Slight Of Build have technically been in existence since around 2002, though it took a few years for the band to solidify.
When we meet up at Joe’s Shoe Store on High Street, Northcote Paul Hornsby, guitarist and vocalist with Slight Of Build, greets me with a rasping tone that’s somewhere between Tom Waits and the Dumb Earth’s David Creese. Bass player Claire O’Meara explains that Hornsby is suffering from laryngitis as he apologises for his limited vocal capability. “But maybe that’ll stop me giving my usual long, rambling answers,” Hornsby adds. Despite the inflammation of his larynx, Hornsby is still cradling a 500ml bottle of Tsao that he suggests has medicinal effects. “Someone told me it helps,” Hornsby jokes.
Slight Of Build have technically been in existence since around 2002, though it took a few years for the band to solidify. “We’ve been around pretty much since 2002 or 2003, which sounds pretty depressing when you think about it,” Hornsby grins. “But it took a while to mutate into what it is now. We started off playing very lo-fi kind of songs, and then the songs started getting bigger as the band started getting bigger. That whole growth period probably took a few years.” Slight Of Build played their first show in 2004, but it was another four years until they entered the studio, to record the band’s debut EP.
Immediately prior to the establishment of Slight Of Build, Hornsby had been playing in another band that broke-up from natural causes, leaving him with a desire to play music, but without a band. “I ended up going from being in a band to writing songs by myself. So I just started asking people if they’d jump on board, and it just went from there,” Hornsby recalls. In its earliest – slimmer – guise, ‘Slight Of Build’ was an appropriate name. Unfortunately my guess that the name was a play on The Waifs proves incorrect. “I can honestly say that I’ve never thought about that link before,” Hornsby laughs.
“There’s nothing more to the story than it was a line I read in a book – a character description. I really liked that description, and for some reason I thought it’d be a good name for a band. But I kind of hate it now,” he chuckles. “We all kind of hate it now!” O’Meara laughs. “It’s funny,” Hornsby counters. “Some people really like it, and some people think it’s shit – and maybe that’s better than it not being remembered at all. That’s how I look at it,” he muses.
O’Meara had been playing in a band with guitarist Callan Fox when the opportunity arose to join the fledgling Slight Of Build. “We all worked in the same friendship circle,” O’Meara recalls. “As Slight Of Build grew, they didn’t have a bass player and very light drums,” she adds. “We were trying to be Low,” Hornsby smiles. “I was going to say that, but I didn’t want to compare ourselves to such a great band,” O’Meara laughs. “As the sound grew they looked to getting a bass player, and Callan suggested me.”
For their debut EP Slight Of Build headed to a studio “out in the suburbs, where we grew up”. The band had liberal access to the studio, taking the temporal pressure off the recording process. For Slight Of Build’s second EP, In Your Gun, the band were forced to embrace a more disciplined approach. “With the first EP we weren’t really tied down with a schedule or a deadline, so we dragged on a bit longer,” O’Meara says. “But with this EP we had a set time that we were paying for, so we had to get in there and get it done,” she nods.
In Your Gun was also recorded live, a significant departure from the recording of the previous EP. “I think recording live made a big difference,” Hornsby concedes. “It’s difficult to articulate or explain, but it feels like the band is more ‘together’. On the first EP we tracked layer upon layer of guitar, and it’s a really big sound – there’s not a space to be found,” he figures. “And it’s really boring for the rhythm section to be just sitting there doing nothing while the guitarists record 47 guitar parts,” O’Meara laughs.
The decision to record two consecutive EPs is also largely happenstance. “For the first record I doubt we had enough material for a full album,” Hornsby muses. “The reason we did it a second time had as much to do with money as anything else,” he says. “We also had plans to release it a lot earlier,” O’Meara adds. “Yeah, we originally wanted to release two EPs in quick succession, but then the release of this one because our drummer left the band shortly after we recorded it, and we didn’t want to release it when we couldn’t play shows to back it up,” Hornsby explains. “But for the next release I think we’ll do any album – I think we’ve run out short, punchy EPs.”
In a live setting Hornsby says Slight Of Build aren’t “much of a jam band”. That said, there are spaces within which the band can explore their unique ideas. “We’ve kind of tried it on occasions, but it doesn’t really work for us,” Hornsby admits of jamming. “We do have a bit of room within some of our songs at the end to explore,” O’Meara adds. “This is the good thing about bringing out an EP and launching it – you get to play for an hour, rather a strict 30-35 minutes,” Hornsby grins. “But there are songs when we can go off on a bit of a tangent, but for the most part we don’t stray too far.”
As for career aspirations, Slight Of Build are keeping a lid on any latent megalomania. “We’ve been realistic about this for a while. In Australia only a very small percentage of musicians manage to make a living out of playing music, and I don’t think we’re under illusions. I’ve certainly come to grips with it – in the last two weeks, since the sales of the new EP didn’t go platinum,” Hornsby laughs. “I’m pretty sure the reason we haven’t exploded is because of Napster – but that’s just a guess,” he grins. “What, because they don’t exist anymore?” O’Meara queries. “Because they were right there in our formative years, and it cost us,” Hornsby deadpans.
SLIGHT OF BUILD awesome new EP, In Your Gun , is out now through Wireless Records.