The Sloths: Dug up outta the dirt and into the rock ‘n’ roll bucket list

Tuesday 03rd, November 2015 / 21:27
By Tiina Liimu
Photo: Retrieved from the Sloths Facebook page.

Photo: Retrieved from the Sloths Facebook page.

VANCOUVER — Time is something most folks equate with a linear measure. That is not the case for Los Angeles garage rockers, The Sloths. This is a bit of a slow moving buried treasure story, mapped out with a circuitous set of directions, intersections and extraordinary points along the rock ‘n’ roll trip. Let’s go way back to 1965 when these Sunset Strip teenage kids recorded an incredible, raw, single titled “Makin’ Love.” A number punctuated with a thumping Bo Diddley beat, raw vocals and mad reverb. Since these musical longhaired punks found themselves in the midst of a Hollywood scene opening up for an incredible roster of The Doors, Love, Pink Floyd, Iron Butterfly and The Animals. However, their single, with that title, you can guess they might not have gotten a ton of airplay in that time and age. For The Sloths, they flourished in another environment cultivated, performing and hanging out in the legendary Pandora’s Box.

Leap way forward to these Internet times and this record is spotted on eBay for $6,500. There is another piece here with the single landing on a Crypt compilation Back From the Grave Volume 4 during a garage revival in the ’80s, but the band members did not know of this and had long moved on with their lives. So, keep these clues in mind as there was something happening underfoot.

Ugly Things, a California fanzine/ garage and rock ‘n’ roll bible has been keeping the faith well into the millennium and decides to run two stories on 1960s California garage rock. One was about the Sunset Strip scene including The May Wines and TNT, plus another piece about The Sloths. As these connections were being made, it sparked original Sloths guitarist Jeff Brisken to locate members of The Sloths, uniting the guitarist-bassist Michael Rummans plus Tommy McLoughlin a former frontman with The May Wines, TNT and incidentally the writer and director for Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part V. Guitarist Patrick “Pooch” DiPuccio of the LA fanzine Flipside, drummer Ray Herron and guitarist-bassist Mark Weddington complete the 2015 line-up. Brisken plays occasionally and while the search was on for the original band, they discovered that the founding singer- songwriter Hank Daniels and drummer Sam Kamrass had passed away.

With all this attention brewing, what were these guys going to do as a band? “We played the songs we literally played back then, when we were 16, 17 years old,” says McLoughlin. “So at some point Mike Rummans and I would talk about making our own songs.” They started with what they knew, got back into the garage and one thing became clear – never quit. This was an opportunity to finish that album. Burger Records and Lollipop put out a cassette containing original and new rockers titled Back from the Grave.

“The first thing, Mike would come up with a riff, not unlike Keith Richard, kinda bluesy, R&B. Most times he’d come up with a title and we’d go along with that,” says the vocalist. He would listen to the track and come up with a lyric. The band, at this point in their lives with a bit of life experience behind them, they’d crank that passion into a song. The result would be garage rockers titled “End of My Rope,” Gotta Get Fired” and “Lust.” “Before I Die” is a bluesy number, as I watched everyone around me die, he describes a moment of inspiration from the famous line “I hope I die before I get old,” by the Who. It inspired McLoughlin to look at all the things he and the band wanted to accomplish but couldn’t at the time and he noted the same holds true for a younger generation.

Fans of The Sonics, The Gories and ’60s garage classics are going to be in for a treat. Playing at SXSW, garage fests, Ponderosa Stomp alongside peers and new bands. At their live show McLoughlin’s pulls out the magic with tricks and kicks and the band beats out raw energy and reverb that keeps coming back.

The Sloths perform at the Cobalt on November 5th.

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