‘Hopefully, not, boring’ | Interview with Dead Slow Hoot

Definitely, not boring, and take our word for this, Dead Slow Hoot are a pure enjoyment to read and to listen. Have a look at our interview with the Post-Punk band below as we talk about their background and their new song, Taller Tree!

Sheffield / London based dark-indie four piece Dead Slow Hoot make us take a hard look at society with their latest single ‘Taller Tree’

Describe your sound in three words please!

Lukke (Bass): Dead, slow, hoot.

Hugo (Lead Vocals, Guitar): A better three word description is melancholic anthemic alt-rock. That’s how a promoter described us 5 years ago and we’re yet to hear a better description!

Dom (Guitar/Keys): Hopefully, not, boring

What does ‘Dead Slow Hoot’ mean and how did you come up with this name?

Lukke: It’s a real chicken and egg situation. Outside of Sheffield there’s a stately home called Chatsworth House with a sign on the gatepost that says ‘Dead Slow Hoot’ – we never remember if we named ourselves after that sign or if The Duke of Devonshire is a massive fan of the band and put the sign up himself?

Your sound is warm, heavy and melodic at the same time. What’s more important? The song, or heaviness? Tell us a few things about your creative process.

Hugo: I think the process of songwriting is really about finding one thing that excites you – whether that be a riff, a melody, a chord change or a set of lyrics – and finding ways to make that feeling last as long as it possibly can. With Taller Tree I wrote the guitar riff/chord progression and found I could just sit and play it on a loop for hours which is always a good sign! It’s quite a simple riff but because of the kind of ‘motorik’ way it’s played, I didn’t ever want to change what I was playing on guitar otherwise you kind of break the spell, so I started experimenting with new ways to create a musical structure around a riff that never actually ends or changes throughout the song. I was really inspired by a Jacob Collier YouTube video where he talks about negative harmony with Herbie Hancock, where you pick your starting chord and mirror all of the changes in the opposite direction (ie going down the scale instead of up). It’s the kind of thing that feels like it shouldn’t work but it really adds a lot of harmonic depth and you can use it as a way to make choruses, bridges etc. I used that as a starting point to suggest parts to Dom (guitar, synth) and Luke (bass) where myself and Sam (drums) just stayed right on the groove the whole way through It basically just evolved from there, Dom wrote an absolutely amazing string arrangement that perfectly amplified the tone of the lyrics – it just builds and builds until you get a really dreamy release at the end. Especially for heavier songs it feels important not to let the song just oscillate between big riffs and verses that are just segues to get back to big riffs, we want all of our songs to feel exciting the whole way through otherwise they just stop being fun to play (and we’ve written some very riff heavy songs that got tired VERY fast).

You have said that ‘Taller Tree’ was written partly as ‘a reflection on selfishness’ and as a nice way of saying fuck the tories’. Should music be political? How and why can this happen, if yes?

Lukke: Fuck yes. Hugo, please expand.

Hugo: I think for any art to be relevant it has to interact with the outside world in some way, nothing exists without context and ignoring that makes your project more like a kind of advertising – everything just turns into a trope instead of a deeply held feeling. It’s like the difference between Joanna Newsom and The Lumineers, one of them is writing in their own voice and one of them is just writing songs that sound a bit like folk. That said I don’t think you have to be political to do that, everyone exists in a political world and if you’re being honest with your message then you’ll still be sharing a worldview that is, ultimately, political. In our music I write lyrics as a way to process my emotional response to things that are happening to me, around me or things that I’m actually doing so naturally I channel political meaning into them because I feel very strongly about politics. I don’t want the lyrics to read like instructions though – first and foremost the message is about the need to address your own shortcomings to achieve personal growth, their relevance to the political climate doesn’t have to be a given and it’s sad that it is to be honest.

In terms of live performance, what is your favourite venue inside or outside the UK?

Lukke: The Leadmill in Sheffield holds a special place in our hearts and a special place in the history of Sheffield too having just celebrated their 40yr anniversary – which for an independent live venue, that’s a long long time. We’ve had the honour of playing this venue a good few times with Sheffield rock royalty like The Crookes, Slow Club, High Hazels and also with other acts that we absolutely idolise like Big Thief and Billy Bragg. The Leadmill have a real knack for hosting some of the best touring bands going as well as working with new local acts too. We all can’t wait for them for them to reopen (though we can and will wait).

Hugo: I’m gonna add in The Washington in Sheffield as well, they really nurture the live scene and there’s always a great atmosphere down there. Nick’s also really good at describing things.

You are working on a new EP to be released later in the year. Will you give us some teasers?

Hugo: We’re releasing on vinyl which is really nice for this EP because there’s an unintentional symmetry to all of the songs on the track listing which is really satisfying, all moods are duplicated either side of the record.

Dom: It’s like Tenet…

Hugo: Unlike our other records it’s got more of a narrative structure which also makes it exciting!

Which is the biggest guitar riff you wish you have composed yourself?

Lukke: Iron Butterfly, In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida

Hugo: Steve Reich, Electric Counterpoint

Dom: Radiohead, Idioteque

Would you reveal each other’s funny habits?

Lukke: We all used to live together in a lil house in Sheffield when the band first started. When living in such close proximity it’s easy to pick up on each other’s habits and quirks but I guess it’s hard to recollect any of them now. The house was like a little utopia, we lived next door to a pub and used to roll in most evenings for their disturbingly cheap burger and pint deals and their 10p pool table. I have nothing but fond memories and no funny habits to report, actually, Sam used to shower with the bathroom door open.

Hugo: I remember Lukke and Sam had an impressive collection of unexplained Greene King promotional materials…. Also Dom is the only band member who does vocal warmups, which I suppose is actually a really positive and wholesome habit that we should’ve all adopted a while ago

Dom: Lukke makes his own candles – he gave me a nice lavender one for Christmas a year or so ago. I’m currently using it to mask the stench coming from my neighbour’s flat. Also Sam does marathons, which isn’t really a habit but I think it’s mad. He’ll outlive us all.

Thanks Dead Slow Hoot!

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