Interview: A Conversation with Slaves

Reading & Leeds is practically Slaves’ second home at this point. 2016 sees the band play the Main Stage, an incredible feat considering at the time they had released just one full length album. “We’ve played Reading & Leeds for like four years running. We went from Introducing to Lock Up to NME to Main. One step up every year” guitarist Laurie tells me as we have a quick chat at this year’s Leeds event. They’ve made some big steps and also some small ones as I look down at his pristinely clean boots in comparison my wellies lumped in mud, “Careful steps haha, it’s all about careful steps” – you heard it here first.

Slaves have been busy at R&L but so have TMB. I spoke to Spring King the previous day about Slaves and how fun going on tour with the duo was. “They’re like our best friends” Laurie smiles “I first heard them on the radio through BBC Introducing, it was the first thing I’d heard on the radio in ages that actually impressed me”. Laurie said he wanted to take them on tour and they did. This seems to be his technique for finding support acts. They recently took newbies Estrons along on their intimate Back In The Van tour this September. “We walked past them as they were playing a stage that Huw Stephens had curated at Latitude. I saw them and thought exactly the same thing, they’ve got to come on tour with us. They’re properly wicked.”

You never know who you’ll see walking round a festival site. Slaves aren’t newbies in the world of strange festival encounters. “The Jackson 5, well obviously not 5 anymore but The Jacksons walked past us backstage in Japan. That was weird.” Laurie recalls. “And I met Brain Fallon yesterday, he’s like one of my heroes”.  Both Fallon and Slaves played Festival Rock en Seine in Paris, then came back to the UK at the same time. “We were in the immigration bit of Calais and I looked up and he was standing next to me in the queue. I didn’t even realise it was him until he’d moved along to the next bit. Then I got to Reading yesterday and made the effort to go and chat to him. He was really nice too.”

Don’t worry if you missed the pair’s intimate UK tour, they’re off on a huge headline tour in November hitting up the country’s major cities. They play Manchester twice, an extra date having to be added as “it sold out faster than anywhere else!”. London is usually the hot date for most bands, but not Slaves. “Turns out Manchester is a really big place for us, I thought London would always be the one, but Manchester is amazing to us.” They play two dates at The Albert Hall, a recently renovated gothic church. Stone floors, high ceilings and stain glass windows will be the setting for what is set to be a riotous couple of nights. “I’ve heard it’s really good to look at. We’ve played a lot of academies obviously and they’re just big rooms, it’s nice to play more interesting venues.”

A Europe tour on top of that and a show in America, how are Slaves going to have time for anything else? Especially with Laurie engaged and about to become a dad. “It’s not too bad, I get to take lots of time off. We’re taking two months off over Christmas when the baby is due, then we’ll go on tour and be away for like a month but then we’ll have a month off. The way I see it, if you’ve got a 9-5 job and your kid goes to bed early, you might not see them at all in the grand scale of things. I get the same amount of time, kind of, but I get to do it intensively. It’ll definitely be hard, but rewarding as well hopefully.”

This year sees Laurie’s first child, but second album. Take Control was released on Friday (30th September) with rave reviews. “I think the recording is definitely better. A few of the songs could have been taken off our early stuff, or the last album, but all in all it’s just a much more developed album. There’s heavier darker stuff on there, but I prefer it.” Even the legendary Mike D makes an appearance. “He got in touch with our A&R or our manager saying he wanted to work with us! It was pretty lucky really. He’s really nice, really nice bloke, very down to Earth and genuine.”

We discuss his favourite new music at the moment “Estrons, Cigarettes After Sex, Life, Shame” he thinks “oh and The Rhythm Method, they’re all really good” before the final and inevitably hard question – what’s the one thing the world should know about Slaves? “That is a really hard question! They should just know that we exist. The whole world should know that we exist.” To be honest, at the pace Slaves are going, that will surely be the reality sooner rather than later.