Interview with vocalist/guitarist Charlie Wagner | By Tim Anderl
Influenced by the sounds of yesterday’s guitar rock, Seattle trio Slow Code conjure a poignant and powerful power-punk and post-hardcore sound that is direct in its song writing approach and heart-wrenching in its delivery. Proof of this is present in their Marketable Skills EP, which heat the streets in December via Glory Kid Ltd. The five songs balance dissonance and accessibility and were engineered, mixed and mastered by Nich Wilbur at The Unknown in Anacortes, Washington, a studio renovated out of an early 20th century church.
New Noise caught up with vocalist/guitarist Charlie Wagner recently to chat about their influences, the EP and his greatest ambitions for the band.
Seattle has been a pretty influential place for post-hardcore and punk. What are the bands that you grew up on there or are you transplants?
All three of us are transplants, sadly, though this seems like a swell town to raise your kids. Pacific Northwest favorites include Unwound, Wipers, Lync, Sleater-Kinney, Tragedy, etc. Current Seattle faves are Serial Hawk, Great Falls, Medicine Bows, Mommy Long Legs, and Merso.
Who would you say your predominant musical influences are? What are your non-musical influences?
Jawbreaker, Fugazi, Boilermaker, Ten Grand, Shellac, Sleep, the Stooges, X-Ray Spex, Sonic Youth, Crimethinc, Cometbus, Doris, Burn Collector, Jared Diamond, Howard Zinn, Thomas Pynchon, Haruki Murakami, Kurt Vonnegut, Cormac McCarthy, David Foster Wallace, David Simon, David Lynch, Stanley Kubrick, Lars Von Trier, Ingmar Bergman, Terrence Mallick.
Do you believe hardcore has a shelf-life? Will you ever grow out of wanting to express yourself using this medium?
I’m not sure we relate aesthetically or ethically with a lot of what hardcore seems to be about, I’m afraid any viewpoint we state on that sort of thing would come across as woefully misinformed. Noisy guitar-rock in general seems to have a staying power that I’m equally perplexed and fascinated by. There seems to be a purity in the visceral that people have always connected with, and rock/punk/etc. provides an intersection between the content of that communication and the aesthetic it exists within that other forms seemingly lack. The exploratory aspects of both electric guitar feedback and the constant reexamination of the self and of the unit of people will probably keep me entertained for a long while.
What are some other mediums you use to express yourself?
None currently, though we all have dabbled in prose, zine making, etc.
When did you begin writing the EP and what were you hoping to accomplish with it?
It’s the first batch of real material, banged out over the course of the last year or so. It seemed logical to document what we had completed thus far when we decided to record, though having Glory Kid pick it up has thrown us for a loop for sure.
Is there a unifying theme here?
Entropy, infrastructure, societal decay. The beauty of failure, the joy of a flight knowing there’s a crash at the end.
Nich Wilbur handled engineering, mixing and mastering. How did you decide that he was the right guy for the job?
We had two people we trust come up to us at a show (one of them being the sound guy and one of them being the fella that booked it) within literally five minutes of each other to tell us to go record with Nich. We drove up to Anacortes, Washington, and checked out his spot. His vibe is fantastic, very perceptive and filled with ideas to get you what you’re looking for. Can’t speak highly enough of the guy.
What are your loftiest goals for this record? What are they for the band?
The greatest ambition this band has ever had, since day one, was “be friends and write some songs.” Anything else is gravy at this point. We’re still amazed we have such a supportive scene and that people seem to enjoy this stuff.
What plans do you have for the support cycle for this EP?
Touring with our besties in Where My Bones Rest Easy in March, then a few more jaunts out before we record an LP.
How has Glory Kid helped to raise the band’s visibility and profile?
All the usual label ways, but with a larger element of trust than we’re used to. Very easy to work with and focused on helping us with all our weird ideas. So far it’s been fantastic, though I can see ’em getting sick of us any day now.
Ever had a haircut at BANG salon in Seattle?
Our bass player has! Her reaction seemed complimentary!