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Slomatics Guitarist David Majury Discusses New Split EP With Ungraven, New Live Album "Live At Start Together Studio" And Much More

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Band Photo: Slomatics (?)

Northern Ireland tends to get overlooked when it comes to rock and metal music, but from Gary Moore to Sweet Savage to Therapy? and beyond, the small nation has had no shortage of great musicians and headbangers. Over the past seventeen years, another band has emerged which may not have reached the commercial highs as some of these aforementioned bands, but rock just as hard and have earned their place as one of Northern Ireland's fiercest trios. The band in question, as if there was ever any doubt, is Slomatics.

We're only two months into 2021 and already Slomatics is gearing up for their second release; a pulverising split EP with Ungraven of Liverpool (see Ungraven interview here.). With all new material, this marks the ninth split release from the band, who continue to give a platform to other talented artists while reminding us all of what a high quality band they are themselves. To find out more about the split EP, the live album, "Live At Start Together Studio" and much more, I spoke with guitarist David Majury. You can find the interview in full below.

Diamond Oz: Thank you for taking the time to speak with me today. You've three new songs on the upcoming split with Ungraven. Were these written specifically for the release or are they a taste of a new full length to come?

David Majury: They were written specifically for the release – we’d talked about doing something with Jon straight after our last album was out, so when we started writing again we had the split in mind. This tends to be how we work, as soon as one recording is done we are looking forward to the next project, whatever that might be. The songs were written to hopefully provide some light and shade, one of the things about recording 18 minutes of music is that it means the writing should try and cover as much ground as possible, so it was a nice challenge. We knew Ungraven would absolutely bring it too, so we tried our best to compete!

Oz: This is the ninth split release that Slomatics has been a part of. Why do you feel that this format works so well for you?

David: It’s a bit of a strange situation to be in having done so many – and we have two more planned for this year – but yes it is a format we like to do. There are artistic reasons, like it’s great to share a release with a band we really like, usually who are good friends too, and I’ve always liked how a split can give the listener a nice mix of music on one record. Splits are really common in the hardcore scene, or at least they were, and the whole Man’s Ruin series of splits was something we enjoyed a lot. Then there’s the practical side – releasing a split is fairly cost effective, particularly if you want to be prolific in putting music out. I think this year will mark our 19th physical release and we’d not have hit that milestone if we only made full albums. I like how writing for a split is different to an album too, so it keeps both processes fresh.

Oz: How did the partnership between yourselves and Ungraven come to be?

David: We’ve known Jon for many years, I think we first met when we played Liverpool around 2005. Jon was doing some kind of proto-Conan stuff then and we’d a shared love of fuzz pedals and Sound City amps. We’d stayed in touch and of course he single-handedly gave us a huge leg-up with the Conan split, as well as getting us European shows for the first time. I don’t think anyone would have heard of us if it wasn’t for him! I’m in the lucky position to get to hear a lot of Conan stuff long before it’s released, and he’d been sending me Ungraven stuff from early on when it was really more of a concept than a real band. We are on his label Blackbow Records so when he floated the idea of a split with Ungraven it was a very easy decision to make.

Oz: The Ryan Lesser artwork for this release is incredible. This seems to be his first credited piece. How did he end up doing the cover for the split?

David: Actually Ryan is a long established artist with some fairly serious credentials – if you’ve ever played the Guitar Hero game you are already familiar with his work! He played in a band called Megasus years ago who both Jon and I loved, and in one of those rare moments when social media is actually useful I noticed he was following the band. I sent him a message and he was surprised we knew Megasus, and really it just went from there. He’s such a humble, lovely person, and just a huge music enthusiast. He designed gig fliers for the likes of Torche and Doomriders back in the day so I was familiar with how great his work was, and figured I’d chance my arm and ask was he interested in doing something together.

He’s a Conan fan too and was really into the idea which we were just so pleased about. We sent him the music and gave him free rein, and his very first idea was what became the cover. We all couldn’t be happier about it, if you’d told me ten years ago we’d release a record featuring both the Megasus guitarist and Fudge Tunnel bassist I definitely would not have believed you.

Oz: The split is being released through Black Bow Records, who put out your last two full lengths. How's the relationship with the label been thus far?

David: It's perfect. We don’t have a contract, Jon lets us do absolutely whatever we want, and it’s all based on our friendship and trust. Jon has done an amazing job promoting our music, given us insane opportunities and is 100% behind what we do. To me, it’s exactly how a label should be run – all about the music.

Oz: You've also just released a live album, recorded at Start Together studio. Do you feel this is an accurate representation of your live sound and how has the fundraising for the studio been going so far?

David: Well, that session was recorded nearly two years ago. We were really happy with the sound quality and mix, which was done by our usual producers. It’s been on YouTube since and we did get asked often about a release, but as we already have the Roadburn album out we were happy as it was. Of course, COVID has hit the creative industries and small businesses hard, so we had the idea to put it on bandcamp to raise a few quid for the studio – when we asked them what they thought they were delighted, but being the generous and supportive folk they are they announced they’d use the money to offer recording to other younger Belfast heavy bands, as there’s fewer opportunities for heavy music in a small city. So it’s an opportunity to give something back, even if it’s on a small scale. It’s been going really well so far – to me if a band got even a day free in the studio then that’s a worthwhile thing.

Oz: It's now been almost two years since your last full length, "Canyons." Looking back on it, how proud are you of the record and how well do you think it fits in with the rest of your catalogue?

David: I think it’s probably our most ‘complete’ record in many ways, and I suppose we are proud of all our releases. Not in a vanity sense, more just in that I know how many bands never get to record even one album due to real life getting in the way, and here we are putting out our sixth studio album. When I hear it I’m taken back to the recording which was, as always, an amazing experience, and then getting to play the songs around Europe, so it’s a good feeling.

In terms of fitting in, you’d be a better judge of that than me. We hoped it represented a move forward in terms of sonics and textures, but really it’s up to the listener to decide. At the time it was definitely the record we’d hoped to make. Like, to us it’s very much a different band than our first record, but I’m sure to plenty of folk it’s just more of the same old fuzz guitar!

Oz: Unfortunately things are up in the air thanks to COVID and Brexit, how do you think this will affect the band going forwards and have you had to put any plans on hold as a result?

David: We’ve lost out on shows in places like Iceland, Germany and Sweden already, and have watched this year’s bookings pretty much vanish too already. We are extremely lucky that this band isn’t our job or source of income, as it must be such a nightmare for touring bands. We’ve lost out on some fun trips but are in a good position in many respects, like we’ve been able to practice up until recently so have a pile of new songs written and ready to go.

The long term impacts are obviously harder to predict, Brexit was always going to make travelling to shows much harder, on top of the financial hit too, but with COVID added in it’s just impossible to tell how things will be once ‘normality’ returns. We only really do fly-in European shows, and there’s the risk we will become an expensive proposition for promoters if flight prices increase. With the relentless damage being caused to independent venues and the music business in general there may not be a place for a band at our level anymore. But we’ll see, at the end of the day once lockdown is relaxed we’ll go back to our dingy rehearsal space and make a racket again which is really the most important part. I’m well aware that COVID has had much more serious impacts than cancelling shows for our band, so we don’t feel like we are in a position to complain.

The spllit EP with Ungraven is currently available to pre-order from the band's official bandcamp.

Diamond Oz's avatar

Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com since 2007 and a metal fan since 2001, going as far as to travel to other countries and continents for metal gigs.

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