What inspired you to first start making music? And how did you come to be in your current incarnation? Or if you prefer, a brief bio about you.
I grew up in the small village of Wymeswold in the rural countryside of England’s East Midlands. There isn’t all that much for a kid to get up to there, but I was lucky to have parents who were in to music, and had great record collections, so I was listening to music a lot and was always excited about it. The second bit of amazing good luck was having a friend in the village who grew up playing the acoustic guitar, really a child prodigy, playing in folk clubs and such when he was just a little kid. As a teenager he was ready to do something noisier and not knowing any actual musicians of his own age, he just figured out his friends could figure out the rudiments of drums and bass. He was way in to Taste then, so I guess he wanted a power trio, or it may just have been that we didn’t have a fourth or fifth friend. I had learned one drum beat in a class at school so that was good enough. We started writing songs together and eventually I got bored of playing that one beat over and over again and decided to teach myself the guitar. Once I had the chords of C and A minor down, I was ready to start writing song after song after song, and I’ve pretty much never stopped, though I sometimes get crazy and throw in a D minor or a G every now and again now. I always wanted to have a proper band to play my own songs and when I moved to San Diego in 2014, I decided to actually try and make it happen, rather than just complaining about how it hadn’t happened. There is no exciting origin story for Slum Summer, sadly, it just involved weeding out a few craigslist weirdos to find first DJ, then Grant and finally Jen. The Slum Summer audition process involves first going for a drink and then, if you pass round one, trying to play some music together. This probably says a lot about Slum Summer’s priorities.
Provide us with some info about your latest release…
ABABO is our debut album. We recorded it ourselves at Ursula Polaris in San Diego, choosing a few of the many songs we had played and demoed over the previous year, and then using the eleven tracks that we felt came out the best. Jigsaw Records in Seattle were kind enough to release the album for us and we think it came out pretty great.
Which ones would you consider your main influences both music-wise & non-music-wise?
We all listen to lots of different kinds of music, but one thing we have in common is a fondness for indie guitar bands of the 1990s, and I think you can probably hear that when you listen to the record. For me, some key songwriting influences are The Mountain Goats (before he started to suck), Bobs Pollard and Dylan, Dear Nora, The Wave Pictures, Lou Reed, Owen Ashworth. We can’t deny trying to sound like Black Sabbath sometimes and like Thin Lizzy at others, and I also often try and write things like 70s Jackson Browne, but, luckily for everyone, the attempts are never very successful. As for non-musical influences, I tend to draw a lot of inspiration from films I’ve watched, books I’ve read, overheard conversations. I tend to keep a notebook nearby or a memo going on my phone to jot down when I hear, see, or think something that seems like it could be used in a song. Wikipedia and Google Maps are also excellent song-writing tools for me.
In what way does your sound differ from the rest genre-related artists/bands and why should we listen to your music? In other words, how would you describe your sound?
Why should you listen to Slum Summer’s music? Well, we’re not great self-promoters, but I definitely think we sound different from all the other bands we play with, partly because the song-writing approach seems to be different from other bands’, with a greater determination to avoid clichés and more of an interest in creating interesting scenes and ideas and questions in the listener’s minds. We are also laboring under no illusions of making any real money or achieving any of the kinds of “success” that other bands may still dream about in 2019, so you can be sure we are doing this solely because it’s fun for us, which hopefully translates into making it fun for other people to experience. Finally, you should listen to Slum Summer because it will make you more desirable and fascinating and happier and will enrich you in every possible sense.
Please name your 3 desert islands albums, movies & books…
This is way too hard, so let me try to do this in twenty seconds or so without agonizing:
Lift To Experience – The Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads
Bob Dylan – Blonde on Blonde
Guided By Voices – Alien Lanes
Night of the Hunter
Ham on Rye by Charles Bukowski
Ask The Dust by John Fante
Farewell My Lovely by Raymond Chandler
Do you prefer studio or performing live and why?
Live! It happens in a bar! And DJ and Grant don’t have as much chance to faff about with all their equipment.
Is there any funny-unique story you would like to share with us, always in relation to your music ‘career’?
Ummm, I don’t think anything especially “funny-unique” has happened to Slum Summer. We always think it’s funny when people compare us to other bands (They Might Be Giants, REM, Jawbox, and the band from that Tom Hanks movie “That Thing You Do,” are just a few of the more outré examples)
Which track of your own would you point out as the most unique and why?
I would direct you to the song ‘Bobby,’ just because that seems like the best one we have recorded and is probably a pretty accurate summary of what we do.
Would you like to share with our readers your future plans?
We already have enough songs for our next record, so we will probably try and record that in the Summer. Otherwise, we just want to play more shows, hopefully including a few outside of San Diego. I was just talking to a friend today about going to play in Japan, so that would be a fun thing to do some time soon-ish.
Free question!!! (Ask yourself a question) you wish to answer and haven’t been given the opportunity.
If you could have the career trajectory of any band in history, who would you pick?
This is something I think about pretty often! I’ve never wanted to be “famous” or even rich, but I do hate working a day job, so I feel like the sweet spot is someone like Babybird. One big hit that still gets makes him money by being played on the radio every day in many different countries, big enough to have someone put out his records and book shows for him, but obscure enough that he probably goes months at a time without anyone telling him he looks just like the guy from Babybird. That sounds great to me, but he may very well be bitter and desperately sad about the career he’s had, so you never know!
I am just now realizing that Babybird never really made it to the USA, so let’s say, for comparison, Deep Blue Something (“Breakfast at Tiffany’s”) but if they made a few albums before and after and were still playing shows. Also, check out Babybird’s “You’re Gorgeous,” America!
Curated by: Christos Doukakis
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