"HOPEFULLY INSPIRE THEM TO PICK UP AN INSTRUMENT - THAT'S THE AIM OF THE GAME"
Intelligent, interesting and inspiring.
I had the pleasure of chatting with vocalist Ben from Slowly Slowly about the upcoming Adelaide Stonecutters Fesitval 2018, the hit and miss process of songwriting, and inspiring the youth from our country to get into music.
M: When did the band officially form?
We started about 5 or 6 years ago, but the official conception of Slowly Slowly started about late 2015 when we released our first single ‘Go Easy’. From then on we roped in a couple more band members along the way. Now we have a tight unit of 4 of us, it seams to operate like a well oiled machine – where as before we were just making it up as we go.
M: How did you come up with the name?
Something my Grandfather (who is Italian) used to say to me a lot. He used to say “piano piano” which means "slowly slowly" in Italian. I guess I had his voice ringing in my ears whenever I was doing anything methodical and taking my time with it. I’m a pretty rushed person when it comes to getting things done, it just stuck with me almost like a mantra to live by.
M: Your most recent gig was at The Evelyn Hotel, Melbourne. How did you find that?
Yeah awesome, it was so good. It was our first proper all ages show in central Melbourne so it was cool to play for really enthusiastic young people, and it was really cool meeting and hanging out with everyone after the show. My other job is youth work for a council here in Melbourne where I do band mentoring, chatting with young musicians etc. I love all ages stuff because that’s where my passion for music and playing in bands got ignited when I went through the program at 15. So we are really gonna try do some more all ages gigs in the future, it’s really rewarding.
M: Is there any major difference with playing all ages gigs as oppose to 18+ shows?
Yeah it’s a lot more docile at the all ages shows. It was a nice polite attentive crowd, they laughed at my crap jokes, really silent in between the songs. There was just a really cool vibe and you knew everyone was listening, it's more challenging as it sorta forces you under the microscope. The coolest thing about young people is they don’t have this super hard concrete taste, they are a really nice audience to play for because there’s no ego there – and hopefully I can inspire them to pick up an instrument, that’s the aim of the game.
M: Do you find playing gigs in Melbourne is different to other cities?
They were for a really long time, we pretty much just existed in Melbourne. But soon as we released ‘St. Leonards’ and started to get more radio play, the word spread. The interstate shows started to feel like Melbourne shows. For example, we played a gig at The Zoo in Brisbane. We got up there and ended up having a room full of people singing along, it felt like home. I thought at the time “this is fucking crazy!”. All the same smiles and excitement from the audience felt just like we’re in Melbourne.
M: It’s awesome that you’re in the lineup for Stonecutters, are you excited?
So, so pumped. We were waiting for everything to be locked in before we had the green light to announce it. We had all these other dates announced around the country and literally every time we posted about something, there would be a bunch of comments saying “What about Adelaide? What about Adelaide? What about Adelaide?”. We weren’t allowed to say anything, so all we COULD comment is “Trust me. Trust me. Trust me it’s gonna be big you gotta wait”.
So as soon as it dropped we were just so excited to break the news to everyone about Stonecutters because it was a huge secret to keep.
M: I listened to your albums ‘Chamomile’ and ‘St. Leonards’, your sound has evolved in my opinion from emotional chilled out grunge to hard rock and melancholy. I especially loved the tracks ‘Black Confetti’, 'Extinction’ and ‘Smile Lines’. Do you think it’s important for artists to evolve their sound, or keep going in the same direction if it works?
At the end of the day if you do what you feel is right for your band, then it will generally emanate from you and people will be attracted to that. I think if you deliberately try to morph your sound, you’ll piss off a lot of your fans.
M: After listening to your albums, I’d describe your sound as Third Eye Blind mixed with Something For Kate. Did you have any influences or artists that helped inspire the direction and sound of the band?
Yeah both of those bands I’d definitely consider a huge influence on Slowly Slowly. Everyone in the band is a huge Blink-182 fan, I love that kinda early 2000’s American Pie soundtrack kinda music. I also draw huge inspiration from Paul Kelly, Paul Dempsey and Tim Rodgers so there’s that kinda element as well.
M: Is there a certain order or process with how you write new songs?
Most of the time it’s me in my dressing gown dancing around my spare room trying to come up with melodies and lyrics. I’ll chalk them up as demos, get the basic skeletons together and send them off for approval or to be vetoed by the council.
You need to be critical of yourself, and don’t force it. If you hit a dead end leave it and come back with fresh ears, you know when the juju is flowing. I write 20 shit songs for every good song, doesn’t need to have super relatable content or a cookie cutter structure, if you’re looking at yourself critically in the song writing process you’ll come out with a better product. If you put out every little thought that’s in your head like its a diary over chords, I think everything will become greyed out.
M: What would be your best advice to bands just starting up, wanting to play some gigs and get noticed?
Music is such an enigmatic strange industry that can be pretty cut throat. It sounds cheesy but never give up. See all of your losses as learning experiences, as soon as you start to see doors closing in front of your face as opportunities to learn. Go back to regroup and reassert yourself. If you start seeing negatives with that attitude you’ll find that you kinda snake your way into those positives.
Check out Slowly Slowly on social media and their latest album 'St. Leonards'.
You absolutely want to see them at Stonecutters Festival:
When: Saturday, December 8, 2018 at 4 PM
Where: Fenn Pl, Adelaide.
Tickets available here