Stitched Sound interviews Slinky Vagabond. about their new album "King Boy Vandals ".
Stitched Sound, the online music website and magazine, interviews the two members of Slinky Vagabond : Fabio Fabbri , guitarist, composer and producer and Keanan Duffty, singer and songwriter. They discuss making music together, their love for fashion and music, their new album "King Boy Vandals" and what's next.
"Growing up in England, Keanan Duffty developed a love for fashion and music from a young age, inspired by artists such as David Bowie, Mark Bolan and Roxy Music. He graduated from Central St Martins in London with a Bachelors of Arts degree in fashion and textiles and in 1993, he moved to New York to his base for a career in fashion design. In 2007, along with Clem Burke (Blondie/The Ramones), Glen Matlock (Sex Pistols/Rich Kids), Earl Slick (David Bowie/John Lennon) and a collaboration with the late Pete Shelley, Keanan formed the band Slinky Vagabond, with their first show being played at Irving Plaza as part of Joey Ramones annual birthday bash. They also performed at Fashion Week’s Gen Art and Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp (2008) and Marc Bolan’s 30th Anniversary Show (2007) alongside Patti Smith, Tom Morello, Joan Jett, Ronnie Spector, and more. After playing many shows together, other engagements led the band members to part ways. In 2018, while lecturing at the Polimoda International Fashion Institute, Keanan met Italian guitarist/musician Fabio Fabbri, who teaches at the institute and heard Keanan speak. An instant chemistry led them to play music together and Slinky Vagabond 2.0 was born. “At the beginning, we didn’t have plans or projects,” adds Fabio. “I felt a great energy playing with Keanan: no limits, no barriers. Our different musical backgrounds created an exciting mix and we felt it was time to build a more structured project. I think the true essence of Rock’n’Roll comes out when you can work free from plans or deadlines.” May 6th will see the release of their album King Boy Vandals, the title being an anagram of Slinky Vagabond. Featuring guest appearances by Midge Ure (Ultravox/Visage/Live Aid co-founder), Dave Formula (Magazine/Visage), Richard Fortus (Guns N’ Roses/Psychedelic Furs), David Torn (David Bowie/David Sylvian), Tony Bowers (Durutti Column/Simply Red) and Martin Turner (Wishbone Ash), King Boy Vandals is an album born of musical alchemy, forged in fire and cooled in sweat. The album was recorded in Fabio’s recording studio outside of Florence, Italy. Adds Fabio, “Having a personal recording studio gave me the opportunity to work during the pandemic and also to get through that very bad period. I think that the pause of live concerts in 2020 made musicians more available to work on new songs and I think that is one of the reasons we had so many great musicians as guests.” Comprised of some songs that they each brought to studio, and some they wrote together from scratch, they recently released the first single “The Beauty In You”, featuring Dave Formula and Tony Bowers. Says Keanan, “It’s about the beauty in decay,” he explains. “Although it masquerades as a love song, it’s actually about abandoned ghost towns like Pripyat in northern Ukraine, which was evacuated after the explosion of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. Also, The Salton Sea in California where the town of Bombay Beach was once a popular destination for Frank Sinatra, the Beach Boys, and Bing Crosby and it now is a derelict ‘living ghost town.’ I love that place. It’s like being in a deserted town on Mars.” With plans to promote the album and do a later release of the album on vinyl, this is definitely an album you will have in heavy rotation! You can connect with Slinky Vagabond via the following links. Photo credit: Ruggero Lupo Mengoni"
Read here the whole Stitched Sound interview.
Fabio Fabbri's Wolfmountain Home Recording Studio is the place where Slinky Vagabond recorded their album “ King Boy Vandals”.
Fabio Fabbri and Keanan Duffty started working in 2019 at Fabio’s Wolfmountain Home Recording Studio near Florence, Italy.
Luckily, they completed all the vocal lines before the lockdown. During the pandemic some great musicians had the possibility to listen to the tracks and wanted to be part of the projectplaying their instruments.
Having a personal recording studio, Fabio Fabbri had the possibility to work on the tracks and continue producing and mixing also during lockdown.
The result is a new music project that has its roots in the ‘70s and ‘80smusical genres, butwith various different influences that givetheir music a contemporary sound.
In fact, Slinky Vagabond music is not conceptual or experimental, it is a recording studio output, produced as overall direction of the creative processfrom beginning to end, where Slinky Vagabond have taken control of everything: have written the songs, supervised the arrangements, masterminded all phases of the recording process with most painful attention to detail and released the result on their own online distribution.
This use of the recording studio is one more element that characterises Slinky Vagabond music. Fabio Fabbri is a music producer who considers the recording studio as an additional musical instrument used to aid the process of composition, as Jimi Hendrix and other artists used to do.
If, during the ‘70s, rock was in counter-tradition to traditional music, nowadays we could say that Slinky Vagabond music is in counter-tradition to the vulgarisation and the exaggeratedmarketingof disposable music.
The result has been that many great musicians from ‘70s and ’80s have recognised themselves in Slinky Vagabond music and have been delighted to participate as guests in the project
Martin Turner bass player and founder of Wishbone Ash, Midge Ure guitarist of Ultravox, Thin Lizzy, Visage and cofounder of Live Aid, Dave Formula keyboard player of Magazine and Visage, Richard Fortus guitarist of Guns N’ Roses and Psychedelic Furs, Tony Bowers bass player and founder of Simply Red, Dave Torn guitarist of David Bowie and David Sylvian, Andy Hilfiger bass player of X Brothers and the English drummer David Mahre have played their instruments in many songs.
Regarding the Slinky Vagabond experience,Fabio Fabbri says “ It has been incredible: each musician played his instrument live at his own recording studio, in Great Britain, in Ireland, in the USA and we exchanged files directly using modern technology to create a real live performance. It has been the most exciting experience I have ever had in my musical life ! “
And Keanan Duffty says; “Fabio Fabbri is one of the most gifted and genuine musical talents that I have ever met and I have been very lucky to work with some legendary musicians, who also happen to be my heroes. Fabio’s guitar playing is a pleasure to experience. His melodies are sublime and unique and he is one of the kindest people I know”.
All the recordings were produced by Fabio Fabbri at his Wolfmountain Home Recording Studio.
Mario McNulty, a New York City Grammy Award winning music producer, mixer and engineer, was delighted to participate in the project doing the mixing of the track ‘The Beauty in You’ .
Fabio Fabbri is not only the producer and the composer of most of the songs, he is also the lead guitarist.
About his experience with Slinky Vagabond he remembers: “ I was used to playing the same guitar - Fender or Gibson - all through a live performance or the recording of an album. But the experience with Slinky Vagabond has given me new insight into the useand choice of the instruments. I havealways played a Fender Stratocaster, looking fordifferent tones and sounds throughthe guitar touch that at that moment inspired me. But, during the work with Slinky Vagabond, while the recording was going on,it was as ifI was gradually castingoffclichés concerning the various ways ofusingthedifferent kinds of guitars.”
In fact, within the guitarist community there is the tendency to choose the specific kind of guitar in relation to the the genre or the kind of sound or riff or solo the guitarist wants to produce. Many guitarists and specialised magazines, tend to advise a guitarist to choose a specific kind of guitar in relation to the kind of sound or riff they want to achieve, also remembering the choices that legendary guitarists made in similar situations.
“Actually, -Fabio says- having almost always used my Fender Stratocaster, I have never had to consider which guitar to use to produce a particular riff or sound. I have always looked for the best sound using the touching and the phrasing while playing my Fender Stratocaster also in situations where it would have seemed more suitable to use a Gibson Les Paul timbre.”
That means that the possibility to experiment doesn’t only refer to the use of new recording technologies or electronics, but also to a different way to use the instrument in relation to the arrangement of a track.
Fabio continues:“I think that the habit many guitarists have in choosing a specific guitar in relation to the sound they are looking for, is probably more a psychological questionthan a practical one. I think that this approach is due more to the influence that specialised magazines have on the guitarist’s approach, than on a realistic reason.”
In fact, if you take a glance at an iconic guitarist like Jimi Hendrix, whose image was closely linked to Fender Stratocaster, a kind of guitar that has a very recognisable sound and that Jimi used for most of his tracks also because he could use the lever, it’s very impressive to see him playing a Gibson SG Special on the albumBand of Gypsy, with which he produced a different sound whilemaintaining the typical characteristics of the Hendrix phrasing.
We can say the same for Mick Ronson who especially loved Fender Telecaster, while during live concerts he mostly used a Les Paul, leaving us doubtful about which guitar he had really used during the recording sessions.
Therealquestion iswhetherthe guitarist chooses the guitar according to the sound he wants to achieve, rather than be influenced by the way in whichgreatguitarists used that particular kind of guitar.
Fabio says: “ Recording with electric guitars, in my Wolfmountain Home Recording Studio,I have always preferredflatrecordingwhich meansrecording directly without the use of special effects. I have also used this approach during the recording of the Slinky Vagabond album. This determined my choice of the guitar that would guarantee the sound I was aiming at. I must say that during the recording of King Boy Vandals, I changed my usual habit and I used different guitars during the recording of the tracks, more than I used to do in the past, looking for the right feeling for anytrack or riff or solo. I must honestly say that I’m satisfied with the result, that encouraged me to develop a different, wider and more varied ,approach to the instrument. During the recording of sometracks of "King Boy Vandals" great guitarists like Midge Ure, Richard Fortus and David Torn joined us on the project. It has been a great experience because, despite the fact that everyone used different guitars and differentrecording methods, the result is fantastic.The variety of the soundeach guitarist createdand the different styles of playing guitar mixed and interconnected perfectly, producing excellent results. To confirm the fact that for a good sound the choice of the guitar is not crucial but it’s the guitarist’s taste and the way he plays that counts."
A special section should be dedicated to acoustic guitars. In the album there is an impressive acoustic version of “The Beauty in You”.
Fabio Fabbri is used to playing a Taylor and a Sigma Est 1970 12 Strings.
He thinks that when using acoustic guitars the touch impact is essential, even though the quality of the hollow body is also important.
“ Recording and equalising acoustic guitars, - says Fabio- I think that you have to pay much more attention to the type of arrangements of the songs rather than when recording electric guitars. In fact, when the sound of an acoustic guitarprevails as in folk music and in acoustic ballads, the sound produced by the recording must be rich in harmonics. Differently when the sound of anacoustic guitar is drowned out by the sound of other instruments - especially when the sound of the electric guitar is distorted- you have to optimise high frequencies that allow the acoustic guitar not only to mix with the other instruments but also to emerge.”
Regarding the recording of the sound of an acoustic guitar, we must remember that itrequires not only a mic of good quality but also it being in the right position in relation tothe sound source.
Nowadays, the use of sophisticated microphones requires more care during the recording because if the equipment - mixers, analog/ digital converters , pre amps etc - are not all of the same quality, the result, in home recording, regarding the width and warmth of sound, could be below expectations.
This means it is necessary to reach the bestquality level equilibriumof the various components of the equipment.
Acoustic recordings made during the 70’sare still benchmarks even now !