I fell in love with Slothrust in 2014, when they released their very excellent second record, Of Course You Do. I can even further pinpoint the exact moment I realized I had found a band that was a kindred spirit to my soul — it's when, in the second song, singer and guitarist Leah Wellbaum sang, "My name is Leah and I drink juice / every morning when I wake up / but it's no use, I'm unwell / can you tell that I'm sick in the brain?" It was love at first sound.
Slothrust, which alongside Leah is made up of drummer Will Gorin and bassist Kyle Bann, make incredibly rocking music that makes you want to thrash around, makes you want to pick up a guitar and makes you want to sing into your deodorant like it's a microphone, the way you did when you were a teen in your room exorcising your demons. Last year, they released their follow-up album, Everyone Else, which proved they're in this for the long haul. The insane shredding, crazy bass lines, and mad rocking are still there, but it also feels like a natural evolution from their last record, especially with Leah's lyrics, which are poignant and funny and you can relate to as an adult going through adult things and living through adult shit without wanting to pull your hair out. Leah also makes really cool art books and is generally the kind of woman you'd want to hang out with and be friends with. We caught up on the phone last week and talked about the ocean ("It's peaceful and terrifying and fascinating"), why rebelling against your parents can have really great results, and why sleep is the most important survival tool for a touring musician.
Laia Garcia: What did you get into first when you were a young person, was it music or writing?
Leah Wellbaum: I've always done both. Since as far back as I can remember, I've always loved music, and heard it in my head, and written lyrics or poetry, wrote stories, sort of whatever I felt compelled to do at the time, for my whole life. It's really always been in there. When I was a kid, I used to — I guess for lack of a better term — hallucinate big-band music sometimes when I was trying to fall asleep. [It] was a little frightening because it's not always the best sign [when] people hear things that aren't really there, but I think it's because I would always sleep with white noise. If you're particularly sensitive to pitch, you can pull certain frequencies from white noise and sort of craft your own thing, and I've actually met people who had the same experience who also slept with white noise. So, yes, I guess I've always heard music in my head, and I've always loved musical theater.
LG: Was the guitar the first instrument that you learned how to play?
LW: No, piano was.
LG: What made you want to switch?
LW: I would say that piano is my favorite instrument. I love the piano. What made me want to stop playing piano was [that] my dad was on my ass about practicing all the time, and I did not like that. I didn't like being told what to do. I picked up guitar when I was about fourteen, and what I really liked about it was that I could be alone while I played it, I could be by myself in my room, and it's a portable instrument. I could bring it with me places. No one in my family had ever played guitar. Everyone in my family could play piano.