Slothrust has grown up quite a bit since their debut in 2012.
“I think this past [record] has [more] space for interpretation and for questions,” says the indie band’s queer-identified singer and guitarist Leah Wellbaum. Leah is that badass, cool-girl musician that you definitely wanted to either be or be with in college—and she’s not letting adulthood phase her. Leah is thoughtful and honest, both in her lyrics and as a person.
Out was lucky enough to have the opportunity to speak to her about their new album Everyone Else, how the band has grown over the years, and how she herself has grown as a musician.
What’s different about the new album? And since you guys have been together for a while now, what do you think has changed since you first got together?
I think that our last album, Of Course You Do, as well as the one before that, Feels Your Pain, are a bit angrier. When you write songs earlier in your life—depending on where you’re at—the likelihood of them being angsty is higher. This record I don’t think is angry in the same way. It asks more questions. The last records were as inquisitive about the world, if that makes sense, but [Everyone Else] has space for interpretation and for questions. And the new record deals very specifically with water and dreams in a way that the first two did not.
What inspired that for you? Could you link it to anything specific?
Well, parts of that record I wrote when I was traveling a lot—whether it was on tour or because I was bouncing around for whatever reason. For a while, I wasn’t really living anywhere in New York because we were on tour so much and doing so much recording that it didn’t really make sense for me to have an apartment anymore. So that was an interesting experience. But during that time, I tried to go to a couple different places to try to write and do various projects. I visited a lot of different coasts and spent a lot of time with the ocean. It’s always been something I’ve been very obsessed with and inspired by, and so I really took that into consideration with this songwriting. But I also didn’t really notice how thematic the album was until it was done and I went back and listened and was like, 'Wow, a very high percentage of these songs are about water, or at least include water in some capacity.'
How do you think identifying as LGBTQ influences your songwriting?
Hm…well, I think growing up as an LGBTQ person is a pretty particular experience. And in my experience, sort of trying to figure out when to hide that and when not to…I’m happy to say in my older age it’s not something I think about at all. It’s just who I am, and my friends are exactly who they are. We feel comfortable with each other and running with that. But I think it can be a really isolating experience when you’re young and you feel like something is off about you or that you’re different from the majority of people that you grew up with. I think that can be really influential in your creative process, because, for me at least, creating art and music made me feel less lonely.
That definitely can be a place of inspiration for a lot of artists, just in terms of getting stuff out there and being able to articulate how you feel. But as a queer musician, do you not really think so much about your orientation now?
I do think about it, but I’d say that I’m more proud of it and happy to discuss it. I don’t have any fear surrounding it the way that I did when I was younger—at least not the same type of fear. And I feel like I have a lot of really supportive friends and I’m a part of a supportive community where there’s really a lot of space for that type of discussion.
That’s awesome. What do you think that our readers, specifically, should know about Slothrust?
I think Slothrust is a really honest project. We are three people who really love to make music and we love to perform and we want all of our shows to be safe spaces and to be inclusive…we want to interact with the world in a positive way. Definitely something that’s inspiring to me is when people approach us or write to me and tell me that certain songs have helped them through harder times or made them feel less alone in certain ways; or felt like they had a connection with either the lyrics or the music—that I really like. And also that we’re fun! That we like to laugh and have a good time…callouts are a good time.
Okay, last question: what’s next for you guys?
We’re going on tour. We just got back from touring and we’ll be heading out on another this winter. We’ll have more details about that soon. But yeah, we’re gonna get all up in the country again and play some cities we haven’t played before, and hopefully reach some new people. We are very excited about that.
You can get Slothrust's latest album, Everyone Else, here. Below, a list of Slothrust tour dates:
Wed/03/01/17 Boston @ Brighton Music Hall
Thu/03/02/17 Albany @ The Hollow
Fri/03/03/17 Brooklyn @ Rough Trade
Sat/03/04/17 New York @ Mercury Lounge
Mon/03/06/17 Philly @ Johnny Brenda's
Tue/03/07/17 Washington DC @ Black Cat Backstage
Thu/03/09/17 Detroit @ Marble Bar
Fri/03/10/17 Chicago @ Schuba's
Sat/03/11/17 St. Louis @ Duck Room at Blueberry Hill
Sun/03/12/17 Kansas City @ Tank Room
Wed/03/15/17 Denver @ Larimer Lounge
And check out this exclusive video for their latest single, "Pigpen":