Interview: Sløtface

Sløtface - Photo by Martin Høye

Sløtface – Photo by Martin Høye

It’s the day before their album release, and Sløtface singer Haley Shea has just arrived home from a whirlwind week in Australia, but even the jetlag she’s battling can’t dampen her excitement.
“We have had [the album] finished for over a year now, so the fact that it’s finally coming out if really exciting for us,” she says over the phone.

Shea—along with bassist Lasse Lokøy, drummer Halvard Skeie Wiencke, and guitarist Tor-Arne Vikingstad—formed Sløtface in 2012 in their hometown of Stavanger, Norway. And although they’ve released a handful of EPs, their new album, Try Not to Freak Out, is the first full-length they’ve made in their five years of existence.
“It was kind of just a matter of us figuring out how to write a full record, because none of us had ever done it before,” Shea said, explaining why they didn’t put out an album sooner. “This is our only band, our main band, even though we’ve played music for our whole lives pretty much, so we kind of approached it as we just [wanted] to write as much as possible and then keep cutting it down and cutting it down and cutting it down until we felt like we had a really good record.”

The band ended up writing 28 songs, which was eventually narrowed down to 13 songs for the album, and of the 13, 10 made the final cut. They also moved back in with their parents for six months so that they could focus on the music and not have to worry about working or paying rent.

“We just wrote every day when we weren’t on tour and tried to treat it as a full-time job,” Shea said. “[That] was new for us, because we’re still obviously in a phase of our lives where…our band doesn’t pay us enough to live off of.”

Additionally, the band worked with two producers to help them trim the fat and end up with an album that was representative of their best work.
Along the way, they definitely learned some lessons, and Shea said they are a lot more confident about how to process works, which will come in handy when they set out to make another album.

“We’re already talking about the next one, and we’re definitely gonna try to do something different, because it wouldn’t be very inspiring to do exactly the same thing again,” she said. “It would be easy to fall into the same ideas…so I think maybe we’ll try to do it in a bit shorter amount of time now that we know a little bit more what we’re doing.”

But for now, the biggest challenge is what lies directly in front of them: a six-week tour with shows almost every night.

“This is the longest consecutive tour that we’ve been on as a band,” Shea shared. “Six weeks is just a long time to be gone, and [it’s] a lot of weeks to spend in a van, so I’m just excited to see if we can keep our energy levels up.”

When they’re not playing, Shea said the band will spend their downtime on tour doing a mix of socializing, recharging, and getting stuff done.

“We work a lot. We do a lot of administrative stuff in the back of the van. We read a lot and listen to music and it’s kind of like our chance to have a minute to ourselves usually,” she said. “We’ve toured a lot in the UK over the past years, and for that, the drives are so short that it’s kind of like you have maybe two hours, and…we usually try to take that time for ourselves, so we’re a pretty quiet band to tour with. But like when we toured the states in December, those drives were much longer. Then there’s time for a lot of late-night philosophical chats and more of that kind of thing.”

Shea also noted that the members will be writing while on tour, which will be different than before. In the past, it’s always been a “very democratic process,” with all four members writing together in the same room, but being on the road will allow for them to work on things more individually before sharing them with one another.

While the majority of the tour dates are in the UK, this tour will also take them around Germany, along with a handful of one-off dates in the Netherlands, France, and Norway. For the members of Sløtface, it’s a dream come true to be able to play shows in other countries and have people come out and enjoy the music.

“The most unexpected thing is how well people outside of Norway have responded to it,” Shea said. “We’d hoped of course that we could be a band that could tour the whole world and people would respond well to our music, but you never know if people will find the things you make relatable if they don’t live in the country you live in.”

Still, being in a band is not without its challenges, and Shea said the hardest part of it all has been balancing their lives outside of the band with their lives inside of the band, and all the work that accompanies both of these things.

“Juggling school and/or work and being in a band has been kind of tough at times. Suddenly after recording our last record, we had a full-time job, because there was so much stuff to do, [and] we still do everything ourselves pretty much,” she explained. “Making all the music videos for the record and all of the artwork and recording the songs and writing the music and all that kind of stuff, and also like not making any money off of it [is tough].”

In particular, Shea said that everyone in the band has a strong work ethic and wants to do things well in all areas of their lives, so it’s a process learning how to focus their energies but also let go of the idea that they can be perfect in everything.

But now the blood, sweat, and tears leading up to the album release is done. Time for Sløtface to hit the road and share their music with the world.

Sløtface plays tonight at Musik & Frieden in Berlin. The show begins at 20.00.


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