The Slants, photo by Sarah Giffrow Creative
How you guys all met, how did the band got started and what’s the meaning behind the band’s name?
Simon: In 2003, I got the idea for starting an all-Asian band but I didn’t really get started on the project until 2006, when I met some other people who were interested in being a part of the project. We ended up calling it The Slants, as in the Asian American angle on how we view life. It’s a bit of a reference to an obscure racial term that was based on the notion that Asians have slanted eyes as well, though for us “Slant” has been a banner of pride.
Aron: I answered an ad in the local paper, auditioned a few times and ended up being the lead singer.
Johnny: I knew Simon back when we both lived in San Diego.
Thai: I met the band about three years ago when my last band, Veritas, performed with The Slants in Portland. After Veritas broke up, The Slants asked me to join the band.
What are your music influences?
Simon: The band is really inspired by 80’s acts: New Order, Depeche Mode, The Cure, but we kind of put a modern spin on it. Each of us have our own personal influences that we kind of bring to the table as well. For example, I love Elvis Costello, The Ramones, and Tom Petty. As for the other guys…
Thai: The Beatles, The Clash, Guns N Roses, New Order, Depeche Mode, U2.
Johnny: I love everything from The Who to Prince to The Go Go’s
Aron: The Cure, Dead Milkmen, Masta Ace
How was it to perform at the SXSW?
Johnny: Pretty amazing; one of the best times of my life.
Simon: Well, we were playing 3-4 shows per day so from early morning until late at night we were moving gear, sound-checking, playing, or getting ready for the next set! But it was really awesome.
How was it working with Cory Gray?
Simon: He was great. He came in and started just improving/writing the parts for our songs immediately. He hadn’t even heard the songs until then but wrote the parts for and finished 4 songs in one day. On “The Pageantry,” he was warming up by screwing around with an organ solo…he thought it was fun so we ended up keeping it.
Johnny: Loved the results
Talk to us more about your upcoming album. How it has been the process recording and writing, who’s producing it, any name and release date yet?
Johnny: Our new album is going to be called the Yellow Album, and it will be released this summer.
Thai: The process has been interesting – We’ve been recording many of the parts separately, e-mailing them to each other, and discussing them by e-mail. There hasn’t been a time during this recording process where all 5 of us sat in a room together and tried to jam it out. In fact, we only recently all got together in one room to listen to everything we’ve put together and make concrete decisions about what’s staying and what’s going.
Simon: Many of these songs have been in the works for almost two years so it is great seeing them come to life. We can’t wait to finally finish it up and share the album.
Aron: This new album is the strongest one yet. I’m really proud of how it turned out. I think we really found our stride as a whole in writing great songs!
How was it to share the stage with acts like Apl.de.Ap, Vampire Weekend, Girl Talk, etc.?
Thai: These were all before I was in the band, but since then, we’ve shared the stage with Shonen Knife and Men Without Hats, which were both a lot of fun!
Simon: It’s always been a great experience. Many of these artists are a little different than you’d expect (often times, many of them just hang out back stage until it’s time to play then they leave) but for us it’s always fun being able to play for a new audience. Playing with Shonen Knife was one of my favorite experiences simply because I’ve been a few for many years. Also, sharing the stage with Sir Mix-A-Lot was incredible and fun.
Can you tell us more about the one million contract you guys reject?
Simon: The contract was a one-sided, non-negotiable document that would have forced us into working for that label exclusively for ten years. It was horrible. They trying to gain creative control over the band and shape us into something that we’re simply not. We don’t like dealing with douchebags so we just sent them packing.
Are there any plans for the near future?
Thai: Touring, melting faces, making new fans
Aron: Tour, write songs, tour, tour, tour
Johnny: Lots of touring!
Simon: What the other guys said. The best way to keep up with everything that we’re doing is through our mailing list and social media.
What’s your method at the time of writing a song?
Johnny: Lots of good food and Jason Statham movies.
Thai: 90% of my riffs come when I’m not near any instruments. I’m usually either walking or riding the bus when an idea hits me, and I recorded on my voice recorder app on my phone. If I already have an idea for a song from that riff, I’ll say so in the voice recording. When I get home, listen to the recording and play it out.
Simon: Lately, I start out by programming some kind of drum beat to write to. If there’s a decent groove to write to, I’ll usually find something on the bass, guitar, or keyboard that fits and build around that.
What has been the funniest moment you have been or took part while touring?
Thai: When we prank each other or make fun of each other. When we’re on the road, we’re all a very silly bunch of misfits. Aron pretending he couldn’t speak English at Geno’s Steaks in Philadelphia was pretty hilarious (google it to see why it’s funny – then go on our youtube channel to see the incident take place!)
Aron: Our video blogs are pretty funny…
Johnny:-Too many good memories to pin point one in particular.
Simon: We used to pull pranks on each other before it got too out of control. Once, when we were playing in Boston during an extremely cold winter, we froze Aron and Johnny’s underwear and socks to the hotel balcony. It took them hours to thaw them out!
Do you guys feel you are moving on the right direction?
Thai: Well, yeah. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be doing this.
Johnny: I guess only time will tell!
Aron: If you mean conquering the world one fan at a time until total domination then yes!
Simon: Couldn’t be more happy with how things are going.
Check out more at: http://www.theslants.com