Chorley, a satellite town of the city of Preston, Lancashire. It rains, a lot. For denizens of dank places, like slugs, it’s perfectly grim. So here, under plant pots, rockeries and, inexplicably, your kitchen floor at night time, lurk the acolytes of Mollusca, an infernal cosmic slug deity, awaiting his return from the gardens of Slish, that he might smite all those that hath poured salt upon his children.
So sayeth Slugdge, a duo of bedroom musicians that have caused a stir in metal’s underground. Their third release, Dim And Slimeridden Kingdoms, has taken their coagulated mire of death, grind and prog to new levels, blending Lovecraftian malice with suppurating melody, riffs galore and such ferocious blast fuckery that what at first seems like a joke soon becomes serious. Slugdge are the real deal. For members Matt Moss and Kev Pearson it’s come as of much surprise to them that two DIY musicians have made such waves, receiving praise on high from reputable metal webzines Stereogum and Invisible Oranges amongst others, and for the past two years, making Metalsucks’ best of year lists.
So who are they, and where the hell did the idea for slug metal come from? ‘We’re a bedroom band that got lucky,’ shrugs Matt, unassumingly. ‘Kev and I were sat up one night having a weird conversation about slugs. I don’t know how it started, but the result was us making the song Eyehatesalt, obviously a nod to (legendary New Orleans sludge band) Eyehategod. It wasn’t meant to go any further, but it quickly became our new musical vehicle, mostly because it was fun and didn’t feel like a chore.’
Veterans of several acts in an active local scene, they’d grown disillusioned. ‘We’d always end up writing about trite subjects. On the surface the slug thing seems gimmicky, but no more than writing about war, Satan, or animal cruelty; although we’ve probably changed the way people treat slugs, nobody else was fighting their corner!’
But surely, beyond the obvious Lovecraftian connotations (Matt: ‘He’s my favourite author, xenophobia aside’), there’s something deeper at work. ‘Of course’, asserts Matt. ‘It’s about the things I’ve struggled with personally. I don’t tend to go into specifics – people can draw whatever conclusion they like.’
How can two blokes in a bedroom make a racket so glorious that it sounds like Mastodon, Napalm Death and Carcass drowning in purulent ooze? ‘We just sit there and play around until it happens’ says Matt, self-deprecatingly. ‘We try everything; we’re not afraid of rejection. If something doesn’t work we get rid. Sometimes we grow to dislike bits after we’ve released an album, but it’s too late then!’
Kev and Matt’s relationship is one of those rare instances of creative synergy. ‘We have to work together,’ insists Matt. ‘We’re both essential to the makeup. I’ve never understood bands cycling through members. It clearly works for some, not us.’
The Lennon and McCartney of mollusc metal they might be, but unfortunately it’s unlikely they’ll ever make it big in America, or anywhere else – touring, signing to a label is apparently out of the question. “We’ve had offers of assistance, but that generally involves deadlines, and I don’t work well under those. I have a type of psychosis which has meant I’ve had massive issues being out in society,” says Matt, frankly, “but I channel it. I prefer thinking like a shaman rather than a maniac. Eccentricity is harmless, madness is harmful; I do everything I can to avoid falling back into madness.”
It’s brave to be open about an issue so often stigmatised. To be an artist willing to explore such issues, to express them publicly can only help others in similar situations. There is real heart to Slugdge’s fury, executed with a glowering intelligence that even the band underestimates. It’s something that is striking a chord with a growing legion of fans, “Enough to invade a small island” posted Matt gleefully on Facebook recently, who are so fanatical about a band who’ve only released their albums as free downloads, that some of them have made their own Slugdge shirts. Finally the band responded, an official shirt now available alongside a three disc box set of the albums.
So what’s next for a band uncaring of success? They’ve already achieved more than they anticipated, with a couldn’t give a fuck attitude that is way more metal than most. Matt is ambivalent. “We make music for ourselves, but I like the community of fans we have, they’re the icing on the cake. If it inspires others to make music and enjoy making it, then that’s what’s important. We might make another, all that matters is whether or not it’ll be fun, and right now we’re still having fun with slugs – they’re vile and repulsive sure, but so are some people.”