By: Matt Rucker
It would be a crowning achievement for most musicians to open a show for Alex G, the critically acclaimed solo artist and guitarist for Frank Ocean, but for a Harrisonburg post-rock group called Slow Clover, it’s just the beginning.
“It was an amazing experience to share the stage with Alex G. He complimented us on our set and remembered me when I went to see him again in Richmond,” said Erica Lashley, bassist of Slow Clover, remembering this moment from March 2016.
Since then the band has played countless shows, developed their sound, and released two singles, “Sculptured Stars” and “Makebelieve”.
Slow Clover was formed late last year after Ethan Wilson and Jacob Rozmajzl got together after creating music with one another for over two years. Ethan and Jacob are now Slow Clover’s two main songwriters. It was only until after Ethan had cycled through some other groups — Julia Pox, Blurry Words, and The Bodies, that he finally started his first project as a primary songwriter.
“Everyone knows Ethan as a really great musician, he’s in all these bands…but I wondered “Where’s Ethan’s project?’” said Brendan Callan, who is a frequent attendee of Slow Clover shows.
Ethan’s first step into the music world was a rough one. Growing up in Lynchburg, where the music scene is bleak and the curfew is 9:30, there was very little room for musical growth.
He talked about how Harrisonburg was friendlier towards musicians, listing Lon Lon Ranch and Crayola as examples of people welcoming bands and fans alike into their home and community. Lon Lon Ranch and Crayola are houses that are known for hosting DIY style shows in their living rooms and basements. It was this scene that drove Ethan to play guitar.
“[Slow Clover] wants to consider ourselves more in the pop genre. I think that math rock is more structured and preconceived. Post rock isn’t necessarily more improvisation but it has more room to be performed live than math rock.” Erica said. Slow Clover lists themselves under the genres of rock, experimental, mathrock, pop, post-rock, and psychedelic.
The math rock/prog rock group, Chon, primarily influences Jacob’s writing while Ethan finds a lot of inspiration in Radiohead’s music.
“I don’t want to say the Beatles, but that is our central common interest.” Ethan said.
Ethan said that perhaps more influential than all of these larger groups are bands like Fight Cloud and Night Idea, groups that frequent Harrisonburg house shows.
“We are very influenced by the bands that were playing around Harrisonburg when we started out. These were bands that we had seen in house shows,” he said.
Ethan talked about his experience writing “Makebelieve”, the second single that Slow Clover has released.
“‘Makebelieve’ is about love, loss and addiction,” Ethan said.
He spoke about how the riff was influenced by a tuning in a song by the band “Dads”. For him, the riff came together almost immediately, but it would take right up until the final recording before Ethan finalized the lyrics.
The songs lyrics match the mood of the song: confusing, unstable, yet beautifully intricate. The tones of the intertwining guitar lines, synth backing, and background vocals create a perfect soundscape for the theme of the song.
The main songwriters in the band are Ethan and Jacob. In an effort to make the band sound more complete, the group hopes to move forward by doing more co-writing with their drummer, Trevor, and their bass player, Erica.
Both Erica and Ethan confirmed that the newer songs they are working on are co-written by the band; however, it is unlikely that any of these will appear on the new album.
Although Ethan is hoping for a winter release, he made it clear that the most important thing is having a completely finished product before they begin printing physical copies of their music. The album release is expected sometime this winter but the band made it clear that there is no official deadline for its completion. However, a new single, “Crystal Clearly”, should be out soon.
You can listen to Slow Clover’s music live at local shows or on their Bandcamp.