Slam Dunk is a band which, in this town at least, requires no introduction. For the past five years, those privy to Slam Dunk’s monomaniacal mission of fun and fun only, have been spoiled. We’ve cast our eager gaze through a thick haze of mosh-pit perspiration as Slam Dunk has frantically evolved from a last minute party curiosity to a band with armed with a first album (a consummately good one, at that) which is sure to get even the most conservative parties a-bumpin’.
But with the release of their sophomore album, Welcome to Miami, Slam Dunk proves our isolationist-island-induced worries true; this band isn’t simply a fun, flash in the pan conglomerate of rag tags eventually bound to fizzle in one of our city’s many gaping puddles; Slam Dunk’s star is set to rise well above our beloved volcanic earth. Welcome to Miami places Slam Dunk on par with bands like The Pixies, and the Velvet Underground before them, who have managed to change culture for the better.
Many stars have aligned to make this Slam Dunk’s moment. The first has to do with production. Welcome to Miami, which is set for release on November 13, was produced by Juno Award winning mastermind Colin Stewart. Stewart, who has previously produced albums as diverse as Dan Mangan’s Oh Fortune, and The Pink Mountaintops’ Outside Love, was a perfect fit for this album, as Slam Dunk singer/guitarist, Duncan McConnell explains.
“We recorded our first seven inch in a shed and the twelve inch was recorded in a barn.” McConnell says, “Welcome to Miami was recorded in a studio with Colin… it was great. He’s an awesome dude and a total pro. The biggest thing about recording in a studio, is that while you can record guitar and vocals pretty good in your bedroom with Garage Band, but the moment you start trying to accurately record somebody who’s playing the drums really well and have it sound as good as it sounds, you need a studio and somebody who knows what he’s doing. So on this record, you can hear everything Luke’s doing. It’s amazing, cuz he’s a wild man.”
Stewart’s role as a producer transcended mic-ing and recording, however. At times, Stewart helped the band maintain focus while continuing to cultivate their sense of humour. Welcome to Miami continues the tradition Slam Dunk initiated with The Shivers: the album is funny, and proves that as good as this band is, they refuse to take themselves all that seriously.
“There’s five of us in Slam Dunk who just have so much to say about everything. At the studio, we’d talk things out for hours. Sometimes we’d get to the point where it’s two in the morning and we’re like ‘oh my God should we do this… like, what are we doing again?’ So we ask Colin, ‘Colin are we stupid? Should we not do this joke that we’re thinking of?’. In those situations he would give us some guidance.”
Welcome to Miami also marks a transition for the band as it it their first album with a record label. The story behind the signing is the kind of story many bands dream of. After some staff at File Under Music saw the Slam Dunk play a show in Vancouver, the band was quickly signed. As signed artists, Slam Dunk no longer have to do their own promotion; Welcome to Miami has already been distributed to a number of music magazines and so far, the response has been overwhelmingly good.
“It’s already getting sweet in that we don’t have to do that lame shit that the record label does. With the last record, we just googled the addresses of radio stations and press, put stamps on Cds and sent them away… most of those probably ended up in the garbage. Now we have somebody to do our promotion for us. I don’t see how it could get any better… well, maybe if we sold enough records, we could by a newer van…”
As Slam Dunk prepares to jump in their old van and head down the West Coast this month, they will do so with the assurance that Welcome to Miami has gone before them, no doubt wooing countless critics and radio stations on the way. In the meantime, the band can enjoy their last few moments of relative obscurity before Welcome to Miami sets the music world aflame.