Published on November 28th, 2022

Slothrust by Justin Labadie

In September, South Floridians got an altered dose of ecosexual, existential-crisis rockers Slothrust at PureHoney’s annual Bumblefest in downtown West Palm Beach. Lead guitarist and vocalist Leah Wellbaum turned the volume way up for an earthshaking solo voice-and-guitar set with garage-band vibes, conjuring a wave of personal sound and leaving a canorous trail of harmonics. Fresh off a European tour with her Boston-based band, Wellbaum spoke with PureHoney about Slothrust’s formation and evolution, her other creative outlets and a wish-list of places to someday play.

Wellbaum, drummer Will Gorin and new bassist Brooks Allison are the latest iteration of a heavy, grungy prog-rock idea that originated not long after Wellbaum and Gorin met in college in New York. Experimenting first with other bands, they gravitated back to one another through a shared love of jazz and blues — but heavier. “We became the best of friends and decided to start a band,” Wellbaum says. “I am grateful that our souls found each other in this lifetime because it has been glorious so far.”

Spanning five albums, two EPs, solo projects and possibly an upcoming six album, Slothrust’s fluid, visionary ingenuity, deep lyricism and heart-thumping sonic power seem boundless. As full-blast as the solo Bumblefest set was, Wellbaum promises the full band set “will be much louder.”

Leah Wellbaum (Slothrust) by Lindsey Byrnes

In a few words, what is Slothrust?
Slothrust loves music, art, peace, and freaky beautiful times. We hope to serve exactly what you didn’t know you needed.

What was it like touring in the U.K. this summer?
We love playing for our fans overseas. It is not a simple time to tour internationally but it means a lot to us to perform in as many places as we can. For that reason we decided to headline as many cities in America as we could manage this fall. Greetings from Indianapolis!

How did you feel playing solo at Bumblefest in September?
Playing BumbleFest was a delight! That was my first time performing in West Palm Beach and also one of my first solo festival sets. I love playing outside to a crowd of passionate and open-minded people. I am psyched to bring the full band to West Palm Beach.

What artists did you listen to growing up? What and who inspired the sound of Slothrust?
Growing up I listened to a lot of musical theater and also hip-hop and r&b. My favorite radio station was Boston’s own JAM’N 94.5, and my favorite musicals were “Annie,” “Oliver” and “Les Miserables.” I love so many artists. To name a few who influenced my guitar playing, John Fahey, Elizabeth Cotten, Kaki King, Les Paul.

What does your creative process entail, and how do you constantly produce new music?
I try my best to keep the channel open and am diligent about writing down and recording whatever ideas show up. I have always been like this and kept a ton of notebooks growing up. Now that technology is where it is, I have thousands of voice memos and phone notes. No idea is too small. Writing things down invites more ideas to show up.

What’s on the horizon for Slothrust? What are you most excited about?
Slothrust is wrapping up 2022 with a lot of headline tour dates. We are also doing support for the Front Bottoms and playing Dusk Festival in Tucson, and Champagne Jam in Philly. It’s been a busier season than we anticipated but we are grateful to be on the road and will continue to show up for the journey.”

What places or venues are on your bucket list?
We would love to play Red Rocks. Any opportunity to play in large, intentional, outdoor spaces rules.

You share quite a bit on Talkhouse — what can fans expect to read about in future articles?
I really enjoyed doing my year-long series on astrology, fruit, and spirituality. I learned a lot about the stars, myself, and fruit. For me, fruit is proof of a higher source of consciousness and astrology is a gorgeous tool for self-examination. All religions are based on astrology. I am still conceptualizing what my next series should be and I am not going to rush it.”

What is the status of your side project ANMLPLNET?
“My collaborator in ANMLPLNET is my drummer / genius friend Mickey Vershbow. She is currently living in Portland, OR. I find her to be such an inspiring person to play with and when we are together creativity flows effortlessly. We live really far away so it will have to take an intentional plan to get another album together. I know we’d love to do it when the moment is right.

You also teach creativity classes. What are those like for people who sign up?
I like to teach all things music and creativity to those who are extremely curious about why things work the way they do. Like all things in the universe, music is a vibration. I like teaching people who are excited to explore that and approach music with an open mind and heart. I myself am always searching and learning. I am grateful that I am passionate about teaching. As a teacher I like to meet people where they are at and tap into what will help evolve them into their highest creative self, whatever that might mean.

What is something you want to make sure that both your longtime and newer fans know about?
Visual art has become a major part of my career, especially off the road. I am so grateful to all of the people who have supported that part of my life. I hope I can expand that. I love our fans so much and doing commissions for them has lit me up and made me feel inspired. I am even starting to work on an oracle deck.

Slothrust perform 8pm Saturday, Dec. 3 at Respectable Street in downtown West Palm Beach. ~ Amanda E. Moore