Seven Questions In Heaven With Slander

Today, we've got something special lined up for you: Seven Questions In Heaven with Slander alongside a pictorial lead singer Julia Farrar recently did with photographer Michelle Gemma.

Describe your music for our readers who may not be familiar with you.
Rich Freitas: We are a rock band playing pop songs, a pop band playing rock songs.

Luke Hunter: The tagline "A rock band playing pop songs, a pop band playing rocks songs" is a great introduction in terms of our sound. The songs that Gray and Julia write are typically more "rock" driven, but have the hooks and style of a pop tune, whereas the ones I write start off with a folk/pop feel before being rounded out by the "rock" sound. I would never identify with a single hyper-specific genre, but rock is just broad enough to cover what we do, and also where we want to go.

Who are your musical influences and idols?
Rich Freitas: As a big fan of Sonic Youth, I have subscribed to their theory of "kill yr idols." Musically, my influences have been Pete de Freitas, Levon Helm, and Carlton Barrett.

Luke Hunter: Personally, I grew up with a stereo from a yard sale I bought for a dollar when I was seven, and even though my parents aren't really into music, I still managed to find their cassette collection: Hall & Oates, '50s compilations with Carl Perkins and Elvis, '70s comps that would have Toto, Mott the Hoople, Jim Croce, Gary Glitter, The Hollies, The Moody Blues, etc. Things got much more complicated when my uncle showed me Deep Purple, Kiss, Meat Loaf, and hard rock in general. That's when I knew I needed to be in a band. After that, I started exploring everything, and eventually went deeper into all the previous eras of music. I enjoy post-punk, and that's a label which is thrown at Slander quite a bit, but my songwriting influences over the past few years have been very far away from the post-punk or contemporary music scenes. I've been increasingly drawn into all types of folk and singer/songwriter stuff--Nick Drake is sort of the apex of everything for me in terms of emotional resonance--but there's a laundry list of stuff outside of that too. I listen to many different genres, but my writing is really rooted in quiet acoustic songs, and for that reason the demos I do for the band are completely different textures and moods than the finished Slander product turns out to be.

Grayson Connelly: Incredible Force of Junior.

Julia Farrar: PJ Harvey. Siouxsie Sioux. David Lynch is a huge inspiration musically. Sometimes directors and visual artists are more influential to me than musicians.

What was the first album, cassette, or CD you bought with your own money?
Rich Freitas: The Police Synchronicity on LP at The Mystic Disc.

Luke Hunter: I wish I could remember. Probably the second Led Zeppelin album, the first Backstreet Boys record, or Smashing Pumpkin's Mellon Collie & The Infinite Sadness. I found out about The Smiths around the same time because someone had thrown out a bunch of their cassettes up the street from me And naturally, I grabbed them. Somewhere between all of that I bought an album with my own money.

Grayson Connelly: Beastie Boys, Check Your Head.

Julia Farrar: Crocodiles, Echo and the Bunnymen.

You worked with Serena Reynolds for your new video, "Device." What was the shoot like? Who came up with the ideas used in the video? What was your favorite part of the shoot and final video?
Rich Freitas: Serena is a complete professional, and the entire shoot was fun, smooth, and easy to do. We are going to do a video for "Flood" with Serena during the summer.

Luke Hunter: The shoot was great. The weather had finally started feeling like spring, so we threw a bunch of equipment outdoors and got to boogie outside. It was very groovy. The majority of the ideas came from Serena and Julia: the settings, the look of the band, the vibes at different times and places. They did a great job with that. My favorite part of the shoot was dancing around outdoors after such a gnarly winter in New England, but my favorite part of the final video was seeing and remembering that I had put a flower in my hair. It's the little things in life that strike me sometimes.

Grayson Connelly: The shoot was a shoot. Ideas were pretty much on the spot. Favorite thing was jamming in that field!

Julia Farrar: Serena is an amazing artist and working with her was very exciting. As a band we tried to give Serena as much creative control as possible while still remaining true to our aesthetic. My favorite part of the video is really Serena's editing. She explained the meaning of the song with her visuals in an unexpected and captivating way and that's why we wanted to work with her. She has an amazingly fresh style.

You have released two singles and an EP so far. Any plans for a full album?
Rich Freitas: One goal is to record a full length LP. And then another LP!

Luke Hunter: We've been back and forth on the idea of doing a full-length album, but there's also something fun and nostalgically beatific about doing only singles. Good singles, like good albums, have a cohesive feel to their moods, textures, and emotional response. With the a-side/b-side formula, you have the ability to hit people with either two very similar or two very different tracks, and as a band with several songwriters, it's been fun to play with the various elements people bring to the table. A full album would be great for the same reasons, so it's been on the table for discussion since the band started, but our real focus now is the writing end of things.

Grayson Connelly: Yeah. We're a band.

Julia Farrar: Someday, but I'd love to keep doing EPs and singles.

Tell us about living in Mystic, CT and what effect the town has had on your music.
Rich Freitas: The best thing artistically about living here is that there are so many people that you can draw inspiration and discipline from.

Luke Hunter: Mystic is a beautiful place with a great community of artists and a very scenic, contemplative feel. It's also somewhat deceiving, because many people think it's a town populated exclusively by upper middle class families. The reality is that there is a very diverse set of people in Mystic/Groton and New London County in general, so Mystic has its fair share of everything, and everyone drifting through. I'd have to say living in a town called "Mystic" has definitely given me an interesting perspective on things ontologically, and a strange heady philosophical/spiritual bend, so that has definitely filtered into some of my songs, especially "Trial."

Grayson Connelly: Mysterious, earthy. Much time thinking by the water.

Julia Farrar: I grew up 2 towns over in New London, CT which is similar to Mystic in that it has a long history of rock music. Both of my parents were musical growing up and were involved in the local music scene. For me, the area fostered a relationship with live music and rock that started at birth.

Final question: you're the opening act of a music festival. You can get any five artists, living or dead, to perform on the bill with you. Which five do you choose and what song do you all perform as the final jam?
Rich Freitas: For me, I would want to dance at a night out like that. The Orb, New Order, Daft Punk, Bob Marley & The Wailers, and Primal Scream. The closing number would be Primal Scream's "Higher Than The Sun" at sunrise.

Luke Hunter: My five artists would be The Clash, CAN, Sly & the Family Stone, Todd Rundgren, and Love, with the epic final jam being a soul-psych mish-mash of Frank Zappa's "Willie the Pimp!" It sounds strange, but I feel like it would be a blast given all the influences that filtered through those bands and our own: dub, punk, experimental, dance, AM pop, and psychedelia.

Grayson Connelly: Happy Mondays, Otis Redding, Creedence, Bill Withers, Parliament, and Sly playing "Knee Deep" by Parliament.

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