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Leah Wellbaum of Slothrust Expounds on Influences, Music and Making It Through Life

                                                  

Leah Wellbaum is the sole guitarist and vocalist for the grunge-influenced indie rock band, Slothrust. Having been playing in the group for nearly a decade, Leah has made her signature brooding lyrics stick in listener's minds, and combined with the band's technical and inventive musicianship, it's earned them a sizeable indie following. Slothrust released their fourth album, The Pact, in September 2018 and have been on tour supporting it. We checked in with Leah to dig into the origins of the band, influences and how to pass time in a touring van.

 

    Slothrust met while attending Sarah Lawrence. Were you all musicians when you enrolled?

                                       Yeah. Yeah. Yes.

                                                      You can definitely tell that the band is a bit more technical than your average grunge band in some respects. What influences led to Slothrust?

                                       We studied blues and jazz with two really amazing teachers, which are Glenn Alexander and Matt Wilson. Matt Wilson's one of the head, top jazz drummers right now. And Glenn Alexander is an amazing guitarist in all respects. So we had played in blues and jazz groups together. We all can be accompanyists too. Like, yes, I'm a front person in this project, but at the same time I'm equally excited to just accompany another vocalist, another front person. We all really give a shit about older music. The new stuff right now, there is a lot of things that are still awesome about it, but we also, I think, are pretty traditional in some senses in terms of what we value in music.

                                                      You guys spend a lot of time together obviously as a band. What do you like doing outside of music?

                                         We played a really lackluster hand of cards the other night. Kyle invented a card game recently that we played in the car that was really cool. I gotta say I just really, really, really love Will and Kyle's personalities. And that makes this whole circumstance a lot easier. Because I think we all get along as friends. We share similar passions and have similar pastimes and want similar things in life. So that's nice.

                                                      Your songwriting is incredible but Will's drumming also stands out as a bit more elevated than other bands in your genre.

                                      Yeah. Will's the shit. I've worked with him for a really long time. He works really hard and he's really... Honestly, he's one of the most special people I've ever met in my life. You know, drumming aside, he's just a very kind, special individual. He and I really see each other in a specific way and in terms of playing, he's flexible and he's down to work. And I still find it exciting to jam with these people and I think that's really special and uncommon.

                                                      If you weren't doing music, what do you think you'd be doing right now?

                              I've been asked this question before and it's hard to answer because the other thing I do besides music is teach music.

                                                       Some people are like "If it wasn't for music, I'd probably hang myself" or something to that extent.

                                 I don't think I'd kill myself or anything. I mean, you know, we all have our times, but I like to teach. I'm happy working with kids. I'm happy working with adults. I like to spread music as a means not to draw financial success, but as a form of not only self expression, but focus. Because in the end we're all so tortured by our own minds and having something to focus on sort of detracts from that. This is a good quote I'm giving you.

                                                      Nice. Was there a certain time that you felt Slothrust was finally picking up? You did the Jam in the Van, but was there a moment where you were like, "Okay. This band might stay together for a few years?"

                                         No. I always knew we'd stay together but I think it's pretty clear to all of us that we're a slow burner. But we don't really give a shit. That's fine. We'll just slow burn forever if we want to. If not, then not. We probably will. I don't know. I like these people. They like me. It's all good.

                                                      “Magnets Part Two” is my favorite song of yours. I'm just guessing here, but is that about addiction?

                                      I guess I'll be explicit with you because this question has been asked to me particularly frequent amount. I feel like my syntax is shitty right now. I wish it was better. That's about my old roommate Jack. He ended up killing himself in, I think, 2011. I thought about him very frequently. I had trouble processing all of it because I was in the situation where I needed to graduate from college. And I wanted to do what he wanted me to do and I wanted to do whatever felt right for everyone. Whatever that means. It doesn't really mean anything. But yeah, I guess, to sum it up it's about losing someone that you weren't ready to lose but eventually you have to gain acceptance in that. Because if you don't, you'll just be tortured forever. And if you and that person had a certain kind of lock, which Jack and I did, then they wouldn't want you to be tortured forever.

                                                      Lou Reed or Bowie?

                                     I hate that you asked me that. I just hate that you asked me that. That's about it.

                                                      Beer or wine?

                                     If I had to die with either in a goblet in my hand I would pick wine because it's closer to blood.

                                                      Paradise Rock Club or Roseland Ballroom?

                                       Didn't exist when I was growing up. Paradise did but it didn't let people under 21 in and Roseland Ballroom, I don't think it existed. So fuck both those places. Access and Avalon forever. Neither exist. Fuck what's happened to Boston. The police destroyed it. We used to have a good punk scene. And they took that away from us because of noise ordinance. And everyone can go and-

                                                      Fuck themselves?

                                     ... have a bad old time.

                                                      If you had to pick anybody to share the stage with, who would you pick and why?

                                         Oh, I'd pick John Fahey. He could come on and do some amazing finger picking set during any song and I would be so pleased to hear that melodic contour. That's it.

 

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Slothrust announces new album + tours with Highly Suspect in the fall

Today, Brooklyn alt rockers Slothrust debuted "Horseshoe Crab," the first single off their third LP "Everyone Else." The band also announced a fall tour together with Highly Suspect, another NYC alt rock trio that has gathered  a considerable amount of buzz in the last year, and who delivered its best single yet at the beginning of 2016 with "Bloodfeathre" (streaming). The local date will be at Rough Trade on November 1.

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Slothrust returns from SXSW to play Baby's All Right on 03.26

Bringing a technical touch to grunge-tinged garage rock, Brooklyn via Boston trio Slothrust offers a lot that a listener can latch onto. Lead singer, Leah Wellbaum, delivers her lyrics with angst, passion, and subtle sarcasm that permeates each song distinctly. Humor and dark themes coalesce seamlessly as the band's personality is put on full display in front of spot-on musicianship. While the band has been a slow burn in terms of popularity, their 2013 album 'Of Course You Do' reached many hearts, displaying the talent, charm, and uniqueness of this group. After three years, they are due for a new record. -  Lee Ackerley

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Slothrust tours with Cymbals Eat Guitars + opens for The Kills at Bowery on 10.23

At the 2014 edition of the CMJ Music Marathon, Brooklyn's Slothrust will be one of the NYC bands to keep an ear on (or two). Offering a very personal reinterpretation of the loud/quiet/loud sound of the rock of the 90s (but sparing us from the raspy vocals revival), their 2013 album 'Of Course You Do' has been a little bit of a sleeper, but allowed the band to keep gaining momentum and conquering fans with each live appearance. They just announced they are scheduled to tour with Cymbal Eats Guitars in the fall and to open for The Kills at the Bowery Ballroom on CMJ Thursday (10.23).

Songs by Slothrust are included in The Deli's playlist of Best slacker rock/garage songs by emerging NYC artists - check it out!

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Slothrust unveils two videos + supports Ben Kweller at Bowery on 04.06

Few bands these days succeed in spreading their sound over genres the way Brooklyn’s Slothrust do. At one moment, blues and folk-infused verses instill a mellow, dull ache; the next, a writhing whirlwind of metal jolts and throbs in agony. The trio embodies the Brooklyn grunge reinassaince, and stands out with their versatility. One thing remains constant throughout: the beautifully bleak and haunting vocals of front-lady Leah Wellbaum, creating soundscapes of depravity, longing and darkness.
Keeping with their diverse style, Slothrust already released two unnerving videos in 2014: paying homage to their roots, they went full metal with the cover of Black Sabbath’s "Electric Funeral," while with the claymated "No Eye Candy" (streaming) they explored the colorful world of limb amputation. They will be supporting Ben Kweller on a string of East Coast dates this May, landing at Bowery Ballroom on the 6th. – JP Basileo

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