Slimfit looks on the bright side of life

Andy Downing

When Josh Davis started writing songs, he did so with zero intention of starting a band. At the time, Davis was in his early 20s and living in Cincinnati, having just landed his first teaching job.

“And I was miserable,” said the singer and guitarist by phone in a recent interview. “I was staying in an apartment that was too expensive, and it was too far away from my job and I didn't know anybody. Everyone in my apartment complex was like 30something with families, which is fine, but I was 22 and not doing that. I was really bummed out a lot of the time and I had a lot of fodder and a want to express myself … and so I started writing songs. I just recorded them on my computer and showed them to my friends and they were like, ‘This is good. You should do this more often.’”

Despite the circumstances, Davis, whose solo project has since evolved into pop-punk trio Slimfit, has rarely wallowed in his writing, balancing his more melancholic admissions with a sense of humor and a general optimism that he described as endemic to his personality. This is evidenced throughout the band’s new EP,There’s Never a Reason Not to Party (Lonely Ghost Records), which is scheduled for release on Friday, June 19. Recorded with engineer Maddy Ciampa (wyd, Classical Baby), the songs maintain a loose, scrappy sonic feel reflective of the spirit with which they were written, built on buzzing guitars, propulsive drums, bouncing basslines and Davis’ urgent vocals.

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Throughout, Davis, bassist Regina Squeri and drummer Daniel Seibert square cuts like the ennui-laced “Power of Shower,” on which Davis folds laundry, orders Chinese takeout and numbly scrolls through his phone, with tunes such as the simple-pleasures espousing “Pineapple,” the singer offering up a broad series of seemingly achievable life goals, including having the space and time to rock, an ability to live free of fear and, perhaps most controversially, to enjoy pineapple on his pizza.

“I generally don’t have a mood or a style I’m going for. That song ‘Dimitro Tsunami’ on the EP is pretty intense and straightforward, but I thought it wasn’t performative, or like I was trying too hard. It felt real and honest, not forced,” said Davis of the song, which finds its narrator struggling to keep their emotions in check (“I’m angry at myself for being angry,” Davis offers at the onset). “Then the other day I sat down and wrote a song called ‘Butt Shaker,’ which is a fictional song about a guy who goes to bars and dances his ass off.

“It’s easy to write songs about being sad, or about something bad happening, and there’s merit to it and it can be cathartic. But it’s also rewarding to write a happy song, or a hopeful song, or just something goofy. And I wanted to challenge myself to do that because you don’t have to be sad all of the time. Yeah, there’s a lot of terrible stuff in the world, but there are a lot of cool things, too.”

While recent times have certainly challenged even Davis’ ingrained sense of optimism— the bandreleased a video for “Power of Shower” in early June but largely refrained from promoting it amid the ongoing protests in support of racial justice, because, as Davis explained, “It feels like there are bigger fish to fry right now” — the musician still appreciates the importance of art to provide escape.

“The music will always be there. … When people can step back, or when they need to take a break from all of these harsh realities and terrible things that are going on, they can watch one of our videos or listen to one of our songs and maybe get a laugh,” Davis said. “And that’s all I’ve ever wanted.”