Last month, the hard rock band Slant dropped their second self-titled album on to the scene. Based out of Southern California, Slant is foursome band with two Bengali guys (Fahim – lead singer, Munir – guitars) and two Russian brothers (Ilya – bass, Andrew – drums). I’ve seen the incredible growth of Slant over the years, from when teenage Fahim used to play guitar in his mother’s living room to seeing him perform on stage years later at the world famous Roxy on Sunset.
In the latest album, you can hear the maturity to their sound – the musical composition is richer sounding than their first album, and the hard rock sound is soulfully anthem-ic without sounding narcissistic. You can read a detailed album review here. I’m not much of a rock music fan (unless there’s a punk in front of it) but I do appreciate Slant’s latest album, particularly the song Beautiful Angel, a song about a family friend of ours that was brutally murdered a couple years ago.
You can download both Slant’s first album ‘A Thin Line’ and their second self-titled album off of iTunes or CDBaby now. But, exclusively for Sepia Mutiny readers, the first person that responds in the comment section with the name of three cities in Europe that Slant has performed, will get an autographed copy of their latest album (don’t forget to leave your e-mail).
I spoke with lead singer Fahim Zaman and guitarist Munir Haque about dropping their second album, the inspirations and their journey to making this album. You can read it below!
For those that don’t know Slant, who are you guys?
Fahim: We are a hard rock/alternative/progressive group made up of two Bengali guys raised in Southern California and two Russian brothers raised here, that are attempting to bring forth and change the world with our “slant” on rock music
How would you describe your music? It pops up on my itunes as “industrial” as far as genre is concerned. Is that the genre your music falls into?
Munir: Industrial? Yeah, itunes has been wacky lately. Hard rock or alternative. We combine a lot of styles that we feel fits the mood of the song.
Fahim: We’ve battled with the “What genre of music are you guys?” question ever since we started. I’d say we fit the “music” genre. We try to draw inspiration from everything that pertains to the song that’s at hand. If I really have to classify the second album, it’s a little bit of rock, a little bit of pop, a little bit of prog/industrial, and a lotta bit of “Just being as honest as we can.”
You just came out with your second album? How is the sound different than your first album? What’s changed?
Munir: The second album self titled ‘Slant’ is defined by who we are and the journey we have been on to this point. We put our hearts into this monster. Don’t get me wrong, our first album ‘A Thin Line’ is great too.
Fahim: Yeah, I feel the same. We’re growing and this time around it’s a lot more serious as far as what we’re trying to say. We’re figuring out who we are as a whole and what our “what we stand for” as an actual band is instead of just being four guys playing instruments making songs. ‘A Thin Line’ was exactly what it was: our first album…and yeah I still like it
So the band is two Bengali guys and two Russian guys – how do you feel your backgrounds have influenced the album?
Munir: I think backgrounds and where you come from will always shine through in what you do. You can hear it in the guitars and Fahim’s solos that our backgrounds play a huge roll.
Fahim: It’s pretty interesting when you think about Bangladesh and Russia/U.S.S.R. and what’s driven their music scenes. They’re both relatively “new” countries. I know in Bangladesh metal and rock music are pretty much the mainstay along with the traditional music. I’m sure now that music is more accessible and everyone is getting a mix of everything. Ilya, our bassist, has told us stories about pre-cold war Russia where basically they had no music other than the traditional ethnic music. There were only a couple of underground bands that actually tried to put out contemporary music. After the split, they were exposed to just about everything.
So with this album? I’d say we feel an honest responsibility to be pro-active and care about what we say and put forth, especially because we were lucky enough to be exposed to different parts of the world.
What is the song writing process for you guys?
Munir: Our songs come from all over the place. Sometimes it’s a guitar riff, or Fahim’s lyric, or Ilya adds some bass and it all turns into a song. The other day Andrew hummed a melody and five minutes later we were jamming out to it.
Fahim: It’s definitely getting more fun. Before, we would either have ALL the lyrics or ALL the music and layer parts/change parts after we set out one of those. Now, it’s different with each song. We don’t have a set process anymore. We start out with ideas now, either lyrically or musically, and we go from there. Our first single for this new album pretty much didn’t exist when we went into the recording studio. Parts of it came to all of us at different times and it just sort of happened the way it needed to.
Munir: I grew up with Fahim and started playing the guitar right before we decided to start this band. Starting the band came easy in a sense – we were four guys wanting the same thing.
Fahim: I started piano lessons when I was five and was in show choir in high school. I also DJ-ed and was in a rap group right after high school. But I wanted to make rock music, so I left all that and bought a guitar and drum machine.
We’ve been family friends since we were born, but there was like a year and a half spread where we didn’t see each other. We ended up at a family party at my house. He said, “Woah! You bought a guitar and are making music? I’m doing the same thing right now. Want to jam?” And here we are now.
When did you know that making music was what you wanted to do with your life?
Munir: I grew up with music always around and accessible to me. I’m not sure when exactly it clicked but I do remember being very sure about it.
Fahim: Making music was always just something I did because it made me happy and I enjoyed it. But the point where it went from hobby to let’s actually try to make a career out of it came soon after we started jamming.
I was particularly touched by the song written for Afsana. I think it’s my favorite song on the album. What’s the story behind that song?
Fahim: My cousin Monira Qutubuddin (nicknamed Afsana) passed away in a freeway shooting a few years ago. She was only 21 years old and she had just got home from work, changed and was heading out to meet up friends. She was shot in the head by two teenagers (ages 18 and 14) that were going around shooting people on the freeways.
Afsana was really an amazing person. She was honestly a person that found some sort of way to balance the “what you should do” with the “what you can do.” She was super close to the younger cousins in the family and it pretty much threw all of our lives into shock and confusion. My cousin Farhan Ahmed (n.n. Shawn) and I set out to do what we could to never forget who she was and what she did for us. We set out to make a song that could stay with us. Shawn formulated most of the song and he makes a guest appearance on the album in the recording of the song.
What are your musical influences?
Munir: Tool, Nirvana, Deftones, Slant, Hendrix to name a few. I just like music.
What are the top three albums on your ipod/cd player that you are listening to right now?
Munir: This week I have been listening to Ted Nugent, Deftones, and Slipknot.
Fahim: A mixed cd with some l.m.f.a.o., and The Game. The Slipknot album. And well the new Slant, of course…
You’ve gone on tour in Germany, you were nominated for a Hollywood Music in Media award, you have fans tattooing themselves with your logo. Sounds like you’ve been on whirlwind with Slant – what is the craziest experience you’ve had so far?
Munir: The girl with our name all over her arms was pretty cool. I think touring Europe was pretty crazy.
Fahim: I have to say the stuff that tops it all is when you get those emails from peeps in the middle of the country. They say, “Dude. You’re song helped me get through a crazy part in my life.” Or there was the time Slant went on tour in England for the first time ever. There was a fan there that had bought our first CD when it first came out in the U.S. and there he was two years later at our show in England. That stuff is just cool.
But hands down: We had been contacted by an older brother of a fan that had committed suicide a couple years ago. He wanted to let us know that our CD, along with a couple others were buried alongside his bro as music was one of the few things that had given him hope. Overall that’s just intense. This past year one of my best friend’s little brother committed suicide. He was like my little bro as well. It deeply affected me, though it’s hard to explain how. Sure, we hope that the songs we put out there make a difference because that is why we play our music. But still, I can’t be happy or sad about it. I remember songs that have gotten me through stuff in my life time and time again. Things just suck sometimes but there’s always a way through.
To learn more about Slant, please visit their website, Myspace page and follow them here on twitter. You can purchase their latest self-titled album right now at iTunes or CDBaby. (Photos taken by Ty Watkins and yes, I got a free advance copy of the album)