1)First things first, how did you start playing music?
CHRIS: Well, I never really liked sport as a kid and my Dad had an old acoustic guitar so I decided to learn the guitar for something to do. It very quickly became all-consuming, and it’s been that way ever since.
DANNY: As a band we started after mine and Chris’s previous outfit ended. We recruited long-time friend Lee to add an extra dimension to the sound and Alex completed the line-up after our previous drummer disappeared. I personally started playing bass as a teenager so I could form a band with Chris who was already a great guitarist and close friend.
ALEX: I was into hip hop and dance music when I was a very young kid – I loved the beats. As I grew older I discovered more and more great music so I learned the guitar, but all my mates were better than me so I switched to drums. Because of my knowledge of drum beats from my love of hip hop, I got pretty good quite quickly. I started to take the drums seriously when I was 18, had lessons and worked with my teacher in his drum shop ever since!
LEE: I was in the obligatory school brass band and had keyboards given to me as presents all through my childhood, but I got my first guitar at 17 and it’s been an uphill struggle to understand how it works ever since. I was invited into the band to play keyboards, but saw an opportunity to punch above my weight and picked up the guitar at rehearsal one night and now I’m that guy who plays two instruments in the band…as well as the shaker.
2) What genre of music would you say you play?
CHRIS: I tend to say we play Rock music, or maybe Modern Rock music. There are surf, punk, and garage-rock influences on our sound too. There’s usually a bit of head scratching when I’m tagging tracks on Soundcloud.
DANNY: It’s a blend of many styles really. We try not to limit ourselves to one genre as we have found it to be quite restricting.
ALEX: I would call the Slys’ style Surfabilly Psych Punk!
LEE: I’d say it’s an amalgamation of Garage (60s US Garage… not UK Garage) and Punk, with a smattering of Surf chucked in for good measure now and again.
3) Which bands/artists do you take influences from?
CHRIS: Rowland S Howard’s been a pretty significant influence on me, and hearing A Place To Bury Strangers for the first time was really inspiring. Other than that I’ve got fairly broad listening tastes, so I tend to pick up ideas from all over the place.
DANNY: I would say that everything you do, see, and listen to influences to the music you make. Early on we had more strongly defined influences such as Gallon Drunk, Grinderman, and Queens of the Stone Age, but we’ve evolved quite a lot since then and added things from more diverse sources such as krautrock and heavy electronica.
ALEX: As far as drummers go, Rat Scabies from the Damned, Ringo Starr, Keith Moon, and I would have to say Clyde Stubblefield who played with James Brown.
LEE: I try to be as noisy and dissonant as the band will let me get away with, so The Fall and bands like that are my angle.
4) Best venue you’ve ever played and why?
CHRIS: It’s difficult to find many places that cover the fairly mundane technical aspects well and also have a great atmosphere, but Nambucca and The Finsbury both do a great job. (I’ve not played Nambucca with Slys yet, but have done in other bands and we’re there on 24th Feb so I’m counting it).
DANNY: Ooo tricky one. We’ve had some great gigs in total dives and not so great ones in larger venues. I would say it’s more about the crowd than the venue, but some favourites would be The Lock Tavern, the Buffalo Bar (RIP), and Powerlunches (also RIP).
ALEX: There have been loads of great venues we’ve played. My favourite would be Powerlunches in Dalston. It’s gone now, but it was a great sweaty little basement box. The Roadkill events that our lovely friend Mr Josh Cooper has put on at the Lock Tavern and The Finsbury have been great too.
LEE: We’ve played quite a few in the years we’ve been together, but a personal favourite is Aces & Eights in Tufnell Park. For a long time it was the default home of the Roadkill nights we became heavily involved in. The venue, crowd, and general vibe of the place are always great. They also do the best pizza in London… so there’s that too.
5) Best gig you’ve ever attended?
CHRIS: I’ve been to so many great gigs that it’s really difficult to choose, so let’s say Cosmosis 2016 in Manchester.
DANNY: A couple that stand out for me would be Radiohead at South Park Oxford in 2001 and Einstürzende Neubauten on the Alles Wieder Offen Tour in 2008.
ALEX: Impossible to answer! In recent years I would say that Savages are one of the best bands around. Their set at Field Day a couple of years ago was incredible. Also Saint Agnes have been one of my absolute favourite bands to watch ever since I first saw them at an all-dayer at the Windmill in Brixton and we had to play after them!
LEE: My Bloody Valentine at the 2009 ATP in Butlins was pretty special. Being four rows from the front during their “Holocaust section” in the middle of “You Made Me Realise” is up there as one of my top gig experiences.
6) A band you would most like to support and why?
CHRIS: Lift To Experience – so I finally get chance to see them. I missed them the first time round.
DANNY: Someone with a nice big audience. I think PJ Harvey or Nick Cave would be a good fit.
ALEX: I would love to support Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes because they give 200% and I feed off that level of energy. It inspires me hugely.
LEE: I’m gonna have to go with Lola Colt for this one. Every time I see them they never fail to blow me away – intense and bewitching from start to finish.
7) A band that you would like to work with?
CHRIS: If we were to work with someone else it’d be good to have a totally different musical perspective, so someone like Danny Brown or Johnny Jewel would be interesting.
DANNY: Well, we’re quite a self-contained unit really so it would have to be someone who could do a kickass remix like Too Many DJs or DJ Shadow.
ALEX: I’ve always liked the idea of working with Mick Harvey as his band – can you imagine? Mick Harvey and the Sly Persuaders?
LEE: It would have to be a band we get on really well with. Someone like Muertos or Broken Soundtracks. Having said that, I wouldn’t mind Brian Eno coming on board in some capacity. Recording with Steve Albini would also be a dream come true.
8)Top five albums you’ve ever heard?
Pixies – Surfa Rosa
PJ Harvey – To Bring You My Love
Brian Eno & David Byrne – My Life In The Bush of Ghosts
Iggy Pop – Lust For Life
The Smiths – The Queen Is Dead
Paul Simon – Graceland
Tom Waits – Rain Dogs
Squarepusher – ultravistor
Primal Scream – XTRMNTR
The Smiths – Meat is Murder
Public Enemy – It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back
Main Source – Breaking Atoms
Gang Starr – Daily Operation
De La Soul – Bulhoone Mind State
MF Doom/ Dangermouse (Dangerdoom) – The Mouse and the Mask
Sonic Youth – Sister
The Fall – Hex Enduction Hour
Love – Forever Changes
Interpol – Turn On The Bright Lights
Pulp – His N Hers
9)Biggest accomplishment as a band?
CHRIS: That’s definitely got to be doing the album and getting it out on vinyl. It’s taken a lot of time and work (particularly since I mixed the album myself), but worth every minute. I’m actually really looking forward to doing it all again with the next one!
10)What’s next in the pipeline?
CHRIS: Well, we’ve been working on some new material since recording the album, so we’re looking forward to getting cracking with that. We’ve got some gigs outside of London coming up in the summer, and most likely a spell in the studio. We’ve got some exciting ideas for later in the year, but they’re all currently at the written-on-the-back-of-a-beer-mat stage. We also have a podcast over on Mixcloud, so we’ll be doing some more episodes of that over the coming months. Between all that we’re going to try and fit in a well-earned rest.
Thanks for taking on the ten questions guys, you done a splendid job!
Editor of Words For Music. Love music and support each other.