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Though largely overlooked during their relatively brief lifespan, Slint grew to become one of the most influential and far-reaching bands to emerge from the American underground rock community of the 1980s; innovative and iconoclastic, the group's deft, extremist manipulations of volume, tempo, and structure cast them as clear progenitors of the post-rock movement which blossomed during the following decade.
Whatever the extent of Slint's own influence, the group grew out of Louisville, Kentucky's legendary Squirrel Bait, another seminal band which languished in relative obscurity during its own lifetime but ultimately spawned the likes of Gastr del Sol, Big Wheel, and Bastro. Guitarist/vocalist Brian McMahan formed his first group at the age of 12; within a few years, he teamed with drummer Britt Walford, and after the addition of vocalist Peter Searcy, guitarist David Grubbs, and bassist Clark Johnson, they founded Squirrel Bait in the mid-'80s. After two ferocious records, a self-titled 1985 effort and 1987's Skag Heaven, the group disbanded, leaving McMahan and Walford to continue on as Slint with guitarist David Pajo and bassist Ethan Buckler.
With producer Steve Albini, the quartet recorded 1989's Tweez, issued on their own Jennifer Hartman label; a collection of odd stylistic approaches, fractured rhythms, and strange lyrical fragments, the album owed debts to few (if any) historical precedents and steadfastly defied easy classification. Shortly after the record's completion, Buckler left to form King Kong, and was replaced by bassist Todd Brashear for 1991's Spiderland, an even more sophisticated and adventurous set.
With the exception of a posthumous 1994 EP (originally recorded between the two full-length albums), Spiderland was Slint's swan song, although the individual members remained key figures in the independent scene. After attending art college, Pajo joined the ranks of Tortoise, while Walford (under the alias Shannon Doughton) played drums with the Breeders before rejoining Buckler in King Kong. McMahan and Brashear, meanwhile, aided Will Oldham in his ever-shifting Palace aggregate (which additionally housed Pajo and Walford at one point or another); McMahan and Pajo also briefly reunited as members of the For Carnation.
Slint was an American rock band consisting of Brian McMahan (guitar and vocals), David Pajo (guitar), Britt Walford (drums), Todd Brashear (bass on Spiderland) and Ethan Buckler (bass on Tweez). They formed in Louisville, Kentucky, United States in 1986 and disbanded following the recording of their second album, Spiderland, in 1990.
The band reformed to play a number of live shows in 2005 and 2007, though they released no new material.
Walford and McMahan began performing music together at an early age, forming Languid and Flaccid with Ned Oldham (later of The Anomoanoan) while still in middle school. Walford and McMahan later played together in the seminal Louisville punk band Squirrel Bait, though Walford left the band following their first recording session. Prior to Slint, Pajo and Walford (and, briefly, McMahan) were also in the band Maurice with future members of Kinghorse. Walford, Pajo, and Buckler played their first show together in 1985 under the name Small Tight Dirty Tufts of Hair.
Slint's first album Tweez was recorded by Steve Albini in 1987 and released in obscurity on the Jennifer Hartman Records label in 1989. It was followed two years later by the critically acclaimed Spiderland, released on Touch and Go Records and recorded by Brian Paulson. Considered a seminal work, Spiderland is an album characterized by dark, syncopated rhythms, sparse guitar lines and haunting subject matter. The record's impact was such that many fans and critics have suggested it is the first true post-rock album, helping to usher in a new wave of bands seeking a move away from the unfettered aggression of hardcore punk but not its underlying ethic. The cover of Spiderland is from a series of photos of the band taken by the Louisville actor/singer-musician Will Oldham. Spiderland culminates in the baleful "Good Morning, Captain", perhaps their most recognized track (it would later feature on the soundtrack to the Larry Clark film Kids). Touch and Go Records reissued Tweez in 1993. Finally, in 1994 a brief untitled EP was released after the band broke up. This two-song record was actually recorded in 1989 and was originally intended to be released as a 12" single on Jennifer Hartman Records. Original copies of the Tweez LP included a flyer advertisement for the 12" as an insert. However, Slint signed to Touch & Go Records before it was sent to press and the master tapes were shelved. It contained a previously unreleased track ("Glenn") and a reinterpretation of "Rhoda" from Tweez.
Members of Slint have since appeared in a number of bands. In 2009, former guitarist David Pajo performed with Yeah Yeah Yeahs as a live back-up musician. He briefly played bass in Interpol, and performs under the moniker PAJO and occasionally with his band Papa M. Pajo has also been a member of Dead Child, Tortoise, Palace, The For Carnation, and the short-lived Billy Corgan-fronted rock band Zwan. Guitarist Brian McMahan formed The For Carnation in 1994 and also played with Will Oldham in Palace. Britt Walford played drums in Evergreen, and for The Breeders under the pseudonym Shannon Doughton on the album Pod and as Mike Hunt on the Safari EP. Ethan Buckler plays in King Kong (the original line up of Slint makes up King Kong on the 1989 7" "Movie Star").
Nearly fifteen years after disbanding, three members of Slint — Brian McMahan, David Pajo, and Britt Walford — reunited to curate the 2005 All Tomorrow's Parties (ATP) music festival in Camber Sands, England. Also in 2005, Slint played a number of shows in the U.S. and in Europe. Though they insisted the reunion was short-term, the band regrouped once again in 2007 to perform Spiderland in its entirety in Barcelona as part of the Primavera Sound Festival, in London as part of the ATP Don't Look Back series of shows, as well as at a handful of dates in Europe, the U.S. (at Chicago's Pitchfork Music Festival, the Showbox in Seattle, and the Henry Fonda Theatre in Hollywood), and Canada. In addition to performing the album and the EP Slint, they also debuted a new composition called "King's Approach". Slint undertook no further recording or performance activity after their 2007 tour.
In a September 2012 interview conducted with Northern Irish music publication AU Magazine, David Pajo hinted at more activity from the band in the coming months: "“We still communicate regularly and we’ve got some surprises for next year that fans will be excited about. I know I am.”