(Our Russian contributor Comrade Aleks is back with yet another interview, this time with J.Luoto, the drummer of Finland’s Slug Lord.)
Let me introduce you to Slug Lord of Finland. This band have played bloody sinister sludge’n’stoner doom tunes since 2010, yet they had a long break after release of their self-titled album in 2011 because of some line-up changes. Anyway, their second full-length Transmutation was released literally a month ago and J.Luoto (Slug Lord’s drummer) found some time to discuss details about the new album.
Terve J.! How are you man?
Thanks for asking! We’ve just received our latest album’s batch from press and are getting ready to send them to all the crazy folks who pre-ordered it.
Let us start with that old ’n’ good question about the band’s origin – what are the main milestones of Slug Lord?
We’ve known each other since childhood and played shit together for years. On the ruins of some less serious band projects we formed a doom band. During some intense listening and jamming songs of bands like Pentagram, Electric Wizard, Acid King, and Witch, we gave birth to Slug Lord. Within this genre we found the ways to express our musical ambitions as a unit and in the loudest and heaviest way we could. Then we recruited the singer Johanna Rutto, recorded the first self-titled album with her, and also made a few gigs. After her departure we’ve been more than happy with the original trio lineup and continued the path with a passion for playing live and making more records.
Does this mean that Slug Lord (with its stabilized line-up) will now work full speed on playing more gigs and recording more songs?
We’ll keep gigging at a steady pace. There’s a few already booked this year, most importantly the Kiarama festival in Pori on September 12th-13th. Now that we just released our second album Transmutation, we could fit in a few more gigs for the summer — touring a little and promoting the album.
Making the album was a tediously slow process at times because of other commitments in our personal lives. We also accepted almost any gig offer we got and took time off from making the album to concentrate on the gigs. It was fun to not lock ourselves into one thing, but it postponed the album’s release. We’re planning to record the next album with a faster method, maybe even like a “live in studio” type of thing. We have one album’s worth of new songs already nearly finished and a lot more coming, and I can’t wait to get to record them!
Now you have the new album Transmutation and a new vocalist — who is he? And where is Johanna Rutto? A sludge band with female vocals would be pretty attractive.
Actually you can hear voices from all three of us on Transmutation. Our guitarist did all the lead vocals, though, and he also sings live, so we might as well credit him as the singer in the band. Johanna left the band with no hard feelings. We’re still friends, she is still making music, and I wish all the best and great success for her.
I think that Slug Lord became heavier and dirtier with the new album. Was it a normal process for you? Or was this transmutation totally uncontrolled?
It was intentional, but came out naturally. The new album showcases our live sound more accurately and it better matches the course we set ourselves to pursue originally. But with that done, you never know in what direction the following releases will take us.
Can you name one or two bands that had the most significant influence upon you?
These two need to come from childhood, and for myself it was Metallica and Nirvana, who got me into rock and metal music. Through that period I also loved all kinds of home computer music I got my hands on, especially the classic composers on the C-64.
You have pretty atmospheric and psychedelic elements in the songs “Orgy with the Dead” and “Vorthex”. What are your main psychedelic influences? And what drove you to write “Orgy with the Dead”?
Psychedelia in any art form can be inspiring and definitely influences us in songwriting. In addition to music, we’re movie and comics buffs. In terms of substance abuse, we mostly stick with alcohol.
The creation process for “Orgy with the Dead” was one of the most collaborative we’ve had in the band. Usually one of us brings along a nearly complete skeleton of riffs and structures that we then finalize together. But here it was just about throwing a riff there and a riff here and a lots of jamming together that eventually created the song. The collective idea was to create something heavier, darker, and more twisted than we had before, while also having these atmospheric moments in between to balance the overall feeling of the song.
The album consists of songs with such names as “Gastropoda”, “Orgy with the Dead”, “Triumphant Drunk”, and so on. Can you sum up the song’s subjects?
The lyrics were written by the other guys on those songs, so unfortunately I’m not the correct person to ask. Anyway, as I interpret it, “Triumphant Drunk” is a gritty portrayal of going apeshit when intoxicated in the most traditional Finnish style. “Orgy with the Dead” and “Gastropoda” drift more in certain moods, horrors, and mythology, and I don’t want to give them away too much.
Man, Transmutation is a self-released album, as your debut work Slug Lord was. Did you try to find a label to help you?
We didn’t actively contact any labels. Our method of doing PR is mostly sitting on our asses and waiting for the contacts to come to us. So far it’s proven effective enough, because we are actually now under negotiations with a label. But more on that later when there’s something to announce…
What kind of constructive feelings do you put in your music?
…Hmm, didn’t really get the question 🙂
Hah, let me try again… Look, heavy sludgy music has a kind of destructive vibe. It’s okay for you and me somehow, but sometimes I talk about such music with people unfamiliar with metal and they determine that it is as “destructive”. So do you see in the music a kind of… mmm… spiritual content maybe…
I wouldn’t say there’s deep spiritual content in Slug Lord. We end up using stuff that all of us can relate to; heavily intimate content washes off easily especially when lyrics are worked on together. But we do have a mutual vision of emotions that we want the music to bring up in you, and indeed someone could perceive them as unpleasant. It’s a mix between impending despair and alluring groove.
J., Slug Lord is based in Tampere and it’s the most populous inland city in any of the Northern countries. What would you advice to visit if any of our readers go there?
One place worth mentioning is our local pub and venue Varjobaari. It’s a small pub and in the outskirts of the town, but a most valuable meeting place for the local doom & psychedelic scene and holds frequent gigs for tons of interesting underground bands.
Okay, but what sorts of local beer can you recommend? I have tasted Koff, Karhu, Sandels… Karjala… The last one was not bad, but indeed I would prefer German Schneider. I need to know what I should lay my hands upon the next time I visit Finland 🙂
Yeah, all those bulk lagers are popular in Finland. But the microbrewery scene is starting to get some commercial recognition and is growing rapidly. Our bassist, who has in recent years involved himself deeply in the beer gastronomy, suggested breweries like Hiisi, Pyynikin käsityöläispanimo, and Stadin panimo, if you can find their products.
There’s a museum of Tove Jansson in Tampere. How often do you pilgrimage to this sacred place and how do you like the Moomin family?
Nothing wrong with the Moomins. The original books and comics have some quite surprisingly crazy bits with drug use, making moonshine, and generally a melancholic atmosphere with some dark humour. You should check them out.
I need to go and read some of their apocalyptic stories again right now! Thank you for your time J.! Let us finish the interview on this note! God speed to Slug Lord!
Photos by Jouni Parkku