Edmonton based punk band, Slates, are playing in Gage Park this Sunday as a part of the ‘Seven Sundays’ music series that leads up to Supercrawl. Slates are touring to support their latest album, Taiga. The band worked with legendary engineer Steve Albini (Nirvana, The Stooges) to create their great sound. I had a chance to catch up with Slates’ James Stewart to learn more about the band.

Check out the interview and head over to our events page for the  Seven Sundays show details.

Q – Can you tell us a bit about how the band came together? How long have you guys known each other?
The band came together late 2008. We’d known each other from previous bands around Edmonton and over time and through various projects and trial and error it seemed like this was the right mix of people.

Q – What are some of your influences?
We take influence from a lot of places, but I’d say we are in the same wheelhouse as Husker Du, Fugazi, Hot Snakes, Anne Murray.

Q – Can you tell us a bit about how Taiga came together? Why was the choice made to go with the analog approach? I’ve been getting a lot of tapes handed to me by bands and it definitely seems like it is becoming a used format again.
Well, the cassette thing is a little odd to me but I appreciate people working outside a purely digital format.
Recording to tape has been our preferred method from the start. We wanted to go to Electrical Audio in Chicago as it’s the most dedicated analog studio in the world. Once we got all of our ducks in a row, we spent 10 months or so really tearing the songs apart and fine tuning and challenging everything.
We knew Albini was really hands-off when it came to the ‘production’ aspect of things, so we wanted the songs to be ready for live recording, no overdubs, no funny stuff. Work quickly, don’t get lost in a sea of options. We enjoy the challenge, and sonically it can’t be beat.


Q -How do your songs typically come together? 
We really stress collaboration. Even a pretty fleshed out individual idea will change massively once everyone brings their ideas to the table. Taiga (the song) was literally written on the spot at the end of a practice, and is more or less unchanged to this day. It kind of set the tone for the record and was a defining moment for us. I write lyrics to the tone of the song, Dallas offers a lot of concepts and ideas.

Q – What’s it like to be in a punk band based in Edmonton these days?
Edmonton is a part of this band. I don’t know what we’d sound like if we came from somewhere else. It’s a great place to create music or art, every other aspect can be frustrating. It’s home and we love it.

Q – You are playing in Hamilton at Gage Park this weekend. What do you think of when you hear the word – HAMILTON- ?
I think of the time we got farted on by some gross old man as soon as we got out of the van. I think of people working hard to keep their city vibrant. I like it more every time I’m there. It’s similar to Edmonton in many ways.

Q – What are you listening to? Can you recommend a track?
Viet Cong – Throw It Away. Saw them in Montreal on a day off, they’ve really come into their own.

Q – What’s the best thing you’ve done this summer so far?
We swam in the Atlantic. For a bunch of prairie skids that was a pretty great time.

Thanks, James!