By Rachel Angres
The three-piece band Slow Animal originally hail from Franklinville, New Jersey. “It’s the most corrupt state in the nation, but South Jersey is not that bad.” Lead vocalist Alex Kabable says this sarcastically. The trio now reside in Philadelphia, and at a last minute request drove their van to Chicago to play at the Empty Bottle on Wednesday night opening for locals Gypsyblood. Immediately following their set the three were more than happy to sit in the basement of the venue with us, where they discussed everything from their love for Seinfeld and distaste for NYC ("Driving there is in the in the top three of my list of things I hate to do,” Kabable reveals).
Slow Animal book their own shows, release their songs for free to download via Bandcamp, pay out of their pockets to tour around with their friends to colleges, house shows and anywhere willing to give them the opportunity. Their first aid survival kit for touring includes peanut butter, paper towels, pee-bottles and podcasts. This accidental alliteration is symbolic of their friendship, which started when they were punk kids back in middle school. “We’ve been in various bands with a bunch of different people since 9th grade. Dan [Colanduno, drums] and I started this as a fun secret project, and cool stuff started happening. We needed an extra person for shows, so we asked Jason [Milazzo] if he wanted to play live guitar for us,” says Kabable. They aren’t full-time musicians though--they are gainfully employed: Kabable is a pizza delivery driver, Colanduno works at a school and Milazzo works at a fitness center for the elderly.
Kababale admits proudly that Blink 182 was, and still is in a way, his favorite band, “I’m not all acting like my influences were Morrissey and Joy Division; it’s not as if when I was 6-years-old my parents made me listen to Day Dream Nation. I mean, we were born in the '90s," he says. “We get compared to Wavves, Beach Fossils, Best Coast. We never get labeled as anything close to garage rock--we get pegged beach pop…but that was never our goal. I say fuck sub-genres. We just like to play around with new sound…”
Wednesday night’s set was short, each song introduced by Kabable or Colanduno with a mumble and a nod. The guitars blared with rudiments of high hats and rides. The vocals matched the tracks to near perfection. Like patter songs, abbreviated and bittersweet, the percussion swelled against reverberated guitar riffs in unison with chanting melodies. The music was catchy enough to influence even the most bashful of audience members to dance. Colanduno’s drumming stood out; all three members admit that aside from vocals--and non-musically, their van--the drums are the most precious instrument in their band. The driving force, nearly wicked in each angst-filled blow, proves that this drummer plays with conviction.
A question about upcoming shows is followed by a short pause, “We have an album coming up soon, sometime this summer,” Kabable says. They claim that they don’t have a set plan, and in a way there is a comfort in the unknown for them. It is refreshing to witness such a sincerely dedicated group of kids who love to perform (and can actually play really quite well and with vigorous passion) and are not jaded by the hipster-dense population that may listen with high and unreasonable expectations.
Download Slow Animal’s demo EP here and stay on the look out for their full-length sometime in mid-June. You can also check out a live track from the Empty Bottle show here and watch the video for their track "Heat Wave" here.