Leah Wellbaum always seems to be up to something. Whether it be releasing music with her band Slothrust, or with her side project ANMLPLNET, or rereleasing music with Slothrust, Wellbaum is constantly creating, reimagining and pushing her sonic bounds. Perhaps this slightly manic creative energy is what fuels Slothrust’s antsy garage rock — the kind of grungy music that almost commands you to mosh, if you’re into aimlessly tossing your body around.
“I’ve made five full-length LPs now — four with Slothrust, and one with my side project ANMLPLNET.” Wellbaum says. “As time has gone on, I’ve become increasingly less precious about the music that I write and record. It’s the process that’s gratifying, and being overly concerned about the outcome while you're creating makes for a less present experience. To me, part of why I play music is to try to stay present and grounded.”
Seeing Slothrust perform live is different than your typical punk show. The band is clearly a unit — drummer Will Gorin and bassist Kyle Bann are incredible musicians in their own right, and the three players nonchalantly produce a tight-knit sound — but Wellbaum makes it clear that this is her stage, her show, her crowd. The frontperson entirely requires your attention, with seamless, masterful guitar work and controlled yet unruly vocals.
In Slothrust’s bio, Wellbaum is described as an unrepentant aesthete. I’ll save you the time I personally spent googling that phrase, despite being a communications major, and let Wellbaum explain what it means to her instead. “I’m devoted to making work that creates little worlds you can live inside,” Wellbaum says. “I’ve always been interested in the way that art and music can be used to evoke sensations that cannot easily be put into words.”
Slothrust’s most recent album, The Pact (2018), is a direct window to Wellbaum’s inner-landscape: a craggy expanse concerned with humanitarianism, politics, environmentalism and relationships gone sour. One song in particular, “Planetarium,” touches on the irony of humanities’s selfish nature, as we destroy the planet we live and depend upon, while simultaneously being obsessed with recreating and revering nature.
‘“Planetarium’ started as a phone note with just my voice and an electric guitar unplugged,” Wellbaum says “It's funny because it's almost exactly the same as the final version, but, once I brought the guys into the song, they suggested an arrangement that evoked the blues and jazz traditions of everyone taking a solo. In the first version Slothrust did of this track, we all trade solos for as long as we please before going back into the hook. We tightened it up for the album, but we sure do love improv.”
Despite having just released The Pact in late 2018, Slothrust has already given one of the album’s singles, “Double Down,” a 2019 mix. The velocity of Slothrust’s fourth album has pushed the band to revamp what it’s just created, producing ever-changing art. Wellbaum, Gorin and Bann have been on the road since the album’s release, but it’s clear that won’t stop anytime soon, and that it also won’t stop Slothrust from continuing to create.
“Slothrust is always continuing to work on new original songs as well as covers. You can count on us to get back in the studio once we are off the road. That being said, we’re usually on the road,” Wellbaum says.