Slothrust: Grunge Jazz and Britney Spears

It’s Friday night and it smells like skunk weed in a Bushwick living room, which is appropriate since Shea Stadium is essentially that. The venue is packed to the brim and everyone’s here to celebrate Brooklyn-based band Slothrust’s LP release—a lo-fi, grunge rock, and comically-miserable album titled Of Course You Do – their second album, but their first on Ba Da Bing Records.

The trio—comprised of Leah Wellbaum on vocals and guitar, Will Gorin on drums and Kyle Bann on bass—comes onstage and starts playing a slow melody; their hair is in their faces and the place smells like sweat. It’s magical in the way only Brooklyn shows can be.

Slothrust’s songs offer a diversity that keeps the crowd’s applause at a maximum: some songs play on the sensuality of Wellbaum’s low voice; others are fast from beginning to end; and some sound even jazzy—if grunge jazz were a thing. At one point the songs become incredibly quick, and I can’t help but think of The Ramones: They play, they rock, and they leave you thinking, “What the fuck just happened, and why the fuck was it so good?”

A few days later, I called up Wellbaum to talk about the show, the band’s new record and what’s next.

Milk Made: This album marks your debut with Ba Da Bing Records. How has this experience been different than recording your first album, Feels Your Pain?

Leah Wellbaum: The first record we did in Boston and a lot of the songs on that we recorded I wrote while I was abroad in Argentina, so when I came back to the U.S. I was ready to record. We didn’t have a bassist and then we started working with Kyle. We were on a 5 ½ week tour and then we started recording the new album. With Of Course You Do, that was our first time working in the studio, and we played everything live. We were more used to working with each other than on the first album.

MM: Invictus Pics compared your balls to Karen O’s balls. Those are pretty big balls to be compared to. I personally got vibes of Sonic Youth and Black Sabbath from your music. What are your influences?

LW: Absolutely Sonic Youth and Black Sabbath. Actually, we just covered a Black Sabbath song at Wreckroom Records which will come out within the next few months. But yeah, Sonic Youth as well—I think they’re really intelligent and I love Kim Gordon’s voice.

MM: I heard you say that Shea Stadium was the first venue you played.

LW: Yeah, they used to have an event called Personality Crisis and we used to play that event a lot. They’ve always been good to us. It’s fun and comfortable there. The crowd, big or small, always loves you and supports you and wants to have a good time. I also love that it’s all ages and I think it’s a very important thing to make live music accessible.

MM: Your lyrics are raw and sad, yet comical and very relatable. What is your writing process like? What are your inspirations?

LW: I like to write music that’s funny and a little disturbing. We have one song that’s inspired by Britney Spears and another that’s about Eminem. In terms of lyrics and music it just sort of enters my head in sort of arbitrary moments. Some musicians sit down with the intention of writing, and that’s how I’d like to be, but at the moment I’m not. You know, there are times when I’m about to fall asleep and I have to wake up because of these ideas I have to write down. Also, a lot of the songs on this record were written in parts. I try not to force it and just let it happen as they come out.

MM: What’s next for Slothrust?

LW: We’re going to South by Southwest next week, and beyond that we just want to keep playing more shows and tour with another band.

Photography by Cole Giordano and Shervin Lainez

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