SLIP~ons “Heavy Machinery”

Photo Credits: R.D. Cane
Photo Credits: R.D. Cane

What do you get when you combine two Canadian music legends into one guitar-heavy, power-pop unit that strives to sound like Minneapolis in the 90’s? You get SLIP~ons! They come by their brand of rock honestly, with Brock Pytel of The Doughboys on guitar and Brian Minato of Sarah McLachlan on bass. Add to the mix Rob "Shockk" Matharu of The Spitfires on guitar, and Shane Wilson on drums and you’ve got a rock ‘n’ roll quartet with a vibe not unlike The Lemonheads, Hüsker Dü, Ash, The Replacements or Dinosaur Jr.

After a long run of obstacles, SLIP~ons have finally been able to announce their debut EP Heavy Machinery (mixed by Dave Ogilvie of Skinny Puppy fame). It took some effort for the band to get there with serious health concerns, the global pandemic and demos which just weren’t finding the band’s live vibe. Reflecting on the process bassist Minato said, “I think the songs on this EP are sonically and musically the closest we’ve come so far to representing who and what we are as a band. The songwriting, singing and playing and the arrangements have definitely pushed us forward as a group in a really awesome way. I’m very  happy with the way the record has turned out. The artwork for the EP is also totally fantastic and  I recommend picking up a copy on vinyl.”

The album was masterfully recorded at both Monarch and Vertical Studios in Vancouver by Olivia Quan (RIP). Unfortunately, part of the process was marked by tragedy. Pytel recalls, “Olivia passed away maybe a week or ten days after our last overdub session. I think I learned  about it via an Instagram post from Monarch/Tom Dobrzanski, and obviously it was a shock. I mean, she was only 25 and the picture of vibrant creative health. We all feel like this recording is the first to really accurately sound like us, and Olivia was a big part of making that happen. Her technical skills were flawless and effortless, and she was always calm and positive.” In an unrelated twist of bad luck, Pytel explains, “a week or two after Ronan Chris Murphy finished our masters, a huge tree fell on his house and destroyed his studio.”

Heavy Machinery is marked by Pytel’s signature gravelly vocals and tongue-in-cheek lyrics paired with slamming backbeats, punchy guitars and rolling bass lines that drive the melodies. Sparse but poignant gang vocals round out the sound and add an interesting depth to the songs. Looking at the EP as a whole, Pytel shares “Lyrically, some of the songs were about working through loss. Soldier, Don’t Say Goodbye’, Heavy Machinery and Mosquito came together a short while after Ken Chinn (a.k.a. Mr. Chi Pig) died, and I, personally, was going through a rough breakup and feeling super vulnerable. Soldier is maybe the angry approach, while the title track is maybe a bit more nostalgic. I kinda think of it as a love song, since it’s probably the closest I’ve ever come to that. The mosquito thing was a metaphor for problems that just keep on you, no matter what you do.”

SLIP~ons are a guitar forward, power-pop band from Vancouver, BC. Somewhere between Exile on Main St. era Stones and Afghan Whigs, the four-piece was formed in 2012 by Brock Pytel (half of the singing/songwriting force behind Montreal's Doughboys), and Brian Minato (Sarah McLachlan) and includes Rob "Shockk'' Matharu (Spitfires) on guitar, and Shane Wilson on drums. The new EP comes on the heels of Pytel’s recent solo EP which garnered press from outlets like The Big Takeover, and airplay at notable college stations like WFMU and CJAM. In the years leading up to the EP’s release Pytel was buried under seemingly endless hours working in Vancouver’s film industry where eventually the  stress and lack of sleep caught up with him. Reflecting on his mortality, (after serious health issues in 2020) Pytel explained, “One of the things that really hit me at that time was how little music I’d put out into the world compared to how big a part of my life making music is. I was really motivated to get things going in that regard.” With renewed vigor and determination, Pytel and SLIP~ons plan to complete more recordings and videos in the months ahead, and announce North American tour dates for 2023 and 2024.