In a world which becomes more and more disillusioning by the minute, new dimensions of fiction become increasingly necessary to give us a sense of escapism. Whether it’s losing yourself in H.P. Lovecraft’s demented world of monsters, delving into the inferno with Dante, or even the fantasy worlds of J.R.R. Tolkien and George R.R. Martin, we all need a break from this realm of reality and to dive into others at times.
Lancashire’s Matt Moss and Scotland’s Kev Pearson created their own new realm and mythos in 2012 when they formed Slugdge, a conceptual band creating a musical lore which is as slimy as it is monolithic and encapsulating. Since then they’ve released four full-lengths including the newly released and highly praised Esoteric Malacology, and have built up a cult following for their world of godlike slugs, mollusc puns, and mind-blowing metal.
Esoteric Malacology is receiving much deserved praise from fans, are you chuffed with the response?
Yeah, it’s actually pretty unexpected. I mean, we tried our best to write a good album, but there are so many great metal artists around these days, as well as great releases in the past month. We’re just grateful that people took time to listen. It’s cliche to say you have the best fans in the world, but I think ours are up there, coming from a fairly small fanbase we managed to completely sell out the album within a few days, with some fans going so far as the buy multiple vinyl colours. This one brought a lot of new fans though too, and that’s awesome. We’re really happy with the response, the record label is too – everyone is happy!
This is the most adventurous record so far, what made you want to push things further? Were you out of your comfort zone at any point?
I don’t think we did, to be honest; it’s still a Slugdge record. We have a certain sound that’s present throughout our albums, but it’s not exactly absent in this one either. The technicality in some places has been brought up a notch, mainly thanks to Kev who has always been a technical player, but I think it’s the production that’s the most different and that changes definitely did take me out of my comfort zone. I’d got used to a way of doing things, so almost had to unlearn and relearn what I’d been doing. I’m not really a sound engineer, I just learned it because I had to to make music. In terms of composition not much has changed though, it’s still melodic riffs interspersed with moments of discordant evil and over the top choruses. Luckily other people enjoy that too!
How has it been to see your project grow into this larger being with quite the cult following?
It’s definitely not a cult! It just has all the hallmarks of one. It’s pretty great. It brings Mollusca’s message to all corners of the world, which is righteous obviously, but also very amusing to us that it’s now part of mythology in its own special way. We’re just waiting on amassing enough fans right now to launch a crusade and claim a Holy City to build Mollusca’s disgusting Kingdom on Earth. I’m thinking Salt Lake City is a good candidate, but Kev probably would rather capture one closer to home. Maybe Birmingham? Seriously though, it’s been a pleasure to watch it spread from word of mouth initially, to growing into what it’s become since we started in 2012. It certainly cheered me up after the Mayan apocalypse failed to take place.
Your lyrics are brilliantly atmospheric and illustrative, painting this amazing fantasy cosmos whilst also giving great commentary. Lyrically, who or what are you inspired by?
Mollusca naturally – it’s divine wisdom and infinite cruelty is an inspiration to all. Aside from Mollusca though, the works of H.P. Lovecraft, which are a fairly obvious influence, Jason Mendonca of Akercocke especially, and pretty much any death metal lyricists who indulge in heavy use of Death Metal English. I also have some background in theatre, particularly Shakespearean theatre, so a penchant for melodrama is in my blood.
Are there any parallels between the Mollusca’s universe and ours? Do you often use the writing to vent? Or is it more fueled by escapism?
Mollusca’s universe is the multiverse, and so he’s part of this universe, and not. He exists in a strange dimension called Slish in between realities, which is hidden behind an impenetrable barrier called the Sea of Vlekt which is pointless to try and breach because you would just be frozen immediately. You could always try to gain access via the Rhaexorog, whose galactic coordinates are l = 264.31 +/-0.16, b = +48.05 +/-0.09, but his ignorance is the stuff of legend and you would probably die in the cold vacuum of space.
There aren’t many similarities between Slish and our world, except the overabundance of mushrooms, but they are carnivorous, bipedal and known to pack a punch that can kill a man in a single blow, especially if you try to approach their children. Also, everything is poisonous. In short; it’s just best avoided. Part of the writing is venting, part of it is how I amuse myself. I like grandiloquent flowery language, I think the world would be a lot more entertaining if we all spoke that way. Many of the subjects in the lyrics do relate to our world or the direction in which we’re heading as a civilisation. I have quite mixed feelings about the progress of humanity and the technologies we use, especially these days. I think we need escapism, and I think we need our myths to make sense of everything, even if we know they are just stories.
Much like your peers in Akercoke and The Devin Townsend Project, there is a knowing wink and sense of humour to your writing making it a much more entertaining listen. Do you think this approach gives you more freedom to go over the top as opposed to a band taking themselves overly seriously?
I don’t know, some people make amazing art that’s very serious, I just think there is something in the personalities of people like us that needs to express ourselves in such a way. I’ve said many times that I’ve experienced significant mental health issues, and I believe Devin has had to contend with similar problems in his life. I think part of it is this is what keeps us sane in an insane world. I not so sure about Akercocke, I know they have a deep passion for this particular kind of music though and so do I. I love everything about metal and punk and want to try and incorporate as much of the rich tapestry of the genres as I can into our sound, while also bringing in musical inspirations from the near and distant past. The way I see it is; life is serious enough as it is, and as entertainers I don’t want us to repeatedly keep bringing people back down to Earth, but it doesn’t mean the music is thoughtless or meaningless either.
After years of just the two of you, what brought on the addition of bassist Moat Lowe into the band?
He’s a good friend of ours, the discussion about our new drummer came up first because he had asked to do some drums for us years ago and I’d declined on account of a fear of over-complicating our process. However, both of these people are big fans of the band and understand the music and what we’re trying to do with it, and as I said, both are excellent musicians already in fantastic bands. After seeing what Moat could do for us I was sold, and after meeting (and watching) the drummer recently, I found him to be a great guy and player who is also on the same page as us, so I’m really looking forward to seeing what they can do.
With the addition of a full-time bassist and drummer, are live shows more of a possibility?
They’re a possibility but there is nothing planned, we still have some major issues to contend with before we did anything and even if we did it would unlikely be a tour since the drummer we have has a fairly significant obligation to his other band at the moment. I wouldn’t write it off completely though.
How much time a day do you spend thinking about slug puns?
In total I spend a good few minutes each day thinking about slug puns, the best ones tend to just come to you!
Esoteric Malacology is out now on Willowtip. Pick up a copy here.
Words: Jack Richard King