Atmosphere play The Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium on Thursday August 25thPhoto Credit: Dan Monick
Everyone's favorite Minnesotan is back on tour and coming to a town near you. The first time I ever saw Slug and company was at the Catalyst close to 10 years ago. Since then, the group's sound has become huge, incorporating more and more live instruments while still staying true to the classic boom-bap sound that made the group famous - unpretentious rap with hints of musical genius. Make sure to catch Atmosphere as the Family Vacation Tour rolls through your town. We caught up with Slug on his way out west to talk about the tour and the new album...
How's the Family Vacation Tour been going? How was Lollapalooza? Did you catch any other groups while you were there? So far, so good. Lollapalooza was a lot of fun. I enjoyed it. We stayed pretty busy, but I did get to watch Eminem for a little while and that was about it. From what I caught, It seemed like he had a good set.
On your past couple releases, it seems you're incorporating more and more live instrumentation. Was this a conscious progression to kind of veer away from a more sample-heavy sound? You know, every time we go to make a record, I think we just try to figure out where we're at now with what we're doing. I don't think any of the records are surprising, in the sense of 'oh wow, i can't believe we did that.' They all just seem organically correct, you know? It just falls in line with what's going on with us.
You think we'll ever hear an entire Atmosphere record with a full live band? I don't know. I find it hard to believe that I would ever want to get completely away from the boom-bap of drum machines, but at the same time, I guess I don't really know what's in store for us. I've never really wanted to construct feelings over myself, so I guess I'll just take it as it comes.
What's your process like when you create new music? Well, we do most of our creating in Ant's basement - we do demoing. That's been the same for 15 years. We've always done the same kind of thing - we sit down and we just beat the shit out of ourselves trying to create ideas and moods and structure out songs there. When we're on to something, or have something that we like, we set it aside and that's when we go into the studio to kind of polish the turd. It's a process that's probably like many people's process. You just keep beating against it until you get one little idea that you like and then you start trying to mold around that idea.
With album sales being down across the board, do you find yourself thinking differently about how you go about releasing and promoting your albums nowadays? Not necessarily. If anything, I think that we've gained more perspective as artists through the traveling that we've been able to do and the people we've met. I can't say that we pay much attention to what's going on in current music. I try to listen to stuff when it comes out, but I don't think a lot of it has much affect over what we do. I don't want to be too influenced. I don't think there are any new acts that I'm into. I listen to mostly older rap like KRS, Big Daddy Kane, Kool G Rap, Juice Crew… I do check out everybody's stuff, but I can't say that there's anybody that blows me away. I like experiencing new music, but it's really hard to blow me away.
How active are you with the group's social networking? Are you into the Facebook and the Twitter? I don't do Facebook, but I do the Twitter. It's one of those things where I don't really care about the social networking, I just basically use Twitter as a place to rant. I don't really use it as a way to network as much as I go 'Here's a show' or 'Here's an announcement' or 'Here's a video.' You know, or 'Boycott Cocaine' or something… it's just a place for me to rant.
Do you go back and read people's comments ever? Not as often as I probably should, but I kind of got burnt out on the internet. I think I used too much of the internet over the past few years and now I'm feeling myself slowly start to step away from it.
You have a show coming up at The Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium on August 25th… I enjoy playing there. The people there seem to want to have a good time and they like to give everybody else around them room to have a good time. They're polite people and I enjoy it quite a bit actually.
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