Artist To Artist: Slugabed & The Physics House Band
Slugabed's complex and distinctive sound has recently grappled with experimental psych rock trio The Physics House Band's new single 'Calypso', off their album Mercury Fountain which came out back in April. Slugabed’s well-received second album, the wildly futuristic experimentation bass-hop of Inherit The Earth, dropped around the same time on Anticon. It's this recent creative fusion that puts the spotlight on these very different but equally off-centre acts.
Slugabed (aka Greg Feldwick) recently finished his first ever full live tour and Sam Organ from The Physics played drums in the band. We asked the pair to take five over breakfast and discuss their recent collaboration, defying genres, and caffeine shakes. Read their joint interview below.
Greg: Hey Sam from The Physics House Band.
Sam: Hello Slugabed.
Now, talk us through this breakfast you’ve made us.
Ok, so, we’ve got potato and onion that have just been cooking for a while in some smoked paprika. Put into an oven dish topped with some spring onion. We got some bread a few days ago on the rider in Glasgow, so we’ve just brought that back to life in the oven.
Mmhmm very nice. We couldn’t eat it all before the show because we’d be bloated on stage.
Things go pretty bad when I’m bloated on stage.
Paradiddles turn into paradoddles… It’s really very nice, thanks for cooking it.
No worries, that’s absolutely fine. And there’s some homemade pico de gallo and some smashed avos as well.
Wonderful. So, you’re in The Physics House Band.
Explain to me exactly why you’re not math rock… without condemning any math rock artists.
(Laughing) So I wouldn’t consider us to be a math rock band because, I guess, of our approach.
You’re more psychedelic than that right?
Yeah I’d say so.
I’m not an expert on these genres, that’s why I ask.
I think the approach with math rock is very much you sort of set out a few key pillars in what you are trying to achieve, being odd time signatures, and that kind of leading…
Trying to outsmart people.
Trying to outsmart people basically.
Whereas you’re more just trying to freak out people.
I think that’s something I like about Physics.
Thanks. We’re not saying that we’re above the genre or something by suggesting that we’re not part of it, because obviously we’ve been likened to quite a few bands in that world and also appeared on lineups that have quite a few math rock bands. But I think what we’re trying to achieve is to sort fit alongside those bands but also fit in quite a few different worlds as well.
Carve your own path baby.
Yeah, I suppose if the band philosophy driving you is sort of different, then that – almost more than the sound of the music – is what defines what you’re about I guess.
Yeah I guess it was sort of a move to… you know, I think people would suggest maybe in math rock that there aren't as many boundaries but I think as soon as you start to suggest that you need to do things in different and other time signatures then you do kind of start to limit yourself. So, I think we can do those things but we can also show that we can write a good song as well.
I think that there are some parallels there in how I approach my music. It's fun sometimes to show off a bit, or to just try and break the mould into something creepy. But at the same time sometimes it's just as much breaking the mould to do something just real good quality, simple, nice melody, etc.
Absolutely. With your approach – how has that changed, with the move from working and releasing music with Ninja Tune into working with a label like Anticon, and I guess with a bit of a change of direction and approach?
Yeah I guess in between my first and second album I spent quite a lot of time figuring out what I wanted to be making, and I think it suddenly sort of hit me that I really just wanted to be making music and not worrying about what I was making, and not thinking about what fans want or what an A&R guy expects or anything like that. I went quite far down the rabbit hole I think, just trying to see what music I like listening to, what music I want to be a part of. So I think actual technicality-wise the approach hasn't changed at all – I just sit down and noodle and I see what comes out. But I think I found a new drive inside me to do the stuff I really want to do and I’m kind of riding that wave at the minute. Just having fun, mate.
Obviously that’s now moved into a live band, which has been very fun.
It has been very fun, thank you for your virtuosic drumming.
That’s completely fine. What is next for Slugabed then?
I think it would be quite fun to bounce between the mentality of a sort of bedroom producer just making weird electronic music, and almost writing as a band or using more of the elements that we’re discovering in this live set, in the next album, to create maybe a grander project with more scope to take it into different genres and maybe some more big drum fills etc.
I’m down with that, I’m absolutely fine with that.
I don’t know, I haven’t started the next full length yet. I’ve got a sick EP coming out in the next couple of months but that’s very electronic driven. It’s called Pandemonium, keep your eyes out folks. But yeah, I think the next LP, I’d like to approach it with some of the ideas that are being formed in this live set for sure. Maybe stray even further from what people might expect me to do, especially older fans.
What do you think people are expecting you to do?
Well I think people always have a bit of trouble pinning down what I do. I think more than straying from what people expect generally I just mean straying from where I’ve been in the past, such as my first album which is quite shiny. It’s fun, good songs and stuff, but I want to take it down a slightly more experimental route I think. But we shall see how that pans out.
By the way, to anyone transcribing this, the gaps are us loading up the breakfast plate again, sipping coffee.
Yeah we’re just loading up the breakfast plate and sipping coffee.
Maybe a metaphor for the next steps?
Exactly. In terms of me musically I think I’m just going to load up the breakfast plate and sip some more coffee, you know?
And I’m going to try and not make it too spicy, but there’s definitely some Sainsbury’s mild red chillies in there.
I noticed you're on the decaf, does that mean that musically it’s not going to be as high energy?
No, not at all, I think I’m just feeling a little sensitive to caffeine at the minute, and when that happens it doesn’t make me high energy it makes me lethargic, so if anything I’m looking after the music, nurturing it so that it can function as it pleases. But that said, once I start writing the album I'll probably be drinking six cups of coffee a day, and I’ll probably make some horrible anxious music.
I look forward to it…
Look forward to some horrible anxious music?
What are Physics up to next?
So, we’ve been touring a lot this year which has been good, we released our second record [Mercury Fountain] and we’re really happy with how it went. It was definitely a step up, even though musically it felt quite similar making that record, you know, lots of experimenting in the studio and not really writing to a strict brief.
I think it sounds twice as good as good as your first record, and I liked the first record a lot.
That’s a solid review.
'Teratology' is the best song ever. (Both laughing) Footnote: I just say that because that’s like ‘the hit’, and musicians never like ‘the hit’ of their own ‘hit’.
I told Greg to say that.
So you’re doing a special re-release of Mercury Fountain right?
Yeah we’re coming up to another repress, and wanting to mark that; we’ve got some nice live audio that we’ve gathered from various shows which we want to tail on the end of that release, and also there are a few other things coming around that as well.
Any sick remixes?
There might be a remix, I'm not sure. I mean there's a Slugabed remix but…
…I don’t know about any good ones?
(Laughing) Yeah sorry, exactly… well no, there is the Slugabed remix that’s coming out, that’s been received well.
Upsetting airwaves from Radio 6 all the way to… maybe a different show on Radio 6.
(Both laughing) Yep we’ve got that. We’ve also worked on a remix for Hidden Orchestra which we’re pretty happy with.
So that's you guys doing a bit of production work?
Yeah that was an interesting one when it came in. You know, it's difficult to be delivered a project like that as a band because we all make music separately so how do you split it up? So me and Adam (bassist, synths) took it and we just thought you do half and I'll do half and then…
Stitch ‘em together?
Stitch ‘em together and see if it works, and it probably doesn’t but I think that’s exactly what a Physics House Band remix should be. It might work for a small percentage, but for the vast majority: utter confusion. So yeah, me and Adam both did very different bits, I did like a long psych guitar bit that ended up in a sort of really horrible, aggressive industrial-like Sophie-esqe bit of noise, and then it goes into Adam's beautiful analogue synth ‘Stranger Things’ section.
It sounds like a great track. I haven’t heard it and I want to.
You will, you will hear it. You’ll actually hear it on our BBC 6 Music Freak Zone curated radio show, which goes out… sometime on a Sunday… in the next few weeks.
(both laughing) Nailed it!
Yep nailed it, so that’s the plug there.
Whoever’s transcribing it, just slap the date in there. [Midnight on 25/26th November on BBC Radio 6 Music]
Thank you very much!
Would you mind if I have that last scoop?
Yeah you have that bit of avo, that’s alright, I’m going to help myself to the pico de gallo. But yeah I guess if it’s ‘what we’re up to’, what we’re up to next is getting back in the studio. Hoping to work with some more musicians and just building again, maybe looking into a full length album which is something we haven’t done yet.
To paraphrase Todd Terje, “It could be album time!”
(laughing) It could be album time!
It could be album time, but we don’t feel any pressure. People say that you’ve got to deliver an album for agents, or management, or labels or whatever but we’re pretty happy just doing what we want and if people want to get on board with that then that’s cool. I think an album feels like a real piece of work.
You’ve got to have time to focus on it.
I mean aside from the actual mass of music you’ve got to make, you’ve got to know you're headed in the right direction almost from the get go, which means a lot of inspiration, and discussion, and almost research or something, you know?
I think right now we’re just focused on being a really entertaining live act, something we love the most, and we’re still learning when it comes to approaching recording, so yeah, we’ll see what happens with that. We’ve met some really exciting musicians over the year and people that we really want to be part of what we’re doing, whether that’s in the sort of long term capacity or just in the short term for sessions and stuff there’s a lot of exciting things happening now.
David told me who’s producing your next record, probably. But we probably can’t mention it yet.
Yeah I don’t know if I know, so we’ll leave that.
It’s very exciting. Think Black Sabbath, Nirvana, Terry Riley.
Are you just naming any names?
Yeah I am.
Just anyone who has ever been a producer, keep it broad.
Imagine a great rock album, this guy might have produced it, so.
I wish I knew who you were talking about.
Leave it there?
Yeah let's leave it there. Well, thank you very much to The Ransom Note for allowing us sort of just to chat over breakfast, it’s quite nice. Anything else?
Where can people buy your record?
Your latest one, the one that we’re kind of touring, as a live band.
Inherit The Earth? They can purchase it at slugabed.earth, or anticon.com, or your friendly local, online, massive distribution company. (both laughing) Cool, alright done.
See ya, bye.