A Conversation with The Slow Readers Club

Their single, ‘You Opened Up My Heart’, is out – a great reason to chat with The Slow Readers Club. I have been speaking with them about the song and its creation. They reveal what we can expect from their forthcoming album, Build a Tower, out 4th May. From the cuts I have heard, it looks set to push the band forward and takes them to the next level. I learn more about their base of Manchester and upcoming gigs they have booked up.

With only a few albums out so far, and riding high in the public and critical mindset, it seems The Slow Readers Club have the potential to make a huge mark on this year and release a defining, mass-unifying LP.

Hi, guys. How has your week been? Have you had time to relax and chill?

Good, thanks. We had the first edit through for a music video we filmed recently, which we’re really excited for people to see. I wouldn’t say we’ve had time to relax: we are pretty hands-on with everything when it comes to the bands, plus, we have day jobs.

‘You Opened Up My Heart’, your new single, is out. It is already getting a great response! What’s the story behind the song?

A lot of our songs are existential and angst-ridden but, in an age where we’re faced with stuff like Trump and Brexit, and people are becoming more polarised, it felt right to offer something with a more positive message. It’s an electro-indie love-song, basically, with great hooks. The lyrics ‘Believe enough to lose control/Where there’s love there’s always hope’ are about a basic belief that humanity and compassion will win the day.

The fact songs like You ‘Opened Up My Heart’ are getting big press and adulation – does that make a big impact in terms of your confidence and approach to music?

The last two years have been great for us. Our audiences have been building all over the UK. As a result, I guess we did feel more pressure to produce something great with this album, but we thought this was a great track as soon as we wrote it. It’s great to see that our fans, DJs and press feel the same way.

It does build confidence and makes us excited for people to hear the rest of the album.

That track is taken from the upcoming album, Build a Tower. Are there connected themes and constant ideas that tie the songs together? What sort of themes inspired the writing?

Most songs are pretty self-contained, thematically. I think it’s more positive, lyrically, than previous records. Some tracks are very personal and explore the feeling of being in love with someone and the delicious fragility of it, the sense that it could disappear before your eyes (‘Supernatural’). Some tracks refer, very specifically, to the external political environment (‘Lunatic’/’On the TV’).  Musically, it’s probably more consistent in terms of style, as the album was written in a tighter time-frame than the last album. It’s pretty inventive – hopefully, our existing fans will love it and, hopefully, it continues the work of the previous album (in winning over most people that hear it).

Will there be any more singles before 4th May? Is there going to be any Star Wars-related delights when the album arrives?

I think the current single, ‘You Opened Up My Heart’, is the last one before the album’s out – but, we have another single coming that we are really excited for people to hear.

The Star Wars thing is just a coincidence, we won’t be doing a gig in Jedi robes or anything.

Have you been surprised by the reaction to previous singles, ‘Lunatic’ and ‘Through the Shadows’? Does their success make you hopeful the album will be greeted with approval and celebration?

We were surprised a little by how well ‘Lunatic’ went down as we can write songs like that all-day-long. ‘Through the Shadows’ was a little harder to craft – they are very different tracks. It’s good that people seem to appreciate both styles.

How do you think an album like Build a Tower differs from Cavalcade (your previous effort)? Have you brought new influences and layers to the table?

We have developed a lot as musicians since Cavalcade, so there is more invention in terms of melody, rhythm, song structure… Things like that. Our producer, Phil Bulleyment, brings a lot to the process, too. I can’t single anyone out as an influence really – we listen to a lot of 1980s synth stuff and pop while touring and listening to BBC Radio 6Music and our local station, XS Radio, a lot, too.

Can we see you perform anywhere in the coming months? What dates are on the horizon?

We are playing all over the country, starting in Cardiff at The Globe on 26th April and ending in Stoke at The Sugarmill. The biggest shows, in terms of capacity, are probably Manchester Cathedral (which sold out in a few hours) and Nottingham Rock City. Norwich Arts Centre looks cool, too. We’re also playing a few festivals with Liverpool Sound City, Stag and Dagger Glasgow and Kendal Calling announced so far.

How important is it to get the music out there to the people? Is the stage where you all feel at your best and most alive?

We have built a fantastic connection with our fans over recent years, both at gigs and on social media. But, yeah, you can’t beat playing the tunes live. At the start of this year, we did two shows for Independent Venue Week and the atmosphere at those was incredible.

The band formed in Manchester. Do you think the city gets the media recognition it deserves? What is it about Manchester that leads to incredible, original music?

Manchester obviously has a massive musical heritage – it’s difficult for bands from the city to cut through all that, to be honest. Although, it seems there are a few bands in recent years that have managed to do so – bands like Everything Everything, Blossoms, Cabbage and us, of course.

Who are your main musical influences, present or past, in terms of your own sound?

The Smiths, The Cure, Depeche Mode, Arcade Fire and The Killers, to name a few.

What have you all got planned between now and the album’s release? Will you get a chance to chill or have some time away from music?

Practising [smiles].

In honour of your name, can you each nominate one book you’d take away with you if you were stranded on a desert island?

Aaron: I guess it should be a reasonably light read if you are on a desert island. I’ll go for Girlfriend in a Coma by Douglas Coupland. Ha [smiles].

James: Any Bear Grylls survival book.

David Whitworth: Anything with pictures [smiles].

Kurt Starkie: I’d take Teach Yourself Spanish, because I’d probably get round to learning finally.