With their latest album The Pact, L.A.-based trio Slothrust are truly showing off their wide spectrum of sounds.
“We don’t like to be repetitive as a band,” says bassist Kyle Bann in a phone interview. “We’re always trying to expand on our vocabulary. This record sees us reaching out and trying to go as hard and as far as we can with as many different things as we can.”
Out on tour in support of the 2018 release, Slothrust will make their way to HI-FI on Oct. 31. Beforehand, we chatted with Bann about Britney Spears, Halloween, and more.
NUVO: From what I’ve read, you, Leah, and Will played in some bands together before Slothrust?
KYLE BANN: Yeah, we were all playing together in various different formats. Will and I were both playing in a blues band where we both played guitar, and Leah and I were playing in a chamber music ensemble, where we were also both playing guitar. And then, the three of us played in a band together. It was another blues/jazz situation, where Will played drums, Leah played guitar and sang, and I played keys.
NUVO: Did those various sound explorations play a part in what Slothrust ended up sounding like?
BANN: They definitely have a lot to do with what we sound like now. I think it was a process of all of us learning how to speak the same musical language. By playing in a bunch of different groups together, we developed a way to communicate really effectively, both musically and personally. We bonded a lot, had a good time, and that made us be able to sit down and dive right in with Slothrust. It really informs our sound even to this day.
NUVO: Slothrust did a covers EP, where you covered songs by everyone from Britney Spears to Louis Armstrong. Which song on the EP did you personally enjoy covering the most?
BANN: The Britney Spears cover, “…Baby One More Time,” is a personal favorite of mine. Before we actually covered that as a band, it was a song I would practice bass to all the time because the bass line in it is fire. [laughs] It’s deceptively more complicated than it seems like it would be, so I always used to just practice it.
Will and I were jamming on it one day by ourselves, and Leah showed up at rehearsal. We were playing around with it and were like, “It’d be kind of funny if we played this.” We did it the first time, and it went really well. So it became part of the set from there.
NUVO: Were there any of the other covers that you enjoyed more than you expected?
BANN: “What a Wonderful World” was actually really, really fun. We were sort of looking for something to do around the holiday season last year. We were like, “What’s a holiday tune that isn’t necessarily Christmas-y? Oh yeah, ‘What a Wonderful World.’” That seemed to work out really well. We did a totally different thing than we normally do by keeping it quiet and mellow.
NUVO: You worked with Billy Bush [known for his work with Garbage] on your latest album The Pact. What did you all like about working with him?
BANN: Working with Billy was an incredible experience. That dude has made so many records before, so it was really nice just to have a really experienced ear at the table. He was able to help negotiate the different ideas that everybody was throwing around and narrow things down.
He definitely pushes you to try to play your best. He doesn’t necessarily give out a lot of approval in the studio. You’ll track something and think you did really well. And he’ll just be like [in a nonchalant tone], “Yeah. That was cool. Nice job.” He’s very sparing with the praise, so you’re always on your toes. Ultimately, I think the results are really cool because of that. Everybody was in there trying to play their best all the time.
NUVO: You’re performing in Indianapolis on Halloween, so I have a few Halloween-related questions for you. What’s the best costume you’ve ever had?
BANN: One time in college, I was Macho Man Randy Savage for Halloween, and that went over really well.
NUVO: Do you have a favorite Halloween movie?
BANN: I know there’s a new one out now, but the Halloween movies for sure. I like the original one with Jamie Lee Curtis. That movie definitely scared the life out of me when I was a child.
NUVO: Will Slothrust be taking the stage in costumes at HI-FI?
BANN: Probably. [laughs] We haven’t necessarily planned our costumes yet. But usually when we play on Halloween, we dress up in some manner. So you’ll have to show up and see what happens.