A new album release bringing ragtime into the contemporary Gold Coast music marketplace was not one of my expectations for 2020 but I think we can all agree this year was not what any of us expected. However, unlike some of the less pleasant aspects of 2020, ‘Sugoi’, the debut effort by Slips and the FWs, got my toes tapping and arms flapping as I channelled my turn-of-the-century deep-south self and syncopated all my dance moves.
David Kume, orchestrator for the band, brings his Japanese heritage quite sensitively into a number of the tracks, but the collection of ditties is primarily driven by clever lyrical innuendo and fun, catchy melodies that are a pleasure to listen to. Highlights are ‘I’m the Milkman Blues’ which we can neither confirm nor deny is an historical testimony to the star-crossed lovers after whom the Cream Track between Tallebudgera Valley and Springbrook is named, and the inspirational culinary anthem ‘Hot Hot Hot’ that is a love letter to the spiciest of delicious sauces.
Matt Webber, ABC Gold Coast’s resident music aficionado and host of Tuesday Bluesday, is known as a passionate fan of the band and we had a chat about why he thinks the album is a must-listen.
The first time you heard David Kume’s material, describe your reaction? [you can’t say you got Hot, Hot, Hot!]
The band came in to ABC Gold Coast ahead of a show at Miami Marketta if memory serves correctly. I’d heard the group had formed out of the Dracula’s Restaurant house band and as soon as I saw this motley crew wander in – short ones, tall ones, and (in the case of pianist Stew) ridiculously muscly ones – my mind immediately went to that song ‘The Monster Mash’ and TV shows like The Munsters and Vincent Price and that sort of thing. They’re just an interesting cluster of peeps. I’m about as fond of that performance in the studio that day as any I’ve ever experienced. Just lovely, supremely talented people who clearly really enjoyed playing together.
Some have said that “Sugoi is bringing sexy back to ragtime”. Thoughts?
Dave is a serious student of the ragtime stuff, something we often tap into in our ‘Tuesday Bluesday’ on-air segments. In fact the way the album was recorded – live in one day in a big studio barn with just a few strategically placed microphones scattered around – speaks volumes about that. But double entendre and walking a bit of a line between naughty and nice is the essence of a lot of the genre lyrically. It was and remains raunchy, good time, ‘little-bit-tipsy’ dance music. It’s not so much bringing the sexy back as maintaining the rage. Sidenote: I believe Stew the aforementioned ridiculously muscly pianist was once voted the ‘Hottest Ginger in the Universe’ or something. I can confirm he is quite the specimen. So there’s also that.
Of the three Wiener Wagons, which was your favourite and why?
You never forget your first time. I’m going with Wiener Wagon One. Easily the warmest and most welcoming and therefore winning wiener.
Being a very well-known button pusher, the people may like to know how that song made you feel?
Extremely hungry. And not just a little lusty truth be told. The best thing is that the Wiener Wagon actually exists! It’s a Brisbane food van you see at festivals around the place. You often hear musos talk about how sometimes songs just turn up. I love how Dave spotted the Wiener Wagon in traffic one day and used that simple moment to string the words and melody together and hey presto, out pops a song sausage!
After hearing you spruik Slips & the FWs on your radio show, we booked them for SSitV in Mudgeeraba, and they nailed the night to acclaim. What’s your advice to your show performers about a successful radio set?
Be brave, play something you are super comfortable playing, and if you’re nervous about don’t be afraid to ask to pre-record. And don’t overcomplicate the production elements! Have something ready to go as if you were playing to friends in your living room. No wacky loops or effects of DIs or anything. People love hearing simple honesty and the best radio performances always ooze that. It’s also an opportunity to let people know the roots of your song. It might have started simply on a keyboard or on a dinky old nylon stringed guitar before being plushed up in a studio somewhere. Give people that insight. It’s always interesting.
What’s your fave song on ‘Sugoi’ and why?
Hand on heart I can say I absolutely love them all. Each is just a really solid showcase of musicianship. ‘Hot Hot Hot!’ sets things up beautifully. I love the pace of ‘Going Southbound’. Dave’s song about his recently deceased dad – ‘Man from Kirishima’ – is heartbreaking but quite beautiful.
What are your thoughts on retro genres and how they fit into the contemporary music marketplace?
At some point everything old is new and everything new ages. I bristle a bit at the re-birthing of certain 80s sounds and vibes (warning you synth poppers and keytarists… it was pretty awful first time around!) I do love how things never really turn to dust though. There’s always gold in them hills somewhere.
IMAGE: The Bros Productions