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The House That Slint Built (Perhaps)

When you take the LSAT, many of the questions you answer require you to make inferences and deductions based only what’s on paper, essentially asking you to forget any outside knowledge or understanding you have. Let’s take that approach with Slint‘s Spiderland. If you knew nothing else about the group or their seminal album, you wouldn’t have a lot to go by outside the strange bobbing heads staring through your soul on the front. From the music, you could glean the group had interests or training in a bunch of other genres outside punk, and had a weird thing with pirates and insects. From the imagery and album inset, all you would know about the context of Spiderland is that they had Palace Brother Will Oldham go swimming with them one day at the Utica Quarry in southern Indiana (and took pictures), the band prefers you listen to this on vinyl (as stated on the CD and cassette copies), and they were no longer interested in mumbling narratives by themselves.  The latter is what seems most interesting to a lot of people. That makes sense considering the band fell apart either during or shortly after Spiderland‘s release and the fact that, other than the track titles, it’s the only real, tangible information included on the album cover.

interested female vocalists write
1864 douglas blvd. louisville, ky 40205

My apartment is about a seven to ten minute bike ride from this address. It was a nice Saturday afternoon, I was listening to the Slint EP, and thought, what the hell? Let’s go on a vision quest to find the Slint house!

I rode my bike south down Bardstown Road, the main strip in The Highlands neighborhood in Louisville. The Highlands is our gentrifying but not yet douchey young, creative neighborhood on the city’s near east side. The neighborhood is an odd but awesome pastiche of densely packed two-story homes, apartment buildings, historic mansions, and Victorian architecture meshed with hundreds of eclectic local shops, restaurants, and clubs. As far as the meeting of music and aesthetics, you hear the industrial despair of Manchester in Joy Division, or the foggy flower power haze of San Francisco in Moby Grape, or the western-tinged reverb of Austin in the 13th Floor Elevators, or the… well, you get the idea. The Highlands, and the majority of this side of Louisville, is a really lovely and scenic place –  not the type of milieu you’d expect scary-ass Slint to emerge from.

As you leave the heart of the Highlands (where massive music haven ear X-tacy lies), you reach an area called the Douglass Loop. The Loop is an island of shops and businesses inside three intersecting streets. Until 1947, this used to be a streetcar station where the Bardstown line trains would loop around and change direction – kinda like The Loop in Chicago, but smaller of course. And at the terminus of the Douglass Loop is, indeed, Douglass Boulevard (notice the Slintsters misspelled it).

Heading east down Douglass Blvd., I realize I’ve never been down this street before, and it’s decidedly more suburban, and remarkably arboreal, than the majority of the Highlands. Since The Highlands, by and large, has not changed a whole lot visually since the ’60s and early ’70s, the street was probably fairly similar during Slint’s late ’80s/early ’90s residence. Douglass mostly consists of larger family homes spread further out with really well maintained lawns. Kids are playing wiffle ball and eating ice cream and shit – a pretty pleasant place no matter how you slice it.

After two blocks, I found it on the left hand side: 1864 Douglass Blvd.

[Note: If you live at this address, came across this article, and are totally weirded out by it, send me a message and I’ll remove the photos.]


I didn’t stay too long, just enough to inconspicuously snaps a few shots. I didn’t want to be all creepy like – roaming around the perimeter of a home taking photos and looking generally suspicious.  And then… I biked back toward my end of the neighborhood. There wasn’t much to see, save for the sweet enclosed patio on the east side of the home. It looks like an addition, so Slint might not have enjoyed the luxury of an enclosed patio. Perhaps this was the origin of the despair found in “Don, Aman.”

The house is quite large, looked to be four bedrooms or so, with a living room, basement, dining room – everything you’d expect in a nice single family home. And it certainly didn’t seem like the type of place a band would squat. Maybe they did – there were four of them, right? But the home was just too nice to believe that a group of artsy raggamuffin dudes could afford the rent on a place like that. Maybe it’s Pajo’s dad’s house, I dunno. I didn’t ring the doorbell to check.

I’m not sure what I was expecting to find, really. Perhaps some the sort of strange fulfillment Elvis fans get from visiting Graceland. All in all, the locale was pretty anticlimactic. However, you could look at this as a testament to how insular Slint was. They didn’t sound like anyone else at the time (or today no less), didn’t take cues from outside influences, and managed to cultivate creepy, desolate, foreboding soundscapes amid rather picturesque aesthetics.

Then again, maybe they were much happier people than their music suggested. Douglass seems a rather cheerful place. Dave’s serious cheese there on the right-hand side demonstrates that you can separate business from pleasure.

As an added bonus, enjoy this bootleg of a March 1989 performance by Slint, wherein you hear the embryonic forms of Spiderland.

MP3 :::
Slint – Nosferatu Man (Live – Chicago, 3.3.89)
Slint – Ron (Live – Chicago, 3.3.89)
Slint – Nan Ding (Live – Chicago, 3.3.89)
Slint – Charlotte (Live – Chicago, 3.3.89)
Slint – Pat (Live – Chicago, 3.3.89)
Slint – [Unknown Song] (Live – Chicago, 3.3.89)
Slint – Breadcrumb Trail (Live – Chicago, 3.3.89)
Slint – Good Morning, Captain (Live – Chicago, 3.3.89)
Slint – Rhonda (Live – Chicago, 3.3.89)
Slint – Cortez the Killer (Live – Chicago, 3.3.89)

  • http://www.everythingis.blogspot.com samantha

    Nice detective work. I’ve often wondered about that myself and still haven’t written my letter yet. I’ll get around to it though.

  • http://antigravitybunny.blogspot.com Justin Snow

    I don’t care how anti-climactic it was, I both love and hate you for going there.

  • http://www.thedecibeltolls.com Kenny Bloggins

    Seems like there’s a family there, now. I wonder where the Slint dudes are these days. I know Ethan still plays around town as King Kong and Pajo is out driftin’.

  • http://www.descendo.com descendo

    re: Pajo drift
    He’s playing with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs at the moment (check out last week’s SNL).

  • http://www.thedecibeltolls.com Kenny Bloggins

    Yeah, he keeps busy. I wasn’t sure if he was living in town or not. The other guys are still around, I think, and Brian McMahan’s younger brother is in an amazing group called Phantom Family Halo. One of the best Louisville has to offer – if they come near you, SEE THEM.

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  • http://www.davidpajo.com David Pajo

    woah that’s fucking crazy– whats up stalkerz! that’s britt’s parent’s old house, that’s where it all went down.

  • http://www.thedecibeltolls.com Kenny Bloggins

    Oh shit! Hey Dave! Thanks for stopping by. Hope this wasn’t too creepy – I’m just a curious dude who loves Slint.

  • Jerry

    Remember when Dave was in Zwan? I do.

  • Chris

    Say hi to Ron when you stop by…

  • Burt M.

    I live around the corner on Lauderdale. Killer!!! I never knew. Thanks!!!

  • Spencer Walford

    Looks like my grandparents house… oh yea it is. :)

    Britt Walford-Drummer is my uncle. Saw them play at the pitchfork music festival.

    Nice detective work.

  • Allison Walford

    That’s my Dad’s house you were stalking! I used to sit on the basement stairs and listen to the guys practice.

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  • paul bilotta

    i pass this house everytime i ride my bike to a friends house. i always cut down douglass loop. i love this record. so fucking wierd!

  • Pudge

    Woof, I recognize those bushes! Isn’t that Sophie and Leo’s place?

  • Leo Walford

    Grrr! Stay the hell away from my bushes!

  • http://www.thedecibeltolls.com Kenny Bloggins

    Oh wow, the whole Walford family has commented. Hey guys!

    Sorry about the stalking. However, that address IS listed on the back of one of the greatest pieces of music of all time. So ya know… what can you expect. It’s the post-rock Graceland. Be proud! I’m not too far from ya – you can stalk me back. Cherokee Rd. + Longest Ave. I’m usually on the stone steps smokin’ cigs.

  • Ron

    All,
    Stalk to your heart’s content. In 10-12 years of many,many different basement bands, 7 nights a week, we never met anyone who wasn’t welcome to return. They still are, and so are their fans.

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  • jf

    Love the post, I always wondered about the place. Thanks for the bootleg! (One minor nitpick: it's Rhoda, not Rhonda.)

  • jf

    Love the post, I always wondered about the place. Thanks for the bootleg! (One minor nitpick: it's Rhoda, not Rhonda.)

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  • Kurg

    Wait a sec Kenny. I appreciate your curiosity but I have to ask, what did you really expect to find? Most bands, especially those from my native Louisville, either practice at their parents' (usually the drummers' house, since drums are the hardest instrument to move) or in some unnameable dive/space/warehouse in a horrible part of town that's unsafe at any time of day (not many of these in the 'ville). So, if you live in Louisville and and know that Douglass is a pretty good part of town, you can assume the former. I never knew it was the Walfords', and it's uh interesting to see them comment here. But no matter the huge amount of Louisvillians that venerate this record, and I'm among them — none of us have actually sought this address out.

    If pressed I'd have to say because it has something to do with the DIY ethos of just starting your own band/label and the smallness of Louisville — wouldn't be awkward to be drinking a beer and then have Walford recognize you as the guy hanging around his parents' place?

    Anyway, nice work on the Tennant interview; I'd be curious to read his book.

  • Kurg

    Wait a sec Kenny. I appreciate your curiosity but I have to ask, what did you really expect to find? Most bands, especially those from my native Louisville, either practice at their parents' (usually the drummers' house, since drums are the hardest instrument to move) or in some unnameable dive/space/warehouse in a horrible part of town that's unsafe at any time of day (not many of these in the 'ville). So, if you live in Louisville and and know that Douglass is a pretty good part of town, you can assume the former. I never knew it was the Walfords', and it's uh interesting to see them comment here. But no matter the huge amount of Louisvillians that venerate this record, and I'm among them — none of us have actually sought this address out.

    If pressed I'd have to say because it has something to do with the DIY ethos of just starting your own band/label and the smallness of Louisville — wouldn't be awkward to be drinking a beer and then have Walford recognize you as the guy hanging around his parents' place?

    Anyway, nice work on the Tennant interview; I'd be curious to read his book.

  • diversal

    awesome post. i bought spiderland the day after i heard it in my mates car on a dodgy cassette player back in melbourne aus in 91. still ruins me how good that album is. might listen to it now

  • diversal

    awesome post. i bought spiderland the day after i heard it in my mates car on a dodgy cassette player back in melbourne aus in 91. still ruins me how good that album is. might listen to it now

  • Don-anon-aman

    My HS girlfriend first played Spiderland for me ca. 1993. She heard it from her ex-boyfriend (much older) and so forth. Anyhow, she wrote to the address (ie in response to the female singers request) around 1993-of course we had no idea about band status. No reply. So what gives Walfords? How many letters did you ever get anyhow (ie how many women did we actually see at those reunion shows-OK ones who actually wanted to be there)? That should have been the inspiration for a Slint reunion!
    Finally Kenny-Seriously awesome work, I’m sure every reader has wanted to know what this place looked like for years.

  • A guest

    On google street view somebody wrote ”fishel anchor’ on the road outside the oppsite house. hmmm…what was that all about?

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  • Allison

    Spoiler alert……Slint lives!

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