Five Questions With ... Silver Clouds' Rod Slaughter

Fans of the acclaimed Winnipeg bands Novillero and Duotang have something to celebrate as core members of both recently started working together again under the new banner Silver Clouds. Although an edgy-yet-catchy alt-rock approach remains the foundation of Silver Clouds’ sound, it’s tempered with experience that makes the band’s self-titled debut album—out June 26 on Disintegration Records—a fresh start for all involved.

In the years between Novillero’s demise in 2010 and Duotang’s reformation in 2014, songwriter Rod Slaughter kept amassing a cache of songs that otherwise had no home. He began fleshing out 12 of these tracks with Novillero drummer Dave Berthiaume, contrasting their pop-infused structures with lyrical subjects ranging from a famous actor’s internal dilemmas (Peter Sellers), to post-First World War border security (Maginot Line).

Sessions for Silver Clouds brought even more Winnipeg musical royalty together under the direction of producer Cam Loeppky (The Weakerthans, Christine Fellows), with Rusty Matyas of Imaginary Cities, Rej Ricard of Telepathic Butterflies and Keri Latimer of Nathan making contributions. With Silver Clouds’ line-up now solidified through the addition of Novillero guitarist Sean Stevens and bassist Steve Payne, the band is eager to bring the album to the stage the first chance they get, and inject some classic indie rock energy back to the Canadian scene.

We spoke with Rod Slaughter to find out more about Silver Clouds, and how the band is biding its time during the pandemic. More information is available at Disintegration.ca.

Congrats on the new band and album. How did this project come together?

Thank you! It's been a long, windy road. Originally, the intent was to demo a few songs a number of years ago after Novillero stopped recording and touring. Dave Berthiaume and I worked out what would be approximately half of this album, and the remainder was written over the past five years in between what Duotang was doing. Piece by piece we finished this record about a year ago, and we then formed the actual band with Sean Stevens and Steve Payne who’s played with a number of great Toronto bands we love, such as Boy. There was a lot of anticipation for the album release and live shows, then 2020 happened.

Do you see Silver Clouds as an evolution from what you've done previously with Duotang and Novillero? 

I wouldn’t call it an evolution. It’s more of a side step, which kind of falls in the middle of those two bands really. Duotang is minimal and scrappy, while Novillero is more pop-oriented and filled with all kinds of instrumentation. Silver Clouds certainly emphasizes guitars more than I have ever been used to, but the music still shares similar influences to the other bands, like ‘60s Mod and ‘70s underground, among a gazillion other things.

What made Minor Hesitation the consensus choice for the first single?

Our manager Brent Oliver actually suggested it, possibly because its theme of being “stuck in life” fit with a band that took nearly a decade to start!

The album’s opening track Peter Sellers is also a standout. What inspired you to write that?

I've always had a fondness for Peter Sellers, even though he sounded like a rather unlikeable person. The song fits with the album’s theme of “being stuck,” and was written from his perspective in 1974, when he was insisting on evolving as an actor, but was faced with the reality he was becoming irrelevant. Finally, begrudgingly, he once again played Inspector Clouseau, which was apparently a huge step backwards for him. It seemed like as good a story as any to shove into three minutes.

It's really unfortunate that the album is being released in the midst of the pandemic. What are the band's plans for when things start returning to normal, and do you have any live-streaming events coming up?

Yeah, it’s not the ideal time to peddle a new album, but so it goes. We intend on just trying to get the music out there first, and then when venues start to open again, finally play our debut show, and maybe play in a few other locations across Canada. In the meantime, we may do a live recording and video in our warehouse space later this summer. Steve Payne is a great engineer, so he can handle the recording. It’ll be baby steps, as we have always done.

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