» Mike Scalzi - Slough Feg
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Interview conducted May 21 2009
Interview published May 27 2009

I have been a loyal fan of San Francisco's Slough Feg for many years. It was an honor and a pleasure that my inaugural Metal Covenant interview be with - Mike Scalzi - the master of metal myth. My fingers flew and laughter ensued, as we discussed the new album - Ape Uprising. Then we waxed on about the trials of touring, the trouble with technology, and the virtues of vinyl, all from the insightful mind of a true Atavist.

Nate: It's great to get to talk to you; I've been a fan for a number of years now.

  • Mike: Good, Good.

Nate: Before we begin, I just want to warn you...

  • Mike: About what?

Nate: I've never interviewed another living soul before!

  • Mike: Oh, that's cool - the best ones are done by rookies! Interviews should be unscripted.

Nate: Well, that's good. I heard you liked my review? Mine was the one with the "feces-flinging" pun in it.

  • Mike: Oh yeah, I remember that! You know, an ape actually did throw shit at me once at the San Francisco Zoo! Thankfully, nobody got hit.

Nate: You don't suppose therein came any inspiration for the album, do you?

  • Mike: No, not really. I guess some of it comes from the fact that apes are going extinct, and that pisses me off.

Nate: Oh, definitely, me too. So, are there any tour plans to support the album?

  • Mike: There aren't any major plans right now, I mean, we'll play somewhere once a month, then do a small tour in June in the Bay Area. Then in August we'll go to the Midwest. What is it, the Alehorn of Power Festival in Chicago?

Nate: Yeah! I always wanted to go to that.

  • Mike: It should be pretty good this year. It's probably going to be at a smaller venue, and there are only going to be maybe five bands. So yeah, in August we'll tour with Bible Of The Devil, then in October we'll hit the West Coast with Bible of the Devil, we'll probably play in Texas, then head east. Well, the entire South, really! We usually hit two to three really good places, the rest are, well, pretty bad. We usually do great in Texas, but in Dallas no one really seems to give a shit. We like to hit Austin once a year-we'll get a good show, the rest is pretty speckled, really...

Nate: That seems to be the nature of the metal scene in the US, in my assumption.

  • Mike: It's definitely better than it used to be. I mean, it all sucked in the nineties.

Nate: Of course, what with grunge, and rap, and all that shit.

  • Mike: I mean, we could tour the whole US, but it'd be pretty pointless!

Nate: How do you guys go over in the UK?

  • Mike: It's usually pretty spotty. We played one show in '99 with Solstice - it was a pretty good show! But in 2000 we played one or two shows there that were not very well attended. In 2005 we played one show in the UK on Halloween. We haven't been there in four years, so we might do a Saturday night in Leeds or London. We also did some shows in the UK, and Germany, Ireland, and different parts of the continent. This time, there are only two shows in Europe. So really we'll be just touring US like mad, we want to emphasize quality over quantity this year.

Cool. Give me a second to let my fingers catch up, I'm typing like mad right now! I think this is going pretty well, so far! I didn't want to ask you a bunch of canned questions that you've been asked a billion times.

  • Mike: Yeah, you're doing fine, man.

Nate: Well, the readers want to hear your answers, not my questions!

  • Mike: I get so many boring interviews, with stupid questions like: "Tell us about your lyrics." What do you mean, "tell us about your lyrics?" I mean, there's a little anger about Apes, but mostly we're just, well, singing about apes! It's like with Atavism, human beings have only been "civilized", whatever that means, for a few thousand years, and before that, there were a lot of years spent relying upon instinct. And I don't want barbarism, or anything like that...

Nate: I see your point...

  • Mike: And Heavy Metal's not terribly artistic or specific. Its tone is usually pretty vague, so we try to do something that entertains us, we wanted to do something that has a sense of humor, and not be serious all the time!

Nate: It is important to not be afraid to show humor in your music. At the same time, most - If not all - comedy is based upon pain, so it's a balancing act, and I think you guys have struck upon a winning combination with Ape Uprising!

  • Mike: Thanks. Was there anything else you wanted to talk about?

Nate: Well, I did have a few canned questions, but I won't bore you with those. There was one thing, I was curious about. I understand that there will be vinyl through Iron Kodek?

  • Mike: Um, yes, there will. How's that for an answer?

Nate: That is a perfectly acceptable answer! Seriously, I'm glad to see that, that particular medium hasn't died out.

  • Mike: I'm a Luddite, I guess. I'm not against technology, I mean, I have an old shitty computer that's about to break. The whole TV conversion thing, I still haven't done anything about that! I don't have Cable, I don't have a CD player, I like to listen to records.

Nate: At least you're not exposed to the cable news bias.

  • Mike: I don't know what it is....

Nate: It's all political, really...

  • Mike: And I don't do streaming audio, and I don't download music. Also, I've never burned a CD in my life.

Nate: Really?

  • Mike: Yeah, I just don't need to! And shit like iPods just seems like a pain in the ass.

Nate: Oh, it is...

  • Mike: If I want a CD, I'll buy it. I have it set up to where I can listen to CDs on my TV, Yeah, I'd rather spend my time doing something creative. Besides, vinyl is how I like to listen to music.

Nate: Definitely. Any plans to return to college?

  • Mike: Me? No! I have a Master's Degree in philosophy. I teach philosophy at a university.

Nate: Really?

  • Mike: Is that a surprise to you?

Nate: That confirms my suspicions about where a lot of the lyrics come from!

  • Mike: Well, not really. I mean, we have a forum full of ridiculous interpretations of our songs, but the songs are not as philosophical as those people think they are!

Nate: Interesting. I'm going to "switch hats" here for a second and say: from a fan's perspective, thanks for the music! I don't think that my band, Lunarium, would exist had I not listened to Down Among The Deadmen so much!

  • Mike: Cool. See, from a fan's perspective, listening to the music that I did growing up, I can't imagine listening to our music and thinking that that would be what someone else would want to sound like. Of course, I grew up listening to Black Sabbath, and Iron Maiden, and thinking that was what we wanted to sound like...

Nate: I can relate...

  • Mike: It seems like people who really appreciate Slough Feg are well-educated, or they come from somewhat of a background, growing up in artistic families. In ways that I don't even realize, the music comes from a cultured, more educated source, It's hard to see this as the one who makes the music, you know? Even in black metal, or death metal, there are some pretty educated people, in most metal I think.

Nate: Not so much in Metalcore, but that's not even metal, I don't think.

  • Mike: No, I don't consider that to be metal, either. Even in power metal, but I don't know a lot about it.

Nate: There seem to be lots of Tolkien fans!

  • Mike: Yeah, and really, I'm not among those. I'm more into religious history, science fiction, and Mythology. I mean, we don't sing about dragons, or castles, like Dio, or others like that! People associate us with Fantasy, but there's no Slough Feg song with fantasy elements. Have you ever heard one of our songs have a dragon, or a spell in it - well, there are a few with spells...We're more into mythology, history and science fiction.

Nate: Now, Traveler is a relic from my past!

  • Mike: Yeah, I played Traveler (Traveler is a pen-and-paper science fiction role-playing game. -N) in College. You're cut from the same sort of geeky cloth I am!

Nate: Yeah, I'm the guy who'd rather read the Tain Bo Cuailgne and Tacitus than watch American Idol, and let others scratch their heads in befuddlement!

  • Mike: Yeah.

Nate: Well, I think this went well!

  • Mike: Definitely. Maybe I'll see you at Alehorn. Bible Of The Devil has a Nate as well, so let me know that "The Other Nate" is there!

Nate: Great. I'll be sure to do that! Take care!

See also: review of the album Ape Uprising

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