A punchbowl or gravy boat. That was their answer when I asked them what “dish” they would be if they were all spices in a dish. The members of the band Slimfit are anything but predictable and everything that is synonymous with fun and witty. Last night, I had the chance to interview them before their show with Perkasie, Toy Soldiers, and Conversations with Enemies (or perhaps the band was Conversations with Friends – we’re still out on that one in terms of deciding who the guys actually played with – both bands are fun and worth a look, though) at The Khyber in Philadelphia, and the experience worked its way into my psyche so deeply (for good or ill I’m yet to determine?) that I dreamed about the band all night. That usually only happens to me when I’ve rubbed arms with something great, so hear me now, Slimfit is on the move.
First, introductions should be in order . . . let me start non-traditionally here with Tony Kirchner, the drummer, who plays with arms that would make Mr. Elastic jealous and considers his power animal to be a monkey. Then, there’s Sam, half of wild duo of electric guitar players; Sam seems to drop into a trance as he plays, letting the music move through him smoothly – his bandmates claim his animal is a bald eagle, and I was given the charge of determining whether he was an actual eagle or Sam the Eagle from the Muppets – I’m still not sure. Pat, the other, wilder electric guitar player, has made an art of the crawling between the legs of his bandmates while managing not to tangle himself or any of the other guys in chords. His animal – a brontosaurus (I should note that I started saying this should be a “household” animal, but again, here, these guys interpret broadly.) Sean, the quintessential solid bassist, has only recently started to really groove it physically on stage, or so his beautiful wife tells me, but every time I’ve seem them play he sets the beat with Tony and moves it, bodily or not; Sean’s animal is, as determined by the other guys, a sloth or an ostrich – I don’t know what that means. Finally, there’s Joey, the lanky and lean lead singer who powers out the vocals, fueled by Pat’s beer on occasion; my friend Kathy swears Joey kept his left leg in the air for an entire song, so you can see why his animal, that Pat named him, is a turtle – stamina man, stamina – turtles live forever. (I should also mention, a bit belatedly, that Joey’s mom told me that he was always a man who wanted to play his own music, even as a tiny kid. . . she said this with such pride. Nice!)
And if I have my way, this band will be around for a long time. Their music is, as they describe it, a mesh of Uncle Tupelo, Steve Earle, Dinosaur Jr., Lemonheads, and Dag Nasty with perhaps a little Tom Petty thrown in (oops, did they want me to leave out that Tom Petty part?) . . . if I had to capture it, I’d compare them to Bill Mallonee, one of my favorite artists, because of their wise lyrics that poke fun and uncover truth in the same phrase. Plus, they’re tight musicians, with guitar riffs, bass lines, and drum patterns that are belied by the ease and energy with the guys seem to play. It’s great feel good music that makes you want to dance and think – or leave it alone and “not think about that tonight.”
As Pat, Joey, Tony, and I were chatting, people kept coming over to say Hi; apparently, these guys are beloved by many, including Matthew (Pat wanted me to spell his name “Maffew,” but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it, except I just did) Ferry who said “these guys have had really interesting lives. Their attitude shows through their music.” Matthew also claims that they kicked his ass several times in his life, a fact which Pat didn’t deny, but somehow, as in the ways of men, it seems these “beatings” only built respect. And so their music does. One fan named Dan walked over and asked when Slimfit was playing. They gave him a time, and then asked the guy who he was; he told them he was a fan that had come just to hear them play. Tony’s face lit up like the light of a refrigerator in the middle of the night when you really just need a bite of cold macaroni and cheese; Joey and Pat shook the guy’s hand. Another fan hooked, and another friend made, it seems.
When it comes to their music, Slimfit loves it, and shares nothing but joy in it. Sam told me that he’s been playing music professionally for a long time, “and this is the most fun I’ve had in 15 years. This is so aloof but very fun.” Tony seemed to second this sentiment when he said that he loved this band because “it all just works. Everyone does his part. It’s not like one person is making this happen. We’re all in it.” (Keep in mind that Tony also told me that “the key to life is the right amount of vermouth” – which as I sipped my martini, seemed to be true wisdom). As Jeff Royer, their friend and PR agent said, ” The point is, trying hard without actually trying too hard. But maybe Slimfit have no real trick in what they do. Itâ€™s just what happens when five best friends pool their common influences, grease it up with some PBR and make music for the purest reasons of all: Itâ€™s fun, and they couldnâ€™t stop if they tried.” And they didn’t stop last night. They played hard, jumped around, bounced the crowd, and everyone there was grinning ear to ear before the show was over. I might have to just bump Slimfit up the “best live shows” chart that I’m starting. They now hold the title.
So if you’re into great music, here’s what the guys recommend you listen to:
“Magnetic 62nd” by Chamberlayne
“Rudderless” by Lemonheads
“Indian Queens” by Nick Lowe
“Fallin'” by De La Soul/Teenage Fanclub (from the Judgment Night soundtrack)
Check Your Head, specifically “Pass the Mic” by the Beastie Boys
“In Spite of Ourselves” by John Prine
“Oh Jim” by Gay Dad
“Soft Hand” by the Handsome Family
“Dead Flowers” or “Honky Tonk Woman” by The Rolling Stones
“Outfit” by The Drive-By Truckers
“Hallelujah” by Jeff Buckley
And of course, “Gonna Make You Seat” by C & C Music Factory.
And as for books, they weren’t short on suggestions here either.
Pat recommends Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson and The Life of Pi by Yann Martel (he believes the first story – read the book to know what that means).
Joey’s suggestions include The Chosen by Chaim Potok and Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (a man who loves Austen – that’s a enough to make a girl swoon right there).
The guys tell me that Sean likes Tom Robbins, Still Life with Woodpecker or Another Roadside Attraction.
Tony gave a shout out to Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose.
And alas, I did not get Sam’s recommendation (but perhaps he’ll stop by and share it with you himself).
Slimfit’s sound is great, their minds are sharp, and taste in literature superb, so take a gander and let me know what you think. And if you get a minute, the guys would like help answering the following two questions:
1. What is the dip in a person’s upper lip called?
2. Does the decomposition of dead bodies add to global warming?
Stop by, help us answer these mysteries of life, and most importantly, visit the band’s website and pick up Slimfit’s album Make It Worse, so that you can sing along with all those songs before their next album, which they tell me will come out in June, hits the shelves.
P.S. Joey and Pat say, “Screw that, ” to the important question of “Toe socks, yay or nay?” I’m going to clean out my drawer now.