Funky, first year band Slack Traffic are fresh off the gig trail making a name for themselves as the band that “practice[s] too much.” We hung out with Danny and Matt at the Velo Lounge and quizzed them on their funk inspired alternative rock, singing in the car and rehearsing hungover.
Peppered with red hot riffs and groovy bass lines, Slack Traffic are an intriguing amalgamation of alternative rock and rap with a sprinkling of funk. Influenced by the likes of James Brown, Childish Gambino and funk-rock legends Red Hot Chili Peppers and Incubus, the band’s sound is an eruption of energy.
Made up of hype-man/vocalist Danny Waldron, guitarist/bassist Matt Pollard, “pretty tight” drummer Luke Hartley and “unique guitarist” Bren Dowling, Slack Traffic are a stand out favourite on the Commercial Music course.
“We aim to make funk music,” says Danny. “So far we have one funk original,” Matt says, a little embarrassed. “We all liked funk music, that was like the unifying thing.”
“Matt was keen to jam with everybody,” says Danny, gesturing towards Matt sitting opposite him. “Most people just like nervously ask each other, then they jam and then it doesn’t work.”
Danny and Matt bonded early on in fresher’s week, over a pint at the SU and a mutual love of Red Hot Chili Peppers. Initially, the boys were inspired by funk artists like James Brown and ten-piece funk bands with brass sections, so they had considered being larger. “We tried to get a trumpet guy in, but he never made it to practice,” Danny says.
Slack Traffic moved forward as a four-piece, writing and recording new material and booking gigs within the first few weeks of university. “That’s the most important thing, it’s the hustle,” says Danny, on why the band gig as much as possible. “In a band, there’s on average, one person who’s more driven, and the others are just going along with it. We [Matt and Danny] came to Uni and we’re both ‘that guy’. It’s a good dynamic.”
“It’s stupid that people come to Uni and don’t kick off,” Matt explains. “You gotta get on it straight away. It just feels really good to play live, that’s our main kick.”
The boys tell us how they balance rehearsals with post-gig euphoria. “The other two didn’t make it in,” says Danny, recalling the after effects of headlining a successful gig. Despite a crippling hangover with “shit on [their] faces,” Danny and Matt trekked to university just to tell their tutor that rehearsals that day were not possible.
“We were like ‘Look, Bren and Luke are hungover, but we did a really good job last night. We just wanted to let you know we’re not gonna practice right now.’ And she was cool about it,” says Danny, mentioning their tutor Julianne – the former lead singer of rock band All About Eve, who “thinks [Slack Traffic] practice too much.”
As for their music, Danny takes the lead on the lyrics, often writing the melodies and the rap verses but he’s not “constricted just as our rapper,” says Matt.
“It’s different to Saint Loe where everybody’s inputting,” Danny says, comparing Slack Traffic to the second year, all-singing four-piece that he drums for. In Slack Traffic however, it’s an even split; Danny and Bren both sing whereas Matt and Luke stick solely to their instruments.
“We kind of overstep each other a little bit,” Danny continues, commenting on how he and fellow vocalist Bren balance the singing, “we have our own sections, you know? Like I can write a rap verse which will be very different to his song stuff that he’s writing, but they’ll be the same thing … We were listening to The Police in the car, you know Sting? Bren sounds halfway between Sting and Paolo Nutini. And it’s just really chill, it’s a good combination.” An extra vocalist to go alongside Danny and his rap verses adds another dimension to the band’s sound and versatility.
With their infectious energy combined with soft acoustics, fiery riffs and grooves to make you move, Slack Traffic show no signs of stopping.
Words by Annabel Miller
Featured image: “Slack Traffic. Left to right. Luke Hartley, Matt Pollard, Danny Waldron and Bren Dowling.” © Steffan Salven