Unless you are a creature of the night, you are probably unaware that new-wave still prevails in El Paso’s punk scene. Carrying the banner of their post-punk predecessors, Sluur is El Paso’s most remarkable goths. Comprised of Jorge Montelongo and D.B. Salas on vocals and guitar, Danny Alcantar on bass and Miguel “Miggs” Mattox on drums, this four-piece ensemble is keeping the new-wave dream alive and well fed. With the reminiscent sound of all the classic post-punk outcasts, like Joy Division and The Cure, combined with their infectious organic melodies, these men bring forth an energy that gets heads banging and legs bouncing. With the support of El Paso’s music community, Sluur is currently working toward recording and releasing their first cassette, but can still be caught playing midnight shows in The Sun City. We got a chance to meet up with them at SXSW and discuss their influences, their music and the vision of the band.
Tell me about how Sluur got started.
J: Sluur got started with our friend Steve Madrid, he and D-Rex (D.B.) they kind of started the band, they kind of played with a couple other musicians, they couldn’t really find anything that would stick, and then they kind of convinced me to play with them, and we started playing. Then we found Miguel as our drummer and from there, it kind of took off. Steve ended up moving to Austin so rather than stop the band, we felt like it was doing well, we decided that I would just take over the songs that were left over from with Steve, and we just started writing new songs featuring me and D.B. on vocals.
What do you think of the present state of El Paso music culture?
J: I think it actually hasn’t been this good in quite a while, so I’m happy that were actually part of it and it’s good to see all these other bands kind of pushing each other, and getting better. You know, all the venues that are doing a good job of keeping the music alive and well, and actually paying artists for their work and everything, I mean, it’s really good for the scene.
D: There’s a diversity in the music scene in El Paso, everyone sounds different. It’s a good place to get away from click-ish scenes, it allows you to create your own thing without any pressure.
If you could describe your music to somebody that has never heard it before, how world you describe it to them?
J: I would describe it as dark, somewhat aggressive, a little scary.
D: It was just kind of organic, I guess, cause of the stuff we listen to, it just kind of came out like that. At first it was a little more psych and shoegazey like my previous band Mirror Men that me and Steve were in. We were still kicking the sound around trying to figure it out. Steve even wanted to do Mirror Men songs, but I suggested all brand new songs. When Steve left and Danny Alcantar joined the band, it kind of changed the sound a bit, and the songwriting was different cause now Jorge is writing more, and now he’s singing.
There’s a diversity in the music scene in El Paso, everyone sounds different. It’s a good place to get away from click-ish scenes, it allows you to create your own thing without any pressure.
You talked about your music being dark and a bit gothic because of the band members and the influences, what are those influences? what kind of music do you guys listen to that’s influencing your music?
J: Well, guitar wise I think me and D-Rex always have loved what The Chameleons UK do with their guitars, so that’s kind of an influence on our style of playing for some songs. Also, obviously we are into classic post-punk bands like Joy Division, we like Bauhaus a lot, Sisters of Mercy is a big one for me, The Cure, Love and Rockets, pretty much a lot of those bands.
D: Lately a lot of Leonard Cohen, Mighty Lemondrops, Paralisis Permanente, Caifanes…also The Smiths and Stone Roses, I think sometimes our music, gets a little jangly so its just not straight forward post-punk or goth.
Tell me about your live performances, how do you live performances differ from what you guys do in the studio?
J: I think with the recordings, we get to add little touches, in the studio we get to use a lot of really cool gear with Miguel, everything is at our fingertips and we kind of experiment a little bit. I feel like both are really important. The live show, energy is definitely a part of it, but we also don’t really like to talk or take to many breaks during performances, we just kind of like to put the music out, music is the most important thing for us—the music, the message, everything.
What is the message?
J: I feel like, what we try to talk about in our songs is pretty important lyrically, it might not come out just because of the songs structures and the styles, but we actually, or I’m pretty set on, trying to talk about social issues, or things that I feel are important to be discussed or brought to light in the world; it’s not just like love songs and feelings for me, it’s a little bit more important. I kind treat writing, like, it will stand the test of time, or maybe somebody can read it or look at it in the context of today, and get something from it.
DB: I like to write about the dual nature of things, you know, there’s duality in everything; the sun the moon, night and day, good and evil, love and hate, life and death. I don’t know, that’s just how I understand life, understanding the dark and the light. The positive and negative forces you battle with daily. Anxiety, insomnia, and sometimes my literal dreams.
I kind treat writing, like, it will stand the test of time, or maybe somebody can read it or look at it in the context of today, and get something from it.
You guys also have a collection of work, you guys have been writing songs, you have been playing a lot songs, what are your plans for an album release, EP, LP?
D: Yeah, we came out on 2 comps so far, one of them was for a collaboration between a label called Needles and Pins out of Austin and Burger Records, with a bunch of other El Paso bands like Nalgadas and Part Time, and we just did one with Mother of Pearl Vinyl, we had a few songs in there with some more El Paso bands like Miss Gultch, Mattox was up in there and Divine Kegel, and we just finished recording new songs.
J: We’re shooting for a cassette EP, either like 7 or 8 songs. Yeah, as far as putting it out, we’re either going to do it ourselves or possibly work with either a local label or a small label from out of town. So we’ll see what happens.
If somebody wants to catch your music, where could somebody be able to go catch your music or play it or download it?
J: We do have a Soundcloud right now, we’re going to get our Bandcamp up soon. Our Soundcloud is soundcloud.com/sluurelpaso.
Listen to the new Sluur‘s release, Choice:
Text + photos: Alex Durán