Honestly, ignoring us has kind of been our claim to fame," says local musician Harry Koniditsiotis, explaining his band the Angel Sluts' continued status as a somewhat "under the radar" Memphis act.
"Some people have said it's the name. It's a dumb name, but lots of bands pick worse. Some people think we are too wild, and I'm sure some think we suck. We never got the local press we deserved and are never asked to play local festivals, but in other cities we do," he says.
However, in the last year or so, Koniditsiotis and the band — guitarists Matt Burns, Ben Abney, and Shane Essary, bassist Crews Baggett and drummer Luke Stubblefield — have started to find more acceptance in the local music community, largely on the strength of Koniditsiotis' relentless work ethic and the band's steadily growing fan base.
"Truth is, when we play locally the bar is packed and we sell records, so I'm proud of that," Koniditsiotis says. "When we started we never had any support from the local music scene — just our friends. We didn't know the cool kids, and they didn't seem to want anything to do with us."
They now know the cool kids, however, because Koniditsiotis is seemingly everywhere these days, both on the stage and behind the scenes.
In addition to fronting the Angel Sluts — his primary musical outlet — for more than eight years, Koniditsiotis leads two other respected local bands, the Turn-It-Offs and Twin Pilot, and is currently working on a solo album. He also runs a successful studio called 5 and Dime Recording out of a renovated shed in his backyard, where he's recorded projects by the likes of Lover!, True Sons of Thunder, Boston Chinks, Grace Askew, the Klitz, and the Bombay Alleys, to name a few.
"What I love about running a studio is working with different musicians," he says. "I like the idea of being the Martin Hannett or George Martin. I wish I could be in a million different bands. I obviously can't, but I can work with various groups for periods of time. The studio serves as a creative outlet for me in that way."
This week, the Angel Sluts will unveil two new releases: a three-song, 7" vinyl EP of new material called Love Sweet Love and a career-spanning, full-length CD/cassette compilation of singles, b-sides, and rare tracks called Singles Staring at the Steady (the title being a nod to similarly themed compilations by the Cure and the Buzzcocks).
Love Sweet Love is being released by the Brooklyn, New York, independent label Chickpea Records and finds the band heading in a decidedly more tuneful and poppy direction while still maintaining the Angel Sluts' trademark raw punk sound. The title track, in particular, is every bit as infectious as it is raucous.
"My writing has become poppier lately," Koniditsiotis says. "I like to beat people over the head with hooks. 'Love' is a great pop song. Matt did a funny synth-pop version originally, which is on the singles comp as a dance mix."
The Singles Staring at the Steady compilation is being issued by the up-and-coming local label Fat Sandwich Records and includes just about everything the Angel Sluts has ever done (minus the tracks from the band's 2009 album Designer Heat). For the uninitiated, the compilation might be a good place to start.
"I had the idea, and Dan [Drinkard, Fat Sandwich owner] thought it was great. The older records were out of print, and people still wanted them," Koniditsiotis says.
Moving forward, the Angel Sluts are planning on taking some downtime this summer before recording a new LP and eventually getting back on the road. Koniditsiotis, though, isn't planning on slowing down for a second. He'll be finishing his debut solo album (and putting together a new band to back him up on the material live), running the studio, and performing with the Turn-It-Offs.
"It's all about focus and dedication," he says. "I have my hands in a lot of baskets. It's about just putting yourself out there to see what happens."
The Angel Sluts Record Release Party
With The Blackbelts, The Gloryholes, and DJ Memphis Vic
Friday, March 23rd, 9 p.m.
$5 (includes choice of a free 7" or cassette)