Ruthless X Slothrust: On Being Labelled, Being Young and “Everyone Everything”

“I don’t have anything in common with myself/except that I came from the sea, like everyone else did.”
If I had to give someone a snapshot of Slothrust’s latest album “Everyone Everything”, I would read them these lines from “Horseshoe Crab”. The isolating subjectivity, the paradoxical sameness of origin, the water imagery – these might seem clichéd themes for a blues-grunge-punk trio, but you’ve never heard them quite like this. Lyrics that at first listen appear naïve or abstract are recognisable as brutally accurate when repeated with catchy guitar riffs in a voice that is by turns airy, tired, powerful, apathetic. – but always compelling.

The Brooklyn band first emerged with self-released The Demos in 2010, with two full-length albums (and a hell of a lot of touring) before the new album. “Everyone Everything” exhibits the same punk honesty , pop hooks and lingering bluesy chords that their fans have come to expect with the best lyricism of their career so far. Probably best described as the lovechild of Morning Teleportation, Paramore and Diety Cig, “Everyone Everything” is the sound of a band that just keeps getting better.

We spoke to bassist Kyle Bann about the new album.

First things first – why “Slothrust”?

People were drunk one time. Later we discovered nothing else comes up if you google it.

You’ve been described as grunge revivalist, indie-rock and guitar music – does the constant labelling bother you, and do you see yourselves as part of a scene?

I do feel like the “Grunge” label has always been applied to us, mostly out of a lack of a better label to use. It’s kind of a thing that gets slapped on every band that plays rock too hard to be “just rock” and not hard enough to be metal. At least people have the sense not to call us “modern rock.” We used to all live in Brooklyn and go to our friends’ bands’ shows. There definitely is a scene there, with a lot of people making new and inventive music all the time. There’s a ton of cross-pollination of styles and ideas.

Your sound has mellowed with “Everyone Everything”, but the lyrics are more hard-hitting than ever – has your writing process changed since The Demos?

The process remains remarkably the same, results may vary.

The latest album came out right in the middle of last year’s emo resurgence and the rapid rise of a bunch of super talented “guitar bands” (Sundara Karma, Blossoms etc.), and coincided with my own personal (Spotify-based) renewed love of punk. Do you think music-lovers are less afraid to be angsty right now?

If you watched the same 2016 I did, you might agree that we all have some pretty good reasons to be angsty right now. I don’t think it can be helped. Real feelings are the ones hardest to control.

I love the use of water imagery to play with feelings of dissociation and submersion in “Everyone Everything” and I know Leah’s also worked on The Fucking Ocean mini-series – what is it about the sea that fascinates you so much?

Like, what ISN’T fascinating about it? There’s this whole, giant section of our planet, where people can’t even really go, and where undiscovered creatures that defy imagination dwell. The ocean doesn’t give a shit about you, me or anyone else. I find that very comforting.

You’re masters of catchy riffs in a very punk way, and lyrically, I feel like you’ve got song writing down to a crisis-inducing fine art, especially for a young audience, with so much of the album about youth (my favourite line is probably “I feel like a foetus because my eyes are not open”). You’ve said before that you feel like you understand your music better in retrospect – would you also say the same about youth or adolescence?

Everything’s clearer in the rear view mirror – except my adolescence, those years are a haze.

Do you guys have a favourite track?

“Trial & Error”

You’ve been busy touring for a long time now – how’s the minivan life treating you?

Our vans have never been “mini.” Tour is a fickle animal. You’re likely to have some of both the best and worst days of your life. If you’re lucky, they’ll all eventually turn into good stories to tell at the bar. We get along really well and generally have a good time. We have our fun little traditions and games and stuff, like making a point to go to the movies together on a night off every tour!

And, finally, who are you listening to right now?
Diet Cig, Sharon Jones and Slipknot.

Words by: Amardeep Singh Dhillon

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