“They’ve been described as Chinatown dance rock, but the Slants are far from a novelty act,” writes The Stranger, Seattle’s alt-rock weekly magazine. NPR’s All Things Considered states that, “It’s tempting to peg the Slants in some existing Asian genre: Canto-pop, J-Metal, Viet Core… but they’re not quite that simple.”
Incase you haven’t heard, The Slants are an Asian synth-pop band that have been melting faces off all over the country. Since the creation of the band, The Slants have toured the country five times, received press for turning down a million dollar recording contract as well as being banned from a venue in Portland due to breathing fire, and were the first and only Asian band to be a Fender Music featured artist.
It was early 2005, when Simon Young decided to leave his group, The Stivs, to start a synth-pop outfit. In essence, he wanted to create synthesizer-driven rock n’ roll but with an Asian twist. Young knew about the potential of the band but wanted find the right blend of musicians to bring the dream to life. Enter Gaijin, who answered one of Young’s numerous calls for Asian musicians. Though he wasn’t Asian himself, the two found a common love for The Faint, Depeche Mode, New Order, Joy Division, and of course, sushi. After the addition of a few other key members, The Slants were formed and began playing in mid-2007.
Within months of their first show, The Slants have found themselves with attention from international press. Most were captivated by their energetic live show and their modern twist on a classic sound. In August 2007, they released a demo version of Slanted Eyes, Slanted Hearts. Within six months of the initial pressing, the band sold all 1,000 copies of these demos and began preparing for an official release.
In 2008, Slanted Eyes, Slanted Hearts was released with all new mixes and artwork, the support of national distribution. The band began touring relentlessly in support of the album. These cross country tours included appearances at rock clubs, anime conventions, cultural festivals, and industry gatherings. Headlining almost every stage they appeared on, the band has played wit some of the hottest up and coming bands from Japan such as Ketchup Mania, Candy Spooky Theatre, and Lin Clover. The Slants also helped celebrate the Portland music scene with a show at Musicfest Northwest 2008, sharing the stage with Sir Mix-A-Lot, Hot Water Music, Mogwai, and Vampire Weekend. Attention for the record continued to grow.
Slanted Eyes, Slanted Hearts has everything that a perfect record should have: shattering hooks and anthemic choruses, powerful guitar and keyboard lines, and just the right mix of rock with darker, dance themes – with an Asian twist. The self-recorded, self-produced, and self-released record quickly caught media attention, with press from NPR’s All Things Considered, Asian Week (the world’s largest English printed Asian newspaper worldwide), the Asian Reporter, Willamette Week, Shojo Beat, and the weekly and daily papers of almost every city that the band stepped foot in.
On the album, Aron’s voice powers through songs reflecting of love and loss, as well as thoughtful prose about struggling with an Asian identity in American Society. NPR’s April Baer writes that “The Slants’ songs about Asian-American alienation don’t seem to have hurt their appeal to white teenagers. If anything, they resonate with kids whose geeky adoration for anime makes them outsiders in their own way.”
The keyboards lead the way with danceable synth leads, while, throughout the album, Johnny’s guitar adds a rock n’ roll feel behind the synthesizers and Tyler Chen’s pulsating drums keep the dance flavor alive.
PDX-Pole calls The Slants “controversial but well loved.”
It’s true, the name has stirred some controversy, bringing the band even more attention. Bassist and founder Simon Young explains, “Most of the people that find our name racist aren’t even Asian! We’re saying to the world ‘We’re proud of who we are, we aren’t going to hide it.’ In fact, our biggest support has been from the Asian community itself!”
Slanted Eyes, Slanted Hearts reflects some of the same themes. Aron explains “We have a song called Sakura, Sakura where we take hateful rhymes about Asians and we turn them into a song about unity and being proud of our heritage.” But the band is more than just sharing similar ethnic heritages: Jen Cho explains that “everyone pays attention to our name. We might be met with a lot of skepticism at first. Once they see us play, they realize that we’re serious musicians and not just a kitschy music project.”
The Slants are now poised to take on the world with their own music and presence, their own name. Like the power of the rising sun, The Slants are bold, majestic, and filled with unlimited potential to light the dark ignorance of society…all while melting people’s faces off with “Chinatown Dance Rock!”