"I got the idea from the movie "Kill Bill
," Simon Young, the bass
player and founder of The Slants told me. "You know, there's that scene where there's all these Asian people pouring out of those cars and they're incredibly badass and everything. I wanted to start a band like that. of course," he added, with a slight smile, "I had to start dressing better."
We were at NoBrandCon in Eau Claire and my best friend, who is strongly possessed of the groupie gene, immediately fell in love with Mr. Young and his glorious emo jrock mullet. I was happy he had because this caused us to purchase the entire band from the charity man auction for 60 bucks between the two of us (This included dinner, a dance at the NobrandCon dance, and an impromptu gift of some chains with heart-shaped charms that Simon happened to have on before the concert, but we still tell people we own The Slants.) . Now, after hearing them play and being dragged out of bed at the crack of 6 am to get ready in time to go to the second panel with The Slants and showing up to find that no one else had bothered and it was just us alone with Simon, I was really glad. The concert they played was amazing, the only concert I've danced my entire way through in my life: a catchy kind of synthpop inspired by Depeche Mode, as Young said "We don't write music for people to stand around to..."
"So i put out a call for Asian musicians to join an all Asian rock band, and you'd be surprised how many people in Portland were offended by that..." The Slants are not a gimmick, they have songs that stand alone as well as songs like "Sakura, Sakura" which deals with racial stereotyping. the chorus goes "We sing for the Japanese and the Chinese, and all the dirty knees." Their website says one of the things they'd like to do is to give young people Asian heroes to look up to and that they're proud of turning racial slurs into something positive.
I've already mentioned Simon a half-dozen times, so here's the rest of the line-up:
The first to join the band was Gaijin, the keyboard player. he's not actually Asian, but he's a good fit musically, also being influenced by bands like Depeche Mode, Joy Division, and The Faint.
The second keyboard player, Jen Cho, actually played a keytar, and also sang backup vocals for "Kokoro (I fall to pieces)" and "I Want Everything" live as well as on the album. She was also very nice about the fact that I wound up with a little bit of a crush on her and wrote "I heart redheads." on my cd booklet. She has recently left the band temporarily to move to japan, and has been replaced by Gaijin partially, since they both played synths, although her female vocals will be missed. Emails from Aron say that there is a good chance she may be back in year or so.
Aron, the vocalist, who is hilarious.
And Johnny (Guitars) and AC (Drummer), who are both half Filipino and half Hispanic. The band's joke is that together they're one whole Asian. AC has since been replaced by Tommy Chen, who I do not have any awesome stories about because I have not met.
The Slants started to get a good following from playing at conventions, and I recently read reports that all but 12 copies of their album "Slanted eyes, Slanted Hearts" have sold and that they plan to cut more. They also made it to the finals in a Portland, Oregon Battle of the Bands contest, but turned down the chance to compete in a televised reality show on FUSE for a recording contract with Bodog Records on the advise of their attorney. It seems that they were being asked to sign a non-negotiable 73 page contract with only ten days to read it all. However, they have been named as one of fender music's spotlight artists and I really hope to see another album from them soon.
DISCOGRAPHY (will be updated when applicable.)
Slanted Eyes, Slanted Hearts (2007)
1 Sakura, Sakura
2 Capture Me Burning
3 We Will Never Die
5 Haruki Murakami *
6 Love Within My Sins
8 I Want Everything
9 Kokoro (I Fall to Pieces)
10 Welcome to Doomtown
11 Vice Versus Virtue
*The lyrics to this are not listed, it just tells you to read the book and that it's awesome.