… and there was much rejoicing throughout the land.
Due to be released on the 3rd of June, How to Keep from Falling off a Mountain will be available in vinyl from the band’s website or as a download from Bandcamp. A digital download card is included with each vinyl purchase, and both sites are currently accepting preorders.
From the official press release: “Slowness will release their second LP, How to Keep from Falling off a Mountain, on June 3, 2014. The record was produced by Monte Vallier (Weekend, The Soft Moon, Wax Idols) and Geoffrey Scott, and was mastered by Kramer (Low, Galaxie 500). It will be released on vinyl through Blue Aurora Audio and will be distributed digitally through Bandcamp and iTunes. The band will kick off a European tour to support the record in Leipzig, Germany on June 13, 2014.”
The album seems to have seven tracks. I say, “seems”, because the digital download includes an eighth track which, according to the note on Bandcamp, “is the composite of tracks 4-7 mastered as one continuous song with transitions as heard on the vinyl version.”
I’m only about halfway through my first listening to an advance copy, and I would have to say that this second album differs substantially more from For Those Who Wish to See the Glass Half Full than that first album did from Hopeless but Otherwise.
You won’t hear it as much on this song, but here is a teaser:
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Speaking of teasers… When I emailed Slowness to congratulate them on the upcoming release, Julie replied, “I hope you are going to like the record. I think it is another departure!” I was left thinking, “that’s it; that’s all you’re going to say about the new album?” I couldn’t let it go at that, so I wrote back, asking for more details. That brought Geoffrey into the discussion, and what follows is a kind of mini-interview that resulted from our email exchanges.
NWs: Do you see [this departure] as a continuation away from the more overtly Shoegazeyness of Hopeless but Otherwise along the same trajectory as For Those Who Wish to See the Glass Half Full, or does it veer off in another direction altogether?
Geoffrey: We never really thought about any of that. I originally wanted to have a “drone band” but couldn’t get away from making Pop songs. So we prefer to think of ourselves as a Drone Pop band.
I think Hopeless but Otherwise was Shoegazey (if that’s a word) because we layered the hell out of the guitars and I was playing primarily in an open tuning. We didn’t know what we were doing because it was our first time in the studio so we just blasted away and made loops and layers and so forth.
These new songs and those on For Those Who Wish to See the Glass Half Full are more carefully constructed and recorded. They’re more refined and, therefore, a departure from a genre that we hadn’t intended to fall under.
NWs: Are these departures planned. Are they aimed at achieving a certain sound, or do they just happen as you guys work through the song-writing process?
Geoffrey: Nothing is planned. You just start playing, and demoing, and recording, and rerecording, and editing, and when you’ve mixed it and mastered it, you go: “Oh, so it sounds like this, eh?” I also played a lot more in standard tuning this time, so it sounds less alien, I suppose, though “Mountain” seems to be more of a throwback to Hopeless but Otherwise―I guess.
NWs: Is it still the three of you in the band?
Geoffrey: Well, there are four at the moment. We had five playing live for a while―to add a second guitar, but the band that will tour Europe is me and Jules, with Scott Putnam on drums and Greg Dubrow, who started playing bass with us about a year and a half ago.
Jules and I also have a New York contingent for shows we do there. She and I think of it as more of a revolving collective. There were eight people who played on the new record.
NWs: How did this European tour come about?
Geoffrey: Because people in the U.S. just want to get drunk and talk while you play… or check their cell phones. In the U.S., no one buys our records at shows―or at all, really, but people in Europe do buy our records, and I suspect the audiences will actually listen to us.
Now, I’m generalizing, and could come off as disrespectful to all the wonderful people in the U.S. who do buy our records and come to our shows, but those people are the exception. At our level, the rule here in the States is a bit of a bummer.
Shows are a royal hustle and, unless you play at the Black Cat in DC, where everyone gets a green room, a pitcher of beer, dinner, and bottled water, you generally don’t get treated well. This is why, if we do play in the U.S., we like to play in garages or in churches or in art spaces. Or at our home base, the Hemlock, in San Francisco, which we love―but even there, the last time we played, we were being pushed out of the place after the show by a bouncer who thought of us more as farm animals than as regular guests, let alone performers who help the place make money every time we play there.
So, all in all, we thought, “why struggle here, when we can go across the pond, where people seem more interested anyway?”
NWs: Where are you going?
Geoffrey: Germany, Poland, Czech Republic and Denmark.
NWs: Why those countries?
Geoffrey: Because there seems to be a Middle-European and Scandanavian interest in our music.
NWs: Why do you think that is?
Geoffrey: I have no idea. Maybe, because we have cultural roots in those places?
NWs: Who is booking and managing the tour?
Geoffrey: We are. We have no outside help. No booking agent, no tour manager, no promoter, no nothing. Total DIY. I’d argue that we’re one of the only indie bands in the U.S. that’s doing such a thing. Maybe I’m naive and maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t know of any other bands like us doing it.
We tried going the booking agent route, but we started to get requests for guaranteed crowds and all that malarkey. So we abandoned that method and did it ourselves, booking more DIY places with bands from over there. Julie did most of the work.
NWs: What do you think of this whole new world of indie music? Is it a good thing or a bad thing?
Geoffrey: A mixed world of good and bad. Good, because we can get our stuff heard all over the planet. Bad, because, essentially, Indie Rock is still a club of sorts, and, if you’re not on the inside, aligned with a little, hipper-than-thou label, you’re on the outside. But that’s never been a strange place for me to be.