Sitting with local indie rock band Slothpop in frontwoman Kristin Newborn's living room, the air is full of infectious positivity. Like a family of three-toed sloths lounging in a treetop after an arduous climb from the ground below, the members seem satisfied and confident — and with good reason. They've just finished work on their self-titled debut album, an experience that, for many of the band members, was one of great emotional and artistic growth.
"It was like we needed something to just make it feel worth doing, something to re-inspire us and remind us that there's a reason to be doing all of this," bassist Drew Malott explains. "When you go a long period of time without satisfying your creative side, it starts to really become a burden."
The band will self-release the self-titled album at a January 8 show at Radio Radio, joined by Muncie's The Bonesetters and Flotation Walls from Columbus, Ohio. The album is earnest, dense and relentlessly catchy, defined by the lilting power of Newborn's voice, Dan Zender's flowing guitar melodies and the band's impeccable, magnetic songwriting.
It's a wonder the album isn't being released on a label, local or otherwise. But there are benefits to staying completely independent, according to Eison.
"There's a kind of autonomy that's nice to self-releases, especially your first album," Eison said. "We've had a lot of support behind us to allow us to self-release in a way that's still going to be fruitful for us as a band, and everything has kind of been on our own time."
A big part of that support is producer Andy Fry, who drummer Bryan Unruh refers to as "the seventh member of the band, like how George Martin was the fifth Beatle." Fry recorded the band at Queensize Studios, employing a loose, experimental approach that allowed the group to perfect the record over several months.
"This whole process that we had for this album — where we were mixing and editing and overdubbing all at the same time — it's all resulted, I think, from the way that Andy and Drew kind of fell in love with the album and became such an integral part of it," Unruh said.
Malott, a Ball State recording arts alum and co-producer on the album with Fry, wasn't a band member when the recording sessions began. But after cellist Jeff Vyain left the band, moving to New York this summer to pursue his longboarding career, Malott ended up joining Slothpop on bass, an instrument he had never played before. Vyain can still be heard on each of the album's tracks and will return to Indy for the release show.
"I think that Drew came in and was the perfect match, just what we needed to be there," Eison said. "The way he thinks about music is similar to the way Jeff thought about music, and I think that when we all play together as a full band like we are on the album, it's going to be pretty magical."