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"Let's Throw Ourselves At Everything That's Out There"- Slow Down Molasses

Updated: Mar 24, 2023

By Will Yannacoulias

Photos by Tracy Creighton/Copperblue Design

Saskatoon noise-rock veterans Slow Down Molasses are living the indie artist’s dream. Appearing at the Reeperbahn Festival in Hamburg, Germany on September 24th and Estonia’s Tallinn Music Week showcase a week later added excitement to the release of their sixth album, Minor Deaths on October 8th. The band triumphantly returned to Saskatoon just in time to celebrate the release of the album at Amigo’s Tavern on October 15th. In the midst of all the excitement guitarist Tyson McShane and bassist Chrix Morix slowed down to speak with NSMZ about the European dates and the new album.

Slow Down Molasses are no strangers to the Reeperbahn festival, having appeared four times in six years. One of the main music industry showcase events in Europe, Reeperbahn is a huge platform for indie artists and the band was honoured to have been invited to play. McShane spoke fondly of the festival, saying that “it was a fantastic opportunity, we met some people who will definitely help us get back there in years to come. We’ve played Reeperbahn a few times and it was remarkable to be back; we met people who saw us four or six years ago saying they bought tickets for the whole festival because they wanted to see us again.” Morix expanded that “Reeperbahn was interesting, COVID restrictions are still in place so capacity was limited, people were seated and spaced for social distancing. I looked up from playing and saw people sitting down and excitedly air drumming, giving so much energy while having to remain seated.”

Next stop on the European tour was Tallinn, Estonia. The Tallinn Music Week is another important music industry showcase which has a strong relationship with Break Out West and is a great opportunity for Western Canadian artists to connect with a European audience. “We got invited to Tallin Music Week last year” McShane shared. “We had plane tickets and accommodations booked, and we were all set to play on March 29th 2020; two weeks after the entire world shut down. Fortunately they didn’t cancel, they just kept rescheduling so we knew we’d eventually get to play. Once we got to Tallin it was unbelievable seeing people’s reactions. It was honestly intimidating, seeing the crowd literally glowing with energy, intimidating but exciting. It was a reminder of how important music is and how exciting it is to play at the best of times. The techs were excited that we wanted to play loud, so we played really fucking loud. I saw a couple reviews refer to us as ‘harsh indie rock’, which I took as a compliment.”

Morix was thrilled with the quality and range of the Canadian artists at Tallinn, and encouraged by the enthusiasm of the Baltic audiences. “There was a wildly diverse range of bands playing even though we’re all from Western Canada. To see people wildly dancing to guitar driven garage punk like Miesha and The Spanks or St. Arnaud who are wonderfully catchy and poppy, was fantastic to see and to be a part of. It’s not every day you see that sort of committed jubilance to everything that’s onstage.”

Slow Down Molasses returned home just in time for the much-anticipated release of Minor Deaths. Four singles from the album released between April and September prepared listeners for an experimental, brilliant record. Challenging, aggressive and beautifully dissonant, the songs take many adventurous twists and turns though always returning to the band’s melodic alt-rock origins. McShane explained that Minor Deaths was actually ready for release before the pandemic but was delayed so the band could play live to support it. “This album was supposed to come out last summer. For six years straight we were in a cycle of releasing an album every couple years and touring in between. After touring for 100% Sunshine (2016) we were very ready to slow the pace, so we took a couple years to write this album. We took that chance to sit back and figure out exactly what we wanted to do, how we wanted the release to happen, get a few details in place that if we’d put out the record last year would have been a little more rushed and scattershot. Aaron (Scholz, second guitarist on Minor Deaths) took an awesome leadership role. That’s the first time in the history of this band that somebody else took on setting the vision on an album. It was exciting and a bit challenging to me, to have somebody else push things and shape things. Aaron’s so talented and thoughtful, the result is something that we’re all excited about.”

Morix elaborated on how releasing the album a year later than originally intended played in a role in look of the album and the videos for the singles. “Delaying the release of the record also gave us a chance to think about the visual aspect” he elaborated. “Brandy Strauss is this fantastic artist from Edmonton, she was sending us over this awesome visual work we got really excited about that wouldn’t have happened otherwise. The videos too, because of the pandemic Aaron did a lot of shooting and I got to animate one, it was cool to take a moment to rethink what we do. If we’d put the album out when originally intended it wouldn’t have had the same esthetic.”

McShane, Morix, drummer Jordan Kurtz and returning guitarist Lévi Soulodre took just enough time to unpack their bags before packing Amigos Tavern for the Minor Deaths release party on October 15th. A conscious decision was made to share the stage with an eclectic mix of talented but stylistically unrelated artists. “One of the things I like so much about playing overseas is the diversity of the bills that we play on” McShane shared, “so we quite deliberately tried to bring that to Saskatoon. With this show we wanted a mix of people, not just a bunch of dudes like Chris and I, in black t-shirts with their arms crossed. Toria Summerfeld is really cool, almost R&B but weird and arty. Beach Body is really charming chilled out indie pop, maybe a little psychedelic. And of course June Thrasher ended the night with a rad dance party. It was our album release show, but the other three artists had new albums out as well.”

When asked what the future holds for Slow Down Molasses, McShane offered an anecdote instead of an answer. “Lévi (Soulodre, guitarist) insisted on picking the name for the next album. When talking about the history of this band we take a very fatalist perspective; there’s an unwritten assumption that in six months the world may end, or half the band may move away, nobody knows. Lévi suggested the next album be called Fatalism, to capture the past and future of the band. That makes sense, to have an album inspired by the idea that we don’t know what will happen next, so let’s just throw ourselves at everything that’s out there.”

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