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Slander: A band at the beginning

By Stephen Chupaska

Publication: The Day

Published November 20. 2012 4:00AM

Rich Freitas had sworn off playing in rock bands.

He played drums in various groups including 17 Relics and Low-Beam dating to the mid-'80s, but he hadn't been in a live, active rock band in five years.

And Freitas, 43, was doing just fine with his electronic music project Sodium Lights and keeping young music fans on the righteous path during his shifts at the venerable Mystic Disc record shop.

He didn't really relish a return to the true residuals of playing music - the sweat-drenched hair and soaked T-shirts of it all.

But there he was, making the three-hour drive with a van full of bandmates and instruments from Connecticut to New York City to play a Wednesday night gig with a new group, Slander.

"I never thought I would be doing this again," said Freitas in an interview at the Brooklyn apartment of Mystic natives James Burke and Britta LeMontange of the band Hard Plastic Buttons.

Slander - Julia Farrar, vocals; Luke Hunter guitar/vocals; Grayson Connelly guitar; Christopher Wimpfheimer, bass; Freitas, drums - had gathered there for a beer and to toast their gig at the Bushwick club Goodbye Blue Monday with, appropriately enough, a bottle of Clyde's sparkling apple cider.

Wednesday's show was Slander's second ever performance; they played New London in July and will share a bill on Friday at Oasis Pub with the Suicide Dolls.

Slander, whose sound is imbued with the Psychedelic Furs and Echo and the Bunnymen, first formed in March. Ferrar, 23, who formerly sang with Incessant Pop Group, asked an initially reluctant Freitas to play drums in her new band.

It took some convincing, but the two eventually hit upon a concept - "a rock band without pretense" Freitas called it.

"It didn't take too long for us to think of who else should be involved," Freitas said. "Everyone bought into the idea, right away, that we could do this band."

Shortly into the band's first rehearsal, its members realized they had hit upon something special.

"Grayson came up with this riff," Freitas said. "So, we played for four or five minutes and I started to notice that he was going from a riff, to a chorus section, to a bridge. I stopped and said, 'Whoa, whoa. You have a song.'"

Connelly's riff quickly evolved into "Device," the lead cut on Slander's three-song EP, "World as Museum." According to Farrar, Hunter, along with Connelly, have been doing most of the songwriting.

Slander already has started to gain momentum; in September the New England edition of the tastemaking music site The Deli put Slander up for its band of the month competition.

That led to a recording session with Daniel Schlett, the Brooklyn-based producer who recorded Friends' debut album "Manifest," the result of which is Slander's new single "Magnets."

For now, Slander is still in its halcyon days - songs are flowing, camaraderie is evident and it's fun, even as the arduous process of booking shows and studio time is coming more to the foreground.

"A lot of times there's excitement in the beginning, but then you have to go on to the work of it," Farrar said. "We're there, and it's still exciting."

After Slander's seven-song set at Goodbye Blue Monday, a sweat-soaked Freitas found a seat at the bar, ordered a Guinness and smiled with approval at the band's performance.

Freitas doesn't seem to mind the role of the veteran player in the dugout.

He recalled a recent rehearsal, when he put the band on a pace that would mimic a live show, with one song quickly following another.

"It builds a level of trust," Freitas said, before loading the van once again and driving back to Mystic.

schupaska@gmail.com

IF YOU GO

What: Slander, Suicide Dolls and Varsity Drag perform live

Where: Oasis Pub, 16 Bank St., New London,

When: Friday at 9:30 p.m.

More information: http://slander41.bandcamp.com

MORE

IF YOU GO

What: Slander, Suicide Dolls and Varsity Drag perform live

Where: Oasis Pub, 16 Bank St., New London,

When: Friday at 9:30 p.m.

More information: http://slander41.bandcamp.com

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