Slow Club are a band known for mixing their sound up with each new record that comes. They are also known for being an extremely nice couple of people.
After watching the group sound check it did appear that one half of the band, Rebecca Taylor, was looking a bit under the weather and so I assumed that she would not be available for the interview. Once all was completed I was led backstage by Charles Watson, the other half of the group, to proceed with the interview.
Charles was pretty laid back considering his band-mate was under the weather and that the day had faced a delay thanks to traffic. This date was around half way through what was being dubbed ‘The Survival Tour’ and was also a sell out, much to the duo’s excitement. With all that in mind, we got to talking.
Complete Surrender was released back in July of last year. Now that you’ve had time to reflect, are you happy with how everything went? Is there anything you would have liked to have changed?
“Once it’s out there it’s hard to perceive another way that it could have been. The shows have been great and that’s always how I gauge it. The people are there and it’s real. It’s been really nice to play these songs too because they’re a lot more fun to play. The ones on the second record (Paradise) were really exciting to record. I really enjoyed making them and writing them but playing it live was a totally different thing. We had to rework loads of stuff to try and simplify it and that took a lot of energy”.
Just to get this out of the way, I really like Happyness and you didn’t bring them along to Manchester! How have they been on the tour so far?
“They’re brilliant, I really like them. They seem like a bunch of mates from school and it’s really nice to watch. They’ve got their own pace; it’s nice and chilled. Really beautiful music”.
I read in a previous interview that you weren’t apprehensive about how the Slow Club fans would take to the new record. Were you correct to be laid back about it?
“I think that we are really lucky actually because the people that come to our shows are just really open. I know a lot of bands that might have one tune that’s done really well, that ‘Streets of London’ kinda thing. We’re lucky in the sense that we’ve never had a hit (laughing). It just means that we can please ourselves, there’s no pressure there”.
So the tour is actually going really well then?
“This tour has been the best that we have played for a really long time. It all feels really tight and the singing is really good”.
I apologise in advance because I know you get asked a lot about the different styles you have across the three records, but one thing that I’ve not seen is if you have any direct influences?
“I’ve always been a massive fan Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan. I really got into Dylan again during the recording of this record (Complete Surrender). Lots of soul stuff as well. ‘Tears of Joy’, like ‘Two Cousins’ on Paradise, drew all our different sounds together into one song. There are elements of other songs in those two tracks. When you’re working on five or six songs at once you tend to be listening to the same stuff. You might have the same guitar sound up during a session and at home, and you end up putting it on all songs. I kind of wish it was maybe a bit more like that on the record. I like records where you listen and all the guitar sounds the same, all the drums sound the same. It makes It feel like the band have just jumped in a room and played”.
Maybe record number four can go down that route?
“I’d like to! We did go to do it that way this time. We had four or five songs that had been gigged to death so we were super tight on them. ‘Everything is New’ is recorded totally live. ‘The Queen’s Nose’ was recorded pretty much live. It was really nice to go in and get it done within an hour and a half. We were always been one of those bands, especially during the early days, where we had never been in the studio before, where the concept of multi-tracking was just way too exciting to not use. Now it’s nicer to just do it and think ‘That’s the song, there’s nothing else needed’”.
The video for ‘Tears of Joy’ shows you all having a great time whilst touring. Is that a true representation? A lot of bands complain about the touring side of things, many saying that it’s hard work.
“It’s not hard work. I don’t get this thing about musicians saying that touring is hard. It’s the best fucking thing in the world. If you’re a musician and you don’t like travelling and playing music then it’s like ‘What the fuck are you doing?’. I do understand missing home but as a general rule, touring is awesome! You get to meet so many cool people and stuff. Bands who tour a lot are the ones who usually end up becoming successful”.
Plus, like you say, you get to put the new stuff out in front of the open fans that you have.
“Touring informed this record a lot (Complete Surrender). While touring the last record you’d realise that there were certain songs that the crowd just get, straight away. Not in a particular venue or to a particular crowd, just across the board. It’s the sort of stuff that you can’t just find out in your bedroom, you’ve got to be in front of people”.
Are there any tracks that you didn’t expect to enjoy live as much as you do?
“We’ve been playing ‘The Queen’s Nose’ recently and I just play guitar on that one. It has been really nice because it is one of the only songs where we’ve done that. I’ve really enjoyed just looking down instead of having to look up. I get to mess around with different sounds now. I never used to use pedals because I’m pretty clumsy anyway and if I couldn’t look down I’d just be turning it all on”.
Do you ever Google the band? I was looking to see if you had played Green Man and found someone saying about the ‘Complete Surrender video “When did they fucking turn into Kylie Minogue?”.
“I don’t avoid online comments but I also don’t go looking for them (laughing). To be honest, every band that does anything that’s slightly different to their last record is always going to get that kind of reaction. On my side though, I don’t want to get to record four or five and think ‘fuck, I wish I’d just pushed myself a bit further’. I’d rather regret trying a song and it not working than regret not trying anything. I just don’t really understand why people expect you to do the same thing. If you work in the same office for ten years, doing the same job, you don’t want to do the same exact thing day in, day out. At the end of the day, we’re just entertaining ourselves. We’re both not doing this for anyone else, it’s for us”.
I have a standard few questions that I’ll ask now. What would you of today tell the you of the early recording days?
“Maybe cut out the third verse” he says laughing.
Is there a question you wish that you’d like to get asked that you never do?
“That’s a good question… Ummm… I guess. What do you want to do in the future?”.
So what do you want to do in the future?
“Dunno! No-one’s ever asked me!… I guess there are things that we both have on the boil separately. I guess solo albums are a possibility. We’ve not really made any plans for after this. See what happens and go from there!”.
Any highlights from the last few months in terms of releases?
“I really love the Baxter Drury record, and I want to buy that Father John Misty new one. I’ve listened to bits online and he’s bang on the money isn’t he”.
So there we have it. An honest, funny and interesting guy. It’s a shame that Becky wasn’t up to it on the day, but I was told after the show that we could do it again some time and that she would join the next time.
The show itself was a blast. One of the best that I’ve seen so far this year. You can read my review of it here.