Common Topics from an Uncommon Perspective
The Slang is an indie-rock band from Washington D.C.
Their recent EP, Desperate Times, features potent indie-rock numbers infused with tints of punk-lite, along with burnished vocals from vocalist John Bobo, who also plays guitar and keyboards. Other members of the band include Nick Giambruno (bass), and Brooks Owens (drums).
Because of the smooth, contagious texture of their music, Popdust quizzed The Slang in an effort to discover how they mine their influences to produce their tasty sound.
How would you describe yourself?
John: I recently spent some time in Tokyo, Japan and I appreciate how their culture has one foot firmly planted in tradition and the other pointed toward the future. I take a similar approach with music; I am a traditionalist in that I believe being successful requires hard work, determination, perpetual learning, and being well-rehearsed.
Nick: Outgoing! I love getting the opportunity to perform music for people. It still feels like a dream come true every time we get the opportunity to get on stage! Off stage, all of us are pretty goofy dudes, and super laid back!
The Slang - Is It Any (Official Video) youtu.be
What is the most trouble you've ever gotten into?
John: There is enough trouble in this world; I don't feel the need to participate.
What's your favorite song to belt out in the car or the shower?
John: I am actually not one to sing along to other artist's music, I am more of a listener. I want to hear the artist's vision for their music, not my version of it. I know they have practiced countless hours to make it sound the way it does, so I like to take it in. In terms of my own music, I usually don't sing in the car or shower, I wait until I am rehearsing so I can focus on the honing the song's sound.
Nick: "Torn" by Natalie Imbruglia. I'm a huge fan of '90s tunes!
Who is your favorite music artist?
John: I am influenced by aspects of so many artists, but not in totality by any single one. When I first started learning guitar and writing songs I was lucky enough to be influenced by singers/songwriters that wrote their own music. That influenced me to write my own material. I didn't realize until much later that a lot of artists don't write their own material.
Nick: Bayside at the moment. They just have a knack for great songwriting and stellar lyrics! Their self-titled album is always playing around the house.
How did you get started in music?What's the backstory there?
John: I didn't learn to play until I was in college and a musically inclined roommate my first year of college, named Pat, changed my life. I had always been creative and had no shortage of ideas, but I had never found an outlet. Learning to play the guitar and sing changed everything in my life. I was also lucky to have learned from a very unique artist and songwriter and we still play in bands together.
Nick: My first ever concert was when my mom took me to go see Kiss live. I was blown away, and was hooked ever since! I got my start gigging in tons of different bands all around DC and NYC/NJ areas, and really learned some valuable lessons about the music industry.
What musicians influenced you the most?
John: I really like artists that can create a mood such as Empire of the Sun, Japanese Breakfast, and The Cure. I really respect the recording quality of artists such as Tears for Fears and Talking Heads. I also really appreciate artists that can take the mood they create, combine it with their technical ability, and then communicate it effectively through their live shows or videos, such as Ghost. Tobias Forge clearly has a vision and he executes it exquisitely in the studio, in videos, and on tour. He is leading a successful metal band during a time when the metal scene, like the rest of the original music scene, is not front-and-center. I also like how The Killers and Brandon Flowers are able to provide the audience with unique visuals that are on the whimsical side, but tie perfectly to even their most popular songs. I think it challenges their fan's perspective of the world.
Nick: My favorite band growing up was Tool. I was so amazed to see musicians really push the boundary between music and art. They were masters at creating complex, yet tasteful, soundscapes.
How, if at all, do your musical influences shape and impact your music?
John: They all blend together to inspire me, but I think the most important thing is that they cause me to love music. You would think it gets old after a while, but it never does. My influences are a constant source of inspiration.
Nick: I am a firm believer of "serve the song." I think giving space for all of the other instruments can really help keep the song focused.
What kind of guitar do you play? And why?
John: I play a Fender Stratocaster, which seems basic, but I am very particular and have added key modifications. It is a 2012 Fender American Standard Stratocaster. I've added Fender locking tuners, Lindy Fralin vintage hot pickups, and custom wiring to get rid of the 60-cycle hum typically found in single coil guitars. I also removed the volume knob entirely. Otherwise, I hit it with my hand while strumming. A Fender Stratocaster just seems to sit nicely in the mix with the bass guitar, drums, and vocals. Everything fits and no one is fighting each other from an EQ perspective.
Nick: I really like switching things up and trying new sounds. Right now my current go to bass has been my Ibanez SR 1300. I really like the lightweight design and superfast neck. The punchy pickups really compliment John's smooth guitar tone.
What brand of drums and cymbals does your drummer play?
Brooks: I've been playing a custom kit made by a company called Markley Custom Drums from Lancaster, PA and I love it. The cymbals I've been using have been Dream Cymbals, which are big, dark, washy and help keep the stage volume down for the venues we've been playing.
You recently released your new EP, Desperate Times. What's the story behind the title of the EP?
John: I moved to the DC area in 2016 and the political climate was becoming very charged. I saw parallels between the political climate and the music scene. Both are seemingly ready for a renaissance.I thought the title seemed to fit.
The SlangEP Cover 'Desperate Times'
Your music has been described as pop-rock. How would you describe your sound?
John: I think the "Pop" label makes sense because we always try to sound well produced and write catchy songs. However, I feel like we are more indie or alternative because, frankly, guitar-driven music is no longer en vogue. Even our recent festival appearances have been shared with mostly hip-hop and rap artists. I like the diversity in genre, but I feel the "pop" moniker should be reserved for the genre at the top of the charts and right now, that is not indie/alternative guitar music. If that were to shift, I am certainly not opposed to being described as pop; I think our music being considered "poppy" is a compliment.
My favorite track on Desperate Times is "Back To The Fact." What was the inspiration for this song?
John: Glad you like the track! The title comes from my pragmatic nature that I mentioned earlier. I assume that if I point out facts during an argument then I'm sure to win. Of course, the reality is that emotions will play a role and facts may be of little concern to the people you are disagreeing with.The song pleads this case, but ends with the line "Remember back to the fact that I never once said 'No.'" Given that I end it in a way that harkens back to a fact (yet again), alludes to the fact I didn't win the argument.
Who produced the EP? Are you pleased with how it turned out?
John: I produced the EP so I would say I'm very happy with how it turned out! All joking aside, I really enjoy the writing, recording, and producing process. When I have a vision for an EP or album, I like to see it through each stage of the process. I partnered with Eric Taft (Buzzlounge Studio) and I think we made a really good team. He's an engineer/producer himself along with being a musician. We even co-wrote the song "Breakdown" with Eric on the new EP.
Nick: Our friend Eric Taft did all of the engineering. He's a great guy who recently worked with Underoath and The Amity Affliction. He really pushed us to give the best performances possible. He also has an incredible ear for songwriting.
What's next for The Slang? Another EP, an album?
John: We certainly have enough material for a full album, but we also like to get high-quality recordings out routinely, which often leads to EPs. That said we are very open to and certainly postured for a full-length album when it makes sense.
Will you be doing any touring?
John: We have been playing EP release shows in the Midwest and along the East Coast. We are also performing at the International Pop Overthrow (IPO) Festival on November 2nd in Philadelphia. More dates are planned for early-2019 and we are actively looking for other touring bands to join out on the road.
Randy Radic is a Left Coast author and writer. Author of numerous true crime books written under the pen-name of John Lee Brook. Former music contributor at Huff Post.
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As reprehensible as Jake Paul is as a person, he is innocent in this case
Update 8/6/2020: On Wednesday the FBI raided Jake Paul's home in Calabasas, California in connection with the Scottsdale mall riot. The home is reportedly owned by Paul's friend Arman Izadi, who was also present at charged with misdemeanor crimes following the mall incident.
It's unclear what the basis for the raid was, but the Scottsdale police have turned over riot investigation to the FBI, who are believed to have removed multiple firearms from the Calabasas mansion.
Because it turns out celebrities exist even before we hear about them.
So many celebrities seem to build their entire lives around careers in entertainment.
Good for them. They knew what they wanted to do, and they were actually lucky and talented enough to be successful. But for a lot of these people, it's hard to imagine how they would function in the world without their celebrity status. That's why people freak out when they find out that Taylor Swift can cook. She not only eats people food, she actually knows how to prepare it! Do you think she even washes her own dishes?!
But there is another class of celebrity. People who had full, interesting, and often insane lives before anyone had ever heard of them. People like...
Christopher Walken: Lion Tamer<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjYwNDI5NS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxNzk1NTM1NH0.gB-0fl12hr7J3svFb1dpkBQ-PWSosPnLaQQKxqB-MB8/img.jpg?width=980" id="dbe98" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="e99b1bc39579d90f78d4d6de9523f551" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Christopher Walken" /><p>Christopher Walken is known for the intense, contained energy of his performances and... the un<em>ique</em>... cadence... and <em>em</em>phasis of his speech. But long before he was a living, breathing caricature of himself, he had a very different approach to show business. His time as a <a href="https://ew.com/article/2014/12/02/christopher-walken-captain-hook-dancing/" target="_blank">cabaret dancer</a> shouldn't surprise anyone who's seen the way he moves in the music video for Fatboy Slim's "<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wCDIYvFmgW8" target="_blank">Weapon of Choice</a>," but the fact that Walken was working as a lion tamer in a circus at the age of 16 is completely insane. Of course he downplays it, saying that Sheba the lion was "Very nice. She'd come and bump your leg. Like a house cat," but he was still bossing around a giant predatory cat as a teenager.</p>
Julia Child: Inventor<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjYwNDI0NC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxMTE4MTA2N30.lfQiI4CMgFK3oJYLW1bPvgOy3rZgL8daEMkgYM4Uukk/img.jpg?width=980" id="c5ab9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="a75cf85333b55f0a9399231cd3206a9d" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Julia Child" /><p>You may know Julia Child for her famous cookbook <em></em><em>Mastering the Art of French Cooking</em>, or for her long-running public television show <em>The French Chef</em>. At the very least, maybe you've seen her portrayed by Meryl Streep in 2009's <em>Julie and Julia</em>. She was an early icon of TV cooking, making it approachable and fun, and her recipes remain popular more than 15 years after her death. But before anyone knew her for her cooking, she was working for the Office of Strategic Services—a forerunner to the CIA—helping to fight Nazis by... inventing <a href="https://www.cia.gov/news-information/featured-story-archive/2015-featured-story-archive/shark-repellent.html" target="_blank">shark repellent</a>.</p><p>The effort was sparked during World War II in response to sharks attacks on military personnel who were waiting for rescue after ships and planes went down. Child was a member of the team that developed pellets to be included in soldier's rescue kits, with an odor that would keep sharks at bay. There's no telling how many lives those pellets may have saved, but apparently they went on to be used with underwater explosives targeting German submarines—so sharks wouldn't accidentally set them off—and even in space equipment that NASA designed for ocean retrieval.</p>
James Lipton: Pimp<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjYwNDI2Ni9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxODM5ODY4N30.THakQRuLoFrZdysNOoONBwt5WbIFd6kqKmZMo99tMOo/img.jpg?width=980" id="cb82f" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="61c045a63ca5f3a8df7ae6a17197995c" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="james lipton" /><p>James Lipton is not quite as famous as some of the people he's interviewed—<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inside_the_Actors_Studio#Guests" target="_blank">basically every celebrity ever</a>—but he hosted <em>Inside the Actor's Studio</em> for 22 years on <em>Bravo</em>, and had an amazing turn as <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vwXGPar9kHc" target="_blank">Warden Stefan Gentles</a> on <em>Arrested Development</em>. In his youth though, Lipton had a very different career in post-war Paris. At the time, there was little work available in France, and many women resorted to sex work to get by. Lipton was friends with one such woman, and when he was running out of money and told her that he had to return to the US, she offered him a job. Soon he was <a href="https://parade.com/17599/dotsonrader/inside-the-actors-studio-host-james-lipton-on-his-favorite-interview-and-pimping-in-paris/" target="_blank">working in a bordello as a "mec,"</a> which he differentiates from the American conception of a pimp, "The French <em>mecs</em> didn't exploit women. They represented them, like agents. And they took a cut. That's how I lived." So... not easy, but necessary.</p>
Jerry Springer: Mayor of Cincinnati<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjYwNDI4My9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxMDEzNTkzNX0.h_k9FJugum9ZI55hpU49JC4180Bbzz5-vuHgIGGI3FM/img.jpg?width=980" id="6d534" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="f8a8e61f6254ac8be70c23550346ec0d" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Jerry Springer" /><p>On the other side of the sex work equation was a young Jerry Springer. Long before he was exposing strangers' dirty laundry to the delight of a hooting studio audience, he was starring in his own <a href="http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/assessment/1998/03/jerry_springer.html" target="_blank">personal scandal in Ohio politics</a>. He had already served as an adviser to Robert Kennedy, and had a failed run for Congress before he was elected to Cincinnati's City Council in 1971. At just 27 years old, he may not have been ready for a life in politics, and a few years later he was forced to step down after being caught in a prostitution probe, paying for sex work with personal checks.</p><p>Surprisingly, Springer was able to come back from that scandal with a series of honest, apologetic ads that resulted in him resuming his seat on the city council and eventually serving a term as Mayor. He even ran for governor in 1982, before beginning a career as a local news anchor and coining his catchphrase "Take care of yourselves, and each other." At the time he was known for delivering thoughtful editorials, and became so popular that he was given a daytime TV show that slowly transformed, in its chase for ratings, to the pure trash that eventually made him famous.</p>
Audrey Hepburn: Member of the Dutch Resistance<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjYwNDIzNy9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0NjAwODQ4M30.ZrhreORH5cpZ_Rsj09lVySaxzaLoFNE-DHHM9xbQFRE/img.jpg?width=980" id="6f2ab" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="dd21bb87307e5bb726ce9b73a7494189" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" /><p>The original manic pixie dream girl of <em>Breakfast at Tiffany's</em> was always known for her frail beauty, but when she was a growing up in <a href="https://time.com/5582729/audrey-hepburn-world-war-ii/" target="_blank">Nazi-occupied Holland</a>, some of that frailty was probably the result of malnutrition. Despite this, she was a talented ballet dancer, and frequently performed in secretive events known as "black nights," raising money for Dutch resistance fighters. Hepburn was just 15 in 1944, but because she was fluent in English, she was also tasked with delivering food and messages to allied pilots who were shot down by the Nazis. She helped them reach safety, and her youth and apparent innocence kept her safe from Nazi suspicions.</p>
Samuel L. Jackson: Militant Black Activist<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjYwNDIyMy9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyNTM1NDg0MX0.KsU1niylFVF0S_9u2v8qX5ircpmJ5Q8S7hf-TejhooA/img.jpg?width=980" id="e89bc" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="23b27d5f9a6ec18ed4b6660985d7b342" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Samuel L. Jackson" /><p>Samuel L. Jackson is one of the biggest movie stars of all time. Collectively his films have grossed <a href="https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/features/how-samuel-l-jackson-became-hollywoods-bankable-star-1174613" target="_blank">nearly six billion dollars</a>—more than any other actor. But back in the late 1960s, his prospects didn't look so bright. As a young student at Morehouse College, <a href="https://web.archive.org/web/20081229063210/http://www.parade.com:80/articles/editions/2005/edition_01-09-2005/featured_0" target="_blank">Jackson joined the Black Power movement</a> following the tragic assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. Jackson has said that he was in a "radical faction" of the movement: "We were buying guns, getting ready for armed struggle." He found the experience empowering, although it led to his expulsion from college after he and other activists held the school's board of trustees hostage in a dispute over the schools' curriculum and the demographics of its governing board.</p><p>It was his mother's influence that eventually pushed Jackson in another direction. She put him on a plane to Los Angeles and told him not to come back. "The FBI had been to the house and told her that if I didn't get out of Atlanta, there was a good possibility I'd be dead within a year. She freaked out." Jackson spent a couple years doing social work in LA before eventually returning to Morehouse to study drama. "I decided that theater would now be my politics." It was a bold choice for someone who had struggled with a stutter, though by that point Jackson had discovered the <a href="https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2019/06/samuel-l-jackson-shaft-motherfucker-stutter" target="_blank">therapeutic benefits</a> of shouting "motherf*cker."</p>
Jewel: Survivalist<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjYwNDI4Ny9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyNjUwNjI0MH0.Y8mEiH18k9U4GVzE8UYOKLqZZtuor1EtrdQvVEzsoGk/img.jpg?width=980" id="d96e6" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="eb8e0d81489c72d42600fe7436636728" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Jewel" /><p>Jewel Kilcher grew up in a saddle barn in the remote town of Homer, Alaska. While she was a singer from a young age—<a href="https://www.npr.org/2015/09/12/439764172/in-lumberjack-joints-and-coffee-shops-jewel-found-her-voice" target="_blank">performing with her father for lumberjacks</a> in local bars—<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewel_(singer)#Early_life" target="_blank">her early life was hardly glamorou</a>s. They had no running water, a coal stove for heat, and largely had to fend for themselves: "we mainly lived off of what we could kill or can. We picked berries and made jam. We caught fish to freeze and had gardens and cattle to live on. I rode horses every day in the summer beneath the Alaskan midnight sun." It may have been this childhood that prepared her to live out of her car at the age of 19 as she was launching her career in Southern California.</p>
Christopher Lee: Secret Agent<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjYwNDI4OC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzNTg3MzM5M30.qKjkKyFCwktkOV9Fnf0W73uppSV3ko6xJ9ImPYEXRcI/img.jpg?width=980" id="4ac25" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="600db2000efa3054e51be73b94c640b4" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Christopher Lee" /><p>You probably remember Christopher Lee for his portrayal of Saruman in the <em>Lord of the Rings</em> films, but did you know that he also played a crucial role <a href=""Have you any idea what kind of noise happens when somebody’s stabbed in the back? Because I do.”" target="_blank">advising Peter Jackson</a> on the realism of a scene in <em>The Return of the King</em>. Specifically, Lee provided his firsthand knowledge of the sound a person makes when they've just been stabbed. Jackson was directing Lee's reaction in a scene in which Saruman is ambushed, prompting Lee to respond, "Have you any idea what kind of noise happens when somebody's stabbed in the back? Because I do."</p><p>Lee would most likely have gained that knowledge during World War II, when he was a member of the British Army's <a href="https://www.thevintagenews.com/2018/02/09/christopher-lee/" target="_blank">Long Range Desert Patrol</a>, fighting Axis forces on the North African Front. He then went on to join the Special Operations Executive, an elite organization involved in espionage and assassination. Most of their work is still classified.</p>
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