The world is going to hell in a handbasket, so we may as well use what little time we have left to… read about guitars on the internet.
Whilst certainly an apt description of the past 12 months, ‘Dead Slow‘ is also the term used when referring to Birmingham’s finest motley crew of headbangers- whose sole mission is to make you shut up and headbang along with them. Get the neck brace at the ready- resistance is futile. For a city with so much illustrious history within heavy metal, one could be forgiven for assuming there’s little in the way of current heavy acts. But look closer amongst the churning chameleon concrete and you’ll find a Satan’s dozen of new bands that are embracing the dark side- a few of which we have already covered in this very blog. Dead Slow take the monolithic riffs of metal’s founding fathers and inject them with a flailing, hardcore-punk fury. But rather than just bludgeoning one into submission, there’s a melodic sensibility that sees your face contort into a wicked grin just before your soul finally leaves your body to join their circle-pitting cult for good. To make an ungodly noise must surely require some hellish toys, so let’s take a peek at their arsenal…
Talk us through your guitar history from your first to your most recent.
Matt: “My first ever electric guitar was a Squier Showmaster– the whole thing was made of metal and was beyond purple. My first ever proper guitar was a 1991 Gibson Les Paul Standard, which I’ve had since I was 16. I still play the thing religiously! Honourable mentions: Gibson SG Standard with a Duesenberg Les Trem II , Fender MIM Telecaster, Fender Modern Player Jaguar & most recently a 1976 Gibson S-1 which is I have utterly fell in love with! It’s been upgraded with P90’s and just fucking kicks so hard.”
Jay: “My first guitar was a red Peavy Raptor I got from “One Way Music” in Wolverhampton when I was about 9 or 10. I had this for a while but once I started to play more my dad got me an Epiphone SG for my birthday when I was about 12. A few years later my dad also bought me an Ibanez acoustic, which I still have to this day. I’ve had a few other guitars since, but quickly sold them on and can’t remember them all! Currently I’m using a Gretsch Electromatic G5230T and a Modern Player Series Fender Jaguar modified with Bare Knuckle War Pig P90 Pickups. My very latest addition is the ESP/LTD Sparrowhawk in black w/ gold hardware. This thing is a weapon!”
Who inspired you to pick up guitar, and who inspires you to keep on playing today?
Matt: “My earliest memory of being zapped would have been listening to Deep Purple’s Richie Blackmore as a wee nipper with my old man. I was obsessed with how turbulent and how frantic he made it sound, and since then I’ve been hooked. I have long time obsessions with Josh Homme (Kyuss/QOTSA), Scott Middleton (Cancer Bats), Matt Pike (Sleep/High on Fire), Brent Hinds (Mastodon), John Dwyer (Thee Oh Sees), and of course our one true Lord and saviour- Toni Iommi. Recently I’ve been into Elder, Turbowolf, Earthless & All Them Witches.”
Jay: “First musical inspirations were Eddie Van Halen and Nuno Bettencourt from Extreme. I listened to their albums on repeat as a kid- watching my Dad’s VHS of Van Halen – Live Without a Net and Extreme’s Pornograffitti VHS. I credit my Dad with bringing me up on these bands, and he’s always been supportive of the music I’ve made. He took me to my first concert when I was 5 or 6 to see UFO at the Wolverhampton Civic Centre, where I got to watch Michael Schenker with that iconic white Flying V. Recently, I’m inspired by the likes of Bill Kelliher (Mastodon), Joe Duplantier (Gojira), Wade MacNeil & Dallas Green (Alexisonfire), Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters) & Josh Homme (QOTSA).”
Tell us about your music, and how you approach your guitar playing within the context of it.
Matt: “Dead Slow really came about from myself and our singer Adam meeting in London and being fed up with not playing in bands (which is what our song ‘Labour Of’ is about). We’d both been out of the game for a few years and were a little bored of what we were hearing at the time. The idea of our music is to create something you can dance and make out too, yet at the same time if you want to do a head dive into flaming pit of fists- you can! There’s no real formula to our writing- I just want to write songs that feel good for us, so whether they are heavy or not it doesn’t really matter!”
Jay: “With me joining the band I was soon chucked in the deep end- learning the riffs that Matt was pumping out. This is no word of a lie- the guy shits out songs like he’s some kind of musical vending machine. Once Matt has an idea, he’ll bring it into the room, or send a demo of it into the group chat, and we’ll start bouncing ideas off of each other! As for my writing style, I tend to just sit and play into Logic Pro on my computer and jam some ideas to make some form of a composition, then send them to the guys as little demos to see if they think they’re worth working on. Between Matt and myself writing, it’s to say that we’re not short on material! We got super wine-drunk a couple of weekends ago and tried to listen to everything, which ended up being a 2-man party. Our approach is that we’re writing music that we actually want to listen to, and we want to share it with open arms to everyone who wants to be a part of it.”
What setup are you currently running, amp and pedal wise?
Matt: “Currently a Marshall JCM 2000 into two 4×12 Marshall cabs (excessive but fun). Pedals worth noting are an EHX POG, Danelectro Blues OD, ProCo RAT, EHX Russian muff, My custom built ‘Slow Fuzz Pedal‘ which was a collaboration build over lockdown between myself and Owen from @owloudnoisesproductions, an extremely weird unbranded EHX analogue delay/reverb clone, REVV G4, Cry Baby 95Q wah, EHX Attack & Decay so I can pretend I’m reversing time, and a MXR chorus. The board’s constantly getting stripped down and stuff being swapped out as we establish our new sound- which is great for us, but harsh on my bank balance!”
Jay: “I use a Marshall JCM 2000 50-watt head (on the clean channel) into a 4×12 Marshall Cab and a 2×12 Blackstar cab. My current pedal setup is a Dunlop Volume Pedal, Morley Bad Horsie Wah, Boss tuner, EHX POG nano, ProCo RAT, Catalinbread Sabbra Cadabra, Boss Digital Delay, and BOSS EQ.”
What’s the one pedal that you couldn’t live without?
Matt: “It would be my REVV G- so much beef in a little red box! Pairing that with my modulation pedals gets me some serious girth.”
Jay: “We’ve been experimenting a lot with our sound in the practise room, and ever since I got my hands on the RAT, I don’t think I could ever take it off my board.”
What’s your current main guitar, and why so?
Matt: “Hard question but just going off what’s had the most play time the last 2 months it’s the Gibson S-1.”
Jay: “Easy! ESP/LTD Sparrowhawk, since I got it, it hasn’t left my hands. Can’t put the thing down.”
Are there any other local guitarists you particularly admire?
Matt & Jay: “Local riff lords we admire the shit out of: Thomas Edward- God Damn- been a huge fan of these guys over the years and they have been a big inspiration for me. Tom Bienkowski & Mark Baldwin– Dutch- loved sharing stages with these guys before the apocalypse, and their latest release No Dove No Covenant is something special! Mike Howse & Sam Bishop- Golden Deathmask– stupidly talented guitarists and great buds of ours- one of the best bands in the Midlands right now! Scott Abbott- Table Scraps- dude shreds, enough said! James Thompson- Creature– met these guys sharing a lockup this year and they rip. The sounds this dude makes… dayummmmm! If you haven’t listened to any of these bands before- go do it right now!”
Where can we find your music and see you play next?
Matt & Jay (speaking in monotonal unison): “You can listen to Dead Slow on all major streaming platforms for your fix of regal hydrogenised chaos-Jazz. We have just dropped a new single called ‘HOAX’ which was semi-recorded in lockdown with Owen from @owloudnoisesstudio, mixed by Nick Ginn from @schoolhousestudios and mastered by Scott Middelton of Cancer Bats & @schoolhousestudios. We’re hoping to return to stages as soon as we can, but we only want to do so when its safe and when people can make out whilst simultaneously punching each other… so we will have to see what happens next! Thanks TLGS!”