point, all this energy. It was great.
BS: We had a friend we played with, his band is called Autumn Bells. Last time they played was incredible. They're like good friends of ours, but they're like, incredible live.
AJ: Such Hounds that played tonight, they were super loud. If I had to say right now, Such Hounds is the best band I've seen lately. They were awesome.
What about you guys?
SK: I haven't been to too many shows lately.
TW: Superchunk was awesome this summer, they did a Black Flag song and a Misfits song and it was crazy.
So, other than music-books, TV, film-what are you guys obsessed with right now, or just really into or really excited about or anticipating?
SK: Recording music.
BS: I'm gonna record my friend's record soon, so that's gonna be fun. I read this book called Stoner that's really good. That's the most recent really great book. It's incredible.
AJ: I just did Brave New World. It's kind of a classic series, but it was so good.
Wait, you saw the miniseries?
AJ: No, I traveled here from DC and it was a book on CD, so I listened to it when I drove all the way up here.
Who was the narrator?
AJ: He's a famous actor and I can't think of his name. Tom something?
MZ: James Earl Jones.
AG: Tom Selleck.
AJ: Ha, no, he's an English actor, he's pretty well-known, I can't think of his name. [Editor's note: we think he meant the British actor Michael York. Maybe we was thinking "Tom" because of the dude from Radiohead.] He did a helluva job, though. [inaudible] a lot of detail, he covered all the points. Stirling has a job where he puts books on CDs and he [inaudible] has auditions.
What's been your favorite audition?
TW: The Transformers -- he killed the Transformers...
SK: Yeah I actually did a couple of auditions myself [inaudible]. I like doing voices, it's fun. Actually Todd here killed it as well in a Southern-style accent. He's definitely actually my favorite that I've had.
TW: It was for the autobiography of a Southern golfer from Augusta, Georgia. I don't recall his name. Another one I did was Cooter from Dukes of Hazzard who became a senator or something in Texas.
Oh really? Jesus, for real?
TW: He had an autobiography.
That's it I think unless you guys want to talk about what's coming up for the band.
BS: Well, we've been writing a lot of new songs, so we just have to lay those down.
AJ: We have a huge backlog of over 20 songs.
MZ: When are you guys going to record next?
BS: We're still planning that , it's pretty busy, but, let's see if there's anything else.
Oh, Mike said you guys are deciding on a single?
MZ: Oh for Chase's record when it comes out.
BS: Chase has a solo record coming out. We don't have an official date yet, but it should be later in the summer-ish and he's got a great solo record coming up. That's something, if Chase was here, he'd definitely be talking about. We're actually gonna be, we played live on the radio recently and we're gonna have some videos up of that soon. We played on 87.7 FM, it's called Indie Darkroom. So that was really fun, we did a live in-studio session. We're gonna be putting some stuff up on the blog about that and we'll definitely let you guys know about that too. We're just really trying to play a lot recently and see what happens with that. Hopefully we'll be recording soon.
Yeah. Are you [laughing] sad that you're not at Coachella or are you just kind of indifferent?
BS: I'm a little bit indifferent I guess.
[Laughs] They're live streaming it anyhow, so...
MZ: Wait, is it two weekends, is that what's going on?
I really don't know.
MZ: That's crazy. This weekend it was Pulp and-
MZ: She doesn't seem to age, but-I'm not that familiar with the new albu, but I'm sure it's amazing.
I guess I didn't realize Mazzy Star were still together, I thought it was just like Hope Sandoval playing with different bands now.
MZ: Hope Sandoval and the Warm Inventions, yeah.
They were streaming it yesterday, then they replayed some of it from last night today, and that's way better than going, frankly.
SK: I went once in 2003 and it was literally amazing. It was The Pixies reunion year with The Cure and The Flaming Lips.
Yeah I remember that.
MZ: Yeah, that was so good. I went in '07, and it was intense, man. I saw Bjork. It's so hot, like Indio.
SK: There's not much access to water.
I went in '01 and it was-or at least I remember it being one of the first years of Coachella, and they had no trash cans, and it went from incredibly hot, they didn't let you bring any backpacks, to like freezing and there was just piles of trash blowing everywhere.
MZ: After a while-I just got back from SXSW-that is my type of festival. After a while at Coachella, you're just like ‘I don't give a fuck who I'm watching right now, I'm about to die of fucking heat stroke, I'm gonna go hang out in this bush'. It's just, California, you're just like dying out there.
It's the desert, you're like out there all day. Did you guys all go to SXSW?
BS: Unfortunately, I didn't go this year, but I wanted to. But, we definitely want to go next year
MZ: We'll do like a little Wonderland showcase.
Let me know. Well, that's all, I'll let you guys finish setting up.