(photo taken from Slam Donahue’s Facebook Page)
Take a moment and think about your parents having sex. Now thank Slam Donahue for that image. We talk sex lives of parents, the difference between New York and Connecticut, styrofoam mixed drinks, gunshots to the stomach and the band’s new EP in our latest installment of the Baker’s Dozen Interview series. Without further adieu, I give you Slam Donahue:
TB: Slam Donahue was born when the two of you (Dave and Thomas), playing in rival bands at the time, decided to collaborate. What was it that caused the two of you to gravitate towards each other?
Thomas: We started hanging out more and more as both of our bands at the time were dissolving. Writing songs came from showing each other ideas, little bits of melody. We kind of just crashed all these pieces together into whatever and eventually figured out how to do it better.
Dave: Also I think that Tom and I were the only ones who really took music seriously and wanted to take it to the next level. If I had asked my band at the time to move to New York to pursue our music career, I think they would have declined. You want to work with someone as ambitious as you are.
TB: Part of my desire to be a better cook is born from trying to outdo my friends. Your music takes the same approach, like a game of one-upmanship. How has this helped get you were you are? Do you ever foresee a time when this way of doing things will no longer work?
Thomas: Working with each other made us cut out so many bad parts. Having each other to edit is the best thing we’ve got. It can work forever as long as we don’t end up living in opposing fortresses, only talking through mediators.
Dave: Well we live together right now, so it’d be weird to only talk through a mediator.
Thomas: A record full of bangers; just big song after big song. We did a good job, yeah.
Dave: I just wanted some recordings I could be proud of. We had had studio experiences before but I never felt that we had really hit the nail on the head. I think we got pretty damn close this time.
TB: Hemlock Tea traditionally has been used to fight a number of medicinal battles (diarrhea, vaginitis, canker sores and scurvy to name a few). Why choose it for an EP title?
Thomas: There is the kind that kills people, conium. I heard a story about a man who was paranoid that people were poisoning his food with hemlock. I know he is in an institution now and they weren’t really poisoning him. The story just stuck with me.
TB: My favorite track from the EP is the upbeat, anthemic burner “I Turn On.” In it you pose the question that I’m sure every kid has faced at some point, “Do you parents still have sex?” What were you thinking when you penned this line? Were you ever fearful that the image you might put in some people’s heads might not be a pleasant one?
Thomas: It is about a specific set of parents. I couldn’t ask the person outright so I suppose I was fearful. It’s an uncomfortable thing to be sure but like you said, it’s a question everyone can relate to.
Dave: It’s arts job to pose those uncomfortable questions. Usually those are things reserved for close friends, but some people don’t have anyone to talk to about things like that. This song says “hey, some things are fucked up, but we’re all going through it too.”
TB: I will forever associate “I Turn On” with beans which is probably not the most flattering association. When you hear “I Turn On” what is your first association?
Thomas: Well now beans but before that, and sorry to be a drag, people just putting up with each other; just barely putting up with each other.
Dave: It’s interesting you say beans, because that is actually how I measure the creative value of an idea or piece of work. Home many ‘beans’ it has. True story…
TB: One thing that seems to stand out in your music is the ability to write a chorus. It doesn’t matter what style of song you are going for, the chorus always seems to be right on. Is there a secret to your chorus writing success?
TB: You’ve got a couple of shows coming up. One at Pianos as part of the Win Win residency (show occurred last week), a second at Swat Bar with Devin (Sept. 27th) and another at the Studio with Hits (October 5th). Anything big in store for these shows?
Thomas: We have two new guys in the band, Renzo and Alex playing drums and keyboard. It adds so much, our first show with the setup was our EP release and it turned into a freak out.
Dave: Hopefully we’ll be out touring the east coast or New England by the end of the year, maybe early next year. Just have to wait for the EP to gather some momentum.
TB: Speaking of shows, Slam Donahue played a dinner set at the Soho House last month. What was this experience like? Was this the strangest place you’ve ever played?
Thomas: Liam Gallagher told us to have a good show, mates. But it was great. We abused the privileges. We’ve played weird places. Ice cream shops, this chicken place where Dave insulted a table of nine, a comic book store where we had to wait for a card tournament to finish, a plywood room in an empty warehouse. This was one of the better ones.
Dave: I liked it a bunch. Free food and drinks all night. Most of the crowd was really great besides a couple of ‘suits’ that floated away with a gust of wind.
TB: You guys originally met in Connecticut before relocating to New York City. In what ways does New York fit you better? Are there any moments where you feel if only we were still in Connecticut…?
Thomas: We wouldn’t have what little we do without being here. Connecticut is fine to visit but I wouldn’t want to live anywhere but New York. We’ve been here for such a short time and it has given us so much.
Dave: We got prettier girls and more opportunities. NY is king. I’ll always have a soft spot for a very small portion of CT called “my father’s house.” I don’t care much for the rest of it.
TB: Seeing that you are from Connecticut and are big XBOX basketball fans I have to ask about Jim Calhoun. Any feelings about his legacy and recent retirement?
TB: Does Slam Donahue get the chance to do much cooking? Any special recipes you care to share?
Thomas: From UrbanDictionary.com:
-Promethazine w/Codeine VC <-Sizzurp (active ingredient)
-Original Sprite Soda <-Mixing ingredient (although different flavors of sprite are now used, such as sprite remix)
-Jolly Rancher Candy <-flavor additive
-Put it all in a styrofoam cup and enjoy.
TB: Any final thoughts?
Thomas: When I die from a single gunshot wound to the stomach, I want the song “Dirt” by the Stooges playing.
Dave: Remember to vote fool!
Check out the aforementioned “I Turn On”:
And another EP favorite “Bug in the Sun”:
Both tracks courtesy of Cantora Records.