Editor's note: Guilty Pleasures is an ongoing interview series with local and national artists about the embarrassing music they love.
Few people have had a bigger influence on the “Denver Sound” than Slim Cessna. For the past 25 years, he and the band Slim Cessna's Auto Club have mixed country, soul and rock and roll with an ominous gothic aesthetic. With a new album out and a headlining show this Friday, September 9, at the Bluebird Theater, Slim talks about getting older, the Spice Girls, and how he has never had a guilty pleasure.
Westword: Have you ever felt embarrassed by something you’ve liked?
Slim Cessna: Honestly, I’ve been thinking about that, and I can’t think of anything I’ve ever been embarrassed by liking.
Really? Not even as a kid?
I suppose there may have been some outfits I’ve worn that, in retrospect, may seem a little ridiculous.
Maybe I’m projecting a bit as a Catholic kid, but I find it hard to believe that someone who wrote an entire album about the Ten Commandments feels no sense of guilt.
[Laughs.] The new album isn’t about the Ten Commandments, actually. They’re our own commandments.
So you feel no sense of dogma?
No. No way…. This is a good interview. I’m sorry I’m so boring.
I find it surprising that someone can go their whole life without being insecure about their taste. Where does that come from?
I guess it depends on what the guilty-pleasure question even means. Like what would be an example? Is it genre-related?
As a kid, if I wanted to listen to the Spice Girls, I would have to do it alone so I wouldn’t be ridiculed by the punk kids.
See, I love the Spice Girls. I had a daughter who was the exact right age for that at the time, and we had Spice Girl dance parties. It was absolutely wonderful.
It was sincere love.
Is it safe to say you are incapable of being bullied for your taste then?
[Laughs.] Oh, I’ve been bullied plenty of times. I was such a nerd. That’s probably the reason I ended up getting into punk rock in the first place. It was just a way for people to do their own thing.
Not to call you old, but—
I am old! I’m fifty.
That’s not that old.
I feel old. I’ve been driving all day.
Well, for someone who has been around creating music for as long as you have, do you still have a sense of your younger punk-rock self?
Absolutely. I think all my influences, and probably for everyone in the band, those things continue to stick with you. There are so many different influences with our music that sometimes it isn’t even music that is influencing us.
Is there an influence on your new album The Commandments According to SCAC that stands out compared to your previous work?
That’s kinda hard to answer. It’s weird for me to figure that part of it out. I think that the album is definitely a different direction from anything we’ve ever done musically. Some of that is having different players that weren’t on past albums, and they bring what they have.
Do you feel reinvigorated by having someone like bassist Ian O'Dougherty on board?
Yeah, I think so. He’s also a lot younger than us, so it makes us all have to step up and not be so tired and cranky all the time. Even the songwriting from [Jay] Munly, who wrote all the songs on this one, is in a different direction. I think it’s actually more cheerful than anything we’ve done before, even musically. I think of the word 'joy.' It’s a joyful celebration of what we do.
Where does that joy come from?
That we’re still doing it and having a kick-ass time.
Slim Cessna's Auto Club celebrates its record release at the Bluebird Theater on Friday, September 9, at 9 p.m.
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