Slug Guts – Drilling The Anus Of Culture A New Hole

Slug Guts are drilling the anus of culture a new hole, one record at time. Their current long player, Howlin’ Gang (Sacred Bones), tips its sweat-stained Stetson in the general direction of the swamplands as it attitudinally crashes on your couch for a spell. 15-songs recorded in 24-hours straight, in a horrible house in Brisbane, Howlin’ Gang is dark-pop menace versus gothic splendour. Slug Guts hit below the belt till the bell rings. I’ve said this once before, but it bears repeating; there’s an authenticity here that’s rare in these days of lowest common denominator rock and/or roll. Wherever everyone else is going, Slug Guts are going elsewhere. Somewhere the sun don’t shine, somewhere they wear sunglasses after dark. If you like the kind of fuss the Cramps used to make, you’ll dig Howlin Gang and its rumbles, its underbelly odes, its hymns to nocturnal pursuits. It’s not all doom and gloom, however, there are traces of sugar smeared all over the other side of the coin, moments of fragile beauty that leer out of the inky blackness like a sad clown’s face on a ghost train ride. Just enough hope to stay focused, just enough pleasure to come again. Seemingly recording, releasing and touring at will, Slug Guts are one of the most prolific groups on the planet right now. I recently caught up with the band’s Jimi Kritzler to bring you this:

Tell us about the birthing pains of Slug Guts?

I guess It began I guess with JD and I. We were sitting around at this house waiting to pick up and there were these other guys waiting, and we were listening in on their conversation and it turns out they were picking up stuff to help with an armed robbery they were planning for that night…so they would be wide eyed and alert I guess. They were older guys we knew through other people, but not that well. After half an hour waiting for the man and talking to these guys, they asked us how our driving skills were and kinda asked if we wanted to be the getaway drivers. We were down to our last $100 and it was about to get spent, so we said we would have a think and call them. Me and JD talked about it for a while and decided it was the shittest idea or offer we had received in a long time. So we bailed and went back to this fucked place I was living. It was this house on the edge of this weird part of town and it just had this strange feeling to it. You would wake up in the morning and there would be a meth heads scratching and digging under their skin and bleeding all through the front yard. So we were sitting there, proceeded to get out of our minds and were pacing back and forth in the bedroom. There were instruments in the house and we decided that we would have a bash for something to do to take our minds off shit and alleviate the boredom. We just wanted to start a band that sounded as fucked, messed up and weird as our daily lives were at that time. We are saints now. We asked Falco to play even though we thought he was a complete piece of shit and didn’t like him. It worked out well, those dudes doing the robbery got caught and went to jail and we got a hit record and toured America and Japan.

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After a mere four months as a band, you elected to record your debut album, Down On The Meat (Stained Circles) – is that an executive decision you’re still pleased with?

Yeah, no regrets. I haven’t really listened to it since it came out but it represents that time in our lives perfectly. It is strange though, the albums which have followed aren’t as messed up and ugly but the situations that gave birth to the newer songs are weirder, more fucked and ugly. But yeah, I wouldn’t change a thing.

You describe your home town of Brisbane as desolate and depressing . . . C’mon, have you ever been to Wolverhampton? Surely things can’t be that bad?

Never been to Wolverhampton. We don’t describe out town as desolate and depressing. I think whoever wrote the PR stuff which went with Howlin’ Gang LP wrote that sentence. Brisbane can be a little desolate and depressing but I wouldn’t describe it as that as a first thought. ‘Hellhole’ comes to mind.

Every feature on Slug Guts mentions The Birthday Party – But I hear more of The Cramps singing The Triffids – what have Slug Guts got in their influence satchel?

I think as time goes by I have realized no matter what we do, writers always mention the Birthday Party. I think it is misguided and lazy and happens because of the fact both bands are from Australia and play/played a musical form that is rooted in southern American music. Obviously, both bands explore a musical terrain that isn’t complete opposites, but at the same point lyrically, aesthetically and musically the two bands do not share much in common. The Triffids are brilliant, but at some points they are so heinously dated and sound like a Perth Tourism commercial, but they are great. We also sound nothing like them.

Who do Slug Guts rate in the rich tapestry that is Australian punk rock lineage?

As in old timers? Venom P, Feedtime, Whirlywirld, Laughing Clowns, Leftovers, Buffalo, Primitive Calculators, Xero, Sunnyboys.

There’s a lot of talk these days of retro-fixated new bands – folks moaning there’s nothing new under the sun – as far as we’re concerned, influences are there to be transcended, and anyone who does it with grace, style, wit and passion is OK by us – which side of the bed do Slug Guts get out of in that argument?

You would like to think that in spite of rock music being the anus of all culture, and despite the fact there is only so much innovation left in rock and roll, and despite the fact white boys playing rock and roll is such a tired form – despite all this, I think what we do is an honest representation of us and us alone. So I think yes, we transcend our reference points.

The new LP, Howlin’ Gang shows up on US hipster outlet Sacred Bones, how did you pull that one off? And, what do you make of the other acts on their roster?

Caleb and Taylor from Sacred Bones got in touch, sent us a huge cheque and then flew us to America to wine and dine us. Other acts? Religious Knives, Pop12.80, Cult of Youth, Naked on the Vague, Circle Pit all write songs I can appreciate. Zola Jesus is gonna be a superstar.

In terms of sound, Howlin’ Gang shows a marked progression from Down On The Meat – how did that transpire?

We didn’t want to repeat ourselves. I think Howlin’ Gang sounds like that brief period where you don’t realize you are ruining your life, you are just having a good time. I think it is an optimistic record even though it was written in a time that wasn’t particularly optimistic or positive.

We understand the new LP was recorded pretty much ‘live’ in a few takes – you have a growing reputation as quick workers in a studio – is this dictated by costs, or is that the way you like to work?

I guess, both. We know what we are doing and can do it in a reasonably short time. The fact we have to hustle, beg, borrow and steal everything to make a record because money ain’t what we got loads of means when we go to record we always have 14 or so songs and we get it done within a couple of days.

The excellent ‘Down In The Morning Sun’ and ‘Angie’ augment your sound with female vocals and cello, recalling – on the former at least – early Triffids. Is this an aspect of your sound you help to develop further in the future?

No, I think that was solely for Howlin’ Gang. Although the third LP does have a few songs in that vein albeit more developed and slightly more downtrodden.

You recently played out in the States for the first time – how did you go down with US audiences?

America was wild and I think we kinda got into trouble more than we expected. There was fucked nights where we got into fights with Texan promoters who tried to rip us off, trips to the hospital, near deaths, stupid risks to get stupid shit, losing money, and getting hustled. But for all the bullshit we bring on ourselves, there were amazing shows – playing in Cleveland with Puffy Areolas and Sic Alps two nights in a row, playing with Psychedelic Horseshit in Ohio, The Sacred Bones show at SXSW, the phrase ‘Kurt Vile is worried about me’. Shit got even more wild than Japan, but we look out for one another so it is always six against anyone.

Have you got any plans to come to the UK soon?

I think we are touring Europe in November. We will be in the UK then for sure. Yes, we would love to stay at your house.

Considering the speed you guys work, can we expect LP number three by the end of the year?

The third LP is finished and just being mixed. A live LP just got released, or is about to, which is out through Negative Guest List Magazine. There is a 7” for the Hozac singles club due soon, too. The third LP might be a double LP or split in half to make the third and fourth LP – Use Your Illusion style.

What has the rest of 2011 got in store for Slug Guts?

I think hopefully another USA tour and Euro and finish the third record.

And finally, what other new Australian bands can you recommend to us?

HTRK (though they are more UK now) – the most interesting, bleak yet beautiful band Australia has produced in twenty years.  Lowlife, Repairs, UV Race, Blank Realm, Circle Pit’s new 7” “Honey”, Martyr Privates – there is some real shit coming out – real jams.

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To Order Howlin’ Bones direct, click HERE

Simon Morgan

Punk rocker, folk strummer, baby social worker, and parent, Simon Morgan is a polymath. He has brought you many things in his time – as Jean Encoule he created the legendary trakMARX website, but has now stepped from behind his alter ego to reveal his true, vibrant colours. Despite having gone prematurely orange, he maintains a youthful open-mindedness, which he combines with his vast experience and ready wit. His debut solo album, Domestic Abuse is now available. “Spirit/Is Life/It flows through/The death of me/ Endlessly/Like a River/ Unafraid/Of Becoming/The sea.” (Gregory Corso)

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Originally posted 2011-06-10 18:23:28. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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