Slug of Atmosphere: 'Prince was a shitty version of Rick James and Parliament'


There's a bit of a kerfuffle happening on the interwebs today surrounding a new interview with Slug of Atmosphere published by Pitchfork. For the most part, it's a pretty standard interview -- Atmosphere are getting ready to release a new full-length, The Family Sign, on April 12, so writer Tom Breihan kept the focus on the group's new material -- but there were a couple of passages that seemed to stand out to Minnesota music fans.

[jump] When talking about The Family Sign, Slug says, "It feels like a Minneapolis record, that title almost sounded throwback-y to me, like something Prince would've named his record."

When the interviewer asks what he means, Slug goes on a mini-rant about his hometown that, at first glance, doesn't come off so smoothly on paper.

"Prince, the Replacements, Hüsker Dü -- we're all just bad imitations of the shit we loved," he says. "You have these motherfuckers here in their garage in the winter trying to write songs that remind them of the songs they love. That's how I characterize the Minneapolis sound. Prince was a shitty version of Rick James and Parliament. The Time was a shitty version of the O'Jays. We know the rules of contemporary pop music and we try to adhere to those rules, but we always end up stepping outside of them."

Pulled out of context, "Prince was a shitty version of Rick James and Parliament" is a pretty controversial thing for anyone from the Twin Cities to say. But was he really saying Prince is shitty? No, not exactly.

People love to get hysterical about anything that could be seen as "hating" these days (thank you, internet, for propagating the pull-quote style of arts writing and reporting), but from my perspective, Slug was waxing a bit philosophical on a common characteristic that binds together some of the area's most famous acts -- that artists tend to hole up inside for months at a time and obsess over music. Of course, filtered through Slug's ever-present smirk, it comes off a little strong, but he's also lumping himself in with these acts and projecting his own self-deprecating attitude onto the whole thing.

In other words? Nothing to fuss over. But I won't let that stop you -- on the plus side, I've witnessed at least a handful of pretty enlightening conversations on social media today that stemmed from this interview, and that's something we could all use a little more of in these sometimes alienating winter months.