A rhythm section up front


From the leftover pieces of Indiana's beloved and broken-up experimental pop band Slothpop have come a number of interesting new projects. For one, singer Kristin Newborn's KO, which delighted the crowd at the recent Bat for Lashes concert with expertly layered vocal melodies.

Another is Scanlines, an instrumental post-rock group that features Slothpop's rhythm section - Drew Malott on bass, Bryan Unruh on drums and Dan Zender on guitar. (Malott and Unruh also played in jascha, which disbanded after the death of founding member jascha updike in April.)

Scanlines has been writing and perfecting material for the past few months, playing low-key shows and working meticulously on recordings. This Thursday, they'll perform at their first large show in Indianapolis at The White Rabbit Cabaret.

NUVO: Did you guys have an idea of what you wanted Scanlines to sound like?

Drew Malott: Yeah we did. Obviously we didn't want people to be like, "Oh it's like Slothpop." Because it's really not, but there's a certain point where you get me and Brian [Unruh] and Dan [Zender] playing together, it kind of sounds like me and Brian and Dan playing together. That was already in place for years.

The foundation, I guess you could say, in terms of sound, we knew that we wanted to go a little bit... What's the word? Okay, it's post-rock basically, which is a sort of catch-all term for rock without a singer, I guess is what it means. When I first joined Slothpop, the three of us were really big into Explosions in the Sky at the time, and if you go back in time and listen to some of that music, in the rhythm section, you can hear that really strong influence at the time. We were all digging on it at the time that I joined [Slothpop].

These days we're just kind of continuing with that thread of the story, like, what would it sound like if we just went down that road? There's less of a dance-y vibe to it. It's not big pop songs. It's basically like what the three of us would have sounded like if we would never have stopped playing together for those few months.

NUVO: How does the way that this band works compare to your past experiences?

Malott: The only difference that I feel is that there's not a lot of talking during the writing process. For whatever reason, the three of us can [read] each other pretty damn well. We might be improvising on something and I might change the time signature for fun and I'll look over at Bryan and he'll look over at me and there'll kind of be this, "I see what you did there," kind of thing. So for the rest of the night we'll play that song in that new time signature but nobody said anything about it - it just sort of happens.

NUVO: What's changed about the musical community in Indiana?

Malott: That's a really tough question. If you look at the overall slant towards lo-fi, more instrumentally-based music ... I keep hearing the term psych rock thrown around, and I know that we're not that. I feel like there are these parallel threads of a story that's evolving, and we're a part of it too. There's sort of a move towards this sound which is less about big pop songs with catchy lyrics and is more about the overall ambience of a song. Maybe it's sort of a sludgy, garage rock sound or, in our case it's more of an atmospheric, pulsing rhythmic thing with a focus on bass with ethereal melodies on top. It's sort of a shift away from songwriting for right now. It's more of a shift into music as art, I guess.


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