Dylan Slocum is tired. Spanish Love Songs are on the penultimate date of a two-and-a-half week jaunt around the UK and Europe with Ducking Punches. Today they have driven to my home town of Milton Keynes, UK from Antwerp, Belgium. Delays on the Eurostar train on top of the usual rigours of road life seem to be catching up with the band’s singer so it was extremely gracious that he took the time to have the following conversation.
Check out the interview below.
DD: So you got the train over from Belgium today?
Dylan: Yep, two hours delayed, sat in the van. We were in line to load on when it got delayed so we were stuck. We could get out to go to the toilet but that was pretty much it..it was rough. We’re all tired, I think we went to bed around 2 or 3 am and got up at 7.30 am.
DD: Do you have to factor that in to your night’s partying?
Dylan: When we’re travelling like this we have to. We didn’t stay in Antwerp last night, we drove a little bit out to a smaller city where we had a house to crash at. It was a long night.
DD: You’re coming to the end of the tour now and you’ve been in Europe for a couple of weeks…
Dylan: Yep, coming up on two and half and it’ll be just shy of three weeks by the time we get home. We’ve done 8 shows in the UK and 6 in Europe I think.
DD: How come it ended up that you started in the UK, went to Europe and have come back to the UK for 2 more shows at the end?
Dylan: I have no idea! It’s just the way it got booked. I think Ducking Punches wanted to finish up the tour in Norwich which is where they’re from and they wanted to do an end of the year show there. I had that thought yesterday as we were getting ready to go to bed and get up early to come back…“why aren’t we just flying home?”
DD: When you came to Europe earlier this year, was that your first time over here?
Dylan: No, we had been at the end of 2016 for our first time. It was a great little tour but nobody knew who we were back then. It was after our first album, our buddy who is the tour manager for this tour, he put the album out in Europe and we came over basically so he and his label (Bearded Punk Records) could sell their copies of the record.
DD: You had Ducking Punches playing over with you in the States…
Dylan: Yeah we had them over last year before Fest, our old label Wiretap sent us a message saying there’s this really great UK band, and we’d already heard them, and they just linked us up. I booked us a tour which was not as good as this tour but it was a lot of fun nevertheless. We met them up in Seattle and did the West Coast then flew out to Fest with them and we became really good friends. Then when we were talking about coming over here, it was before we were working with a booker so I hit up Dan and said “We want to come to the UK, do you want to pay it back?” He said “Yeah, sure” and he did a great job booking the tour and it just so happened that we both put out really good albums this year and so the shows have been amazing. Last year in the States both of us were in-between releases and it wasn’t quite as good but it happens.
DD: I saw you played Musink earlier this year with some pretty legendary bands, how was that?
Dylan: It was cool, it was a really fun experience. We got on the line up pretty last minute, somebody wanted an opener or somebody dropped off, I forgot what happened. But our booker in the States set us up, he was like “Hey, you guys are local, they need somebody to play.” We did it for very fee little but it was great to show up to a big fairground and get treated like a professional band. They had somebody check us in and greet us, they got us to our trailer which was next to Travis Barker’s…we had a trailer which was insane! We had to get up and sound check then play this professional show to a good amount of people and then we got to watch bands like Strung Out, Descendents, Fear and Adolescents…it was just a friggin crazy day. I don’t remember much of it because they gave us our rider and there was a bottle of whisky in our trailer when we got there.
DD: There’s a tattoo element to it as well right?
Dylan: Yeah, so half of it is a music festival and half of it is a tattoo expo. That was also cool, wandering through and seeing all the tattoos, talking about getting one and then not.
DD: Are you a tattooed person?
Dylan: I’m not. Rubin doesn’t have any and I don’t have any. The rest of the band all do. I was thinking about getting one on this tour but I’m of a mindset where I don’t know if tattoos fit into my general aesthetic. I’ve also just never found anything I want badly enough to put on my body and also every time I think “I could go spend $100 on a tattoo or I could I spend $100 on gear or a video game or something that isn’t that”. So it’s not that important to me I guess.
DD: All the press around you mentions that you were in other bands before Spanish Love Songs but never gives any band names. Are there any recordings or albums that we can check out from your previous bands?
Dylan: I don’t know if they’re up. We were in band called the Wild and Innocent, that’s where we met. It was me and Gabe our old bassist and another guy writing some songs but we were just like hired guns at that point. We were writing a little then but it wasn’t an expression of all of us. I had started writing in that band, I actually wrote Vermont in that band, but then it kind of fell apart, it just wasn’t going anywhere. It’s out there somewhere probably. Other than that, I was in a band called Hide the Details for a little bit, in San Diego back when I was in college. I don’t know if that’s still up online or not.
DD: What kind of music are we talking about here, similar to Spanish Love Songs?
Dylan: The Wild and Innocent was sort of similar, it was Americana Punk, like Gaslight Anthem sort of stuff. Hide the Details was such straight pop punk, it was back in 2008 so in the days of breakdown pop punk. That was a band that I just kind of joined into, I’d never really had my own band and I just rolled into other people’s bands. I’m not the best guitarist but I can blend between styles pretty easily. If it’s not technical music I can probably play it…I’ve been in funk bands before and different stuff like that.
DD: But this is your purest expression of your musical style.
Dylan: Yeah, this for all intents and purposes was my band to start with and then became this big group effort.
DD: You work in the TV industry; do you work half the year and tour half the year?
Dylan: Yeah I work in TV and film. That’s how it has worked, it’s slowly changing more towards this. My boss is in Fiji right now prepping his next film and I’m not there but it’s fine, I like this better, it’s more fun. We’ll see what happens next year but it’s fine in that I can work remotely for a lot of what I do. I run my boss’s life, make sure he gets where he needs to be, scheduling…I’m a glorified assistant although I get a credit that is above assistant. So on this next film I’m basically holding down the office in LA while he’s in Fiji with another assistant there. It’s kind of nice actually, it worked out but I don’t think I’ll be able to do that much longer.
DD: The new album is on AF Records, how did that come about?
Dylan: Our buddy Gregory, we were hanging out and he decided he was going to send them the record, they listened, I got a call and they said “Hey, let’s put it out”. It was that easy for us which is pretty ridiculous. I feel like it’s never that easy for anybody. We got incredibly lucky that he thought of it and that the manager over there listened and had a space on their release schedule this year for us. They’ve been incredible, they’re a wonderful label and they had a really good year – a lot of good bands that they’ve put out. It’s cool to be a part of that.
DD: Are they a “political” label? Some of your songs seem political but not overtly so.
Dylan: Yeah I think that’s where they’re at, signing bands who have hints of politics in what they’re doing or they come from a background of politics but I don’t think they’re signing political bands.
DD: So not just a million more Anti Flags.
Dylan: Yeah exactly, if you want that there’s Anti Flag, they have a Russian political band, there’s us who are on the fringes talking about it and Dollar Signs who are talking about it in a sarcastic way. It’s all about a political thing but it’s not outwardly political. It’s stuff that means something but it doesn’t have to be Die For Your Government.
DD: Some of your lyrics are very personal, do you find it difficult reliving those things every night when you sing those songs or is it therapeutic to help deal with those themes or events?
Dylan: At this point it’s a performance so I’m not thinking about it. I get caught up occasionally with some of the really personal ones, like the ones about my Grandfather and the ones about my Grandmother. But at this point I’m pretty compartmentalised with it. I’m not an overly emotional personal, I don’t dredge these things up and feel them over and over. I think I manage to look at them from a distance and try to be objective about them. It’s great in the moment because I’m letting out a rush of whatever I’m feeling and it helps me purge it. Once it’s done in the studio it’s cool and from then on it’s like a performance. When we’re playing live we’re basically like being a Spanish Love Songs cover band. We’re just doing the best version we can do of what’s on the record. I’m definitely not feeling…I’m feeling more the emotion of the crowd and the energy. People are surprised when they come to our shows and it’s not a sad event. Our shows are fun and they are upbeat. I’m not concerned with digging into the sadness during a live performance because I’d rather have fun and for everybody else to have fun.
DD: 2018 seems like it was a pretty good year for you guys, what were your highlights?
Dylan: Putting the album out, of course, then seeing the response to that. Fest this year was absolutely insane, it was our second year playing and this year we had a huge show which was a lot of fun. This week, the Cologne show…it was probably the biggest show we’ve done headlining. I’d say those were three pretty big moments.
DD: What does 2019 have in store?
Dylan: We’ve got a few festivals that we’ve announced Europe and we’ll be back in the UK too. We’re going to write and try and put out some songs sooner rather than later. We’re going to write another album and find a new label, not for any bad reason, just because it’s time. Tour when we can. It’s a lot more nebulous than 2018, we had the album release and planned around that, 2019 is about how we can close out this cycle and get into the next one smoothly…we’re kind of figuring that out.
DD: Finally, are there any bands you can recommend for people that are on your radar at the moment?
Dylan: Oh man, well Ducking Punches obviously, We Bless This Mess who are playing tonight are an incredible band. We played with a band in Germany called Stereo Keys the other day, they were really great. You know, it’s funny, I’ve only been listening to old music lately. I finally listened to the Drug Church album the other day, that was really good. Our buddies Dollar Signs put out an incredible record this year, our buddies Nightmarathons are about to put out a new album. I’ve also been largely listening to podcasts on this tour, I listen to a lot of different stuff but the one I’ve been listening to the most is one called Doughboys. It’s these two comedian writers that go to chain restaurants in America and talk about it…it’s just the best podcast, it’s so fun and mindless in a good way, just people hanging out and chatting about stuff that really doesn’t matter but it’s great anyway. I also listen to the Malcolm Gladwell podcast, Revisionist History, in typical Malcolm Gladwell form it’s the smartest best thing, it’s so good. He’s got a new music one to that I forget the name of, it’s with Rick Rubin so I’m going to check that out too.