“…One is a bad wolf who is filled with hate, rage, envy, and so on. The other, is a good wolf filled with love, peace, humility, and such. The boy asks which will win the war, and the grandfather replies “The wolf you feed”.
Drummer/vocalist Josh Thieler of Pittsburgh’s Slaves BC took the time to answer our questions and consider the most pressing issues of our modern times. Also, they have a new split 12″ and a bad ass sigil that Jinx of Coven made them.
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How did Slaves BC form and what is your mission statement, if any?
Sean, Rick, and I had been friends since college. For a while in 2010, we were hanging out almost every day. We would just watch movies, play video games, and eat pizza. Then one day, we realized that they had a basement, and we all played different instruments. We did what anybody would do: we went into the basement and tried to cover Limp Bizkit’s “Break Stuff”. Jason, we asked to hang out with us for a recording weekend (We bribed him with the promise of whiskey and a hot tub), and he ended up recording bass that same weekend. As far as a mission statement, we have all had an intense love of music for our entire lives. We all listen to it, talk about it, write about it, read about it, and play it constantly. We all just really wanted to come together and write music that we wanted to hear and hopefully some other people enjoy as well. All four of us kind of give and take different things from this band. I’m sure if you asked any of us, we would probably all say different things about what the band means to us. I write the lyrics (Except for a new song that Sean wrote the lyrics for) and all of the songs come straight from the Bible. A lot of those songs focus on kind of a wake-up call to the Church. The Church is very divided, and it is responsible for a lot of absolutely horrible things and is filled with so much hate. A lot of the lyrics call the Church out for its crap and call for change.
You’ve been busy, from a show with Ken Mode and Egality to the release show for your split 12″. Do you feel like the Pittsburgh scene is doing well? I wish the hardcore and metal scene around me was half as good.
The Pittsburgh scene is very active. There are shows going on constantly. A lot of nights that we’ve played a show, we’ll be able to name like 6 other shows that same night that we wish we were attending. I think that is part of the reason why we’ll go see an awesome show (or play one) and there is only like 5 paying non-band people at the show. But there are a TON of fantastic metal and hardcore bands that are coming out of Pittsburgh and doing amazing things. Bands like Meth Quarry, Egality, Dendritic Arbor, all the Innervenus bands, Save us from the Archon, Wrought Iron, Black Mask, Purge, Pray for Teeth, obviously Code Orange (Kids), and many others.
“The Wolf You Feed” is the first tune on your split with Grace and Thieves, but my favorite. Something about it. The name made me think of addiction. Have you ever gotten into the Throatruiner bands like Daggers or Plebeian Grandstand. Feel like you’d vibe with those bands.
“The Wolf You Feed“ came from reading an old Native American proverb. In the Proverb, a young boy tells his grandfather that it feels like there is a war inside of him. The grandfather tells him that there are two wolves inside of him. One is a bad wolf who is filled with hate, rage, envy, and so on. The other, is a good wolf filled with love, peace, humility, and such. The boy asks which will win the war, and the grandfather replies “The wolf you feed”. You hit it right on the money with addiction. The song is about my own crap and my (unsuccessful) attempts to bury it and feed it. Daggers is sweet! I had never heard of Plebeian Grandstand, but I just looked them up and THEY ARE AWESOME. I totally appreciate the comparison.
What keeps you excited about heavy music? The melodic riffing in “Two Witnesses” is an example for me. I love hearing an underground band and letting my ears stumble into some cool part that changes my mood or makes me wonder about their lives.
I’m glad to hear you dug that song. That song was almost entirely written by Rick. You can usually tell who wrote a song or a part of a song by listening to it. If its melodic, it was probably Rick. If its slow and has a stoner vibe, that was probably Jason. If its absolutely disgusting, it was probably Sean. If it sounds kind of mathy, it was probably me. Most of the writing is handled by Sean or myself though. A lot of what keeps me so excited about heavy music, is just that the category is so broad. There are so many different subgenre’s that all blend so many different elements that I am constantly falling in love with something. A lot of the bands we play with also excite us with their passion and creativity as well. Like I said, there’s a lot of cool stuff coming out of Pittsburgh right now.
How can we stay positive and do meaningful work in a scene saturated with negativity? Do you feel it matters? Are we essentially slaves to higher powers or do the breaths we take matter? I like to be positive even as the world burns.
I absolutely feel that every breath matters. Seriously. We are constantly given little opportunities to make this world a better place. It all depends on how we act on those opportunities when no one is around and no one will ever know. Every time you rise to the occasion and take whatever that opportunity is, you make this world a better place. Every time you do that, it gets a little easier. Then it becomes a habit, and it is contagious. For a scene and genre of music that is so focused on negativity and anger, there is a lot of love. So many big and scary metal dudes are the most legitimately nice people you will ever talk to.
Any particular bands that were a big influence on this project? - A lot of our newer songs are pretty heavily influenced by the bands Portal and Lord Mantis. The working titles of some of our newer songs should give you an idea. We had “Portal”, “PortalMantis”, “DeathspellPortal”, “DoomPortal”, and “WatainPortal”. That should clue you into a little bit of what the to-be-released material might sound like.
Can you tell us about the full length you have coming up? What are your plans?
We have been working on this full-length since 2012. We have four songs recorded already. We have another five written, that we hope to record in a couple months. Songs from our “we mean nothing.” EP are a part of it. The songs “Everything is Meaningless” and “Everything Under the Sun” were written for this LP. The album is a concept album that involves the book of Ecclesiastes from the Old Testament. As before, I am handling the artwork for this release, and I have drawn and re-drawn it about four times already. I am on the final version of it right now. If the split 12” sells well, we are hoping to put the Ecclesiastes LP out sometime in summer of 2015 on Veritas Vinyl.
Do you feel like the band is an extension of your lives, like the art is kind of an outreach of your world view or selves, or is it more of an external statement? If that makes sense?
This is another one of those that would probably be different depending on which one of us you asked. For me, this is definitely an extension of my life. This is exactly what I’ve always wanted to do. I put every piece of me into this band. From the vocals, lyrics, art, drums, and performance, I put everything of myself into this band.
What have been the highlights of the project so far?
Just all the awesome people that we’ve met and get to hang out with because of this. We’ve made some life-long friends doing this band. Each time we record with Matt Very of Very Tight Recordings is one of the most rewarding and fantastic experiences. Having Blake Judd of Nachtmystium say “You’re like a heavier version of eyehategod” was one of the most mind-blowing things that has ever happened to me. Whenever we made the unfortunate decision to not play a show one night, and everybody at that show came back to Sean and Rick’s house to watch us play in the basement. Just everything, man. I love these dudes. I love our friends. I love everything about this.