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Interview | Tuff Slang


By Kieran Webber

Tuff Slang are an emerging new band from Chicago, IL consisting of Aaron Vincel (A Lull), Cody Messick (Dirty Rotten Sunshine) and Justin Frederick (Secret Colours). Forming in 2014, the trio spent the bulk of their time in the confines of Warehaus West (Chicago Electric Piano Company) taking cover from Chicago’s native harsh Winter and developing their sound.

A sound that can only be described as indie pop goodness perfect for the soul and fantastic for those dancing shoes, prepare to have your minds rocked and your hips shaken.

From the first few seconds of their new single ‘Nothing All The Time’ we were hooked and had to know more about the band, so we caught up with them.

Listen to ‘Nothing All The Time’ here.


Thanks very much for agreeing to talk to us at Clunk it is much appreciated! So what have you been up to lately?

Lately we’ve been really working through the finer points of releasing an album. There are so many steps and you don’t always think about it at the outset of a project like this, but we’re making progress and it’s been a fulfilling experience. 

Im sure this is a question that you have been asked a few times already but how did the name Tuff Slang come about and why was it chosen? 

Hah! We were talking recently about how we would answer this question. At first we were just spitballing names. We had been together writing and rehearsing for a few months and we decided we needed to really get down on figuring out what to call ourselves and Tuff Slang kinda just appeared out of that brain storm. In retrospect we’re all fans of the book “The Outsiders” and there’s a great quote in that book that we probably drew from subconsciously – “Tuff means cool, sharp – like a tuff looking Mustang or a tuff record.”

How long have you known each other and why did you all start to make music together?

Aaron and Justin have known each other for quite some time now as both of their bands were pretty active around Chicago a couple years ago. I met Justin back in 2010 when our bands played a basement show together in Indiana. After I moved to Chicago, Justin and I started jamming at a warehouse on the west side of town and we decided we really wanted to put a project together and about a year and a half ago we asked Aaron to join us and we started writing in earnest. 

“We had been together writing and rehearsing for a few months and we decided we needed to really get down on figuring out what to call ourselves and Tuff Slang kinda just appeared out of that brain storm”

Did the sound you produce come naturally or was it something that was pre planned? 

Justin and I originally bonded over various power pop and alt country bands and albums and it really just went from there. All three of us are drummers so I feel like we naturally brought in a knack for rhythm and that definitely comes out in songwriting. Other than that we really just put in a bunch of work when we first started and it took throwing away most of the stuff we wrote and only keeping the songs we liked most to really define our sound.  

What artists specifically infuence Tuff Slang? 

We’ve been hearing a few comparisons lately with the single coming out but I can say that we really get a lot of inspiration from bands like Wilco, Trex, Thin Lizzy, The Replacements, Big Star, and Whiskeytown and songwriters like Nick Lowe, Townes Van Zandt, and Bruce Springsteen. 

“Justin and I originally bonded over various power pop and alt country bands and albums and it really just went from there”

What influences do you have individually? Are there any particular artists that have influenced you as musicians? 

JustinMy biggest influences are Big Star, Supergrass, The Beatles, Sparklehorse, and Elliott Smith

Cody(Off the top of my head) I’ve been heavily influenced by Merle Haggard, Jason Molina, The Clash, Teenage Fanclub, Ryan Adams, and The Rolling Stones.

Can you shed any light on the debut LP release or EP? 

The album is releasing digitally and on CD on April 8th with vinyl LPs coming sometime after that aka as soon as we get them from the pressing plant. 

Chicago has an interesting nickname which I am sure you are familiar with (Chiraq) due to its high murder rate and high rates of gun crime as a someone that lives in the UK I am only subject to what is portrayed to me through media, so I am curious what is life really like in Chicago ? 

Chicago is mostly food and bars and awesome people. The violence is definitely an issue but it’s isolated and we don’t often see it. 

What are your top 5 albums of all time? 

As a band:

Yankee Hotel Foxtrot – Wilco
Big Star – Big Star
Velvet Underground – Velvet Underground
Revolver – Beatles

Electric Warrior – T-rex

What can we expect from Tuff Slang in the future ? 

Well it’s been almost a year since we first cut the demos for this album and we’re already working on a fresh batch of tunes. Hopefully we’ll be getting in some time on the road in support of this record and then we’ll be back in the studio again before we know it.

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About clunkmag (520 Articles)
This is a surf, music & lifestyle website based in Newquay, Cornwall.

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