Photography by Ellie India Rose Carty
Interview by Esme Carty
I: First and foremost, you guys are obviously incredible musicians but you guys also have this great way of creating a brand for yourself. What is that creative process like, how involved are you guys in terms of merchandise, photoshoots, etc?
L: I take a lot of inspiration from people’s creative direction and how a band’s identity is not just their music but their imagery, what fonts they use on flyers, designs. I think we’re all into clothes, design, that’s one of the most important things with our establishment.
I: Do you have any core inspirations or influences when it comes to your music?
M: We all come from a different spot in terms of what inspires us. Personally, the Strokes are a big influence for me and how I approach playing guitar. I can say that each of us individually brings something different to the table. We all pull from something different and that influences what the EP sounds like.
I: So what are some individual inspirations for you all?
L: For me, musically as well as creative direction wise, Beach House is definitely number one for me. What they do in its entirety is how they don't really do interviews or music videos, its very enigmatic. What we talk about a lot is fourth wall breaking with musical acts. How you look on social media and how you look visually is kind of like a performance. A lot of people today obviously have to do the breaking of that like, “Hey whats up guys!” talking to the people. I love how bands make everything the performance; you're viewing it, you're engaging with it, but there's never the asking to talk with people. You’re watching a show.
I: I love that. It’s a great point of “we are the show and that’s all we are to you.” Do you have any influences outside of music that goes into your creative process?
M: I don’t know if this exactly answers it but one of the things we talk about is just being very authentic. I always appreciate when something, especially a performance, is very authentic and real, and honest. I feel like that’s something we definitely try to accommodate every time. The approach to writing a song is to make it real.
L: There’s a lot of people that either bank on nostalgia or current trends, and the people that inspire us the most are the people that are just doing their own entire thing. You’re not writing a way so that it has a selling point, you’re making art that is one hundred percent what you want to do even if it isn’t adjacent to anything that is popular or super relevant.
I: Could you then say it’s a journal of thought, your own journey and experiences put into music form?
L: Yeah, obviously when you’re learning to write songs and making music for the first time you’re like, ‘what’s easy?’ Writing a love song is super easy, writing a song about a girl is easy. As we’ve been together and done this for a long time now, writing songs about shit that doesn’t even make sense. There’s songs on the EP that are about anxiety, managing your anxiety on a day-to-day basis.
I: As a band, how do you guys find a flow?
J: We just found it, we didn’t necessarily have to try. I know we’ve all been in bands and had to force something like that but this has been something that is very natural-feeling. We all like different stuff, but it all kind of meets up at one crossroad. As far as responsibilities in the band, everybody knows that it’s a job basically. Everybody takes it seriously. We have a whole team of people that make it a lot easier for us. Chemistry is not something you can try to learn or teach or force; it’s just either you like each other enough to try to make it work or it’s just super natural, I think it’s a bit of both. We all have our own opinions and it’s hard because when you’re in a band that has good ideas, it’s hard to stick on one and pick the right one but we have a good mindset about writing music. Especially being in a place where we’re at where it’s going, going, going; you kind of have to pick your battles. Some people are willing to die on a hill with one certain thing, some people are gonna wait to die on a hill. Just knowing when to do what, it’s a lot of being good to each other. It’s a lot of making sure everybody’s happy.
L: We’re very not dependent on each other in some things because all of us play every instrument. All of us play guitar, all of us sing, everyone has sung on different projects. There’s a bunch of songs even on the EP we wrote each other's parts on. I wrote lead guitar on a song, he writes guitars on songs even though he does drums. In the writing and demoing process, our engineer and producer Tony, we’ll send a bank of demos. Each of us will do a demo in its entirety, then we’re like, “Now we’re gonna do the record.” We play everything and track it live in the studio, it’s a shared role situation.
I: How long was the process for this EP?
L: It was long, the first two songs we did was last spring: Cherry Burst and Wide Eye Angel Step. We did them at a studio here called Highland and then we would have kept going in the studio but I moved to New York over the summer for like four months, then we started a big bank of demos that we knew we wanted to do in the studio. Then came back, set up a couple of days and did another three songs in the studio with Tony; Rest Assured and the single, No Crying in Baseball we just did in my studio and produced it, me and him. There’s a big gap in time in the summer where we weren’t together and then we came back and were like, let's do this then.
I: Do you feel that it’s necessary to take a step back in order to create something you fully feel content with?
L: I don’t think it was necessary, we didn’t do it because we wanted to do that or needed a break. We all just have our own lives and I needed to move away for a couple of months but we all love this project, we all love music. We all want to do it with each other, so as soon as we came back it was like, we wanna go. I think we all just want to do this constantly so it’s not like we wanted to take a break. We still haven’t toured, we dream of the day we can just give ourselves to a record label and not do anything else for three weeks, just set up shop in the studio as long as possible.
I: Are there any dream artists you would want to go on tour with?
J: It’s a comically large list. For me–they don’t tour anymore but–Bloc Party is one of my favorite bands and I feel like we would just fit on a tour package with them. That would probably be my number one.
L: I’ll give two. We all love this band Gleemer, from Colorado, dude named Corey who does a bunch of producing and engineering for other bands. We just played with this band from L.A., Milly, last weekend and got to connect with them a lot. They actually came here to the shop aftershow and hung out, had some drinks but definitely would love to tour with them. Gleemer is also one of our biggest influences, and they’re still around.
J: Hell yeah! We’re all a part of Kiss army too. We have the newsletters, magazines, the patches.
L: The printed mailing list
I: We have all talked about how iconic your name, Hollywood Slasher, is. It’s crazy that it hasn't been used, how did you guys come upon it?
L: It’s kind of a cliche answer. I started the project Hollywood Slasher when I was eighteen and I think one of the coolest bands of all time is My Bloody Valentine. When they first came out, everybody thought they got their name from a 1960’s horror film called My Bloody Valentine and it came out that that wasn’t true, I think for legal reasons but I think that is where it came from. I was looking through the same era of 50’s/60’s horror films just because all the typography is very loud, harsh, and scary. There’s a movie called The Hollywood Strangler Meets the Skid Row Slasher and the way that it looked, I was like, that’s hard. I chose that and hopefully we don’t get sued.
I: We’ll cut that part out, they don’t need to know
L: Yeah, keep it a secret
I: Is there anything you guys want to put out there in terms of the new EP or just in general?
M: Thank you to a lot of the people involved. Like Jordan mentioned, we have a whole team behind us.
J: Yeah shout out to Nemo for letting us do this. Shout out to Joriel who’s like our DP, does all of our video/art direction.
L: Tony Brant
J: Tony Brant, the legend, he’s like our main producer engineer guy. Jordan, who runs the label. There’s a ton of people.
L: Phoenix has a really really cool scene right now, like the corner that we’re in especially. I know a lot of people are going to be here tonight [The Hollywood Slasher ‘Charmbreaker’ EP release show] and I’m definitely planning on shouting out the bands that are going to be here. For us, our good homies 707’s of course, Glixen.
J: Friction’s really tight. Michael plays bass in a band called Break Up Shoes, which is really cool. The bands that are playing tonight: Malls and Bummer Girl.
L: We played our first show ever with Bummer Girl at Pub Rock and haven’t seen them or talked to them since, in 2019. Pub Rock, I don’t even know if that’s around anymore.
Off-Camera: It is
L: It is? Sorry Pub Rock
J: Pub Rock was actually where I had my first show too, but it was called Chasers.
L: I remember I thought it was the coolest thing ever because a week before Lil Tracy had headlined Pub Rock.
J: There used to be some good shows there, I saw Nothing there.
L: And shout out Zoned Magazine!
J: And everyone who’s here doing shit