The first sounds on Slutever’s latest EP are a propulsive smash of drums and three notes on a guitar that hit the listener like an elbow to the face. Rachel Gagliardi and Nicole Snyder have been regulars in the L.A. grunge-pop scene for roughly a year, playing sweaty sold-out gigs at the Smell and dropping a split tape with Girlpool. But their new EP Almost Famous (self-released earlier this month in cassette form) was recorded in a blitz right before they left Pennsylvania – and right when they thought the band was over.
“We weren’t gonna be roommates for the first time in like four years,” recalls Gagliardi, on speakerphone from their tour bus somewhere outside of Oakland. “We weren’t gonna be doing Slutever, which had become a huge part of my identity, our identity. A lot of the EP is just about us growing up — because shit got real and suddenly, we had to.”
Snyder and Gagliardi met as teenagers in a music program at their Pennsylvania high school, but it wasn’t until they were both in college that the two joined forces. Both were devoted followers of the same rip-and-rock brand of punk; both were studying the music industry and gunning for similar gigs. It seemed to make sense… plus, they were bored.
“A little bit of curiosity, and a little bit of boredom,” laughs Snyder. “That’s how Slutever was born.”
After that came a string of demo collections and early EPs (their debut, according to Snyder, “sounded shitty” but was “really popular on Tumblr… I think because it had a girl throwing up as the cover art”). For a few years, the band tread water in the Philadelphia scene — and then Snyder got an internship in Seattle. The concept of a new album took on a do-or-die urgency. Shit, to quote Gagliardi, got real.
“We just basically like… emptied our bank account and said, ‘All right, we’re using all our money, recording all the songs and we’ll see what happens.’”
“'Smother' and 'Maggot' were written literally two days before we went into the studio,” adds Snyder, “and we didn’t finish them until we were halfway into the recording process.”
The burst of activity ended when Snyder packed her bags in June 2013… and then the songs went into artistic cold storage. Gagliardi wound up hoofing it to Los Angeles just four months later — and after nearly a year in the northwest, Snyder joined her. It wasn’t until the duo joined forces with fellow Angeleno twosome Girlpool for an East Coast tour that they finally unfroze Almost Famous.
“We were kinda nervous [the songs] would never see the light of day,” Snyder admits. “The tour with Girlpool really helped us realize we should just do it ourselves. We started as friends so we should just keep ourselves the focus.”
The result? A half-dozen tracks of driving drums and gut-crunching guitar, squeezed into a cassette tape and covered in a hand-drawn label done in Magic Marker. The two spent the last few weeks on a speedy tour up the Left Coast, but are back in town on Friday for a night at the Smell. After that, the future is decidedly up in the air. But now that they’re back together — and living in a cramped Hollywood apartment — it’s also bright.
“Momentum is very underrated,” says Snyder. “Now that we have a little bit of it, it’s easier to remember that this is something worth pursuing that makes us happy.”
Slutever play the Smell this Friday, Feb. 27.