Seattle, WA, leftist punk band Slow Code will be releasing their new LP Wastelayernext month. I recently spoke to the band about the politics of the record and a shared respect for Mark Fisher.
“Semiascetic” seems to be a response to Mark Fisher’s essay “Exiting the Vampire Castle.” Could you explain a little bit about how that one came to be?
A good chunk of our songs are about the creeping dissolution and disengagement felt as societal separation unravels our daily lives, and we resonated intensely with Fisher’s ability to articulate those fears. More of our music seems to gestate in group conversations rather than jam sessions, and these are the topics we gravitate toward and feel the urge to explore as a band.
I wanted to ask about “Shit Praxis” too, because I was curious what was going through your head when you wrote that one. Most of the other songs are about different facets of life in capitalist America, from over-commercialization to imperialism, but that one seems to tackle a lot of things at once.
Life presents you with so many dichotomies that you can feel pulled in way too many directions at once, your sense of meaning can get lost in the mix. It’s about attempting to recenter yourself and a restorative vision of the world amidst the messiness of contemporary life while avoiding the urges toward retribution.
It seems like the album begins at its most hopeless and then ends at its most optimistic. Was that intentional when you were laying out the tracklisting?
It’s not something we intentionally did, but we’re happy to hear there’s an emotional resolution to the record. We explore some dark terrain and it can’t all be doom-and-gloom.
Who or what is the titular Wastelayer?
“Wastes” was a term of derision for the lower-class “unwashed masses” used by business magnates during the industrial revolution in the early 1900’s. The title ultimately reflects two ideas simultaneously, empire’s ability to lay waste both materially and existentially, as well as our collective ability to use our energy to upend those dominant structures.
What’s the image on the cover, and why’d you choose it? It looks like computer circuits, and I think it captures pretty well the confusion and mechanization that are the source of a lot of the lyrics on the album.
We felt a sort of psychedelic take on a high rise apartment complex reflected a pair concepts we obsess over, both an accelerationism anxiety caused by the boxing in and mechanization of our living spaces and the cities that surround them, and the washed out hauntological nostalgia for a future that never came to be. Seeing it as circuitry mirrors the concept nicely.
What are Slow Code’s plans for the rest of the year?
Mostly we’re being hugely relieved to have this documentation of our last few years of work recorded and seeing the light of day. We’ll be touring domestically in both fits and starts as well as a longer run this fall.
What do you want people to take away from Wastelayer?
We like to think that punk can still be a vehicle for nuanced takes on modern rage and sorrow if it can reckon with the inherently accelerationist structure it exists within. Shit in the world really is as weird as we collectively perceive it to be, and we hope the listener can relate to the catharsis we feel playing.