Thank you for taking the time to answer a couple of questions for us. For our readers who are not familiar with Slabdragger, could you please tell us a bit about the band, the history of the band and the bandmembers?
Hi, thanks a lot. Slabdragger was formed in 2008 by myself, Sam (Thredder, guitarist/vocalist) and original drummer Matt Byrne. We all knew each other before forming the band through our local circle of bands and mates. Sam recorded a demo of 'Splice The Mainbrace' which later would appear on Regress. After recording that first demo, he asked Matt and I if we wanted to do a band of this kind of sludgy/stoner music and we said yes. The rest is history.
Your first album ‘Regress’ was an instant classic in the UK doom/sludge scene. How do you look back on that album? Being your first, I can imagine that releasing it and playing the songs live must have felt great?
I look back fondly at ‘Regress’. It's the only band I've ever been in that just went straight to writing an album and releasing without doing loads of demo's first. The process was pretty slow but very fluid getting those songs together. It took us a little while to find our tone in the beginning. When we started gigging, we only had about half the album written, so we kept an equal balance of writing and playing from the very beginning. Once Holy Roar agreed to release it, we started to play more shows and we got a lot of positive feedback and exposure once it came out. More than I expected, anyway! So to play those songs to people who really enjoyed them was awesome.
’Regress’ was released about six years ago. With your second album ‘Rise Of The Dawncrusher’ being released just now, I cannot help but wonder what happened over the last six years? What caused this delay?
There were many reasons. Members joining and leaving, recording difficulties, procuring better equipment to make it sound the best we could, Sam suffering a collapsed lung, to name just a few. Not just that, but Sam records all our stuff from his studio, so we have to work around his schedule whether he has a band in or not. Also, we don't like to rush writing our music. I don't believe there should be a set time in which to make a record. I've just reeled off a load of excuses but ultimately a record will come when it is ready.
’Rise Of The Dawncrusher’ sounds recognizable, yet with a bigger progressive touch to it. How would you compare the writing and recording process of both albums? Was this a difficult second to write and record
I wouldn't say it was difficult to write. Everything we wrote came from a natural place. But we did make a conscious decision to try different things we didn't do on Regress. Some of it is more progressive sounding merely because we like to get intricate with song structure and riffs. I think progressive influence in sludge/doom is a glorious combination. Writing Regress was like the prototype for what our sound is. Once that was in place, we had a reference point in which to jump away from with '...Dawncrusher'.
On a musical level, what are the band’s main influences? How have these influences evolved over the years and how did they affect the way you approach writing new music?
We have so many influences. But ultimately we use our influences in small doses. It's like putting a puzzle together. We listen to all sorts of stuff from jazz/fusion, grindcore, hip hop, punk rock and that's just the tip of the iceberg.
Your music sounds like a mix of stoner, doom, sludge, progressive psychedelica and even straight-forward hardcore, but the whole is drenched in a sci-fi atmosphere. Could you tell our readers some more about the lyrical content and the artwork on ‘Rise Of The Dawncrusher’? Are you guys big sci-fi loving ‘nerds’?
Well, me and Sam sat around thinking what we would do after ‘Regress’. We decided to go to space with this record. It ended up being a huge concept record with a story and narrative and characters. It's a story about three mercenaries that are on the run and they find themselves at the mercy of an intergalactic mob boss who forces them to destroy planet earth using a mythological ship used to drain planets of its core for resources. The artwork was done by Jimmy Pearson, a comic writer and artist. He captured our vision amazingly. He really did a brilliant job. Lyrically, the album pretty much follows a story along to the music. I'd say we like bits and pieces of sci-fi here and there. We wanted this album to be like a cross between the movie Heavy Metal and the comic, The Incal.
Have you played the new songs live yet? And if so, how were the reactions of the audience to it?
We have been playing three out of five of the new songs live for quite a while now. They seem to go down pretty well! We have a gig scheduled in the UK soon where we will be playing the album in its entirety. I have very much enjoyed playing these songs live as we spent five years playing the songs from Regress. I still love those songs but it got to a point where we got bored and had to move on.
So, new album equals new tour I guess? Do you have a tour planned? When can we expect to see Slabdragger in The Netherlands or Belgium for example? And do you like being on the road?
We actually just did two dates in the Netherlands. We played Venlo and Amsterdam. We had a good time. The Netherlands is so much more chilled out than London. We will be planning on touring Europe more in the future. I like being on the road. I'm traveling doing what I love. What can beat that?!
How do you see the future of Slabdragger? Since there was already a clear evolution in sound between the first two albums, how do you see your sound evolving in the future? Or are you a band that prefers not to plan too much, instead see what happens and how things turn out?
We are a band that likes to see what happens, you can't over plan art too much. You have to let nature take its course to a certain extent. But one thing is for sure, we like to make sure we keep things different with each record without losing our core sound. We are also planning a split with a band called Wren who are awesome.
Thank you very much again for this interview. If there is anything you feel I missed or did not ask you about, now is the time! The famous last words are all yours!
Thank you very much. If you keep listening, we'll keep playing.