Slow Bloom, from left to right: Jared Wallace, Timmy Lodhi, Jonny Andrew, Michael Weldon (photo: Eric Molyneaux)

It's 2018. And let's face it — things are weird. Every day it seems more and more difficult to observe the current state of our country and not immediately stress-eat all of the carbs in your vicinity. But this is why it's uplifting to see North Bay rockers Slow Bloom out there making a name for themselves.

If you saw guitarist and lead singer Jonny Andrew on the street, you'd probably think to yourself, "I'll bet that guy plays in a band." And you'd be right. For once, you wouldn't feel the sting of being completely and utterly betrayed by your own intuition. With the ripped T-shirt, denim jacket, and vaguely retro haircut to match, the emotive frontman looks like he was plucked off the set of The Lost Boys. In a sensible world, the band's new EP Hex Hex Hex would be lighting up MTV's Headbangers Ball and Kurt Loder would be interviewing Andrew and bassist Michael Weldon. But it's 2018, and nothing makes sense. So we're interviewing them instead.

The Bay Bridged: What's up with the mullet?

Jonny Andrew: I like having long hair. But it's so annoying. It's always in your face, ya know? So...just get rid of the face part! Business in front, party in the back. Best haircut I've ever had.

TBB: See? That makes sense. We're making progress. Now, Hex Hex Hex — it rocks. But what's it all about? Is there a theme that ties it all together?

JA: The theme trying to feel well in a political climate that's so crazy and tumultuous. The hex can mean a lot of things to many people. To me, it's depression, anger, and self-hate — the negative stuff the world is trying to push down on your neck.

TBB: The first song on the record 'Neon Sequitur' keeps repeating the words "Thanks for the misery." Is that directed at anything or anyone in particular?

JA: That song is just about the shitty jobs we all work. You spend eight hours a day of your own life somewhere that the people at the top make so much, but you make so little. I was doing sheet metal, working nights overtime, and still having zero dollars in my checking account when I'd go to buy groceries. It's madness.

Michael Weldon: I always interpreted as kind of ironic, like, 'Oh, thanks.' You can apply that anything, like a relationship or a job or just any whatever crazy life experience, like, 'Oh, thanks for that...but it sucks.'

TBB: Living in the Bay Area or here in Sonoma County, that sentiment feels a little too on-the-nose sometimes. Is it a generational thing? Like how our parents were able get good jobs right out of college and buy houses?

MW: I don't know if it's a generational thing, because my mom and dad never went to college and they're doing just fine. Perfect example: We have a friend we've known since elementary school and his parents worked at Safeway their whole lives we were able to buy a house and raise a couple children and go on nice vacations. You can't do that anymore.

JA: And the fact that such a clamor is being made about the minimum wage from the right wing is sickening. The whole chorus is just an ironic thank you to all of that. Like 'Oh hey, I'm sorry our suffering is inconveniencing.'

You guys are doing OK though, right? You're not going hungry, right?

NW: Um, yes and no. So we're all huge Boy Meets World fans. In the college years, after Cory and Topanga get married, there's a funny quote where Cory says 'We are upper lower middle class, and no one cares about us.' They came from middle-class families, but now that they're on their own, a young married couple, they're broke, they have a shitty house, they're barely making ends meet. That's kind of how I feel. I'm working full-time, I've worked really hard to move up in the company I work for, I'm making more money than I ever have in my life...and yet I can barely afford food and rent. God forbid, even if the worst thing happened, I have an amazing support team of friends and family. But still, trying to be an independent person in this day and age, in the place we live, is hard.

TBB: Michael, you don't drink or do drugs at all, correct?

MW: I do not! I don't have any problem with drinking or drugs. For some people, it's great! My immediate family doesn't have any problems with drinking or drugs....but outside of the immediate family, it's everyone. Cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents — every person at one point or another has had a horrible problem with alcohol or drugs, so me thinks it's a horrible Weldon hereditary thing and so, for better or for worse, it kind of turned me off to those things.

TBB: I would say for better. I don't think anyone's life has been ruined from not drinking.

MW: Well I drink a lot of soda, so....

TBB: OK, I love soda.

MW: It's the best!

TBB: What's the long-game for Slow Bloom? Going for the next Metallica?

MW: Obviously being Metallica famous would be great! But to be honest, I would be perfectly content with being a band like the New Trust. They are normal people who have normal lives and jobs. But they still put out quality music, they still tour, they have integrity, and never deviate from the norm.

JA: Well, they do deviate from the norm, but they never deviate from themselves.

MW: Exactly — it would be so easy for them to get another guitarist, or change their sound to be more hip or current or whatever. But what they're doing is awesome! There's this preconceived notion that your little band should just be a hobby, but they prove you can keep doing it.

JA: They don't genre-trend-hop. You don't hear them turning into an indie-disco-pop band, changing from record to record. And that's something we're also trying to do — not pay attention to genres. Just write songs, try come up with that Slow Bloom sound, and yeah...have fun, bang your head, and get vulnerable, to bring it back to the New Trust.

TBB: Let's all get vulnerable this year. 

JA: That's something we encourage. Before we play, we say 'Don't be afraid to dance, don't be afraid to be human and just let it out.' The most therapeutic times I've ever had were just from lettin' loose and gettin' wild.

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Slow Bloom, Brown Bags, Red Wood, Ovvn, Bunker
The Arlene Francis Center
January 26, 2018
7pm, $10-$15 (sliding scale)

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