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Leah Wellbaum of Slothrust Expounds on Influences, Music and Making It Through Life


Leah Wellbaum is the sole guitarist and vocalist for the grunge-influenced indie rock band, Slothrust. Having been playing in the group for nearly a decade, Leah has made her signature brooding lyrics stick in listener's minds, and combined with the band's technical and inventive musicianship, it's earned them a sizeable indie following. Slothrust released their fourth album, The Pact, in September 2018 and have been on tour supporting it. We checked in with Leah to dig into the origins of the band, influences and how to pass time in a touring van.


    Slothrust met while attending Sarah Lawrence. Were you all musicians when you enrolled?

                                       Yeah. Yeah. Yes.

                                                      You can definitely tell that the band is a bit more technical than your average grunge band in some respects. What influences led to Slothrust?

                                       We studied blues and jazz with two really amazing teachers, which are Glenn Alexander and Matt Wilson. Matt Wilson's one of the head, top jazz drummers right now. And Glenn Alexander is an amazing guitarist in all respects. So we had played in blues and jazz groups together. We all can be accompanyists too. Like, yes, I'm a front person in this project, but at the same time I'm equally excited to just accompany another vocalist, another front person. We all really give a shit about older music. The new stuff right now, there is a lot of things that are still awesome about it, but we also, I think, are pretty traditional in some senses in terms of what we value in music.

                                                      You guys spend a lot of time together obviously as a band. What do you like doing outside of music?

                                         We played a really lackluster hand of cards the other night. Kyle invented a card game recently that we played in the car that was really cool. I gotta say I just really, really, really love Will and Kyle's personalities. And that makes this whole circumstance a lot easier. Because I think we all get along as friends. We share similar passions and have similar pastimes and want similar things in life. So that's nice.

                                                      Your songwriting is incredible but Will's drumming also stands out as a bit more elevated than other bands in your genre.

                                      Yeah. Will's the shit. I've worked with him for a really long time. He works really hard and he's really... Honestly, he's one of the most special people I've ever met in my life. You know, drumming aside, he's just a very kind, special individual. He and I really see each other in a specific way and in terms of playing, he's flexible and he's down to work. And I still find it exciting to jam with these people and I think that's really special and uncommon.

                                                      If you weren't doing music, what do you think you'd be doing right now?

                              I've been asked this question before and it's hard to answer because the other thing I do besides music is teach music.

                                                       Some people are like "If it wasn't for music, I'd probably hang myself" or something to that extent.

                                 I don't think I'd kill myself or anything. I mean, you know, we all have our times, but I like to teach. I'm happy working with kids. I'm happy working with adults. I like to spread music as a means not to draw financial success, but as a form of not only self expression, but focus. Because in the end we're all so tortured by our own minds and having something to focus on sort of detracts from that. This is a good quote I'm giving you.

                                                      Nice. Was there a certain time that you felt Slothrust was finally picking up? You did the Jam in the Van, but was there a moment where you were like, "Okay. This band might stay together for a few years?"

                                         No. I always knew we'd stay together but I think it's pretty clear to all of us that we're a slow burner. But we don't really give a shit. That's fine. We'll just slow burn forever if we want to. If not, then not. We probably will. I don't know. I like these people. They like me. It's all good.

                                                      “Magnets Part Two” is my favorite song of yours. I'm just guessing here, but is that about addiction?

                                      I guess I'll be explicit with you because this question has been asked to me particularly frequent amount. I feel like my syntax is shitty right now. I wish it was better. That's about my old roommate Jack. He ended up killing himself in, I think, 2011. I thought about him very frequently. I had trouble processing all of it because I was in the situation where I needed to graduate from college. And I wanted to do what he wanted me to do and I wanted to do whatever felt right for everyone. Whatever that means. It doesn't really mean anything. But yeah, I guess, to sum it up it's about losing someone that you weren't ready to lose but eventually you have to gain acceptance in that. Because if you don't, you'll just be tortured forever. And if you and that person had a certain kind of lock, which Jack and I did, then they wouldn't want you to be tortured forever.

                                                      Lou Reed or Bowie?

                                     I hate that you asked me that. I just hate that you asked me that. That's about it.

                                                      Beer or wine?

                                     If I had to die with either in a goblet in my hand I would pick wine because it's closer to blood.

                                                      Paradise Rock Club or Roseland Ballroom?

                                       Didn't exist when I was growing up. Paradise did but it didn't let people under 21 in and Roseland Ballroom, I don't think it existed. So fuck both those places. Access and Avalon forever. Neither exist. Fuck what's happened to Boston. The police destroyed it. We used to have a good punk scene. And they took that away from us because of noise ordinance. And everyone can go and-

                                                      Fuck themselves?

                                     ... have a bad old time.

                                                      If you had to pick anybody to share the stage with, who would you pick and why?

                                         Oh, I'd pick John Fahey. He could come on and do some amazing finger picking set during any song and I would be so pleased to hear that melodic contour. That's it.



Lady Chops & The Goddamn Jam plays Whip In 2/15

On the short, sweet "Leawood Street," Lady Chops & The Goddamn Jam paints a rich picture of a childhood summer day about town. Lead singer Bethony Nichole's lyrics are an idyllic series of vignettes: descriptions abound of magnolia trees, gravel underneath one's feet, pressing one's hands into wet concrete and wearing overalls. For the most part, the song is refreshingly devoid of overt angst, instead focusing on the images and sensations that comprise a child's experience of her world. The song brings the listener back to a place of innocence and simplicity. The only moment of mature reflection is the refrain: "I want to be a someone some day." It's a feeling most of us can relate to, one that catches up with us into adulthood before we're ready to realize that that someday is now. The song is still a heady, delightful portrait, and the instrumental prowess of Lady Chops' full band serves to enhance this sensory experience without calling much attention to itself. 

Lady Chops is playing at Whip In on February 15th, with support from the folk stylings of Much 2 Much and the debut of the new indie-rock band Tish. - Ethan Ames 

Cheeky Orange Derives Pleasure From Visceral Angst

Like many great partnerships, Xavier Sanchez and Thom Valles despised each other when they first met during their Freshman year of highschool in El Paso. Thanks to a perceptive teacher who forced them to work together, we now have the thrash punk duo Cheeky Orange, albeit many years later. Valle's vocals have a hypnotic, psychedelic quality that suddenly erupt into primal screams and raise neckhairs in the best way possible. Distorted, staccatto guitar riffs interweave through pulsating drums to draw listeners in. The tempestuous instrumentation sways like a metronome and evokes equal parts Sabbath and At The Drive In. Cheeky Orange seems to have absorbed elements from the El Paso post-hardcore scene as well as Austin's deep psychedelic roots, but their violent and mesmerizing sound is uniquely infectious and unto itself. Having recorded their first demos on an a basic 8 track recorder, expect them to release an official debut in the next year, and definitely catch their live shows that they'll be playing regularly in Austin.



Table Tennis Dreamer Renders Heartfelt Electronica On "All My Life"

As one door begins to close, another has begun to open for Waldo Wittenmyer who is behind the new solo project, Table Tennis Dreamer.  Waldo has contributed in a variety of bands (Velo, Toma, Waldo & The Naturals) which all have unique styles but his solo project may be the most pure representation of his own voice. Shimmering retro synths and lachrymose vocals coalesce into a melodic earworm on TTD's first single "All My Life". An Austin psychedelic ribbon streaks through the track and gives it an ethereal aura that percolates slowly into the listener's consciousness. While Toma has created a respectable body of music, Table Tennis Dreamer seems to inhabit the musical niche that Wittenmyer is now able to flesh out in its entirety. TTD will be releasing his first EP, Randall Vol. 1, this Spring.



altopalo on the cover of Issue #56 of The Deli NYC - now out digitally!

Hola, peoples into emerging music!

The winter issue of The Deli NYC (our 56th!) is now up on the cloud (HERE), featuring glitch-soul luminaries altopalo on its cover!

The issue also tackles the current shift of everything cool from Brooklyn to Queens, and - as usual - highlights many local bands we dig (and their favorite gear).

There's also a special about the NAMM show, which we will participate in with our own Stompbox Booth featuring tons of emerging pedal manufacturers!

Fresh Buzz and NYC Records of the Month sections are never skipped!

Look out for the print version, out at the end of the month.

The Folks at The Deli


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