A Rising Star Feature
by Melissa Minners
A couple of weeks ago I reviewed Slants! Slants! Revolution, a dance remix album of songs from Slanted Eyes, Slanted Hearts from the Portland, Oregon group known as The Slants. I enjoyed their music so much, I was thrilled when the opportunity arose to interview members of the band. Hereís what they had to say:
How did each member of the band decide that a career in music was what they wanted to do? What was that defining moment that made you want to perform?
Aron: Well, I already had the sex and drugs as a little kid....it just made sense to have the rock follow.
Tyler: I've wanted to be a rock star since I was a little kid...even before I knew what it really meant to be a rock star...well, to be honest, it was a tie between being Mickey Mouse and being a rock star.
Johnny: There's nothing quite like playing for the first time in front of an audience. At the age of 13, I had been playing guitar for about a year and a half. During this time, I really anticipated being able to play my very first show, which happened to be a talent show at my school. After experiencing the adrenalin rush, excitement, and reaction of my fellow peers, I became instantly addicted. From that moment I knew that this was my life.
Simon: Actually, Johnnyís first show was on bass when you played with a band called Rockaway Teens! But I guess that was the debut on guitar. For me, Iíve been wanting to perform music as long as I could remember. There are home videos of me pretending to be on stage with my dadís guitar on top of the coffee table when I was barely able walk and talk. Good times!
Where did you come up with the idea for the name of your band?
Aron: Our eyes!
Johnny: Simon came up with this brilliant idea. Probably while watching Kill Bill.
Simon: For a while, I nicknamed the project Jiang Hu which means underground in Chinese. But one day, when thinking of ideas for the band name, I asked a friend what is a trait that is common to most Asian people? And of course, the rest is history. Our intention was never really to be offensive, it was more of a way to say that weíre proud of who we are.
Describe your band's sound / music style.
Tyler: Chinatown Dance Rock says it all!
Johnny: We dub it China Town Dance Rock. More or less it's rock n roll.
Aron: Slanted Eyes, Slanted Hearts was more electro-rock. But with Pageantry, our sound became more rock with electro elements.
Where do you get the inspiration for your song lyrics? How do you decide what kind of music you want to accompany your lyrics...or does the music come first and the lyrics next?
Simon: In this band, weíve almost always wrote the music first. It usually starts out as a guitar riff or bass line, then it gets more developed as we start working on the arrangement and different parts. Once we have the basic structure of the song, Aron will take it and then work on vocal harmonies and lyrics.
Aron: Itís funny. I either sit with a bottle of wine and listen to the songs that I get over and over until a hook or chorus comes to try out or Iíll find it while I'm jogging and listening to the songs.
Knowing how hard it is to break out in the music industry, what makes you keep coming back for more?
Johnny: It's what we love doing!
Tyler: Playing music is what I live for and I will continue to come back for more until my body can't physically play music.
Aron: I was built for the road and living kind of an uncertain, unstable lifestyle. Paycheck to paycheck keeps your mind sharp.
Simon: All of us do this because weíd love to be able to make it our full time career, something that we can take care of ourselves and families with. But even if it never gets to that point, we really enjoy it. We get to travel the country and play rock Ďní roll, you canít beat that.
Of all the songs you have recorded, which one has the most meaning to you and why?
Johnny: I love Lucky Strike. It's named after an excellent Chinese restaurant. Food has a deep connection with this band. When we're not playing music, we're probably eating or talking about food.
Simon: For me, itís probably a toss up between We Will Never Die and You Make Me Alive. We Will Never Die was the first song ever written for the band; it was originally a song idea that I had for my previous band, The Stivs, but one that we never got to. So when I was auditioning musicians for The Slants, that was usually the song that I showed them. As for You Make Me Alive, it was just a really fun, danceable song to write at the time and was one of the first ideas we had for recording our newest album Pageantry. Itís only coincidental that both song titles have something to do with life and death.
What sort of message do you hope to send with your music?Simon: We donít really have political messages or anything, but I think that all of us try and tell others to be true to themselves. Be proud of who you are, whatever your ethnic heritage might be. Donít be afraid to stand up. Buy more Slants records.
Aron: Be unwavering. It's okay to be broken, most of us are, but be unwavering and censor with your heart.
Any upcoming plans for the band?
Johnny: Tour, tour, and oh yeah tour....
Aron: Tour, tour, tour, record again, tour, tour, tour, record....infinity!
Simon: Along the same lines as my band mates, check our calendar. Weíre always planning for more. Weíll keep what weíre doing. Who knows? Maybe youíll hear our songs in an upcoming video game or movie. Maybe youíll see us broken down on the side of I-5.
10. Any information you would like your fans to know about you or the band that hasn't been revealed previously?
Aron: I like anime but love hentai.
Simon: Weíre pretty transparent with our fans. Stay in touch via our mailing list, Facebook, Myspace, etc. and youíll get to know every little detail about the band.
Johnny: We have a new unreleased track called "Heartbeat is Heaven" aka Slanted Heart, which will only be available from G Sake. It's one of my favorite songs that we recorded because it has a really cool vibe to it. Keep checking our website http://www.theslants.com for more details.
That wraps up my interview with The Slants, a fun-loving, talented band from Oregon with a great sense of humor and a knack for knowing exactly what type of music is going to get you out of your seat and onto the dance floor. For more information about The Slants, visit their new and improved website, http://theslants.com/, or check out The Slants on Facebook and MySpace. And donít forget to pick up their new album, Pageantry, now available in stores.
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