Features, Print September 13, 2019

Slim Cessna’s Auto Club: Denver’s Dark, Prolific Mess Passes The Test Of Time

by Kevin Johnston

There are more new pop, soul, folk and rock bands than you can shake a Colorado flag at these days, but certain founding fathers of our current music scene still lead the charge by doing what they’ve always done. In the case of Slim Cessna’s Auto Club, that means doing the unexpected – and a lot of it.

SCAC, as they’re lovingly acronymed, have been crafting dark, avante-garde, even morose country, gothic, rock, americana … well, doing what they do for over two decades.

“We’re in year 27 now,” Slim Cessna said in an interview for BandWagon. “What else are we gonna do, really, but continue playing music? And yeah, we are different than everything else,” he said with his charming, raspy ever-present laugh. 

“We used to be a country band in 1992, and the foundation of what we do is still American Roots music, but it goes different places. We don’t even really have a genre,” he said. “Spotify doesn’t ever put us in the right place and record stores don’t know what bin to put us in because there’s no group of other bands that really work for us to be played with.”

The avante-country master Slim Cessna on stage – photo by MDRCKE

Defiance of genre and categorization seems to be at the heart of Slim and “the club.” They have taken on many incarnations over the years, earning the feel of a collective.

“We’ve had a lot of different people come and go, though it’s a lot easier to accomplish things when you have the same people in the band,” Slim said with a self-aware laugh.

“With the Auto Club, it’s been (Jay) Munly, Lord Dwight Pentacost and myself for quite a long time. The most recent member is my son George, aka Snake Cessna. He’s played bass with us for a year and it’s been awesome. He’s really good – he has his own albums, band and he’s also toured. He’s better than all of us, musically, so who knows how long he’s gonna stick with us,” Slim laughed. “He has his own vision.”

But Slim says his son’s polished musicality and vision hasn’t changed the Auto Club’s legendary of-the-cuff shows. “Oh no. We’re still a sloppy mess,” he laughed, “in a good way. I’m kidding – everyone is a great player in the band, I think I’m the sloppy mess, but I have a blast doing it, I tell you what.”

27-year Colorado music vets Slim Cessna’s Auto Club hit the Moxi Theater September 20. Photo by MDRCKE

Wild though he is, Slim’s self-effacement is just his way of being humble about a prolific career. The spirit of veering from the expected extends to two fully active, self-produced side-projects: Munly & The Lupercalians and DBUK

“We like the process of doing everything ourselves,” Slim said, “and we have a lot of projects that we’re working on at the same time. DBUK (otherwise known as Denver Broncos UK) is so different than the Auto Club. We get a kick out of showing another side of ourselves. If anyone were to hear DBUK and they didn’t know it was us, they wouldn’t have any idea it was related. We’re proud of being able to do that.”

DBUK will extensively tour the West Coast this fall, and Munly & The Lupercalians are currently recording a new album. But this month, Slim’s original outfit perform one of only two shows planned for the rest of the year in none other than Greeley, Colorado.

Munly of Slim Cessna’s Auto Club, The Lupercalians and DBUK.

Having toured the US and Europe extensively with what’s been described as “playing out a cathartic war between good and evil on stage,” this coming Friday, September 20 will be the first ever appearance by Slim Cessna’s Auto Club in Greeley.

“I would suggest that it might be the greatest rock n roll show of all time,” Slim says with his signature laugh. “The Auto Club is a live band and we’ve been working on our show for a couple decades. And I certainly have a good time. We’re looking forward to playing Greeley!”

Though September 20 will be a maiden voyage of sorts, Slim attests the Auto Club’s unexpected, strange and rowdy show will be met eye-to-eye by the crowd.

Slim Cessna photo by MDRCKE

“Our audiences are like us,” he says. “They don’t belong in any category. More often than not, they’re just music lovers, and those are the people we attract. We played a black metal festival in Wyoming this summer and we nailed it! We’re this weird, kind-of country band with all these metal bands … it went over really well. The people who like our music like to see new things and challenge themselves. It works both for us and for them.”

“We try to stretch ourselves,” he continues. “But we also try to challenge our audience along the way. Whether or not we’ve accomplished that I don’t know,” he laughed, “but that certainly is the intention.”

Slim Cessna’s Auto Club plays Greeley for the first time on Friday, September 20 at The Moxi Theater. Click here for tickets.