Portraits of Sound wants you to meet The Slumps from Eugene, Oregon! These college boys are the latest addition to the mix of young up-and-coming bands making lots of noise, bringing back garage rock. The foursome is comprised of Oregon native Noah McGraw (bass) and Cali transplants Henry Houston (guitar), Nick Sullivan (drums), and Isaac Griffin (vocals), formed back in October of 2014.
Portraits of Sound had the opportunity to chat with Henry Houston, Nick Sullivan, and Isaac Griffin about their EP How It Goes, meeting the legendary and always crazy Mac Demarco, and what’s on their Spotify playlists.
Sarah Hess: Seeing as you’re a relatively new band, tell us a little about yourselves! How did you come together to form The Slumps?
Isaac Griffin: We’ve been a band for seven months now. Originally the band was supposed to be just me and Nick. I was going to play guitar and sing, and Nick was going to play drums. We ended up realizing we needed other musicians. I’m not the best guitar player. We found Henry on a website called reddit.com. (laughs) It actually worked out really well. We’re really good friends. He’s cool. (laughs) I’ve known Noah through friends for like a year and a half. We didn’t even try Noah out. We just added him to the band.
SH: Will you talk a bit about your EP How It Goes?
IG: It’s pretty fun. The cover is me, vomiting after a wild night out. (laughs) We basically would ger together on the weekends, sit around, and write music… I’d write the lyrics, Henry would come with the guitar part and it would just work itself out. Most of the songs are just about being a young kid, trying to figure stuff out with girls, shitty jobs, and stuff… some of the songs are about situations we’ve been in with bands that are bigger than us. It was really fun. We recorded the whole thing live in a day. Everything on there is organic.
Henry Houston: We had break in mixing, so we watched the Katy Perry Halftime Show. (everyone laughs)
IG: It was during The Super Bowl. We recorded the day before and mixed the day of.
HH: Yeah, we couldn’t miss Katy Perry.
SH: Now we know you’re Katy Perry fans! I also know you’re fans of Mac Demarco. One of you recently met Mac Demarco, right?
IG: I did!
SH: Do tell!
IG: [At his recent show in Oregon] I brought five CDs of our EP to throw on stage to him, ‘cause he’s the man, so if he likes us, that’ll be sick! We’re up there, far right corner of the stage, right in front… halfway through, I started throwing ‘em up. They landed by Mac Demarco’s feet, the bass player’s feet, and the other guitar player’s feet. Mac picked two up and put them on his piano. I was like, “Oh, that’s cool!” [When the] last song came on, I got excited and jumped on stage when there was one verse left. I grabbed the microphone and Mac came over, put his arm around me, and we were singing the song together. Then the song ended, and I looked at him…I asked him what should I do. There’s a lot of people here and I’m freaking out. He was like, “You gotta stage dive, man!” I was like, “Oh yeah, okay!” So I stage dove… Later we were walking down this street – the entire show, Mac Demarco was joking around that he was going to party on this certain street in Eugene because kids were yelling out their addresses and stuff – so we’re walking down this street and his van pulls up to the side of us, he rolls down the window, and is like, “Hey, you guys know there’s a party on Fifteenth and Mill? You better be there!” We ended up going to a party with him!
SH: Okay, let’s talk more about your music! I love “’Bout.” What brought “’Bout” about?
HH: A day in the life, I guess.
IG: A day in the life! Eugene is a college town, so you walk everywhere. You walk to parties, you walk to class, you walk to go eat. I don’t have a car. Honestly, it’s just about walking from party to party, being drunk.
HH: That song kinda came alive with the bass line. It’s a modern day cowboy song. Cowboy folk in twenty-first century Eugene.
SH: And “Better Off Dead,” was this just a shitty day turned into a song, a break-up, or what?
IG: That’s the first song I ever wrote on guitar. I’ve only been playing for a year now. That is the first song I ever wrote. Henry obviously turned into something way better than I ever could, but it’s about being frustrated with someone… it’s about aggression, being mad and pissed off about they way people are. It’s not about anyone in particular. I mean, it sort of is, but not directly. (laughs) It’s about actions and the way relationships work out.
SH: I love the guitar in “Go-Go.” With your songwriting, do you usually start with a chord or lyrics? What’s your process like?
HH: It depends. “How It Goes” stated with the lyrics and the melody. Usually, like with the other songs, me and Isaac get really drunk and come up with the bare bones of it. Then Nick and Noah make it better.
IG: Nick and Noah are like…
HH: They comprehend our drunkenness. (laughs)
IG: Nick and Noah are like masterminds dealing with really smart monkey chimps. We have great ideas, but Nick and Noah really bring them to fruition. They make the songs what they are.
SH: I found you guys thanks to Spotify – and oddly enough, Katy Perry came on after you (laughs) - so I must ask what’s on your Spotify playlist?
IG: My Spotify playlist starts with Bass Drum of Death, a little 70s, punkish, with John Barrett on vocals, being badass! Up next is Meatbodies, followed by Twin Peaks, Ty Segall, King Tuff – King Tuff’s the man – umm, Criminal Hygiene, and our friends Penalty Kick aren’t on Spotify, but if they were, they’d for sure be on my playlist! And old stuff, like David Bowie, The Doors. Jim Morrison is always on my playlists.
Nick Sullivan: Naysayer. Probably my favorite band. I don’t know…
IG: I also have a little Al Green, Marvin Gaye.
HH: The Smiths, Morrissey, U2… I actually listened to Katy Perry all day Friday.
SH: Own it, own it! (laughs)
NS: The Beatles are one of my favorite. The Who. Vampire Weekend is also one of my favorites.
IG: Noah listens to doom metal, drudge metal, nu metal. He likes Phish, a band called Sleep, Frank Zappa. We all have really diverse music tastes, which is cool.
SH: I think when bands have a diverse taste in music, it adds to their sound.
IG: Yeah, Noah’s bass lines are super heavy because of that.
NS: Look out for our next EP because we’re gonna have a little more Katy Perry in there. (everyone laughs)
Words by: Sarah Hess