Slim CessnaAlternative Tentacles
By Ashley N. Milholland on September 15, 2014 at E-mail
Slim Cessna is one of the frontmen for Denver’s Slim Cessna’s Auto Club.
Formed in 1992, Slim is one of the few remaining original members of the unique band that infuses elements of country blues, Southern gospel, gothabilly and other forms loosely grouped as “American”. The band is sometimes labeled “country Gothic” due to the juxtaposition of apocalyptic religious imagery with stories of alcohol, violence, and relationships gone awry. In 2013, the band released SCAC 102: An Introduction For Young And Old Europe and scheduled to tour this coming October. Slim talked with us about such topics including religion, alcohol, words he lives by, and Jello Biafra.
Describe the band in one word.
Your lyrics are intelligent, filled with stories of narratives about characters and unique. Do you sit down and write them, do they come spontaneously, or is it from experiences you’ve had?
Munly has been writing the songs for some time now. I don’t believe he’s ever run into people like in some of his stories. I sure wouldn’t want to. That would be pretty scary.
Since 1992, the band has been touring. Since releasing your first album in 1995 titled Slim Cessna’s Auto Club, you have released seven more albums with your current 2013 release titled SCAC 102: An Introduction For Young And Old Europe. Did you or the other members ever feel like quitting and giving up music any of those years?
I’ve never wanted to give up. I don’t believe any off the others have either. This is also all we got. There is no backup plan.
How did you come to meet Jello Biafra? Were you a fan of his music before you met him since the music you make has deep country roots which is opposite of the music released by the Dead Kennedy’s?
Jello is also from Colorado. I was a teenager in the 1980’s and have always been a fan of his. He came to some of our shows and we became great friends. Now he’s family. Wait, all of rock and roll has deep country roots.
Which album in your discography do you feel is the best album the band has released?
Cipher is our opus.
A lot of hype surrounds the band’s live performance. How does the band make its live performances so impacting on audiences?
We loose ourselves during each show and try to bring the audience along with us. Life is too short to not celebrate a good rock show.
You have described your genre as American. What is American, exactly? How do you feel about music being categorized into genres?
It’s all rock and roll to me. Music genres and sub-genres keep people from exploring and researching interesting things. Bands and singers attach themselves to a certain genre and try to sound like other groups in that. We don’t fit into any of these categories so we stopped worrying about it. We call it American because we use all of our influences.
The band has an upcoming tour scheduled for October of this year, what is the most rewarding and the most disappointing thing about touring?
We love to travel and perform for people. We’ve been very fortunate to see a lot of interesting things and visit other countries. I don’t think I’m ever disappointed. Sometimes we can wish for a larger audience or more money – but we really are happy we get to do this.
Before signing to Alternative Tentacles, was the band part of the emerging DIY movement? Some musicians gauge success in the industry by record sales, fans and money. How do you gauge success in the music industry?
We’ve always been pretty DIY. We also have never been very good at it. If success is gauged by record sales and money, then we’re practically street people without any hope for the future.
The band has great musicianship and willingness to experiment. How do you guys work so well together, when I see other bands just trying to not break-up?
No one else will have any of us. We have to stick together.
Your upcoming tour is around the corner, is it exciting to see the audience out there singing along with your music?
It’s a lot of fun. I’ve always been terrible at remembering words and losing my place. Our audience can be very helpful.
Do you feel that the band is “the best live band in America” as Spin Magazine and No Depression have quoted saying?
I think we’re also the nicest band in America – and the most handsome.
When do you feel the time is when a band should give up in the industry and move on? Sometimes bands don’t make it to the level your band has in the music industry.
That’s the kind of question my parents still ask me and I’m 48 years old! Ha ha
My favorite saying is, “Here for a good time; not a long time.” So Slim, tell me your favorite saying or some words you choose to live by.
“Help me make it through the night”
What are your thoughts on organized religion?
I think everyone needs some kind of group to belong. Someplace that’s familiar. People blame religion for all the bad things in the world. I think if there was no religion they would all fight about something else. We’re all just like monkeys throwing shit at each other anyway.
Under what circumstances do you ever just want to say, “Fuck it, Fuck this shit!”
Pabst Blue Ribbon.
Are you a realist, optimist, or pessimist? I also tell people, “I’m a realist.” What is your perspective on life, death and reality?
I’m always an optimist. I hope I didn’t say I wasn’t that in an earlier question. Sometimes I get confused.
Tim Armstrong says, “Through music, we can live forever.” Do you agree?
Yes! Rock and roll is my religion.
Slim, describe yourself in one word.
Thank you so much for the interview, Slim! I hope it wasn’t boring.
Thank you! It was fun and good questions.