Slough Feg – Playing Possum

Saturday, 30th March 2013

(This content originally appeared on Blistering.com)

We’re running out of characters in metal. As today’s scene becomes more saturated and generic, the glutton of look-a-like, nondescript longhairs is starting to boil, so when presented with the opportunity to talk with Slough Feg mainman Mike Scalzi, one would have to be a fool to pass it up. Already known for his sardonic lyrical bent and penchant for “unique” topics (just reference last year’s Ape Uprising!), Scalzi’s honest and refreshing take on the metal scene is rapidly making headway on the Interhole, as referenced by his stint as a guest reviewer on the Invisible Oranges site. If the subsequent backlash proved anything, it’s that Scalzi’s assessment of metal is too dead-on for most people to handle.

To put bread on the table, Scalzi is a lecturer at a San Francisco-based community college, which probably aids him in his ability to say what’s on his mind and do it with such conviction that one can’t help but sit back and listen. The primary topic of today’s interview was to be the band’s sterling The Animal Spirits, an album that has as much classic metal swagger as anything, but the style and substance to back it up. There’s several reasons why Slough Feg is very much a cult phenomenon in the underground, but Scalzi wasn’t having any of that – he just wanted to chat, which we were more than happy to partake in…

Blistering.com: Ape Uprising still feels pretty new, so here you are, with another new album. How new are some of these songs?

Mike Scalzi: All of them are new; all of them are written in order. At this point, everyone is done with this old model of, “You gotta put your best foot forward.” For what? What will you get at this point? “Oh yeah, we’ve written some really good songs and people are going to care about them.” No one is going to give a shit – you’re going to give a shit, right?

Blistering.com: Well, you have a good reputation.

Scalzi: I care about how we sound and that’s what most of our reputation comes from, is playing live a lot. The records are cool and yeah, I care about if people like it or not, but the whole Internet metal thing…I wasn’t involved in that. Writing about metal and that shit, I hate that, it’s all stupid, but this guy asked me to write a column [for Invisible Oranges]. I told the guy I’d like to do it, but I don’t have much good to say what’s going on, I think there’s a lot of garbage. It’s not that you can’t succeed, it’s just there’s no standard anymore. Three years ago, if people heard some of this stuff, you’d get laughed off the stage, now people talk about how good it is and how genius it is. Shit when I was high school when I was 17 and we’d play random chords – we’d do it once and laugh at it. Now people do it now and people think it’s good – they’re all into themselves. Like, what the fuck!

Blistering.com: On a different note, what made you go with Profound Lore? Seems like a logical fit.

Scalzi: You answered the question right there. I don’t actually know…he [label owner Chris Bruni] emailed me asking me if we’d like to be on his label. We never had real North American distro, all of our them have been European imports, so this is the first one that isn’t like that, so we jumped at it. Cruz [del Sur] has it Europe, so they both put a good amount of money in, but half of what they would have paid, and got exclusive rights for their territories. It couldn’t hurt us to do it.

Blistering.com: I’m looking at the album cover now, so you drew this?

Scalzi: [laughs] Yeah, I did. I used to be really good at drawing with a ballpoint pen. I’m used to scribbling on stuff, so I wanted to do something different. I think a lot of people don’t like it because it’s kind of skanky looking [laughs].

Blistering.com: I’m guessing it ties into some of the various themes to the album, too.

Scalzi: I’m a teacher at a community college where I teach philosophy, and it came out of that. I was teaching the philosophy of religion and I don’t even like that stuff. I was reading Martin Luther, so I came up with things like “Trick the Vicar” and all of that stuff, which is about Martin Luther because I had nothing else to write about at the time. It’s like, “Is that important to you,” and it’s not – I just had nothing else to write about, but it’s kind of interesting; he’s weird.

Ape Uprising, I don’t want to sound like I’m totally over it, because I’m not, but after a certain point with making records like, after I heard Traveller, I was like, “What do I want to write about now?” Those were personal, anguish-type, so after that, there wasn’t that much left to write about outside of my favorite books and movies. Let’s face it, the last few Maiden and Priest albums, they’re out of ideas. Who wants to know about Nostradamus? It’s so empty of content. So it’s not like I’m out of ideas – I have tons of ideas, I just have to think about what I want to write about. I’m going to write about these Christian/theological things – that’s pretty metal, and vampires.

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