Nick Dittmeier & Slithering Beast
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Nick Dittmeier & Slithering Beast

Band Americana Country


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"Review from"

Raise your hand if you are tired of hearing much buzzed about indie bands being hyped with comparisons to The Band (my hand is raised as high as I can raise it). Darling indie bands such as Fleet Foxes, Dr. Dog and many others, while very good and deserving of credit for their tight harmonies and often soulful musicianship that do indeed hearken back to an earlier time, generally don't remind me much of the fun, loose vibe of The Band, especially in their "Big Pink" days.

The new CD from Slithering Beast, Midnight Royalty (Last Train Records) brings to mind much of the breezy and loose feel of Danko, Robertson, Helm and Company. The disc does this and avoids being purely derivative, as the country elements of the record shine more brightly than they did in the Band's catalog. Lead singer/songwriter, Nick Dittmeier gets the disc off to a positive start with "It Just Don't Make Sense". The bouncy, non-country feel of the trumpet at the track's beginning gives way to a stone cold pedal steel that can't be anything but Country Gold. What Dittmeier lacks in true vocal strength and range is made up in how well his warm twang is lent to the comfy feel that unfurls from track to track.

"Deconstructed Man" is another track that serves as a time machine of sorts. Harmonies, pedal steel and even a Bakersfield groove on the lead guitar weaves a common thread within this track and many others on the disc. Accessible lyrics that tell a story without being too elementary are as key to the success of this album as the instrumentation and arrangements are. In "Clark Country Blues" we get a glimpse of Dittmeiers view of his home environs when he says "Nobody wants to go home, they just dont wanna be here" and when he tells of how many residents "wish for yesteryear".

Being old-school without sounding old and incorporating various styles that create a cohesive sound helps me see the difference between most rock bands that consider themselves "Alt-Country" and bands that simply look to make music that is truly influenced by their musical heroes while still possessing total ownership of the creation. Next time you see yet another indie band compared to The Band, or Uncle Tupelo or even the Allman Brothers, listen to see if you hear what I have heard in this record, and that would be not only a sound that is reminiscent of the legendary act being compared to, but to the spirit of that act as well.

- Kelly Dearmore,

"Cover Story from Louisville Music News"

The following is a transcript of a conversation recorded between two unidentified males, one being the head of programming for a major television network. The other someone who has come in to pitch an idea. Again, apparently

VOICE ONE (the NETWORK EXECUTIVE): So, what have you got for us this time?

VOICE TWO (the PITCH GUY, someone who has obviously plopped his arse on this executive's couch one too many times and pitched nothing but lame, unworkable ideas): Well, I'm thinking of bringing back an American classic!

A few beats of silence.

VOICE ONE: Okay, I'll bite. Which one?

VOICE TWO: The Partridge Family.

Long silence.

VOICE ONE (low) Uhhh, listen thank you for coming in today. I'm not sure I. . .

VOICE TWO: No, no. Hear me out, dude. This time we do it with a twist. A real twist.

Silence again.

VOICE ONE: Did you just call me dude?

VOICE TWO (clears throat): Uhhhhmm. . ..

VOICE ONE (whipcrack sharp): You've got three minutes.

VOICE TWO: Okay, see, instead of a widowed mom with five kids who look nothing at all alike, we have a dad, his son, and the rest of the band. Probably two or three other guys. See, we've already tightened up the cast, and the band won't be as big.

Another long silence.

VOICE ONE: And then?

VOICE TWO: They play in a lot of rough bars in town, and they take these road trips to play in the worst places. And they rehearse in the dad's woodworking shop out in back of the house. See, it adds a rustic family, an almost Waltons kind of vibe to the whole show. He's got tools hanging all over the place. "Right tool for the right task," he always says. And we work that into the storyline every week. Man, hearts will be melting all over the nation. At the end of each show, they're all back in the woodshop, sharing a PBR. A dad, his son, and his buddies, all having a beer. Real back to basics, back to the earth stuff.


VOICE TWO: Pabst Blue Ribbon. It's a beer. The kind of stuff they drink in seedy bars that have big neon letters on a sign that says EAT, hanging on the outside. Jeez, didn't you ever see Blue Velvet?

Yet another long silence.

VOICE ONE (with some ice underneath): I did. Go on. Anything else?

VOICE TWO: Yeah, and they do a new song every week. It'll be pretty raw and kick ass. See, they're kind of a country band. Like that Wailin' Willie guy or that dude they did the movie about, the one who liked to sing in prisons and wear black all the time. Not this bouncy crap with harpsichord that the Partridges did, where everybody made an "O" face.

VOICE ONE (startled): Excuse me?

VOICE TWO: You know, where they'd lip synch the backing vocals and go "oooooo."

VOICE ONE: Oh, that. I get it. That's not an "O" face, by the way. That's … something different. Don't think the kids would be making it.

VOICE TWO: Yeah, whatever. Got a cool name for the band. Slithering Beast. So. Whatcha think?

There is the sound of a desk chair rolling back, angry footstomps, then it ends.

So what is it like to have your dad play in a band with you? You could ask Zak Starkey, who used to be part of his father's All Star Band. And for those unfamiliar with the name, Starkey's father is an older guy named Ringo who used to play in a band that was kind of popular in its time.

Or closer to home, ask Nick Dittmeier, lead vocalist for Slithering Beast whose father, Paul, plays Dobro and pedal-steel guitar in the band.

"He's quiet. He drives" Dittmeier said without hesitation.

"He keeps us in line," bassist Matt Kovarovic added with a laugh. "We're a slightly more obscene version of The Partridge Family. "

Indeed, while having your father around in your band might act as an assurance that the general asshattery will be kept to a minimum before and after the band plays live somewhere, it also adds an anchor of sorts to Slithering Beast, a metaphor for their music. Together with recently added drummer Spence Taylor, the band has a sound that is rooted in raw, traditional country music, the kind where all the songs were about trains, heartbreak, jail, murder, God, sin, redemption, tumbleweeds. And whiskey. Always whiskey. Actually, all the stuff that would have made the Partridges leap back and say, "Ewwwww."

"In the bigger sense of things," Nick Dittmeier explained, "hard rock or heavier music was what I liked growing up. I'd gravitate toward that because I thought that was the rawest music, the kind of screwed-up stuff. When I got older, I learned about old country music, and it inspired me to do this band. Those guys are the rawest and hardest guys you could ever imagine. Like Hank Williams or Merle Haggard. There are a lot of people and a lot of bands that play a similar kind of music to ours, and they came from the same kind of background playing heavier music. They opened up and realized there was more.

"Punk rock was trying to get back to the roots of rock and roll. Americana-country is essentially doing that, too."

The return to those roots is clear in both recordings from Slithering Beast, last year's Werewolf Ballads and the recently released Midnight Royalty. Both have the required instrumentation, with lots of acoustic guitar, pedal steel, mandolin, and banjo, but there's that added twist that you'll find in a lot of Americana music: a worldview that lands somewhere between open-road cruising down a forgotten swath of Route 66 running through Arizona and a fight in the parking lot of Bob's Country Bunker from The Blues Brothers.

Nick Dittmeier formed Slithering Beast as a solo project after having played in a score of punk and hard rock bands for a few years beforehand with bandmate Kovarovic. They were in a band called Bodies. Dittmeier's final days with them came with a cease-and-desist order from another band with that same name. When the band was trying to choose a new name, Dittmeier suggested Slithering Beast. The rest didn't like it, so Dittmeier took the name for himself and started his new project.

"When I started I never really had the complete intentions of having a full band," Dittmeier admitted. "It feels better that way. I started recording everything myself. Matt came along when I wanted to do a full band. He was one of the first guys in. When we recorded the first CD he'd never played with us before, and the guy I recorded the CD with kept pressing to get him. He's on two songs on the first album. Then we asked if he'd like to play live with us. He just kept learning more songs. As other people in the band kept quitting, he kept playing."

Dittmeier claims that at one time Slithering Beast had up to seven members, including guitarist Scott Gibson (another musician who plays in a band with his father, Kevin) who later left the band on friendly terms. After whittling itself down to three core members, Dittmeier father and son and Kovarovic, the band placed an ad in LEO and found their new drummer, Spence Taylor.

"We've had a lot of people come and go," Dittmeier said. "We're used to having people quitting."

Paring the band's size down to something that could fit easier on a barroom stage also changed the way they sounded on Midnight Royalty: tighter, rawer, just like they wanted to.

"We recorded this last one all ourselves," Kovarovic said. "We had the time to do a lot of pre-production and arrange everything before we did the final stuff. It was just more relaxed. More maturing."

Dittmeier agreed. "It is more mature. I wanted to put a lot of instruments you traditionally wouldn't hear. The first track has a trumpet and a glockenspiel. The first record probably has a lot more instruments on each song. We wanted to be more stripped down on this one. We wanted to do only the most basic things."

"And no matter how many people we add or having playing with us," Kovarovic said, "it just always ends up being the same four."

And so far the same four has been bouncing around the region playing shows in Nashville and Lexington. This month they are booked for shows in Chicago and Evansville, plus they are playing shows at Derby City Espresso after each Waterfront Wednesday concert through June.

One memorable show was a recent in-store at ear X-tacy where they met a new fan who discovered their music in the trash. Literally.

"It was a group of guys from Corydon," Dittmeier said, "real red-necks. And the way they'd heard about out band was because of our Werewolf Ballads CD. We recorded it in Georgetown, Indiana. And the guy we recorded it with (he's not in the band anymore) threw away a bunch of mixes that he had. Tons of mixes that he had burned and listened to over and over. This one guy was a trash man. He was doing pickups in Georgetown and found a CD in the trash and took it home with him. I guess he really liked it."

"So he came to see us and made it a point to tell us that story," Paul Dittmeier said.

"I guess we're one of his favorite bands now," Nick Dittmeier added.

Slithering Beast currently uses Paul Dittmeier's woodshop behind his Jeffersonville home as a rehearsal space. With exposed insulation in the walls, a high ceiling, and wood stacked high in homemade shelves, it is acoustically solid and traps sounds within an inch after they're made being made. They could run an engine from Danica Patrick's Indy car full out, and the neighbors probably couldn't hear it. The elder Dittmeier was building cabinets for lap steel guitars that were being manufactured in Brooks, Kentucky by the late Charles F. Stepp at Derby Steel Guitar. Now that Dittmeier's craft probably will not be used since Stepp's death, he plans to convert the entire space into a recording studio, which will most likely be used by his son to create the next Slithering Beast recording.

"I've got songs written for a new record," he said, "and I'm starting to record those. Probably we'll record more at the end of the year and do another record, probably an EP."

"Taking our time with it," Kovarovic added.

"The old songs, even the stuff from the record, the more we play, the more they develop. We get more comfortable with it. Most of the songs on the new CD we did not play live before it was released. But we've been playing the stuff from the old record for a while. So we're going to let the new songs develop."

"Because it seems like once we record something every practice," Kovarovic said, "something else changes. Something else will pop in our heads, so we'll just add that and probably re-record it."

"Matt and I bought the equipment we recorded our last record on, so we can record as we go. We won't have to go to a studio. We can do it all on our own time here. At our own pace."

There's a Haiku about country music that goes:

Johnny Cash sang this:

"I hear that train a' comin'"

All else is so small

There's a cussedness in that genre of music that withstands whatever window dressing someone decides to throw on it. Its history is also the history of people who work hard, work their land, face life's heartaches, fall in love, drink a lot, spend nights in cheap motels with dead moths in the ceiling light fixtures, and know how to rely on themselves to get something done. When young bands like Slithering Beast take their turn with the genre, with their own instrumentation and interpretation, it is always left richer, no matter how twisted the lyrics are. Like a good relationship between a father and a son, it is anchored in the raw basics of earth and home and work.

And all else is so small.

- Louisville Music News

"Review from LEO weekly"

Leo Weekly album article!!!
Saturday Dec. 13
The name Slithering Beast may conjure images of tight-pants-wearing hair-metal acts or a Republican in the midst, but the sound of Louisville's Slithering Beast is anything but.

Instead of family values or songs about dragons drinking champagne, the group is a country-rock powerhouse, churning out big chord changes and even bigger choruses, and it all comes from the brain of Nick Dittmeier.

"I was in bands, and I was really frustrated with playing in bands. So (Slithering Beast) is supposed to be, like, my solo thing. It's a full band, but it's essentially my solo project," Dittmeier says.

Rustic, almost ramshackle guitar strums sit alongside catchy, considered arrangements. The Slithering Beast aesthetic is on display on their latest album, Midnight Royalty. It's a homemade album in every sense, from the intimate and catchy sound to the location where they recorded.

"We bought equipment last winter, and we did the album in our practice space this past summer. We didn't stress out about the album. I wanted to sound natural rather than overproduced, and yet I wanted to have some pretty sound arrangements," Dittmeier says.

From the opening Chicago-like horns (that's a good thing) giving way to the Gram Parsons honky tonk of "It Just Don't Make Sense" to the Shins-meets-Sticky Fingers-era Stones of the album's closer "Moving On," Slithering Beast's album feels like a carefree and laid back exercise in pop songwriting. It turns out that the feeling wasn't a coincidence. Despite wearing the country-rock or alt-country tag, Dittmeier and company are more than just Flying Burrito Brothers clones searching out a lost highway. Instead, they navigate the sound of Americana with a bright and golden guitar tone that betrays the sepia-toned twang of most country rock bands. In fact, Dittmeier bristles at the suggestion.

"We have to say we are alt-country to give people a reference to what we are. When you say country, it gives people the idea that we are a pop-country act. I don't know — we don't play with bands that sound like us. I think we come from different backgrounds that aren't country music, so that helps."
- LEO Weekly (

"Courier- Journal's review of "Delicious""

There's a guy named Delbert McClinton who's responsible for most of the hang­overs and half of the un­planned pregnancies that plagued the Southwest through­out the 1970s. Somehow, a handful of those kids have wound up in Slith­ering Beast, an Indiana band with one boot in rock 'n' roll and the oth­er firmly in South­ern soul via Muscle Shoals.

"De­licious," a five-song EP, is as fully re­alized as any record you'll hear this year. These guys know exactly what they want, which is Americana with enough bounce to fill a Ma­son-Dixon dance floor, and they de­liv­er with an almost shocking confidence. The deep groove is crucial, but so are the hooks and the effort­less swing of the arrange­ments. - Louisville Courier-Journal

"Bugg Blog review of "Delicious""

I’ve been called many things: an asshole, an egomaniac, a good husband, a lousy boyfriend, a bass player and even at times a decent writer. I believe most of those things.

The one thing that an assholish, egomaniacal, married, lousy husband-y bass player forgets when he tries to write is that he is writing about real bands with real feelings. I know that sounds weird, but when I listen to these CDs and mp3s that I get in the mail I forget that people who are probably a lot like me spent a great deal of time and effort into creating them.

Let’s flashback to about two years ago – the economy just fizzled and died dramatically and as a freelance writer I was beginning to feel the heat. I had already kissed my writing for the Mountain Xpress goodbye due to the editor wanting me to write and behave like some fey little townie cunt, and Louisville, Kentucky’s LEO Weekly had just told me that they couldn’t use me anymore due to budget issues. It really sucked, I was worried about money coming into my pocket to buy food with, and the world seemed to be crashing around me.

The last thing that I wrote for the LEO was on a band called Slithering Beast, and about ten seconds after hearing that I wasn’t going to be writing for the paper anymore, I received an email from head Beast Nick Dittmeier telling me that he really loved what I wrote about his band. I was worried about money, but one of the bands that I covered in what was my last article for the paper loved how I put their effort into words.

What did they sound like? Well, my review sums up their first CD perfectly:

From the opening Chicago-like horns (that’s a good thing) giving way to the Gram Parsons honky tonk of “It Just Don’t Make Sense” to the Shins-meets-Sticky Fingers-era Stones of the album’s closer “Moving On,” Slithering Beast’s album feels like a carefree and laid back exercise in pop songwriting. It turns out that the feeling wasn’t a coincidence. Despite wearing the country-rock or alt-country tag, Dittmeier and company are more than just Flying Burrito Brothers clones searching out a lost highway. Instead, they navigate the sound of Americana with a bright and golden guitar tone that betrays the sepia-toned twang of most country rock bands.

Pretty good, huh? I thought so. I still have the Slithering Beast CD and listen to it when I’m not just spinning the same old William Bell and Captain Beefheart albums over and over again. It has all sorts of nods to the best parts of the whole country-rock sound, without ever sounding overly derivative. Nick Dittmeier isn’t a Lenny Kravitz-type. His songs don’t mine our collective whatever to pull out nostalgic responses. It sounds like he puts thought into what he writes and it shows in his music.

So a couple of years later, Nick emails me to tell me that his band has a new EP coming out and that people can download it for free. I did, and I really love it. It has all of the nice parts of the first Slithering Beast CD with a few new wrinkles included to make sure that the listener is paying attention. The best bands do that, and as far as the smaller acts that I’ve covered go, The Beast is amongst the best.

But don’t take my word for it; you can download the band’s newest EP for yourself at their Bandcamp page. It’s free, which is nice because a lot of music fans are entitled shitheads.

The songs are quick, punchy and as catchy as athlete’s foot at the YMCA showers, which is where I caught athlete’s foot once. I also caught a yeast infection in my mouth there, but that’s another story. Listen to the damn EP.

My favorite song on the EP is “Fool Out of You”, which is an awesome little pop song with a melody that reminds me of “Islands in the Stream” (which is one of my favorite tunes ever). I like the pedal steel-sounding guitar doing something besides echoing the same sad fuck Hank Williams melody song over again.

Also, the second song on the EP, “Things Are Looking Up” is damn good. It’s got a great organ line and loose shouted vocals. The music is fun and Stones-y. This is like “Brown Sugar” without the racist overtones. It might be better than “Fool Out of You”, which is weird because it makes me mad that I like the first song more.

Seriously, there’s not a bad song on the EP. Download it and learn the songs. Get them to play your town and buy some merch from them when they get there. This is a good band. I know, because I hear a lot of shit bands.

Nick if you are reading this, bravo. I’m not blowing smoke up your ass when I say that this is my favorite thing that I’ve heard this year. It’s a fun little EP that has a bunch of different moods and fun songs all over the place.

I don’t know any other way to tell people to check out this album, but hopefully they will. I have been called a lot of things, but someone with shit taste in music isn’t one of them. So as a music fan, I beg you to download the new Slithering Beast EP. - Jason Bugg

"No Depression review for "Delicious""

Slithering Beast is a Kentucky five-piece that formed around singer/songwriter/guitarist, Nick Dittmeier. Though Dittmeier initially explored country and honky-tonk as respites from years of punk rock, the group has evolved a blend that pulls in the Southern soul of Wet Willie, the funky blues roots of Little Feat, some Muscle Shoals-styled horns and even a few moments of Allman-esque guitar and E-street saxophone. You can hear the band’s country-rock roots in “You/Me” and a bit of Bobby Fuller in the closing “Everywhere I Go.” This five-song EP is mixed with the punch of AM radio and the melodic hooks to earn it, but also enough rough-edges to keep things down home. It’s not clear if the band’s name really sells the rootsy warmth of their music, but a fourteen-minute spin through this new EP will tell you what you need to know. - No Depression online


"Werewolf Ballads" -september 2007 ( Sophomore Lounge Recs)

"Midnight Royalty"- december 2008 (Sophomore Lounge Recs)

"Delicious" ep - march 2011 ( self-released)



Slithering Beast began in the summer of 2006 as a solo project for Louisville, Kentucky-based musician and songwriter Nick Dittmeier. Fatigued after fronting several punk bands, the project was an outlet to simplify things and explore the American roots music that birthed rock n roll.

After playing solo-acoustic live shows and releasing several demos, Slithering Beast was assembled and produced a collection of fourteen songs flavored with a honky tonk/rock hydrid. Werewolf Ballads was released in late 2007.

After touring through the south and midwest in support of Werewolf Ballads, a second offering Midnight Royalty was released on Chicago's Sophomore Lounge Records in 2008. It differed from the earlier music with a less abrasive tone and showcasing a more melodic side of the band.

The newest offering, an EP titled Delicious, seeks to break the mold of how Americana music is perceived. It incorporates elements of vintage soul and rhythm & blues, while holding onto their bread and butter of traditional country. Clocking in at just around fifteen minutes, the music gets right to the point with driving tempos and direct lyrics, hell-bent on leaving a lasting impression with the listener.