Interview: Slow Turismo's Smoking Gun, Pistol Powder
Arguably one of Australia's most consistent, quality and infectiously cool acts for the last three years has been Canberra's own Slow Turismo. Crafting indie numbers built on tone and a pin point perfection of sounds that pick up out of nowhere and spiral into hugely sophisticated wonderment, Slow Turismo, are yet to put a note wrong. Latest single Pistol Powder continues that trend of perfection to no end, so we sat down with the band to find out how it comes about.
So, Slow Turismo have sprung back up right on time for the sunshine months, where have you been and what have you been working on?
We have been pretty much locked up, writing and recording. Since releasing You Were Dead, we have moved in together as a band. As a result, we have been living out of each other’s pockets, writing, recording, listening to music, playing pool, and drinking whiskey. Some of the bits and pieces we have been working on will probably sit on a hard drive for the rest of time, other bits are to be released in the not too distant future.
Pistol Powder really feels like you’re rumbling yourself awake again as artists; at times rolling along and others shaking itself free and raising up. A theme echoed lyrically in the idea of needing a pick-up. Is the synchronicity in sound and song a deliberate act or something that comes naturally for the band?
This is probably our first release in which the lyrics were finished before the arrangement was, and so we were afforded the opportunity to allow the words to inform the structure. We didn’t necessarily contemplate the themes of this song with our release schedule more broadly, but within itself it was certainly more considered than what we have previously put together.
On the idea of deliberate sounds, there are so many layers and small intricacies seemingly laced from start to finish of Pistol Powder. How does this come about in the studio and how are your studio sessions?
We have been refining our studio process over the last year and a bit. Since Falter we have been doing all the tracking and mixing ourselves, which has been great for exploring ideas, and overall creative control, but at times becomes counterproductive when we have no budgetary or temporal limitations. For the last few recordings, starting with You Were Dead, we go out to Infidel Studios and track drums and bass to tape. Following that we build the song over a day, guitars through to background vocals. We have to set limitations for ourselves (finishing the tracking in a day) so as to keep things moving with momentum. Because we are so focused on just one song for a day we get quite caught up on little details, sounds, ideas, and how they work together. By the time it comes to mixing, we start to pull things out again, leaving what we think are the best bits.
You worked with Ben WK and Reuben Styles on your last release You Were Dead. How did that come about and did anyone have a hand in the new single?
We have actually been lucky enough to have input from Ben and Reuben for this release too.
Louis (our bass player) is a recording engineer and has been working with SAFIA for the last few years. That particular studio relationship seemingly works quite happily in reverse with Ben coming into the fold with us to record. He is usually there for the whole weekend, helping with song arrangement, pulling sounds, but most importantly gives us the confidence to commit to ideas. For pistol powder he assumed the role of producer again.
Reuben is on old school friend of ours, and played with the Conways in Rubycon. He has been a sounding board since the band started and is always super enthusiastic to offer feedback on the songs we send him.
Both Ben and Reuben have this uncanny ability to hear what is essential, and what is superfluous to a particular song or section. This has probably been a factor in us moving towards what Dave Ruby Howe has referred to as our ‘refined pop phase’.
Bringing it back out of the detail and back broader, where did Pistol Powder originate from?
Well we first started playing it after we’d been in the studio working a lot on potential singles. We wanted to write some tunes where we could just jam and relax and it was one of the first to come out of that. It was originally quite a bit longer but always has had a similar vibe. It was only after Ben heard it after a long night of demoing other tunes that we first started considering it as a single.
With such a melting pot of influences in your own sound, what are you all listening to at the moment? And what do you feel most heavily influenced the latest single?
Since moving in together, we have been listening to a lot of music in the living room, and so our taste has kind of started to homogenise a little. In saying that, the styles of music we have been listening to has almost gotten broader. Some days it’s The Flaming Lips and Leon Bridges, others it’s Methyl Ethel and Carole King. For Pistol Powder we listened to a lot of Homeshake, Mac Demarco, Soft Hair, and Conan Mockasin.
What are the plans from here and will you make us wait that long again?
The same weekend that we recorded Pistol Powder, we recorded another tune. We are having the two printed to vinyl which will be released with the second single, sometime over the summer. Probably after that we will shoot for world domination, or financial security, or something. Realistically, we plan to just go back in the studio and keep doing what we have been doing, refining our writing, arranging, and studio processes.