Melbourne's Slum Sociable are Edward Quinn (production, guitars, keys) and Miller Upchurch (vocals, percussion). The duo, currently touring their debut EP TQ nationally, are joined live by drummer Ryan Beasley and bassist Dylan Savage. Rolling Stone spoke with Quinn two weeks into the tour.
You and Miller are old friends, but when did you start working together as Slum Sociable?
Edward Quinn: A long time ago we were introduced by an old drummer in our band, when that died off I actually had to make a project for uni, I decided to get into producing and I thought he [Miller] was the best singer I knew so I got him on those tracks.
It was never going to be released but we had someone pass away and we thought we'd honour his memory — he was the first person to hear these tracks, he was the first person we felt comfortable enough sending them to — we thought we'd release this body of work in his honour.
That got picked up by a few labels I suppose, we were talking to them and then I guess we started going from there.
What's with the name?
[Laughs] It's a line from the Scorsese movie Gangs of New York, at that time I was obsessed with Daniel Day Lewis — still am, I guess — he was going to the butcher at some stage and it's kind of like an alliteration but it's not really...it kind of sounded sticky. I just like those two words together, hopefully it doesn't come back to bite us with "slum" being in it.
Who writes the lyrics?
Miller writes all the lyrics. I don't really mess with him on that topic, they're extremely personal to him, I wouldn't consider requesting a lyric change, not that he'd take it badly, he's not that guy, but it's just his forte.
Who would you say your main influences are?
Radiohead is definitely my favourite band, I have a [Modified Bear] tattoo that a lot of people mistake for a Deadmau5 tattoo. David Bowie, that "Blackstar" track is just so impressive, I can't believe he can still be putting stuff out like that after so many albums. Unknown Mortal Orchestra is one we both really love, LA Priest, we love as well, and of course there's Tame Impala, and everything that stems from Thom Yorke. Madlib, everything he does too, especially that Madvillain album with DOOM, we're big hip-hop fans as well. And anything that Julian Casablancas does is up my alley. And Jamiroquai as well.
So the press release for TQ describes your music as "lofo"...not lo-fi?
I honestly think "lofo" was maybe a spelling mistake and when we saw it we were like, let's just run with it, it kind of encapsulates our music. A lot of our music, especially with sampling, with doodling on the piano or whatever and chopping it up, a lot of that is accidental, and then we kind of run with it. So maybe the spelling mistake, which was an accident, and running with that, maybe that kind of symbolises how we make music I suppose.
You've managed to score some pretty great gigs before your EP was even released, and you sold out the Northcote Social Club recently.
Yeah, that show at the NSC was so unexpected. We had to knock people back, there wasn't enough room in that venue. That was definitely a highlight, but I guess the idea of going to New York — six months ago that would have been unheard of.
Our first gig was at this place called Pianos, we kind of rocked in there, not really knowing what to do, we had a ten-minute changeover, we had no hopes, I guess, of being able to pull off this show but it was one of those moments where everything just kind of worked. There were the right people in the room and it was an incredible feeling being able to play to a packed-out venue in New York — no matter how small it was -- and to get a really positive reaction.
Slum Sociable's 'TQ' tour continues this Friday, December 4t in Adelaide, ahead of Sydney, Perth and Fremantle dates. Check the band's website for details.
Topics: Slum Sociable