Lower Slaughter are in Bristol for a gig following the release of their bloody superb new album Some Things Take Work. I found out a few weeks ago that Barney who plays bass with them is (like me) a big fan the improbably named 90’s lo-fi unit Thinking Fellers Union Local 282. It’s clear from the new album that the band have many influences that they bring to their sound. There is so much going on within the new album, massive riffs, noise, deeply personal and cathartic lyrics, all delivered within brilliantly crafted songs. We catch up for a very informal chat at the Old England pub before their gig with Henry Blacker and Pohl. A friendlier and more welcoming band you couldn’t hope to meet. Lower Slaughter are: Sinead – Vocals, Barney – Bass, Jon – Guitar and Graham – Drums.
I used to live near the Lower Slaughter village, it’s bizarre thinking what sort of place that is. Super conservative, super expensive, super bland and you guys have co-opted their name…
Barney – Yeah fuck ‘em! We get tagged a lot ‘this weekend was wonderful, lovely scenery in Lower Slaughter’ and then they tag us!
Jon – Didn’t we get asked to play the summer fete?
Barney – Yeah, last year we declined as amazing as it would have been. We’d have played to a cake stand and some terrified children and it came back to that thing where we really have to use our time together wisely. We say no to people far more than we say yes.
How often do you get to play together now you are separated by 100’s of miles?
Barney – Infrequently, for various other reasons we can’t do lots of stuff together, we may not do anything for a long time and then we’ll have a spurt of activity.
Sinead – Yes, we are all adults and Jon’s a dad
Barney – It’s not all because of the distance although that is a big part of it.
Jon – It was like this before it hasn’t changed massively
Barney – We all have busy full-time jobs, real life basically, but it’s funny because we’ve all played in different bands separately for years, decades! Me and Jon especially have been different bands but played gigs together since we’ve been about 10. But then we had loads of time so yeah lets tour for like a month, it was the same with you in Divorce wasn’t it?
Sinead – Yeah it was like lets tour I’ll take two weeks off Uni, I can do that.
Barney – I quit my job when I was on a tour with a band once, but like now this is that band that people have gravitated to more but I’ve got shit going on, it’s ironic that its like the band that’s doing the best but we haven’t got time to devote to it, but that makes it that bit more special.
You went from releasing a single and then straight into an album on Box Records how did that come about?
Jon – Through wrestling wasn’t it?
Barney – Yeah it was, my dad promotes bands of this ilk, Pigs Pigs Pigs etc and he put Blown Out on and me and Matt Baty (Box Records) got chatting
Jon – Through wrestling wasn’t it?
Barney – Yeah it was, my dad promotes bands of this ilk, Pigs Pigs Pigs etc and he put Blown Out on and me and Matt Baty (Box Records) got chatting about wrestling. I’m a massive wrestling fan and so is he, Matt expressed an interest in the band from the start. We didn’t have a label but knew we wanted to release something and at the time a lot of people said you should put something out with a label like Box Records or Riot Season, but yeah wrestling!
Did Matt put you together with Wayne Adams to produce the albums?
Jon – Wayne saw us in Brixton, one of the Cosmic Carnage things and I knew him a bit before, we’d crossed paths a lot with his band Death Pedals. I didn’t know he even recorded stuff but he came up after a gig and said if you want to let me know as I do recording and stuff. When I looked at what he’d done, it’s like I love that album, The Art Of Burning Water’s – Between Life And Nowhere..
Sinead – He’s incredible to work with and actually engages with you. You can record with people who won’t comment on anything they are there just to get the tapes out but I like someone who is a bit more engaged. Like this bit isn’t working or that needs to be punchier. He puts a lot into it.
Jon – He makes you want to try as well because you don’t want to get told off by Wayne!
You did the first album in London and the new one in the arse end of nowhere in Mid Wales?
Sinead – Yeah, it was beautiful, Wayne had found it and we were all really excited to go into the middle of nowhere for a few days, think on the first album we packed a lot in and on the new one we wanted more space and more space within the songs as well.
Barney – The first recording it was in London and we were in a house an hour commute away and when you are that close to home it’s just easy to get really comfortable I don’t want to say slacky but this time it’s like we are Here and we are doing it, it was a lot more focussed and it was nice to be in the countryside.
I don’t think there are that many bands working in the same sort of space as you at the moment…
Barney – I think that comes from the range of influences we were talking about earlier; I don’t even know half the bands that some of the other guys like and are into. When we had a bit of time to kill, we tried to think of bands that we all collectively liked and we only came up with about three or four. It’s very rare for us all to agree on a band and that’s a good thing as we would just up sounding like them. I used to be in a band where we all liked Shellac and Fugazi and that’s what we made. And I think of the few bands we do all like we couldn’t do it anyway, we all like Devo but we aren’t ever going to sound like a Devo band.
The subject matter for the album, where the hell have those lyrics come from Sinead? That opening line one the album, just, awful…
Sinead – What, Trying to Please You Makes Me Hate Myself? Yeah that is a bit of a strong start with Gas there. Lyrically it’s a mix of life experience and experimenting with ideas. Philosophical ideas, it can be quite a cathartic process.
Gas was about a specific manipulative relationship a little bit, well not even a little bit. But part of the musical and literary influences mean that everything is kind of played out by Dungeon Master in Dungeons and Dragons so a lot of it has archaic language thrown in, I enjoy writing in that way. So, its personal relationship, its politics its things that are going on around and mental health as well. It’s a therapeutic process at times. On the first album I was in the midst of a very deep depression and on the new one I’ve been in a midst of very intensive therapy.
Is there a Star Trek thing going on as well?
Sinead – I love Star Trek I am a bit of a Trekkie, Measure Of A Man is partly influenced by the episode where Data has to prove himself as conscious. We aren’t at the point where we have sufficiently advanced AI that’s indistinguishable from Man. I’d be curious to see what happens at that point and how would we determine who and what has rights, who and what is human. It also ties into a lot of racism in history, and discrimination in history has been based on people not understanding, not viewing people as fully human. I hope the lyrics become coherent but I can never tell. It’s quite heartfelt.
You’ve got tonight and tomorrow and then a bit of a break?
Sinead – Yeah, a break for two weeks and then up to Glasgow, we are going away with Pigs, they are great guys, they are playing so much they are really getting their set smashed.
Barney – We would have done pretty much the whole tour but again real life, work, we couldn’t do it all.
Then you’ve got the Box Records 10th anniversary gig.
Sinead – Yeah that will be loads of fun
Barney – Terminal Cheesecake have had to pull out of that, so what’s happening now we are going to do an improv thing with all the bands.
How big is the stage?!
Sinead – Yeah! I think I’ll go on shoulders, or on top of amps I don’t care.
Barney – we didn’t have any plans and then we got asked and it’s like we can’t not play it! I mean we wouldn’t being doing as much as we are now without Matt. Cool opportunities, we owe him a lot so it’s a way to say thanks to him you know? Again it’s a bit like a broken record but because of all our life commitments, we take each thing at a time.
Does that make the time that you do have much better quality though?
Barney – Definitely because again we live close together but Sinead doesn’t it’s like a catch up, it’s like a holiday, it’s a bunch of friends catching up. Also, I’d like to think this is the case, most people know that if we are playing, they know they aren’t going to see us again for a while. We are here tonight, I think the last time we played Bristol was about a year ago or something who’s to say it’s not going to be another year or maybe more before we are here again. It’s kind of like people know they need to catch it as we don’t play often and that’s also special. But it’s a positive rather than a negative. We always have been and always will be very much a part time band.
Could I take a copy of your set list before we finish?
Sinead – Probably better to get one when we are on because we’ll definitely be doing that, you know when you see a review of a band and they mentioned songs that definitely weren’t on the set list.
Barney – My friend took a photo of a setlist of a band before and it has points written on each song where it says at this at this point, I may go into the crowd or at this point I might stage dive and it has all this choreographed stuff on it, it’s really funny isn’t it. But it’s like so un rock n roll.
It’s like a shtick and like here’s the bit where he goes into the crowd, but that the price you pay for being a big band, risk assessments! But there’s none of that on our setlist! It just says this is the point I say something crap and the songs we play. Some Things Take Work is out now on Box Records: https://lowerslaughter.bandcamp.com/