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“I don’t know we’re ever going to be a huge rock band or whatever, but it’d almost be cooler to be this unknown band that people are talking about 40 years down the line. That’s more impressive to me than, you know, selling 100,000 tickets.”
That quote is from Jay Clancy, the frontman for the up-and-coming indie rock group Sloucher. Down to earth expectations aside, his band’s full-length debut, Be True, is a stunning record, brimming with discordant guitar solos, shimmering melodies, tender vocals passages, and enough emotional peaks and valleys to dwarf the mighty Cascade Mountains. It’s the kind of album worthy of hyperbolic praise and widespread recognition in our present moment. It also stakes their claim right out of the gate as one of the next great indie rock bands to come out of storied bastion of the genre itself, Seattle.
Sloucher began as an auteurist vehicle for Clancy’s songwriting several years ago. A drummer by trade, he wanted to expand his palette and experiment around with different instruments and see what happened. “It started out as a solo project,” he noted. “I got all of these songs that I had just kind of had been kicking around for a few years, and I thought, ‘I’m going to try and make a record.’ So I spent about a year making our first EP in my friend Brandon’s basement.”
After completing that EP, which was titled Certainty in 2016, Clancy shared it with his friend Kyle Musselwhite who was blown away by what he was doing. Musselwhite was playing in a different band at the time, The Globes, but decided he wanted to work with Clancy instead. “He really dug the songs. He was like, ‘Hey, man, I’d really like the jam sometime.’ I was like, ‘Holy sh*t!’ That was like a dream come true for me. I’d always looked up to this dude, and he wanted to play on my songs. So we started jamming.” Eventually, they added Lance Umble on bass, and Clancy’s childhood friend — “He’s basically like my life partner” — Jack Hamrick on drums, and thus, Sloucher became the band it is today.
The foursome spent the next couple of years writing songs and playing shows, including a main stage set at the Sasquatch Music Festival in 2017, while refining their sound and discovering their collective identity. “At first, I was definitely calling all of the shots,” Clancy said. “As time went on, Kyle has basically become my co-songwriter. It’s sort of different on a song-by-song basis. There are a couple of songs on the record that evolved out of jams that are practice-based, which was new and exciting and something that’s never happened before.”
Eventually, they inked a deal with the Tacoma, Washington label Swoon Records, and after playing more shows — including opening up for the likes of Angel Olsen, Portugal. The Man, and Guided By Voices — they got off the road and got serious about refining their debut record. “We had everything super dialed in before we went to the studio,” Clancy said. “I think we spent like four months just kind of not playing shows and meeting up like once or twice a week and playing through all the songs and recording demos and then going home and listening to the demos and then coming back and reworking the songs.”
All of that leads us to Be True. “This record is a little more aggressive. It’s a little more guitar heavy,” Clancy said. “We had a budget this time, and we had a real studio to work at instead of like spending a year going over to my buddy’s house recording on his crappy little computer, we got to set aside 12 days and just totally dive into the record.”
Guitar heavy is the operative phrase. For those who relish in emotive and excursive guitar solos, there’s a lot to love on Be True. From the funky, reverb-drenched passage on the opening track “Blurring The Line,” the searing, chorus-painted lead on “Perfect For You,” or the apocalyptic meltdown on “Melodrama,” Musselwhite and Clancy take turns painting captivating soundscapes on their respective guitars.
“Kyle and I spent six days on just tracking guitars. By the end of it, we were completely cross-eyed and not sure if all the time we were spending on it was actually going to pay off, but I think that it did,” Clancy said. I’d tend to agree, and a lot of that success he attributes to Musselwhite. “We always say that Kyle is like the X Factor of the band, because I mean, it’s true. He is kind of the dude who takes the songs to the next level for us.”