Antihero Magazine had the opportunity to chat with Sloth Herder guitarist, Nick Craggs about the history of the Maryland “grindcore cross-contaminators” and their recent debut full-length release, No Pity, No Sunrise, released on March 24 via Grimoire Records.
Scott Martin: Tell me a little bit about how Sloth Herder was formed?
Nick Craggs: I met Sean the drummer through… we lived close by to each other and met randomly. We had been playing in an indie rock band for a little while, and that band broke up, and me and Sean started something a little more aggressive, and that ended up becoming Sloth Herder.
Scott Martin: How did you come up with the name Sloth Herder, and what is the significance of the name?
Nick Craggs: That was actually Sean. The initial idea was just … We were kind of sitting around one night and he said, “We should start a grind band called Sloth Herder.” We were open to various interpretation and names, you know, I think people always generally assume that they it would mean, you know, a human trying to “herd a sloth”, so we always looked at it more like carrying around the weight of your own, you know, standing … just an activity, and not being motivated, rather than the actual animal.
Scott Martin: What is in the current line-up of Sloth Herder?
Nick Craggs: That would be me, Nick Craggs (Guitar), Sean Wilhide (Drums), Luke Ibach (Bass) and Josh Lyon (Vocals)
Scott Martin: How long have you been a band?
Nick Craggs: It started in about 2009 with me and Sean. In 2010, we added Josh, and then early 2011 added Luke.
Scott Martin: What is your musical style?
Nick Craggs: We all come from very different backgrounds. Sean leaning towards more the death metal and jazz drumming. I, like I said, more kind of an indie-rock shoegaze. I’m, like, the 90s indie-rock. Luke, I would say, has a kind of a, you know, more mainstream metal, and like 70s prog in the background, and Josh is pretty much all over the place.
Nick Craggs: We recorded it at the Grimoire Studios. It’s all part of Grimoire Records. Noel Mueller was there and helped produce, with the band. Part of Grimoire Records is that they do their own recordings for everything that they release. We had spoken to him a couple of years back about doing something, and we had known for a while that we wanted to do a full-length, and so we kind of held off. Some other the offers we had, we had done a split. We had done with Unholy Energy Records with a friend’s band, the Horde of the Eclipse, and then once we had decided we were ready to do the full-length, we spent about a year and a half working out all the songs and getting everything ready. Then Noel said he was ready for us to come into the studio and it just kind of all worked out, timing-wise.
Scott Martin: I noticed that Sloth Herder are playing a House Show, in Baltimore. Have you ever played a house show before? What’s it like?
Nick Craggs: Yes, we have. We have had a couple of good house shows. I know, and Josh mentioned one, and we taped it and we had it on a good friend of ours’ band called Surroundings. It was an old kind of Maryland hardcore band. We played a show with them at a house party. It was a good night, you know. The band gets nasty with space, as you can imagine, with 70 people crammed in it. There were light bulbs shattering. There was a guy that went through a window. Another guy got hit in the head with a bass headstock. All around, just kind of freakiness. I think our first show was a basement house show, as well. We are always up for playing anything, you know. We like the more intimate settings. Definitely.
Scott Martin: I always kind of imagined a house show being a sit down intimate performance from an indie pop band sipping wine and eating pate and caviar. Never quite imagined having a Grindcore band coming into my house and trashing it. Shows what I know about House Shows.
Nick Craggs: Yeah. I mean, at least in the Baltimore scene there’s kind of houses that are set up, basically where they’ve got a bunch of guys that are all kind of in the scene living there, and they have just a separate basement and separate rooms for hosting shows. Definitely, house shows are on the comeback, I think.
Scott Martin: What is your songwriting process?
Nick Craggs: We don’t really have a set way of writing, but Sean the drummer also plays guitars as well as me. It’s basically me and him do the bulk of the writing. We’ll come up with an idea and basically write it out as far as we can get, and then when we get to a stuck point, we’ll pass it off to the other one, and then most songs work out that way, where we just kind of pass things back and forth until we get a kind of beginning and end structure. Then we will get together with Luke and get everything going with bass, drums and guitar, and then Josh will come in at the end and get the overall vibe of the song and do the lyrics and the vocals.
Scott Martin: What subjects inspire your songwriting?
Nick Craggs: The overall theme I have and vocals was kind of, discussed … First discussed with how things are in the world and not being motivated by your hatred, not being stifled by it. So, if there’s things you hate in the world, like going out and attacking those things and confronting them head on rather than just being complacent. The new album has some more themes. Josh was working lyrically with a lot of atrocities, the darker side of things.
Scott Martin: Who are your musical influences?
Nick Craggs: Kind of going back to before … Kind of, I guess, what makes us different is, we have all very different musical backgrounds. When we were starting out Assuck, that’s kind of a Grind influence, was big. We have sort of more French-style black metal with the kind of shoegazey elements, and then some of the more dissonant stuff like Death Star, Blut Aus Nord, but we definitely have had, like grunge and prog.
Scott Martin: Do you have any plans to tour after No Pity, No Sunrise comes out?
Nick Craggs: There’s the house show in Baltimore. That’s on March 25th, followed by a return to our old home town, that’s Frederick, Maryland. We are doing a show at Guido’s on April 15th. We will have some more shows coming up through the summer, and then we are playing two festivals in the fall. That’ll be Shadow Woods Metal Fest and Grendel.
Scott Martin: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Nick Craggs: We currently have the full stream of No Pity, No Sunrise going on at Metal Injection right now. So, you can check out the whole album before it comes out. That should be next Friday.