Slough Feg: Alex Varley Questions Mike Scalzi About His Digital Resistance
Since their inception in 1990 Slough Feg have been a musical anomaly, creating a bold and refreshing take on heavy metal. Band mastermind Mike Scalzi fired back a few questions for The Sleeping Shaman on their most recent album ‘Digital Resistance’ and how the modern age has changed their musical outlook.
‘Digital Resistance’ is another excellent full length. How do you think the album fits in with previous works such as ‘Traveller’?
Well, I don’t really compare it to ‘Traveller’, maybe more like ‘Twilight Of The Idols’. I like the album, but it does have its faults, a couple of the songs seem to drag a little, it sort of has the ‘mid album slump’ you hear about often. But overall I like it quite a bit. I feel like it tells a story, has a decent flow to it. For me this album is more about the peaks, individual songs stand out, like ‘Laser Enforcer’, ‘Analogue Avengers’, and the title track, good live material for sure.
Album opener ‘Analogue Avengers/ Bertrand Russell’s Sex Den’ seems an odd choice for an album opener, having a much less straight forward structure than many of the tacks that follow. What made you choose this as the leading song?
It just seemed like the right thing to do. One of the better songs on the album, and something a bit surprising. I wouldn’t want to start the album with something straight forward sounding, I think it sets the stage for the whole record.
The album’s fourth track ‘Magic Hooligan’ is surely going to be up there with song titles of the year and sums up Slough Feg’s lyrical individuality. How important are lyrics to your finished product?
I suppose so, honestly most of these ideas are there to alleviate boredom in the listener, to entertain them, and to entertain myself. I’m not sure how much they really mean outside of that, it’s just entertainment. I’m a bit of a ham that way.
‘Laser Enforcer’ was released on 7” before the album. Why did you choose this song to be your leading single?
I didn’t. It was just the first song we wrote for the album, so we made a single out of it just for something to do, then we put in on the album once we wrote the rest of the songs.
For me, this album is slightly more to the point and less erratic than previous Slough Feg albums. Do you agree with this and if so did you purposefully choose this direction?
I don’t know… maybe. I think it’s pretty weird though compared to the last album. I think ‘The Animal Spirits’ was actually more straight-forward. This one is more eclectic to me, and has a wider variety of song style on it, I’m surprised you don’t think so.
As with all Slough Feg releases the artwork is a very bold choice. What made you choose this design and how much creativity did you have over it?
I came up with the idea myself. I just wanted a striking image, something that would look good on a t-shirt, hopefully it will. I just thought of Romulus and Remus, and then thought maybe that image would somehow tie in with the theme of the album… like the birth of a civilization, or the birth of a new digital age, and the death of an old world.
The title track addresses the issue of technology and how far it’s come. How has modern technology impacted Slough Feg and if you could, would you go back to a time before downloads?
I guess I would go back before downloads…yes, but there’s no turning back. I realise that to sit and rant against technology, while standing on the shoulders of technology..we all do, not that means we have no right to complain about it, we do if we think it is dangerous, or is causing problems. For instance Google glasses just came out… I have no interest in these, but I can see why some people are interested. To me it seems like these types of gadgets are going to remove us from life… rather than enhance it. But I guess it depends on your values. I don’t like the idea of running around with a computer attached to my head all the time, it sounds like a pain in the ass, and it is a little scary thinking about where it might go. Already, half the people I talk to are half-checked out, staring at their phones and sending texts instead of paying attention to the conversation. And the funny thing is, its become a vicious circle: they don’t pay attention to what’s going on now, because they are concentrating on setting up things to do in the near future on their phones, and when that future comes, they’ll be distracted from it, by their phones, planning what’s going to happen next. It’s like they never really get there, but they spend all their time trying to get there by texting people about plans for the future.
Although technology has had an obvious impact on how people consume music, records have made a noticeable comeback in popularity. Why do you think this is?
I think it’s great, I’m glad that vinyl is once again the predominant tangible form of recording music.
Over the past 3 or 4 years a lot of new classic metal sounding bands have emerged, in particular from Sweden. Are there any bands you hold in high regard and if so what is it you like about them?
I don’t know about classic metal, but I kind of like Ghost, and The Devil’s Blood, if you call them classic metal.
What are Slough Feg’s plans for the rest of the year? Can we expect some UK dates?
Europe in Late May, early June, about 8 shows, should be fun.
‘Digital Resistance’ is out now via Metal Blade Records and you can read Paul’s review here.
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Interviewed by: Alex Varley