Gimmie are super excited that nipaluna band Slag Queens have new music! We’re touting their forthcoming record Favours as one of the records of the year. Three years in the making, grittier than debut, You Can’t Go Out Like That, their sophomore album ventures into new territory, full of intriguing weird, and beautiful pulsating moments, but it’s unmistakably Slag Queens. It’s an exuberant listen that feels very much of this moment. First Single ‘Dogs’ is one of their most impressive turns yet. We’re premiering the song and clip today—check it out for yourself.
You recently played at MONA in Ben Salter’s Import/Export installation space; tell us about it.
WESLEY: That was really heaps of fun! I also helped mix the space over Dark Mofo and it was a pretty huge marathon! On the day we played I think most of us were a bit fragile from the night before, I was a bit worried but then it turned into a really fun show!
CLAIREY: Yep, I nearly asked for a sick bucket next to my drums. When he reached out to us about playing, I asked if we could play later in the day because we all had party plans on Friday night. He said 12noon with Bloody Mary’s or nuthin. We made it. First couple of songs were pretty shaky but I think we pulled it off! Big thanks to Ben for having us.
Since your last album You Can’t Go Out Like That Slag Queen’s debut record, Lucinda and Claire moved south from Launceston to nipaluna/Hobart; how did the move change things for you? Did it spark new creativity? How does where you live affect your art?
CLAIREY: Lucy and I moved down in 2018. Lucy moved in with Wesley in Lenah Valley and I took the small loft in Amber’s share house in North Hobart. I loved Launceston, but it was time to do the cliche thing and embrace the pull south. Slags had really found a home in the community that centred around The Brisbane Hotel and contemporary arts spaces like Visual Bulk and Good Grief Studios. Those spaces have been so inspiring for me creatively and important for finding a community, sense of belonging etc. Shit’s been weird since The Bris closed – we’re all a bit lost. Reflecting on You Can’t Go Out Like That, it really was an album with something to say about Launceston. Favours is noisier and darker but I’ll fight anyone who wants to trot out a boring ‘Hobart is dark’ analysis. You’ve drunk the corporate paganism kool-aid, kid.
Slag Queens have a new album Favours coming out in August and it’s your first release in a few years; what are your feelings about it at this point?
WESLEY: I’m super excited! Having joined the band just after wear thus for you was released it was an interesting experience touring an album I wasn’t on, and it’s been such a long time I the making and I think we’re all really proud of it and cant wait to start showing it to everyone.
LUCINDA: Agree with Wesley! It’s been so long coming and it’s been really special writing new music with Wes and Amber. I’m really proud of what we’ve accomplished together!
CLAIREY: Also excited and a bit nervous!
Why did you decide to name it Favours?
LUCINDA: We called it Favours for a few reasons. Favours has this delightfully camp air to it, and it puts us in mind of the idea of a ‘favourite’ at court or in a race, the idea that luck is behind you, but its rarely luck is it? It’s more that you’ve somehow convinced or charmed someone powerful and now you’re it baby and enjoy it while you can because you might not be tomorrow!
A favour itself is interesting too, because a favour is something that doesn’t have clear rules about it. It’s both something you can do freely or because you owe someone something. It gets me thinking about the favours we do for bosses, for family, for gender, for patriarchy. Can we stop doing these favours? What happens when we stop?
It was written and recorded over three years. When did you first start writing for this album? Last we spoke you said you do songwriting quite collaboratively with everyone in the same room, which at the time was the shed out the back of Claire and Amber’s house.
CLAIREY: Yep, that’s right! This album was written and partially recorded in the shed out the back of Amber’s (I’ve moved since we last spoke). Not gunna lie, it’s pretty chaotic in there, but it also feels so comfortable. Maybe that also describes our band dynamic? Most songs were written between 2019-2020 very collaboratively with everyone in the shed supervised by a life-sized Keanu Reeves cardboard cut-out. ‘Dogs’ and ‘Excuses’ were both songs we had written and discarded years ago, but got resurrected and reimagined.
What kinds of things were happening in your life that inspired it? Where was your head at when writing it? I understand that a lot of lyrics came from looking inward and Lucinda described it as “Angsty. Itchy. Frustrated.”
LUCINDA: Some of the lyrics are drawn from watching TV, film, reading books, which I guess the last few years has given us all a new appreciation for. Like ‘Mood of Abandon’ is based on the feeling of watching the first season of Russian Doll. That sense of doing the same thing again and again and never being able to break out of patterns, and the kicking, screaming frustration of not being master of your own destiny. That feeling in Russian Doll is just so familiar to me and it certainly has been peaking at times over the last few years. Even though it sucks, it’s a feeling with an energy that lends itself to writing.
And I guess it’s a feeling that’s both personal (why can’t I be better, why do I make the same mistakes again and again?) and about politics (are we still here talking about whether we should do something about climate change? About job seeker? About our completely fucked and unfair migration system?) I don’t like to be pessimistic about these things because nihilism is a cop out and we owe it to each other to sort this shit out. But i certainly feel like the lyrics on this album are reflective of a level of tiredness that I hadn’t encountered before.
Is music cathartic for you?
LUCINDA: Listening, writing and playing music absolutely yes 1000 times yes. Recording on the other hand is death by a 1000 cuts.
WESLEY: To be honest I’m mostly listening to 00s hardcore and alt-metal at the moment. So yes.
AMBER: I keep asking myself this but it’s been 15 years and I keep performing music so there’s definitely something cathartic in the process that keeps me coming back.
CLAIREY: It’s the best and worst thing in my life.
What is the strangest thing or thought that has inspired a piece of work?
LUCINDA:It’s not on this record, but we recently wrote a song inspired by a mythical search for Neil Diamond which was inspired by a sheet of karaoke songs that was on the floor of the shed.
WESLEY: Truth be told, that shed probably inspires most of our songs, it’s great.
The album was recorded and mixed by Jordan Marson at Studio HMY with additional recording by the band in various sharehouses across nipaluna/Hobart; what was it like to be back in the studio and what did also recording in sharehouse spaces bring to the recording?
CLAIREY: It was great to work with Jordy again. We learnt a lot recording You Can’t Go Out Like That with him and wanted to continue working together. We’re such a funny bunch with recording – we really struggle with it hey! We started recording with Jordy in his home studio back in 2019. We worked on ‘Shelter’, ‘Hazard’, ‘Shades’ and ‘Best Western’. In retrospect, those songs were super new at that stage and maybe needed a bit more time in the world before we recorded them. After that we decided to buy a bunch of gear and give things a go ourselves while Covid was happening. Home recording was both a necessity and comfort for us. It allowed us to take more time, experiment and be in familiar settings, which I think helped remove some of the pressure of recording. We went back into the studio with Jordy to finish off the last tracks in late 2021.
Are there any moments recording or wiring that you feel like you really got to play or experiment on the record?
WESLEY: Personally, quite a bit. I’d done a few noise performances before joining Slag Queens. Everyone else seems to be pretty okay with me bringing that into our songs, although I do struggle when it comes to locking things in. I think ‘Dogs’ was definitely the one that we had a lot of fun putting together.
How did you stretch yourself with this collection of songs?
WESLEY: Yoga. I’d say we’re all pretty flexible so nothing felt like too much of a stretch, except that one thing…
AMBER: It feels like less of a happy go lucky punk album, more grit, and more allowing ourselves to lean into some atonal weird sounds without feeling like things need to sound like other bands. It’s a weird album for a weird time.
CLAIREY:I hate yoga.
There seems to be a lot of fascinating sounds on you record, from what we’ve seen from live videos online and the film clip for ‘Dogs’ we’re premiering, it’s courtesy of what Wesley is doing with a stereo, drills and various things, we’d love to know more about this; what’s happening there?
WESLEY: It’s really cool! Grab an AM radio and essentially anything, like infrared remotes, small engines, big engines, tools, kitchen appliances, modems, camera flash, and they all get picked up by the radio, and you’re able to affect pitch and tone in heaps of different ways!
What’s ‘Dogs’ about?
LUCINDA: Sex, thugs and working conditions. They don’t really go together thematically but oh well.
WESLEY: I think they fit.
Jo Shrimpton shot the video. Where did you shoot the film clip? What do you remember from the shoot? Do you ever feel awkward making a video?
LUCINDA: We shot it beneath the Tasman Bridge in nipaluna. We had all these plans about using car headlights to light us up but we didn’t need them because it’s so brightly lit under there. My main memory was freezing my tits off. I do feel generally awkward when shooting but that particular night was quite a lol and it was actually really nice to have this big space to run around in, and to be wearing an outfit I really liked and also to know that I wasn’t alone coz the rest of the band was there looking hot.
AMBER: Once you’re in a location that speaks for itself, it’s easier to feel like you’re more of a piece of set decoration and you can let go of some of the ego or insecurities attached to being filmed. You’re just one piece of a larger picture.
The album art is by Laura Gillam is cool; how did you connect for the cover? What’s the story behind it?
CLAIREY: Huge shout out to Laura for painting a smiling turd on the front cover! A past housemate had one of Laura’s paintings – another fallen patriarch, this time a cowboy being pulled off his bucking horse by a thylacine. Personally, I felt an affinity with Laura’s work because it’s a bit silly, highly political and has a strong look. It was a pretty simple process – we all knew Laura, she and Wes both had studios at Good Grief. I hit her up and she approached us with the idea of doing a fallen Colonial red coat with his horse pissing on his stuff (that’s on the back). I like that she included a pineapple with his stuff – we’ve used pineapples a couple of other times in our art.
Is there anything else any of you are working on at the moment you’d like to share with us?
CLAIREY: Amber and Wes have a little band performing at the upcoming nipaluna/Hobart Little Bands #8. Amber is also still performing as Slumber and Dolphin. Lucy has been working on a solo project which is sick. I’m downstroking bass till by hand falls off in RABBIT – we just finished an album. We’re all always working day jobs.. Except for Amber who recently quit hers to study carpentry.