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Interview: Couch Slut

Couch Slut by Roger Hayn
Couch Slut by Roger Hayn

Most metalheads remember the first album they bought which seemed so extreme they went to great lengths to hide it from their parents and respective elders. Years later, though, all the death, sex, and gore tends to wash over us, hardly raising a eyebrow. However, from time to time, a group comes along able to penetrate that armor of apathy. Couch Slut is just such an act, one which will wake us up, beat us down, and make us crawl back, begging for more punishment.

Poised to drop their second full-length Contempt on July 28th, these New York natives play an incendiary mix of Black Flag, black metal and the bleakest of noise rock. The album uses repetition and rawness in equal measure to ooze violence into each song. Couch Slut will make the listener feel unnerving, the frankness of singer Megan Osztrosits’s approach combined with the band’s searing use of dissonance makes it seem like the band are willfully invading your personal space. Bassist Kevin Hall and guitarist Kevin Wunderlich took some time to shed some light on the sonic juggernaut that is Couch Slut.

—Todd Manning

Couch Slut is a very transgressive and confrontational band, from the artwork to the song titles, and just your abrasive sound. Was this something intentionally decided on when forming the band or a more natural outgrowth of the personalities involved?

Kevin Hall: I don’t think we’ve done anything that is particularly “transgressive” – I think “rude” is probably a more accurate word. Couch Slut is nothing more and nothing less than the natural outgrowth of the personalities involved. I think we all feel the urge to assert ourselves to audiences, which drives the band to be “confrontational” to the extent that it is.

Kevin Wunderlich: For me it definitely felt like a pretty natural thing. I think from the beginning we were all on a pretty similar page in terms of what we wanted to get out of playing in a loud rock band.

Your music seems to be a perfect head-on collision of punk and noise rock, but people often mention black metal as well, and Darkthrone especially. I don’t really hear that myself but what do you think? Are you Metalheads?

Hall: I got into Black Sabbath, Rage Against The Machine, and Tool as an adolescent and playing along with records by those bands is how I learned to play bass. I got into black metal during college and it’s my favorite subgenre of rock music. We’re into metal (especially black metal and death metal) and I hear it in our music, moreso on the new record than on My Life As A Woman.

Wunderlich: “Metalhead” feels apt for a certain side of myself, for sure. As a teenager, playing along with Metallica records is what taught me how to play guitar, and I’ve definitely always been drawn to more “extreme” forms of music, which certainly includes most if not all forms of metal. In terms of the black metal thing, I do think we draw something from the more mid-tempo, backbeat oriented side of the genre. A lot of that kind of music has always reminded me a lot of punk music, in attitude and in spirit.

One thing that pops up on your recordings is the use of unusual instrumentation, saxophone, concert bells, tuba, etc. Where did the idea for these come from?

Hall: We use whatever we feel each song requires. Nothing is off limits.

Wunderlich: Yeah, it felt like there was never any question that we’d utilize different instrumentation to enhance and expand upon the ideas we were working with when it came time to fully produce the recording.

Do you see jazz or other unexpected genres as a major influence on what you do?

Hall: It feels a little disingenuous to describe bands or genres as “influences” and it’s hard for me to guess what others might consider unexpected. Rap is a pretty major inspiration for me personally, but I don’t think that has any discernible influence on my playing or on our sound, though maybe it does, or maybe it will. Questions of disingenuousness aside, Anthony Di Franco, David Wm. Sims, Eric Wood, and Al Cisneros are my favorite bassists and they probably inform my style.

Wunderlich: Jazz is a big part of my background. I studied it in college, mainly because it was the only way I could get away with going to school for playing guitar, but I do have a lot of love for the genre. It turns out that I really can’t swing, but a lot of what I learned music-theory wise from studying that stuff is a major part of how I think about playing any kind of music. Most of the guitar parts I’ve written for Couch Slut (which, to be clear, is not all of them) are very strongly influenced by that knowledge. It’s an approach I feel a strong kinship with Duane Denison from The Jesus Lizard, for whatever that’s worth.

Your art for both your debut My Life As a Woman and new album Contempt were both created by Leandro De Cotis, whose work is not only excellent, but also provides a certain aesthetic consistency not only between both releases. His work seems to fit well with the band’s overall vision. How did you hook-up with him as your artist? Is he fan of the music?

Hall: I would describe it as a marriage of convenience. I’m not sure I’d call Leandro a “fan” of the music, but Leandro is certainly on the same page as us in terms of what we’re trying to do with our art.

Wunderlich: I’ve never met Leandro, and I’m not sure I want to.

How has the band evolved thematically between the two records?

Hall: I don’t know that we have evolved thematically between the two records. I do think that we are more experienced and better songwriters now, which I think has led to us being able to do what we want to do musically with greater precision and to greater effect.
Wunderlich: What he said.

You come from New York, an area known for it’s metal scene. How do you guys go over with the locals?

Hall: We seem to have a pretty solid draw in Brooklyn. We share a lot of bills with metal bands and the people that go to those shows tend to react pretty positively to us. I think our levels of intensity and heaviness are comparable to those of the metal bands we play with, so it’s not a big leap for most audiences. Before we started playing shows, I imagined we’d play a lot with punk and hardcore bands, but that hasn’t happened, and I don’t know why. Maybe the punks don’t like us. Maybe they’re not aware of us.

Wunderlich: I like playing with metal bands, especially stuff that’s on the more dissonant side. It usually feels like our set compliments that kind of thing pretty well.

You also have split releases coming out with Microwaves on Sleeping Giant Glossolalia. Is there any major plans to tour for this and Contempt?

Hall: Yes. The split should be out sometime shortly after Contempt and we will tour in September. Regarding the split, we have two songs on it, one of which is a Steely Dan cover.

Wunderlich: He’s not joking about the Steely Dan thing, by the way.

Is there anything else you would like to say?

Hall: RIP Prodigy.

Wunderlich: I’m good. Thanks for having us.

Follow Couch Slut on Facebook and Bandcamp.

Contempt is out July 28th on Gilead Media.

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