Arts & Entertainment

Slanted sound

Being one of the only almost-all-Asian-American bands in the indie bastion of Portland, let alone the country, The Slants stand out pretty easily.

And oh yeah, there's that name -- The Slants. And a recent album title -- Slanted Eyes, Slanted Hearts -- that's raised their profile and eyebrows along with it.

But while Slants bassist Simon Young offers that the name is meant to turn heads, that's not the only impetus for the choice.

"It's meant to celebrate Asian culture by intentionally taking the name head-on to address the stereotype," Young said on the phone from Portland, where he was working his day job at the American Cancer Society. "It's amazing that the only people that seem to be offended by this term are non-Asians." He also adds that the band's biggest supporters are the Asian community itself.

Three members of the band are Asian Americans and one is Filipino-Mexican.

The band will be bringing that message wrapped in their self-described "Chinatown dance rock" sound to Ray's Golden Lion, 1353 George Washington Way, Richland, at 9 p.m. Feb. 19. Sharing the stage will be Pigeon Fist and Tieton Drive.

The Slants have been steadily growing their fan base since breaking out by playing anime conventions and touring all over the country. They even have a surprisingly large fan base in Nashville, Tenn., of all places, where they've played twice. "The response is incredible there," Young said.

Their sound -- as if "Chinatown dance rock" didn't clue you in -- is rooted heavily (especially vocally) in the sound of synth bands of the '80s like Depeche Mode or New Order but with a harder rock edge. Less mood, more bounce.

"We used to totally rely on synth," Young said. "But nowadays it's a lot more drum and guitar driven with the keys as an accent."

Rounding out that sound is lead singer Aron Moxley, Johnny Fontanilla on guitar and Tyler Chen on drums.

And Young says, the anime-loving band knows how to put on a show.

"We put everything into our shows," he said. "Sometimes (Moxley) breathes fire, given the appropriate venue."

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