The Slip slides into sonic success

by Beacon Staff • February 21, 2007

The band had years of extensive touring in the shadows of larger acts and the drawn-out, experimental jams the group of former Berklee students brought to the table were just too much for Top 40 radio listeners to handle.,A funny thing happened a good decade or so into The Slip's career.

The band had years of extensive touring in the shadows of larger acts and the drawn-out, experimental jams the group of former Berklee students brought to the table were just too much for Top 40 radio listeners to handle.

But just when it was looking as though The Slip were bound for a life of obscurity, 2006 became the year the trio made its mark. The November release of its fourth studio album, Eisenhower, introduced a new demographic of listeners to a whole new-sounding Slip.

This time around, the group avoided abstract jams and dished out a full album of tunes with a strict sense of structure that revolved around lyrical melodies.

One of the best examples of this is "Even Rats," which gained significant notoriety through its inclusion in the Playstation 2 smash hit, Guitar Hero. The song manages to walk a thin line of frail vocal sensitivities trademarked by Lou Reed and the intense drive of the Smashing Pumpkins' guitar riffs.

The stylistic transition was immense, and far from simple.

"Five years went by. We listened to a lot of stuff, we expanded our heads, and we got our home studio together. We started recording songs that took a while to come together," said frontman Brad Barr (vocals/guitar/piano) in an interview with The Beacon. "When we recorded From The Gecko, our first record, we just knew that all the songs seemed right. This time around, we knew we were building towards something better."

The long span of time the group took making Eisenhower led many fans to speculate that the album would never be released and, more significantly, that the group was on the verge of slipping away.

"I don't think it was uncertainty about the band, or the future, or whether or not it was the relationships we were in. But uncertainty is good thing when you're faced with a big question mark," said Andrew Barr (drums), Brad's younger brother, about the atmosphere of doubt.

As the group continued to discuss the trying circumstances that enveloped the development of Eisenhower, Brad Barr said "you do hit a point, we all do, where you start to face some big questions in your life."

Marc Friedman (bass) added, "Everything in life charts its own development. It would be pretty weird if it didn't."

The more the group spoke of its growth, the more transparent it became that each member of The Slip went through a significant degree of emotional development while making Eisenhower. It's clear that this

evolution was largely responsible for the

drastic progression in the group's sound.

As a single entity, the experience would be best described as The Slip's midlife crisis.

So as the group developed as a collective and Eisenhower was finally available as a complete product, it seemed as though the coverage of the "newly developed" Slip couldn't have obsessed more over the "jam-band gone indie" angle.

"It was a limited view to see us as a jam band. Whenever I read something in the papers about us [having gone from jam to indie], it bores the shit out of me," Andrew Barr said. "We've never had ultra-excessive crowds that were only a jam-band crowd that wore tie-dye and hemp necklaces. That was never our crowd anyways. It's not that cut and dry at all. The crowds are getting bigger, but not very different."

Friedman echoed these sentiments.

"We were outsiders in the jam-band world. People called us a jam band," he said. "But thousands of jam band fans probably didn't get us. We always sort of treaded on the outside."

Like a young kid struggling to color inside of the lines, The Slip never quite seemed to fit inside the standards of any given scene.

However, as more listeners have heard Eisenhower, it appears as though the band is making significant headway within any scene that values eclecticism.

To bring the prior analogy to a close, if making Eisenhower was The Slip's midlife crisis, then it seems as though its golden years are just ahead.