Catching Up with Slingshot Dakota

On Saturday night, indie pop duo and hometown favorites Slingshot Dakota return to Bethlehem for a special night of music at SteelStacks. The bill also features Chicago’s Ratboys and the Valley’s own Sing, Bird of Prey. Tickets can be found here.

Carly Comando, who comprises the band alongside husband Tom Patterson, chatted with us to talk about the band’s busy 2017, which has so far included an international tour that went all the way to the UK, and their post-summer plans.

2017 has been a busy one in the world of Slingshot Dakota, beginning in February with the release of a two-track effort, “Broken.” What made that the right time to release new music, coming off the success of “Break?”
We released “Broken” in early 2017 as a 7” containing two songs that couldn’t fit onto our 2016 album, “Break.” We loved those songs so much but needed to leave them behind in order to fit our record onto vinyl. Knowing in November 2016 that we had multiple spring tours lined up, we asked our label Topshelf Records if we could release these unused songs to promote the tours. It would be a special way to celebrate the one year anniversary of “Break,” while allowing us to share these other beautiful songs that we’ve had to sit on. Because we had a tour lined up in the UK, Topshelf teamed up with a UK record label called Specialist Subject Records and co-released “Broken.”

To have these two special songs released in the US and UK, just in time for both tours, was incredible. Our two songs, “Dying Stars” and “Grudge,” are the first songs we ever demoed for “Break” and cutting them from the record was heartbreaking. Being able to perform and share these songs this year as an official release has been cathartic. 

How have people responded to “Broken?”
Although “Broken” is considered a new release, these songs are older than all of the songs on “Break.” In fact, a lot of folks recognized these songs from us playing them out live on tour before. Generally, when we start writing new music, we start playing some of the songs out live to see what flows, what works, what doesn’t work with the adrenaline of a live performance, and how folks respond. These two songs were new to some people and recognizable to others. For us, it was so much fun to re-learn these songs and remember just how much we loved them. It might have taken some time for these songs to see the light of day, but they did at the right time. 

As you alluded, you’ve been on the road for much of the year, making an appearance at SXSW in March and going as far as the UK alongside Petal. What has life been like on the road?
It’s all a blur at the moment, but we toured in March to SXSW with our besties Ratboys. We never take for granted a tour that is easy, successful and fun. That tour was one of our favorites to date. And, as you’ll see on Saturday, Ratboys are an incredible band. The cherry on top is that they are also the sweetest, most genuine human beings in the industry.

Then, in May and June, we toured with Petal in the UK and US. Additionally, we acted as Petal’s backing band and were rocking two sets a night. We spent the month of April practicing and learning the Petal set. It was a complete honor to learn someone else’s musical language and to have them trust us with their art. Backing Petal has been a growing experience for us and we are thankful to have been a part of it. 

What moments stand out to you as the highlights from the year so far?
Each tour has it’s own set. With Ratboys, they generally all relate to food. Drinking margaritas, eating Mexican food, eating a Kentucky hot brown sandwich (a Louisville classic) in Louisville made by Julia and her mom, and staying up until 5 a.m. talking. The highlights from that tour are honestly as wholesome as it gets.

With the Petal tours, we all happened to experience different personal stresses that we came together as a team to work through. The UK tour was one big trust fall exercise: we likened that tour to the Real World. For instance, Tom fainted and had to go to the hospital. He cut his head open and needed a plastic surgeon to stitch him up because his wound was so deep. Dealing with that trauma at 2 a.m. as a team immediately made us feel like we were a family who had been together for 50 years. Besides that, backing another band in addition to playing our own set was an experience in itself, especially when that band is one of my favorite bands in the entire world. Traveling abroad and becoming great friends with our driver (Jeremy, who we had only met online), and meeting all kinds of sweet folks from so far away who booked and/or supported our shows, are all memories we’ll cherish forever. Deadpunk Special, a festival in Bristol UK, and Bled Fest in Michigan were our favorite shows from the Slingshot/Petal tour runs. We also got to record a Daytrotter session, which is something we’ve wanted to check off our bucket list!

You’ll bring it back home on July 15, when you team up with Ratboys from Chicago and Bethlehem’s Sing, Bird of Prey for a night of indie rock inside of the Blast Furnace Room at SteelStacks. Tell us about the night we can expect from you.
We are so excited for the show on July 15 at SteelStacks. First off, we haven’t played the Lehigh Valley since November of 2016, so we are beyond thrilled to play for all of our families and friends.

Second, as mentioned above, we love Ratboys. They are such an incredible, unique band with some of the best tones. They’re an alt-country, indie band with some folky vibes, and they’re accessible to all kinds of music fans. Sometimes they’re loud, sometimes they’re quiet. They’re always amazing.

Third, Sing, Bird of Prey are also a wonderful, energetic, one-of-a-kind indie band. I feel like this show embraces individuality in music and how there can be bands doing their “own” thing, breaking down genre music barriers, while being extremely relateable. This show will be a ton of great people in one room hanging out and enjoying music together. I’m so excited to share these bands with the town I love! To be reunited with our own hometown crowd, while sharing the bands we’ve met along the way, is such an honor. It’s going to be one heck of a fun summer night!

Let’s look into the future: If the first half of the year is any indication, you surely have something cooking up for after July 15. Any hints as to your future plans?
After Musikfest, we are taking some time to relax and go on vacation. The past year has been a busy one for us, so it’s time for Slingshot Dakota to be a married couple and spend some time not on music. We’ll be hitting up some beaches and staring into the sunset until the fall. We have shows lined up for October, and will be working on new music into the winter. When the hit factory is open, you must abide. 

Check out the “Broken,” the latest EP from Slingshot Dakota, below!

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