September 27, 2023 1:32 pm

Luke Fabian of Pupil Slicer

UK based Pupil Slicer are up and coming sonic conjurors who bring their own blend of black magic in brutal form. Their songs are ferocious and chaotic as the band simultaneously tries to encourage and control what it summons. Coming into their second record, “Blossom”, their evolution is progressing at a beautifully alarming rate. In the sonic maelstrom of their music are elements of death metal, grindcore, and math metal. They have spent their time earning a loyal fan base and honing their skills on the road.

Pupil Slicer are:
Kate Davies (vocals/guitar)
Frank Muir (guitar)
Alex Brown (guitar)
Luke Fabian (bass)
Joshua Andrews (drums)

Their first record “Mirrors” (2020) elicited overwhelmingly positive acclaim from fans and critics alike. It’s raw, in your face, and is something worthwhile to explore. Three years later, the band is back and has leveled-up on all fronts. The new record is “Blossom” and features a track of the same name. It’s a six-minute tempest that showcases the depth and dedication of their evolution. The song opens with the band swirling to life and the chaotic energy begins to build. Kate opens the song with the lyric, “On the precipice, an insight into chaos/All coming around again/Really not so bad now is it?/I’ll make it through this/I’ll make it through to you”. Luke follows with a growling bass line, and then all hell breaks loose. Kate jumps back in with an effortless vocal shift into a searing death metal screech, “And if I’d make it first/And been there at your side/You didn’t have to fall/Just so we could say we tried”. It’s heavy, emotional, and forlorn all at once.

Luke Fabian is the whiskey enthusiast of the group. He connects to our meeting and is immediately engaging and energetic. In our conversation, we covered music and whiskey. So far, his journey into whiskey is impressive. He’s keen to explore new experiences, flavors, and distillers. His musical influences are top notch and give powerful insight into his style and process. 

We are proud to present this fascinating conversation with Luke Fabian of Pupil Slicer. 

Read on to see the details of our discussion.

To keep up with the latest in whiskey related news, information, and entertainment be sure to visit, enter your information, and hit “Subscribe Now”.

Photo Credit: Gobinder Jhitta

What are your earliest memories of whiskey?

Well, a lot of people in my family drink… and some of them a bit too much, but that’s a different discussion [laughs]. Going to the pub was a huge part of the culture of my upbringing, as it was for lots of working-class people in the UK. It wasn’t drinking whiskey neat so much, it was with cola, lime, or ginger-ale. It was the sort of stuff that my grandparents were drinking, and it was probably Famous Grouse or Bell’s Scotch that we commonly had around. The smell of scotch and cola being mixed together is always something that I’ve liked, and these memories are the reason. 

In my youth, I did not have a great track record with whiskey. As a teenager, I tried drinking cheap scotch and was doing it to get drunk. By the time I was about 20 or 21, I was living in London and there were loads of cool bars and I was able to try whiskey from around the world. Then, I’d go on holiday with my girlfriend and seek out whiskey bars and just continue to get more into it. I’m sure there are more big things ahead in my whiskey journey.

What are the preferred flavors you enjoy in whiskey?

At the moment, I like scotch more than I like bourbon. In the last five years, I have discovered peaty scotch and have been exploring that. A good friend who is a bit of a connoisseur recommended Peat Monster to me and said that since I like Laphroaig that I’d probably like it. Speyside whiskey is another area of interest for me. I’ve been on a cycle where I get a bottle, enjoy it, finish it, and then think about all the stuff I’d like to get to replace it. For example, I am getting into Jura 10 and Glen Moray that I picked up recently. 

However, if I’m in a pub and getting a mixed drink then I’m just fine with traditional blended scotch. 

What bottles are currently on your shelf?

I’m a bit barren at the moment. I had about 10-12 bottles that stuck with me for years and I just started to chip away at them. When the band gets to play some international shows coming up, I’m hoping to find something in the duty-free stores. I do have a Bushmills Black Bush and a smaller bottle of a distillery special reserve that I got on a visit. I mentioned Jura and Glen Moray, but I also have Laphroaig and Glenlivet. 

Looking to the future, I’m open to recommendations.

Can you share a story related to whiskey? It can be from touring, friends, or life in general.

I can give you two: one related to music and a personal one. 

On our first proper tour, Kate Davies (vocals/guitar) would disappear and come back with shots. Kate doesn’t drink a lot; she might have a beer or a cocktail here and there. She just started shooting whiskey, and I needed to check in and make sure she was ok. Turns out, she was fine but found it settled her nerves. Since then, I’ve taken to carrying my hip flask in my gig bag and we have a quick swig before we go on. It’s become our tradition. 

Another music story that comes to mind… There is this wicked band called Ithaca and they are from the UK. On that tour, we had the bottle of the Bushmills Black Bush that we passed around at a gig after load in. I think it was in Glasgow and there were 10 of us sitting around enjoying it. We really had a great time that night and the whiskey brought us together.

On a personal note, I love hiking and associate it with whiskey. When you are out on the trail, and you finally get to sit down after a long day of walking, it is great to share a whiskey with your companions. A while back I did a long-distance hike on a path in Scotland, and it was rainy and horrible. It was nice to have a bit of that bottle we brought to lift the spirits. If you’re lucky, you can grab a little bit of local moonshine. 

Pivoting into music, who influenced you as a bass player?

There are the bass players who most people look up to, such as Steve Harris (Iron Maiden), Cliff Burton (Metallica), Ryan Martinez (Mudvayne), Fieldy (Korn), and Steve DiGiorgio (Death). Of course, this was when I got better as a bass player and a bit older. When I was kid, it was Flea (RHCP), Les Claypool (Primus), Jaco Pistorius (various), and Rob Trujillo (Metallica, Suicidal Tendencies, Ozzy Osbourne).

Also, I got deep into prog. Bands like Yes, Genesis, Symphony X, and all the bands in that space are influences. Listening to all this made me want to be the best player I could be. I am a huge Dream Theater fan. We did a festival in the UK called Techfest and it is centered around progressive metal. We did a cover of a Dream Theater song during a clinic. I was thinking “fucking hell man, this is insane!”. Learning that took two weeks and it still kicked our ass. We did it, though. 

Listening to your music, one of your songs evokes an echo of an older Voivod (metal/punk band from Canada) to my ear. It was a pleasant connection to make. On that note, are there any albums that you feel have stood the test of time as your favorite?

I just saw Voivod open for Opeth kind of recently. That is interesting.

For just me, it has to be “Blood Sugar Sex Magic” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. I’ve got the tab book right over there [points to desk]. When I got the book as a kid, I couldn’t play any of it. As a full-time bass player, I can just pick it up and play any of it. That is deeply gratifying to be able to do that. I put the album on and just play along with them. 

The album “Ride the Lightning” by Metallica stands out as well. That’s another good one. Recently, I had an afternoon open, which only happens once or twice a year, and I took to learning “Phantom of the Opera” and “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” by Iron Maiden. 

Photo Credit: Gobinder Jhitta

How did Pupil Slicer (a great and provocative name, by the way) come together as a band?

The band existed for about a year before I joined. Kate had discovered extreme music like Pig Destroyer, Converge, and Deafhaven. They wanted a name that would make people take them seriously and create a bit of drama. They were looking for a bass player and that is when I applied. The advert was something along the lines of, “Playing Pig Destroyer, Carcass worship, grind core, with aspirations for playing Dillinger, and mathcore”. I immediately thought that it sounded like fun. They had everything tabbed out, but Kate was happy to find that I could actually play bass. Now the band could really make Dillinger Escape Plan worship instead of grind core on the pub circuit in London. 

We started jamming together and some of the songs for “Mirror” existed within six months to a year. The album was made over a long period as we recorded all the parts at different houses. Now our second album, “Blossom”, is coming out soon.

Your debut album “Mirror” is a record that has been very well regarded by fans and critics alike. This must have been daunting as you began to think about recording the follow up record. Leading up to the release of “Blossom”, there is anticipation that this will be on many lists as one of the best of 2023. What is different about “Blossom”?

You’ve seen people say that? That is daunting.

We recorded “Mirror” and immediately went on tour. If we played with some grindcore bands, saw 35 people in the room, and sold 3 shirts… it was a good night. From there we went on tour with Rolo Tomassi (UK mathcore band), which was mental. 

Then, we had to record “Blossom” to keep up. It wasn’t intimidating because we were so well received on the first record. We’re a bit more Pupil Slicer; being our own band as opposed to Dillinger, Converge, or Code Orange Workship. Don’t worry, there is still a lot of that in there, and will never go away because it’s a big part of the band. We just thought we’d pursue the parts that felt more like us as a band. Kate relinquished some control and allowed us to collaborate on the more expressive parts. 

We just tried to make things happen more authentically as Pupil Slicer. 

It’s been referred to as a concept album. Can you elaborate?

It is, yes. It’s a futuristic/sci-fi setting where an alien on Earth communicates back to their home planet. The main protagonist goes through despair, redemption, and then a rebirth at the end. It’s kind of a “Paradise Lost” story arc. 

The new record “Blossom” sounds incredible. You said “authentic” and that is great to hear. It’s a brilliant record that is well worth a listen. Not only to your dedicated fans, but to those people who are looking for something new. There is some incredible new music to discover here for fans of any of the genres you cross over into. 

On that note, what are your plans for the rest of 2023?

First, stay in the black! It is important, and harder to do than you think.

Basically, we’ve got loads of festivals coming up. For those, I want us to improve as we go through these performances. I’m looking for us to deliver the best live performances that we can and then have a good time along the way. In the autumn, we’ve got a tour with Employed to Serve lined up. This is amazing because they are heroes of ours!

Where can people find more information about Pupil Slicer?

We are active on social media (Facebook/Instagram), Bandcamp, and you can also visit our website.

It is our tradition at the Whiskey Network to ask our guests the same final 5 questions, also known as the Mashbill: Whiskey Network Wants to Know Your Recipe

Question 1: What was the last whiskey, bourbon, or scotch in your glass?

It was Glen Moray.

Question 2: Do you prefer to drink your whiskey from a specific type of glass?

If I am at home, I like a nice tumbler with a strong bottom. Sometimes, I throw ice in it. Occasionally, I drink it with water. 

Question 3: Do you have a Unicorn bottle?

There are a few. First, I’d like to get Blanton’s Gold. I’d also like to get my hands on some special edition Sherry Cask whiskey that are distillery exclusive. Also, I’d like to get a distillery exclusive Irish whiskey. I’ll get into the more expensive ones later on.

Question 4: I’m looking for a gift for a friend. My budget is around $50 to $75. What would you recommend I buy?

I would recommend Penderyn Whisky or Copper Rivet Whisky. Penderyn is widely available, and Copper Rivet is a local distillery up the road where I live. 

Question 5: What is your favorite toast?

I just say “Cheers!” or “Skoal!”. 

On behalf of Whiskey Network Magazine, thank you for taking the time to speak with us. We look forward to hearing more about your music and ongoing whiskey journey soon!

Thank you.

We are proud and excited to welcome Luke Fabian and Pupil Slicer to the Whiskey Network Family. Their second record, “Blossom”, is available now and they are actively touring festivals with plans to continue throughout the rest of the year. The remainder of 2023 will be a flurry of live shows in support of the new record. Hopefully, in 2024 they will head to the friendly shores of the US to bring their own brand of chaos to a venue near you. We look forward to hearing more about Luke and his continuing whiskey journey.

"Whisky is liquid sunshine."

George Bernard Shaw

“The light music of whiskey falling into a glass – an agreeable interlude.”

James Joyce

More To Explore

Verified by MonsterInsights