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The SLoT Interview

Russian musicians are becoming a force in the music of Europe, both Western and Eastern. They are known for a variety of styles, some favoring the music scene from Western Europe, some approximating other styles. However, only one band seems to be taking direct aim at America. The SLoT, from Moscow, showcases a progressive metal style that would be right at home for supporters of bands like Linkin Park and Korn, but they do it with a duel male / female vocal and a top flight metal Russian cast.

Sonic Cathedral’s Doctor T discussed this direction with The SLoT’s female vocalist Nookie in between tour dates as the band prepares for it’s first performances outside the former Soviet Union.

The SLoT

Doctor T:  The SLoT is an up and coming band, not only popular in Russia but also outside the country at this point. We don’t really know much about Russian musicians. Could you tell us a little about yourself, what music you like?

Nookie:  Generally I don’t listen to female metal music. I don’t like it overall. It’s not my favorite type of music. But I do like “In This Moment” because of Maria Brink's screams. And I like the power of their music, the youthful energy. There are no other metalcore female singers that are famous or modern. I listen to Killswitch Engage, Bring Me the Horizon, Sleeping with Sirens and Animal Alpha. Some bands I like with female singers are not really still around like Exilia and Guano Apes.

The SLoT 

Doctor T:  How would you describe the The SLoT’s musical sound? I've seen it compared to a number of styles, both American and Western European. What do you see as the influences for The SLoT's music?

Nookie:  The melodies of our music is often a combination of melancholy Russian melodies from classic and folk songs with energy and power from alternative rock music. We also include electronic sounds, keyboards and the typical type of hip-hop and other sounds you’d find in electronic music kind of like you see in Linkin Park’s music for example.

Doctor T:  I know you're working towards doing more live performances in the West. How are you expecting those audiences to differ from the ones you've been playing to in Eastern Europe?

Nookie:  I have no idea. How can I guess? I have not even visited anywhere in Western Europe yet, so I hope it’ll be cool.

The SLoT 

Doctor T:  Could you tell us a little in terms of background regarding the members of The SLoT?

Nookie:  Everybody in the band were in different thrash metal, death metal and other types of metal bands. For example, Dude was the drummer in a shock rock band and wore leather shorts and a dog collar on stage and wild makeup. Nixon played in a lot of brutal death metal bands. ID was a guitarist in a thrash metal band before forming the SLoT with Cache, and Cache was the guitar player and singer in a progressive melodic death metal band.

Doctor T:  I've only worked with a couple Russian bands that sing in English. Do you expect this English project to be just for recording purposes or do you expect to perform in English when performing live?

Nookie:  Of course, we already have. In May we performed Break the Code and Heaven in English and we have already two videos of this performance on YouTube and included on our Russian "The Best Of..." deluxe edition DVD. When we opened for Limp Bizkit in October we performed, I think four, songs in English. When we go to Holland in February we will perform our entire English CD there in English. So yes, of course, we’ll perform our English tracks live.

The SLoT 

Doctor T:  What are some of the themes, lyrically, that drive your music?

Nookie:  Different things about the lives of people... teenagers, sometimes silly songs like “They Killed Kenny”. Sometimes serious songs like Break the Code about reaching your dreams when everybody close to you tells you that you can’t do it. At the same time we have songs that are about unreal things like ghosts and vampires like in our songs Mirrors and Vamp. I really try not to sing too often about love because it’s overdone. But we have sometimes these themes, like in Heaven and Two Wars and Dead Stars, but these aren’t absolutely about love... you have realize that they’re about the connections between people. That's the main theme I'd say, about how people connect with each other.

Doctor T:  I've heard of a number of your touring performance locations. Those are pretty exotic for most Westerners. What have been some of the high points for you in terms of playing outside of your base location?

Nookie:  Our major cities in Russia are of course Moscow and St. Petersburg, and some other big places we tour like Kiev quite often. But maybe the coolest place we played was at Red Square in I think about 2008. There were probably 51,000 people for some celebration about the government or something, I don’t remember exactly. We played six songs including “They Killed Kenny,” and in this song it was kinda cool because there’s one line we have where it says "Kenny will live forever like Lenin," and we were playing right in front of Lenin’s Tomb.

The SLoT 

Doctor T:  Kenny and Lenin, now that’s not a combination I would have put together on my own. My experience in dealing with a number of Russian bands is that they don't always know about each other. Do you follow any Russian bands in terms of their music, and if so, who would they be?

Nookie:  I like a band called Krapiva, but it isn’t around anymore. I also like a band called Animal Jazz. Both of the bands are from St. Petersburg. Most of the better Russian bands are from there, probably because it’s cheaper to live there and musicians are always broke.

Doctor T:  What music do the members of The SLoT listen to when they want to hear music from outside your area?

Nookie:  I think Dude’s favorite band is Within Temptation and I don’t really know what else. Nixon likes metalcore and metal in general. ID likes Paramore and Lost Prophets. Cache likes Death, Faith No More, the Beatles, Meshuggah and Depeche Mode. I like as I said Killswitch Engage, Bjork, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Guano Apes and Alanis Morisette.

The SLoT 

Doctor T:  I wrote a review of your EP, Mirrors. When will the full-length production be available, what are the distribution plans and what can we expect from the CD in terms of music?

Nookie:  Right now we don’t know exactly, we’re waiting for the label to tell us. The CD is done, so there’s nothing more we can do to make it any faster. As far as I know, distribution will be everywhere you’d expect a regular CD to be available in the world. As far as music, it’s 14 of our best tracks converted into English from our four CD’s we’ve come out with already since 2002. We re-recorded the instruments, re-wrote all the lyrics into English, of course had to record all new vocals, and we’ve got a really cool mixing engineer named Werner Beukes doing that. 

Doctor T:  You've been working with Travis Leake now for a while. Has that been different from working with the people you usually associate with? Has that changed what you do and, if so, how?

Nookie:  It’s another kind of producing. Our previous producers we worked with them in a general meaning of the word producer. But with Travis it’s the only way we found to make our CD into English as we want it. Maybe the most important thing is that we have relied on him to make sure that the way we sing is appropriate for the western world. Also, he’s in charge of the mixing and for us it’s a different vision that we’re used to in the Russian style of music mixing.

The SLoT 

Doctor T:  In terms of performing in the West, are there any places the band is especially interested in visiting. What do you see as some of the more interesting locations you hope to visit?

Nookie:  Japan would be cool. It’s funny for me that we’re starting our world tour in South Africa. It’s totally unexpected, and for us a really unusual place to start touring because you never think about English singing and South Africa in the same moment. Usually, right, you would think America or England, but not South Africa. I want to go everywhere though. It’s impossible to say where I would like to see the most because I have nothing to base a decision on.

Doctor T:  When you perform, do you perform with other bands, the same or different. In the west, bands often tend to stick together when they tour, several travel together. Is that the same for you?

Nookie:  Usually we don’t have support bands. But if it’s a festival of course there’s other bands. We haven’t toured yet in the west, so it’s hard to say how it will be. But we are touring with POD this year, so maybe next year I can tell you better.

Doctor T:  We don't always think of Russia as a strong musical force, but clearly that is changing. Could you talk a little about the general music scene in Russia, is there a strong Female Fronted Metal presence?

Nookie:  In Russia there are only really two significant metal bands with female vocals, us and Tracktor Bowling. Generally in Russia with rock music it’s not part of the normal show business system here. There are potentially so many good bands here but we don’t know about them because there’s really no system here to promote it. Two out of the maybe ten successful rock bands in Russia have female vocals, the rest are all guys.

The SLoT 

Doctor T:  Well, I listed 3 in my “Best of 2010” so we’re sure hearing about some of them here in America. Any final thoughts for our readers here at Sonic Cathedral?

Nookie:  Well I can tell you that the name of our English CD will be "Break the Code" unless something changes. This is the first place where we've announced it, so your readers are the first to know. We'll be performing in the Hague, Netherlands on February 5th at Paard Van Troje. It will be our first concert ever outside of Russia, Ukraine -- where people speak Russian like the Baltics and places like that. In July we're performing with P.O.D. in South Africa for three shows in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban. We're working on some European shows also, but nothing is confirmed yet. Hopefully we'll get to the USA and other places this year also.

Doctor T:  And a lot of people are certainly looking forward to that. So thanks for the heads up, we appreciate the announcement. And, we do wish Nookie and the boys from The SLoT all the best in their upcoming tour, and further tours down the road. Russian music is becoming a force to be reckoned with, and we sure hope that movement brings you here at some point.

So thanks again to Nookie and the rest of The SLoT, and a special thanks to Travis Leake for helping put this interview together. We look forward to much more great music in the future, and to some live shows when they happen.

The SLoT 

Please see the following sites for more information regarding The SLoT:

Official Site (Russian Only) 
Twitter: @SLoTband

The SLoT are SET to take the WOLRD by force! Upcoming Events:

‎2/5 - The Hague - Netherlands
5/25 - Warsaw - Poland
5/27 - Moscow - Russia
5/28 - St. Petersburg - Russia
5/29 - Tallinn, Estonia
6/2 - Heerlen, Netherlands
6/3 - Purmerend, Netherlands
6/6 - Bratislava, Slovakia
6/7 - Prague, Czech Republic
6/8 - Budapest, Hungary
6/10 - Milano, Italy
6/11 - Pinarella di Cervia, Italy
6/16 - Birmingham, UK
6/17 - London, UK
7/14 - Cape Town, South Africa
7/15 - Johannesburg, South Africa
7/16 - Durban, South Africa
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