Australia's Slug Guts are preparing their second LP for Sacred Bones, Playin' In Time with the Deadbeat with a trail of touring chaos, beautiful ugliness and malnutrition. Jason Diamond and I gathered up our questions for guitarist Jimi Kritzler as we explore the down under-underbelly of Aussie's famed career criminals, peccadilloes, 50's fascinations and the post-apocalyptic splendor of Cleveland.
From my experience of listening to Australian rock n' roll, there echoes a shared western desperado in the outback “Wild Country” edge. What attributes to Slug Guts’ own hollowed out wild ‘preacher with a gun’ style songs?
I think we appreciate Southern American iconography and music and our interest in it has played a role in the 'preacher with a gun' style of songs but even more so I think our own life experiences lend themselves to be indulged in the musical form we create.
I have heard that you're earliest rock n roll inspirations came from Jerry Lee Lewis. Does his music continue to influence you or the band's sound?
I really like Jerry Lee Lewis, he's an amazing fuck up, between marrying his 13-year old cousin and just being a renowned violent piece of shit he carved out this strange reputation. His music is at times a bit trite but he has this animalistic coarseness to his songs that was unheard of in the 50's.
You all have that down at the crossroads blues streak in your style. Where do the influences of Howlin' Wolf and Robert Johnson factor in today with you guys in the writing and recording process?
We appreciate the iconography, as I said before and the old stories of Johnson selling his soul at the crossroads, but to be honest it plays absolutely no role in the music we make.
I'm really interested in that Aussie western sounding, 'death of the desperado' twang contingent that permeates so much of the alt. Australian musical landscape. Does living where there is more natural frontier than urban/suburban developments breed your kind of garage punk, cowboys on the trail to hell style?
I really want to answer this question as though all of Slug Guts live in Alice Springs/on the Nullabor/Uluru-Ayers Rock but we all live in metropolitan city centres. I honestly think suburban poverty/depravity has informed us and what we sound like alot more than any natural elements.
With Aussie veteran and contemporary bands like The Birthday Party, Scientists, Blank Realm, Circle Pit, Feathers, Holy Balm, Keep on Dancin’s, Low Life, Naked on the Vague, Total Control, Uv Race, Whores, etc; do you see yourselves as part of a great lineage with these bands based upon shared sound characteristics?
Alot of the bands you mentioned like Low Life, Circle Pit, Total Control are good friends of ours but we don't really see ourselves as sounding anything like them nor would we want to. I guess the idea of 'lineage' is convenient but when people compare us to the Scientists/Birthday Party I feel like they are missing the subtleties, humor and our personalities/stories completely.
With Australia's history as once serving as the UK's proto-Alcatraz prison continent model; does that in any way contribute to the jail motifs in Slug Guts songs?
I think we all mutually appreciate the subtle yet fucked up humour of the 'priso' or criminal elements in Australian culture, career criminals in Australia like Mark Reid, Abo Henry, Al Gangitano, Jim Krakouer, etc have given us literally hundreds of hours of conversation but as far as songs most of the ones involving prison references, pretty sure there is only one or two, are usually just folklore stories or things we have been told which are just really mentally unhealthy.
What's Australia's current chemical state of mind?
I am not sure I can speak for the entire country…but not healthy by the look of it.
How do you and JD handle the vocal duties in the group?
JD handles it all now, it is better this way.
We hear you had a rough recent extensive international tour encompassing 'court trials, death, rehab, and bouts of violence following thousands of kilometers spent in a van.' Curious on where to begin on what kind of impact that had on your upcoming album?
It has been a strange few years and I think for a large part of those years a few of us went completely awol and cared little what effect our behaviour had on anyone around us. When we toured America last time, I would like to say we were at our worst but when we came back from America and were booked to do two Australian tours it got so much more ugly. I can say we have grown up a little…as far as the album it is definitely the most ugly albeit beautiful (in a malnourished way) record we have ever made. I don't think we could have made this record and have it sound the way it does without all the completely unecessary strain and stress we put ourselves through on a daily basis. We really fucked up there for a while.
From your tours, where would you say felt the most apocalyptic environment wise?
Cleveland. Intense city.
What was the deal with that chaotic incident at your show in New Orleans?
This story has been miscontrued a little but I know what incident you are talking about, a kid got shot in the neck but I don't really want to talk about it as it was a shitty thing to happen and doesn't involve Slug Guts really.
Any other tour notable tour chaos worth mentioning that we have forgot?
Nothing we want to really put out there, there are alot of moments where at the time when you are passed out cold in a childrens toilet in Japan and have to be carried back to the van by the Japanese tour manager or in a New York street waiting for an ambulance to arrive thinking if we all live through this, we will look back and laugh. Alternatively you are also thinking that for six people with a relative amount of intelligence how did we screw up so badly?
Any follow ups in the works to Joey's Kitchen's Floors Siltbreeze LP, Look Forward To Nothing?
I have no idea but pretty sure there will be another record, as long as Matt Kennedy is bummed out Kitchen's Floor will continue. If he ever finds happiness that would be the end of the band. Somedays I imagine their fanbase of really weedy depressed record collector types praying that Matt doesn't get laid because they would be left without a conclusion, just sitting there looking forward to nothing.