The Slamming Doors
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The Slamming Doors

Duluth, Minnesota, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2013 | SELF

Duluth, Minnesota, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2013
Band Americana Rock

Calendar

This band hasn't logged any future gigs

Mar
15
The Slamming Doors @ Blacklist Artisan Ales

Duluth, Minnesota, United States

Duluth, Minnesota, United States

Mar
10
The Slamming Doors @ Sound Restaurant

Duluth, Minnesota, United States

Duluth, Minnesota, United States

Feb
17
The Slamming Doors @ Beaner's Central Coffeehouse

Duluth, Minnesota, United States

Duluth, Minnesota, United States

Music

Press


The Iron Range hasn’t ever really been known as a hotbed of original music, but due to several factors that have to include the rise of the Internet and the growth of the Homegrown Festival, bands from that region have recently been getting more attention in the Twin Ports. Before, Da Range was the other side of the moon — now it’s just a hop, skip and a jump away.

But the music that comes from there still feels more rustic and more rural. The Slamming Doors’ new album “Road Beneath the Wheel” definitely doesn’t sound like a Duluth album, but it’s all the better for it.

Really, this album’s a bit of a shocker. On the surface, it seems to be a collection of quite well-made country-rock with Southern overtones, but there are passages that go far beyond that into the realms of prog, bluegrass, pop, gospel and more.

Take the first track, “Dirty Work,” for instance. The intro sounds like something off Yes’ “Fragile” LP, until it veers suddenly into an easygoing noir-blues. “So much can get lost between the head and the heart,” vocalist Adam Herman sings. He’s got a husky croon reminiscent of, oh, say, Gregg Allman. It’s the kind of vocal approach one doesn’t hear much anymore, but it fits him like a glove.

As the song unwinds, you’re introduced to the insanely good pedal steel of Mike Randolph and the tasteful keyboards of Craig Skalko. Really, bar none, these guys are pros. They play their instruments perfectly but not without personality, and they never overdo anything. Their tones are impeccable.

“Lucky” marries Randolph’s pedal steel to the lead guitar of Pat Hawkinson, who is also no slouch, filling the tune with clean Jimi Hendrix-like funk jabs. Drummer Matt Johnson lays way back and then deploys a cowbell at just the right moment.

“Clover” finds Hawkinson on banjo, with Randolph and Skalko coloring everything else in with neon flourishes. It’s bluegrass-y, but it doesn’t sound like so many Johnny-come-latelies with banjos, these days. The Slamming Doors play this stuff like it’s second nature.

Herman earns his lyrics in the same way. “Meant to Fall” features lyrics that would be cliché in the hands of any of the bro-country lame-o’s that are winning CMT awards, but Herman can somehow pull off lines about dancing in the rain, drinking beer and staying up too late without sounding like a poser. This is a real feat. And bassist Craig LaSart anchors the whole thing with his loosey-goosey playing.

The band’s music might not appeal to everyone. Hipsters beware, let’s just say. This is for people who don’t like things ironically, or who aren’t worried about what Sky Ferreira is up to. This is for people who like Alan Jackson but also like Phish and gospel music.

Basically, this is some of the best musicianship that the region has to offer, particularly when it comes to Randolph’s pedal steel, which is mind-bogglingly amazing. And the fact that the band themselves recorded the thing in a garage is also hard to fathom, as it sounds like something that easily could’ve come out of some high-priced Nashville studio.

“Road Beneath the Wheel” is a huge achievement by a group that has chemistry and talent to spare. While the songs may not always shine as brightly as the instrumental interplay, the musicianship on this thing is a must-hear. One of the year’s best. - Duluth News Tribune


Discography

Self Titled EP - 2012 

Road Beneath the Wheel - 2014

St. John's Dance - 2017

Photos

Bio

In hearing the name “Adam Herman,” you are already tipped off to one half of a theme that runs through his songs, and the music of The Slamming Doors. The Slamming Doors operate within the familiar. So your expectations may have you jumping to conclusions. Instead of being vexed by creative traps and pitfalls that victimize bands attempting to operate within mostly familiar territory, Herman navigates those traps and pitfalls with an ability that turns them into strengths not possessed by many. Into his cache of tools they go. The second half of the theme–you’ll experience surprise, delight, and excitement as The Slamming Doors both confirm, and transcend many of your early expectations. 

Instead of heading toward the fringes of what’s been done in music in order to find creativity, Adam Herman is amazingly comfortable, and effective at creating compelling, memorable music well within familiar sounds and traditions. These are sounds and traditions many musicians assume are too mapped out, too well traversed for anyone to successfully create something fresh and new. And in the hands of most bands attempting to operate there, these sounds and traditions often do feel worn out. With The Slamming Doors the memorized map hasn’t vanished, or been rejected, it has become Origami.

Herman has a soulful, versatile voice that is impressive starring in the numerous traditional styles of American music in which he writes. The songs of The Slamming Doors crystallize aspects of humanity, conveying a keen sense of the gravity in life, while subtly lined with the celebration that is ultimately called for. The songs are complete, strong from start to finish. Herman employs clever conceptual connections that inhabit the entire tune, and sprinkles in powerful lines that feel like genius turn-of-phrase. But even more impressive, they are actually densely packed, plain language. They offer a noticing that can only come from a person with great ability to occasionally slow the world down in a way most of us cannot. This noticing illuminates simple facts and realities, always there, rarely fully comprehended. Humbly packaged, these lines knock you on your ass.

A sign of a great musician is that other great musicians want to spend their time playing with them. Herman has had little trouble putting together a band filled with some of Minnesota’s best. (List the lineup here) This becomes apparent in both recorded output, and during live performances. This is also another factor in the ultimate quality of the music of the Slamming Doors. Herman has a confidence that is not a given with many songwriters that are leading a band. Knowing that he has great players, he has the confidence to let his songs grow to their final form in collaboration with the deep resource that are the other members of the band. 

Before moving to northern Minnesota, Adam Herman logged countless miles, and thousands of live performances in the American Southwest with his former band, James and the Devil. Herman’s depth of experience allows a seemingly effortless ability to get the most from his naturals instincts, his artist’s heart, his charisma, and the claim to grit that is gained during a nomadic life of adventure, adversity, tumult, and occasional danger. Tying all of this together, Herman has just enough self-identified musician, and enough of the American south in him to provide enough confidence to wear a vest, and an uncanny ability to pull it off.


Band Members