Heavy Stars and Aural Explosions, a Conversion with Rachel Thode of Slow Glows by Blake Edward Conley
by Blake Edward Conley
Who are you and what do you do in Slow Glows (musical or otherwise)?
Kelli Redding: Guitar/Vox
Ian Gorby: Bass
Rachel Kae Thode: Drums
What are the origins of Slow Glows? Kelli and Rachel, I know you two formed the band, so what drew you two together to start playing with each other and how did Ian eventually get roped in?
In 2016 I began searching for people to play music with because I had been out of the scene for a few years and I wanted to brush up on the drums. I was looking for people with a similar skill set and taste in music with a preference on playing with female identifying folks. I posted on a local DIY group and Kelli was one of the first to respond. We had one practice together and both knew immediately that it was going to be a good fit. Liz Slocum (Actual Italians) joined very soon after and we began playing out in Spring of 2017. Liz had started another project that was taking off so in October of 2017 she moved on and we picked up Ian. Ian jumped in and brought a whole new element to our trio. The writing process got more complex as we grew as musicians and we’ve been writing nonstop ever since.
What lead you do the sound that you play? Your music does a good job of balancing a delicate weightlessness with some dense heft. The blend of delicate and euphoric rushes of pop often sit against a darker more sinister edge. Is this balance something you strive for or does it just naturally come out in the song writing process? What defines a slow glows song to you and what goes into writing one? Any pet lyrical themes or music motifs? Are you striving to have an overall sound as a band or is it just what comes out when the three of you are together (I guess I’m asking, should we brace ourselves for a ‘Slow Glows gone parliament funkadelic’ album in a possible future?)?
Slow Glows’ writing process is really pretty simple. If one of us has an idea, the others try to play with it and we see what fits. Sometimes Kelli writes something on acoustic and it already has lyrics. Sometimes a drum beat inspires a bass riff that inspires a guitar riff and lyrics come last. I think it depends on our moods and inspiration daily. If something doesn’t work during one practice we may try it again in a month and it immediately clicks. It just depends. And if we end up with a funk song in the future I would roll with it.
Being a music geek, I enjoy it when I band isn’t shy about making nods to their influences. I find you all are great at referencing your heroes (the use of old school light projector swirls live and in photos, the 13thfloor elevators homaging logo, etc) while presenting a unified sound and image to the public. Is there a thought process to this? Is this important to you? Do you find doing this is helpful for the band, or something you do purely for your own enjoyment?
We’re all big music nerds. I think we owe a lot to our influences and it’s also fun to share the love for those bands with our audience and other musicians. I’d say we enjoy talking about, listening to and going to see our heroes just the same as anyone else. We just like to shout it out in our own music too.
So you have a new album, Stargaze Rock n Roll, what was it like for recording this album? Tell us about your engineer Brian Olive and what he brought to the whole process. Favorite or standout song? Where did the title come from? And being from Louisville, I couldn’t help but notice the Slint nod in both the title and lyrical content for ‘Spiderland’, where did this come from?
Brian heard us play at our residency at the Comet and one of our first conversations was about getting the grittiness and intensity from our live performance onto the record. I remember saying something like “I just want it to be heavy.” He knew exactly what we were going for. As for the name of the record, we tossed around a few ideas but we knew we wanted to stick with an outer space theme since we perceive a few of our more psychedelic tracks to be quite spacey. And yes, there is a nod to Slint in the album. 🙂
You play out a lot. What differences do you find with performing your music vs writing and recording it? Do you have a preference to one or the other? Any good stories about shows gone well (or gone bad)?
We actually just had this conversation the other day. I personally prefer playing live over recording. If you’ve seen us live then you know we’re loud. In the right room we can really make the walls rumble and it draws people in, which feeds my confidence and I end up playing better. It leads to a really great exchange of energy between us and the audience.
You are a band from Cincinnati, which is a city with a rich musical history. Does this history play into your band? Or maybe rather, how does the city of Cincinnati and it’s culture/music scene/etc play into and inform your music and thoughts on being a musician? And with that, any good bands/places you want to recommend to the readers?
We have a really great scene here. I heard that we were called, “the new Seattle” at one point in the 90s, but I don’t know if that’s true. Regarding venues, we love The Comet, Northside Tavern and MOTR Pub. This town likes its beer, so most of our venues are drinking establishments, but we have some really cool record stores too. Black Plastic hosts some really great shows. I could list a number of really great bands too. Ass Ponys and The Greenhornes are some bigger names that come to mind. Newer artists that I love include: Sungaze, Freedom Nicole Moore & the Electric Moon, Fruit Lo0ops, Hissing Tiles, Disaster Class.
My personal favorite question- what music gear do you use, and any particular reason for these choices (people who don’t care about gear, skip to question 9).
I play a sparkly green Ludwig Centennial kit that I bought used for a great deal. It has a big kick and it’s really boom-y. The kit sounds great. I get lots of compliments on it.
What are some influences that inform your music, be it other musicians/art/books/food (why not?)/people?
We all share a lot of common music taste which I think is reflected pretty clearly in the music we write. We share a love for 60s & 70s garage rock and psychedelic stuff I know we all have The 13th Floor Elevators and CAN in our record collections. And then there’s some Wilco, Built to Spill, Radiohead, MBV, Slowdive etc. in there too. It’s weird. We all grew up in the same neighborhood in Florence (Y’all), but we only met a few years ago. Sometimes I wonder if our influences in music came from our desire to differentiate ourselves during the massive suburban sprawl that began when we were growing up.
Anything else you’d like to add? Philosophies, shows, albums, shout outs to your peeps?
Sure I’ll shout out some folks: Thanks to MOTR Pub for hosting our release and Darlene and Pop Empire for joining us on the bill. Thanks to Brian Olive for recording and mixing the record and Dan Randall at Mammoth Recording for mastering. Thanks to Gotta Groove and Wax Mage for making some of the most beautiful artwork I’ve ever seen! Thanks to Kelli and Eric Mauch for Rosehill Records. Thanks to Steve Schmoll for generously letting us use your screen printing equipment and everyone that has been supportive along the way.