Artist Feature: Sly Roosevelt

photo by alec berry

By: Emily Meadows

The southern West Virginia music scene tends to get a reputation for folk-country, or roots rock with strings playing across the hills of the Appalachian Mountains.

Sly Roosevelt is not that band.

“We didn’t have much difficulty breaking into the Huntington music scene, people are more receptive to new ideas and a fertilized ground,” said guitarist Josh Sanders, “so far, people like what we do.”

With a diverse punk style, the indie band from Huntington, West Virginia is anything but ordinary. The self-proclaimed “experimental” five-piece band combines pensive lyrics with abrasive vocals to generate powerful, guitar-heavy breakdowns that jump outside of the traditional punk boundaries.

The band travelled upstate to play a boisterous show in the Gluck Theater for Morgantown Sound on April 12, and certainly left an impression well after their departure.

Even from the start of their set opener, “Lion”, the earsplitting track already displayed how dynamic their sound was, with riotous, in your face guitars to mid song heavy percussion. It was apparent there was something distinctive that set them apart from modern punk and post-hardcore groups of today.

photo by alec berry

“We want the audience to feel like they’ve went on an adventure,” said guitarist and lead vocalist Sean McDaniel.

“The music is intended to be impactful, we want to put as much of ourselves out there as we can and get through to the audience in some way,” adds Sanders. “We want to create new things and keep reinventing music.”

Performing together for 3 ½ years now, Sly Roosevelt is made up of two strident, thrashing guitars, chaotic percussion, keys and an ever-present bass. While all the members began playing music in separate projects, it is clear they have all dedicated their focus to the success of Sly.

Their largest performance to date has been their electrifying show at the inaugural Huntington Music and Arts festival. In addition, they have participated in multiple tri-state charity events including the Robert Maynard Benefit Concert, Music for Monica and Megan Rocks.

But the road to success hasn’t been an easy one.

All members still hold their various day jobs, while working diligently to write and record new music, as well as find the time to tour and perform. Prior to the release of their debut EP, the band stayed up an extra 8-10 hours each night building their own recording studio that they constructed from scratch.

“We still support ourselves, no sponsorship yet,” said Sanders, “but we’re getting really positive response from home, Columbus, New Jersey, Athens and surrounding areas. We’ve made wonderful friends and have had wonderful experiences.”

Finding inspiration in everyone from Outkast to Spencer Krug and the White Stripes, the band’s chief songwriter, vocalist Sean McDaniel, has pulled elements from this eclectic musical insight and personal experience to craft the bands’ expressive lyrics.

“I write about a desperate longing for something; to get out, to get somewhere, find something different, then lasso it into the universe and write a song,” said McDaniel.

After active studio time, ample support, and what bassist Alex Durand referred to as lots of “positive stress,” Sly has completed their full length, 12 track album “Animal Tracks” set for release on May 25.

While it was collectively agreed there will always be ongoing challenges to success, though little things will inevitably pop up, they believe with determination they will continue to prevail – and with a bit of luck from a tri-state to national scale.

photo by alec berry


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