For a band just emerging on the “bombastic, irreverent rock ‘n’ roll” music scene, this duo has already made their mark a memorable one with their debut album, Sack Lunch. While Slim Wray continually works hard to hone their skills and make their dream an even more realized reality, they also play hard, never losing sight of the fact that music is an art form that should be shared and appreciated, and that the act of making music ought to always be passionate, alive, spontaneous, and, most importantly, fun. Their outlook is refreshing in a musical world in which being commercialized has become more important than being an artist, and their colorful and inspired thoughts are well worth reading.
Sack Lunch is your debut record. How long have you two been playing together, and when did you know that you wanted to pursue a rock ‘n’ roll band? What’s your story?
We’ve been playing together since 2005 when Chris found an ad in the Village Voice for a band called Ten Pound Strike, which Howzr was playing guitar for. He came down to the city from upstate and auditioned for the band while a knife wielding stripper danced around with her nipples on fire – our ‘amps’ went to 11 that day and things have never been the same. We’ve both been playing in bands since we were young, there’s no explaining it; once you are in the grips of the mighty rock and roll gods, there’s really no escaping – it’s kind of a lifestyle, not a choice.
You have a lot of east coast shows listed on your upcoming tour dates. When do you hope to have a national tour in the works?
We’re planning a tour of the South in early 2014, then hopefully out west in the Spring or Summer. In the meantime, we plan to circle around the Northeast until we’ve spent at least one night in each city’s “House of D.” Saves money on hotel rooms and the room service’s 35% buttermilk and mystery meat sandwiches are always certain to leave you full.
Who would you say that, as individuals, you have been most inspired and influenced by musically over the years?
Howzr: Kurt Cobain and Jack White are at the top of my list. They both arrived at times when rock reached a point of stale, over-constructed monotony and found a way to cut through it all and remind us what rock should be: emotional, primal, unexpected, bluesy, yet sorta irreverent. Also, I really look up to Eric Burton (of the Animals) and John Fogerty for their amazing, gritty “blue-eyed soul” voices.
Chris: I love the raw power and creative simplicity of Dave Grohl’s playing. He knows he’s a rock drummer – he’s not a studio drummer. He doesn’t play reggae or jazz – he plays heavy rock beats that compliment the music without stepping on the vocals. I think it’s important to know what type of musician you are and hone in on your own personal flavor and style of playing.
What types of venues have been your favorite to play at and why? Bars, clubs, festivals, etc.? Is there anywhere you haven’t played before that you would love to perform at?
We like to keep things dirty and sleazy in your typical rock n’ roll dive. Our fans are a bunch of drunks. They know it, we know it. Well whiskey shots and PBR backs sustain us.
As a newer group trying to break into the music industry, what do you think are the biggest obstacles facing musicians today? In contrast, what are the advantages or benefits of today’s world for a musician?
Obstacles – besides Miley Cyrus ‘twerking’ all over peoples faces…? The Internet and social media are both a plus and negative for musicians today. The negative side is that technology is turning us all into A.D.D zombies, making it tougher to get people’s attention. It’s a big difference from the days when MTV and every radio station blasted GNR all day. You really didn’t have much choice then. Now there is infinite choice, so you really have to work hard to stand out. On the flip side, social media gives up-and-coming artists a way to reach the masses, cheaply, without going through the usual gatekeepers. It’s very democratic. We’re planning a music video where it’s a mash-up of different dudes getting hit in the balls. It will get 10 million views on YouTube. Guaranteed. If we can fit into the shot a cat’s face in toast, we might get that number up to 30 million…(auditioning ‘toast cats’, please call.)
Technology has also made the live show more important again. It’s one thing to listen to a computerized song on a computer, alone in your bedroom. But it’s another thing to hear it live: to be a part of the party, sweat with the band, feel the kick drum rattle your rib cage, and wake up in a gutter with a mouth tasting of ash. You can’t download that.
Is there any specific message, theme, or style you’d like your music to convey to your listeners?
Have fun, don’t be so serious, not everything needs to be perfect…perfect is boring. Life’s too short to not take chances, so go out on a limb and make an ass of yourself, grab a woman and give her a big kiss, drink till the sun comes out, moon a police officer…RUN!
What’s your best advice for anyone trying to “make it” in the entertainment / music industry?
The music scene is really about community and having fun with like-minded people who enjoy creating art. Support the scene — go out and see local shows, shoot the shit with other artists, have fun! Listen to everything — different styles, old and new. Absorb it and throw your own fingerprint on it. We don’t really think there’s an equation to ‘make it’ — just enjoy the journey.
Interview by Jill Jacobs