Over the past four-and-a-half years, a Seattle-based garage group has been peeving off neighbours with skull-rattling basslines, crunchy power chords and howling vocals.
But this is no basement gang of grunge revivalists. It’s a couple of hip-hop heads playing with pre-recorded beats, custom-cut vinyl and gel-padded turntables.
The Slew, a new project by Kid Koala and Dynomite D (real name Dylan Frombach), is a turntablist’s take on rock.
“(Dylan Frombach and I) wanted to do a heavy record: Car chase music. He told me ‘come out to Seattle and bring your turntables, and we’ll plug them into some amps and jam out in my garage,’” explained Eric San (aka Kid Koala). “It was a real grunge experience.”
Connected by a shared love of the blues, the pair envisioned a Black Sabbath record produced by Public Enemy’s Bomb Squad. The result is a thumping set of chunky riffs, high-pitched howls and understated hip-hop scratches, a sound the duo jokingly term “grungalism.”
The record’s cohesive sound comes from a vintage approach to production. For example, they would play a sample of an E chord on a Hammond organ, blast it down a halfway to a microphone, and record the ensuing sound. They then take the recording and cut it to vinyl. The result is a series of customized samples filtered through classic recording techniques.
To bring the show live, the pair cut 80 custom records, to be played on six turntables, and recruited the ex-Wolfmother rhythm section (Chris Ross and Myles Heskett) and DJ P-Love.
“We knew they play super heavy (so had to be inventive),” said San. “With turntables, you deal with a lot of technological issues: bass distortion, needle skipping, that kind of thing. But we wanted to cater to a rock show, and design equipment so we’re not on eggshells.”
For that reason, San — who is always involved in non-musical projects like drawing comic books and learning to cut records in the German countryside — did a lot of R&D. He said custom-cut records and hand-built turntable stands will lessen the sonic impact of Heskett’s vintage Ludwig VistaLite drum kit: the one with the “extra big bass drum.”
“In Vancouver, I found a place with earthquake-proof gel pads that you put underneath your computer desk so it’s safe,” said San. “We figured Chris and Myles are about seven on the Richter scale, so we needed to make sure the turntables can handle it.”
A free download of the Slew’s album is available at: www.nufonia.com/ice-creamnews/theslew/
• Toronto: Catch The Slew: Live this Saturday at the Mod Club, 722 College St., $18.50.