Slow Hollows | Fleeting Enjoyment, Permanent Feeling

Slow Hollows Premiers Acoustic Performance of New Single, "Soap"

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After a three year dissolution, the voice that elucidated your teenage sorrow is back. The musical shadow that shaped your favorite artists behind the scenes; the progenitor of those mixtapes that play tinnily on a car stereo on those inky midnight highway drives– Slow Hollows has arrived again. Recapitulated after a three year dissolution now as Austin Feinstein’s solo project, Slow Hollows promises first album in three years, Bullhead, on March 8th via Danger Collective. Following two singles off of the upcoming project, “Idle Hands,” and “Old Yeller,” Slow Hollows has released jangly single “Soap.” Today, Slow Hollows premieres an intimate live performance of the single, demonstrating the track’s (and, perhaps, reminding the audience of the artist’s) capacity to construct an arresting, atmospheric mood while tending to the emotive, wordy core of the musical project. Play "Soap" on a Saturday afternoon in a field with friends dressed in sweaters and sandals, eating lunch in a park on the cusp of springtime. Let it fill you with anguish when you walk through a city oh so alone. Slow Hollows reminds us of his versatility on the track. One can't help but hope he's here to stay.

Trapped in the cellophane prison that is the adolescent experience, there’s this indulgent sort of delusion that befalls most cocooned in teenage misery. Inevitably, one at that time in their life gets around to thinking about themself (and thinking… and thinking… and thinking…) and figures that what happens to them might as well be the only thing that ever happened to anyone. It’s easy to look back on that period of one’s life, cocooned in frivolity, swimming in the amniotic awareness of one’s body and tracing the confines of one’s place in the world and feeling righteously permissive of regular, unique agony and of spastic joy– it’s easy to place those emotional excesses in the cozy, now-shut cabinet of youth. It’s perhaps less easy to realize that one’s pubescent selfishness never abates. It could be argued that the most delusional thing one can do as an adult is to disassociate themself from those indulgences, to divorce oneself from that lovely, murky fortitude of teenage-hood. If there is an artist who has the ability to conjure a thick, sonic rope that binds the two together, it might be Slow Hollows. 

When Slow Hollows emerged in 2013– then a collective of pubescent Angelenos fronted by Austin Feinstein– the band’s silvery cautiousness and trademark melancholy struck an elegant chord within the hearts of the young scene, tickling that sense of self-awareness so ubiquitous in the fanbase, and cementing the band’s place in the hearts of those heavily invested in the mid-2010s indie band zeitgeist. The band dissolved in 2020. Now, with its revival as Austin Feinstein’s solo project, the band’s sound seems to have been refurbished, but without discarding the annals of the past. On a rainy day– the kind of weather that always seems to blend a despondent past with a moody present– FLAUNT talked with Feinstein about tending to that past, luxuriating in the hyperawareness of the self, and the inspirations behind newest track, “Soap.”

Let's start at the beginning. How did you first find your affinity for music?

I don't know. I guess I really liked skateboarding when I was a young kid. Skateboarding and music kind of go hand in hand when you're 10 years old, you know? And then I saw the movie School of Rock and I shit my pants and thought it was so cool. Ever since then it was guitar, guitar, guitar. 

With the new phase of Slow Hollows, has your intention changed at all when making music?

Maybe a little bit. I take it a little bit more seriously now. Just maybe getting older has kind of done that. I just want to take a little bit more time with the recording and writing process, to make sure it's just something I want to put out into the world. I don't know, maybe at some point I think it would be interesting to grow out of that and just kind of put anything out. But for now, I think I've kind of evolved into taking my time a little bit more. 

This music now is a lot more vulnerable and raw. Very much diuretic to yourself. How did you get here from where you were before?

I feel like I've always kind of made music from that sort of place where it's just really maybe self-serving and a little, you know, selfish and weird. I guess it just sort of was the natural feeling or goal for me– kind of making it really internal. With this record that's coming out, I just didn't even think of wanting to change it this time around.

Tell me about “Soap.” How did it come to be? Was it through like a dream, a memory, or like a thought that echoed in your head?

It was one of the quickest songs that I wrote. It kind of started just on acoustic guitar. I remember being really close to recording the record and wanting to write one more song. It was kind of one of the first times I'd done this. I started thinking that maybe I would do an homage to a band that I really liked. The first thought that I had– I’ve always loved a song called “Trailer Trash” by Modest Mouse. It has just a really interesting drum beat and same chord progression and follows a high-energy-verse, low-energy-chorus, guitar-solo sort of thing. I also really like that song “Let Down” by Radiohead– the arpeggiating guitars. I went balls-to-the-walls in. Not copying, but looking at the songs, instrumentally. It was early in my relationship with my girlfriend. I wrote a song for her, and it was very, very quick. And yeah, I'm cool with it. I'm into the song, it's fun. 

Do love songs come easier to you?

If I'm feeling the way that I'm feeling or was feeling in that moment, yeah, I think they come really quickly, but that's hard to come by. So I feel like I get one of those. And then it will be hard again.

You have an album coming out. It's been three years. For this time and this distance from being in that specific band, was there something that you realized or learned about the bigger picture, by stepping away from it a little bit?

Ultimately, it boiled down to what would give me the most confidence to make music again. When we stopped being Slow Hollows in 2020, I kind of figured, okay, I'll do something else or just make music. Nothing felt like it was giving me enough of a rush of confidence. I just didn't feel drawn to or excited to do anything in that realm. I was still writing songs. It was just hard. Ultimately, I just looked at what I had on the table and was like: well, you could just do the band again. It doesn't matter. You have a built-in system already. I had a built-in system with it, and it just made it a little bit easier and a little bit more fun. I think it made the people around me more excited to kind of kick something off with the band again because it was just context, you know? I was scared to make music without context. And I just learned that I wanted to do it again.

You make music sound so scary. How do you deal with the fear?

It shouldn't be as scary, but I don't know what it is. Me and my friends are all scared of making music, yet it's what we do. I don't know. I think it's just because we've been doing it for so long that it's just kind of this crazy monologue. It’s this thing that we feel like we have to conquer. If I chilled out and stopped caring, I think my music would be better, but I'm still kind of on that weird grind of thinking that it has to be scary. I know it's not correct, but…

Do you think that making music is an enjoyable process?  

The enjoyment is very fleeting, but I guess it still makes it worth it ultimately. I feel like in my experience, I have very short bursts of enjoyment with it. It's usually when something is right for the first time, like if you get a lyric right or get a chord change right, that is the most exciting part. Other than that, for me, it feels like I'm working at something. You know? It's difficult. It's not easy. But I guess the little bit of enjoyment that I get, it's worth it.

How do you keep the passion alive since it's been so long?

Do you have any answers? I would love to know. No, I don't know. I think hearing other music sometimes does that. Being able to do it with close friends is fun. There are also a lot of different parts of music where sometimes you're playing a show and you can put all your energy into that sort of thing or you're recording and it's a different kind of energy. There's a lot of different stuff you can do within being a part of the band and making music and like there's a lot of different kinds of energy you can dedicate towards different tasks. So I guess that kind of keeps it fresh.

Do you like change? Is it something you long for, or do you wish never happens? 

I’m into it. I hope I can change. I would love to think so. Yeah, I'm into it. 

When do you know that the song is finished? 

No one will give you more money to keep recording in the studio, is probably the real answer. But I guess personally, I’d know once you have enough parts written, maybe when you play it live enough and you have all the parts kind of worked out. I think that’s how you really find out when you’re on the stage it’s done. 

Do you play a bunch of live shows before you pick what you're going to release? 

We used to, yeah but this record that’s about to come out– it was not the case because I haven’t played show in years so it was all very write-it-and-hope-for-the-best-in-the-studio. But for our previous record, we would do that. I’m hoping to do that for whatever comes after this record. 

That makes sense why this one seems scary because it shows you, it’s all your thoughts. 

Maybe it’s something that shouldn’t be released. It’s from one person's brain that wasn’t around a lot of people for a couple years.  

I’m familiar with your old ones and it feels like this is kind of cutting through everything. Was there something constantly echoing in your head when you were writing this album? 

I just wanted to do a good job and be honest. I was most concerned with the lyrics and writing something that I would feel happy that I shared over time and looking back, in years to come. That was kind of my big thing. 

Earnest music is in. I just had a conversation before this talking about how rock music is the most earnest thing. This is a question I ask a lot of people but– how do you keep your heart open? 

Being with my girlfriend helps a lot and being with other people. Being around other people, I think it’s the key to that. That’s what works for me. 

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Annie Bush, Slow Hollows, Music, Austin Feinstein