Sloucher Forge Their Own Guitar Rock Sound With Impressive Debut ‘Be True’ (INTERVIEW)

Guitar rock is increasingly hard to find these days, especially if you’re looking for something with a little more substance than Greta Van Fleet. Lucky for us, it is alive and well in the Pacific Northwest with Seattle band Sloucher. Though the group isn’t super well-known outside of the Emerald City, they have built a considerable following after being featured on the taste-making indie station KEXP and playing shows to excited fans who crave the glorious cacophony of shredding guitars. Perhaps because of the musical history of their home base, the band has drawn comparisons to the likes of Nirvana and Elliott Smith, but if you listen to their debut album Be True you’ll quickly realize that Sloucher is also forging their own sound.

The album is an impressive debut as each song hooks the listener with infectious choruses and melodies. This isn’t a group of kids thrashing around in a garage, it’s a group of serious musicians who have as much of a penchant for writing pop-tinged rock songs as they do for taking guitar solos. Clearly, these guys have done their homework and listened to the early releases of local labels like Sub Records to create a sound that definitely takes the listener back to the late 80s and early 90s when DIY rock bands were writing killer songs and actually getting record deals. At times there is a dreamy slacker rock vibe, like on “Be True”, “Complacent”, and the wonderfully mellow “Here”, while songs like “Perfect For You” and “Waiting To Start” exude grunge with a heavier sound. Ultimately, Be True is the kind of album that gives you hope for rock music and it surely ranks among the best of 2018. Recently the bandleader and songwriter Jay Clancy took the time to chat about the new album, the musical influences of the Pacific Northwest, the band’s origins playing house shows, and much more.

What did the inspiration for your band name come from?

I slouched a lot during high school and people would call me sloucher. My friend Ryan and I thought it would be a cool band name. Years later we were out to dinner and I was agonizing over what my new band’s name would be. I’d completely forgotten about it when he said: “Dude, what about Sloucher?” My posture has significantly improved since starting this band.

You’ve been compared to both Nirvana and Elliott Smith. Do you think those are accurate comparisons in your minds, and do those kind of comparisons feel more inevitable being from the Pacific Northwest?

It is not only accurate; it’s an honor. Being compared to artists like Nirvana and Elliott Smith seems somewhat inevitable because I’m a huge nerd for those artists. I was drawn to music that I knew was made close to me, and I made a point of seeking it out. Maybe I’d be bummed if people were comparing us to Macklemore or Cherry Poppin’ Daddies just because of the PNW affiliation, but I’d also get a good laugh out of it.

Is there a Pacific Northwest sound these days, and if so can you describe it?

Melody-centric and a little rough around the edges. Super catchy but still raw. There’s always something slightly off, maybe due to the Vitamin-D deficiency. There’s always a little hint of darkness. A lot of us Pacific Northwesterners don’t spend a lot of time outside for a large part of the year, because it’s cold and rainy. That’s why you hear so many good bands coming out of this area; the weather kind of forces you to stay indoors a lot. What else are you going to do but practice your instrument? Video games never really did it for me anyway.

Do you think growing up going to house shows had an effect on how you approach music now, and perhaps your motivation to play guitar rock?

Absolutely. I’ve been to plenty of house shows where the first performer has a laptop and a keyboard. People are bored and yawning and talking over the music. Then a rock band plays next and everyone pays attention, cause you kind of have to. It’s cathartic being that close to the loud amps and cymbals, or to accidentally get elbowed in the face, or to feel the condensation dripping from the ceiling. Though, that’s also disgusting. I’ve played plenty of house shows where someone spills their drink on my gear. It’s an intimate experience.

You spent a lot of your time recording the new album just focused on getting the guitar parts, yet at times the album feels real loose in terms of the grooves and the guitar playing. What was your process like for putting everything together?

Most of the basic tracks were recorded live to 2″ tape with the four of us standing in a room together. We wanted to capture what the band actually sounds like, and allow some of the natural tempo fluctuations to happen. It’s never a good idea to make a guitar rock song with 150 tracks and then try to pull it off live. A lot of the guitars ended up getting overdubbed and layered for stereophonic pleasure purposes, aka “beef”, but I feel like we did a pretty good job of staying true to the vibe of the live song. We didn’t really allow ourselves to overthink it. Well, we also didn’t have the budget to overthink it.

Was the approach behind writing and recording this album a different one than you have taken in the past?

They say you have your whole life to write your first record. I took my time on our first EP because I was writing and playing almost everything, and putting the band together during that process. It was all recorded in my friend Brandon’s basement. The process was much different this time around because the lineup of band members solidified, and it allowed me to be more collaborative with songwriting. We managed to save up enough money to track at a real studio, take time off from work, and immerse ourselves in recording for 12 straight days. It was so much fun and much different than the entire year I spent making the first record.

You created a playlist of songs that you wanted the album to reflect before recording. Who were some of the artists on the playlist and do you have any examples of songs or moments in songs that were specifically inspired by something on the playlist?

Most of the playlist contains “tone” goals. We included songs that had great guitar tones, or amazing drum sounds, or cool vocal effects. It’s a pretty awesome playlist, created by the four of us. I’m not sure how else we would jump from Slint to Eric Church, then Sheryl Crow to Unwound, Ovlov to Sam Evian, etc. The most intentionally influenced song on the record is probably “Here”; we wanted it to be like Sloucher’s version of an Acetone song.

Have you found that Seattle embraces guitar rock these days?

We have been pleasantly surprised by the local response to our music. We were starting to worry that guitar rock was dead. Seattle seems to still have an appreciation for people that actually play acoustic instruments. Way to go, Seattle.

Are there plans to tour behind this release?

We plan to do a lot of shorter PNW and West Coast runs, as much as we can handle while keeping our day jobs. There has been talk of an East Coast (mostly NYC) tour come spring or summer. We are all still trying to rack up miles on our credit cards. Now accepting offers for opening slots on better-known band’s tours, wink wink 😉

Be True is out today on Swoon Records. For more music and info visit slouchermusic.com.

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