“Pull a string, a puppet moves... ” - Charles Bukowski
Future Slum is not a pretty record. It’s not the clean and well-manicured one sitting awkwardly at a table in the local watering hole, it’s the grizzled one propping up the bar and regaling the crowd with conspiracy theories. Mike Cummings, guitarist and vocalist of Backwoods Payback - the ones responsible for this lumbering hulk of stoner rock n’ roll - certainly fits the bill, whether he’s yowling his head off or singing in an eerily hypnotic manner. Meanwhile, Jessica Baker is the reliable anchor on bass, and Erik Larson (he of Alabama Thunderpussy and the legendary hardcore band Avail, no less) gives a thumping performance on his kit. A friend pops her head round the door too - Mlny Parsonz of Royal Thunder trades words in her usual melodious tones on the apathetic ‘Whatever’, yet also pulling out a surprising rasp.
Backwoods Payback are also able to spin a good yarn about their travels - sharing stages with Fu Manchu, Scissorfight and Third Eye Blind, a bewildering list when put side-by-side, but each represents an important factor in this band’s aesthestic. Fu Manchu demonstrate the “gloryfucked fuzz”, as Backwoods Payback so eloquently put it; Scissorfight showcase the no-holds-barred burly brawling such as on “Generals”; Third Eye Blind for the occasional moments of calm (!) like in “Big Enough”, giving brief respite from the warning shots being fired throughout the rest of the records.
Five albums in, Future Slum is the fruit of a hard slog for fifteen years. Understandably, they are excited for it to see the light of day, not least for its cryptic subject matter. “It all revolves around the idea of feeling lost and disenfranchised with your surroundings, finding your people, and losing yourself within them. Have you ever followed?” Mike finishes, quoting from second track “Lines”. It’s up to you if you can read between them.
01. Pirate Smile
04. It Aint Right
08. Big Enough