The MusicNerd Q&A With Slates


After two full-length records, three 7-inch singles and seemingly endless touring across Canada and Europe, Edmonton punk band Slates hauled out their biggest guns yet for their newest album Taiga.

The band hired acclaimed engineer Steve Albini (Nirvana, The Pixies) to record their latest album, tapping into a wealth of musical experience the likes of which they had not necessarily experienced.

Those interested in catching the band live will have a couple of chances over the course of the next week: As a part of their national tour, Slates perform in Moncton at the Esquire Tavern (2 Reade St.) on Friday July 18 while they will also perform at the Sackville Legion (15 Lorne St) on Monday July 21.

Slates guitarist-vocalist James Stewart chatted with The MusicNerd Chronicles last week:

Steve Albini has a bit of a reputation when it comes to working with bands. How was the Slates experience?

Working with him was great, honestly. He is an opinionated guy that says what is on his mind. He is not one to sugarcoat anything. But he is also incredibly patient, kind and funny. We knew going into the making of the record that he doesn’t assume the role of producer. He was not there to help us fine-tune our songs, which of course meant we spent eight to ten months intensively writing and tearing apart our material so that we were ready.

Was there one specific album or collection of music he worked on that made the group want to really work with him?

He has done so many records across so many genres but honestly, I don’t think I have ever heard a record of his that I didn’t like. It was more his ethos towards recording and wanting to capture sounds as naturally as possible that drew us to him. The way he approaches recording is completely natural. In today’s world of nearly unlimited options when it comes to the realm of recording in digital, it was great to go the analogue route and embrace the sounds and limitations that the format provides.

You guys are now three records and numerous 7-inch singles into your career and are also boasting a somewhat of a new line-up on Taiga. Has that changed the dynamics of the group at all?

It definitely made for a difference when it came to songwriting. The dynamics are a little different too though because you’ve got a new voice in the mix. It has been really exciting but has also been quite rejuvenating to us as a band. It is great to feel inspired again.