Sunday 14 September 2014

The Slow Readers Club - Interview

You may well have realised The Slow Readers Club are one of our favourite bands, having recently exclusively premiered their Don't Mind video.  Ahead of the single's launch on September 22nd and their gig at the Night And Day next Saturday, 20th, we spoke to Aaron, Kurtis and David from the band about their past and their forthcoming album.

The minute I switch the recorder on, the pub's jukebox strikes up with Rick Astley's Never Gonna Give You Up which sets us off in fits of hysterics. When we finally compose ourselves we set about finding out more about them.

First of all, can you tell us who's in the band and how you got together?

Aaron : I'm Aaron Starkie and I'm the singer.  I started off joining the band Omerta that Jim Ryan (their absent bass player) was in years back and that was with Neil Moylan and Nick Turvin.  We lasted until about 2007 and then I asked Kurtis (Aaron's brother) to get involved and then you (talks to David) were involved for a bit and then we got another couple of drummers.

David : For a few months

Aaron : Then Turvin came back for a bit, but since the first album it's been David.

That first album had quite a few Omerta songs on it.

Aaron : Yeah, we wanted to be ready to be going out again and we thought the songs were all still valid so we didn't want to leave them behind.  Essentially though the new tracks were the ones we released as singles with how the new set was, because we'd already released Frozen, One Chance and One More Minute.  That album was written over a much longer period than this one.

How are you progressing with the new album?

Aaron : It's been really good. David's involvement has been important to get beats in there as the previous one was quite synth-heavy.  We've pared that side of it back a bit.  The singles Forever In Your Debt, Start Again and Don't Mind are reflective of what's on there. They're the territory that we're in on the second album.

Will those songs all be on the album as well as Days Like This Will Break Your Heart (b-side to Forever) and Fool For Your Philosophy (which they've been playing live)?

Aaron : Yes, as it stands. We've got most of it done.  We're just waiting on lyrics (laughs)

Will we hear any of these other tracks at the launch gig on the 20th?

Aaron : Yes, in theory

Kurtis : And maybe some older ones that you won't have heard for a while that we want to try and fit in the set.

Aaron : There's one in particular that's near completion that we're really excited about that will get played.

And when are you planning on releasing the album?

Aaron : November is when it's pencilled in for.

That's not very long off, given you've still got lyrics to do

Kurtis : He often does them in the studio and can do them in a day.

Are you planning on putting it out yourself?

Aaron : As it stands, but the recent radio play we've had on 6 Music has brought some interest out of the woodwork, but we have some interested parties we've been talking to about funding and touring, but up to now pretty much everything we've been doing ourselves aside from PR people we've worked with.  The gigs we've done and the limited festivals we've done off our own back.

Next year we're really hoping to get on more festivals, put a tour together, hopefully with a major touring agency.

How do you write your songs?

David : It can come from a synth part that we jam around, or a riff that we work around.

Aaron : It might be a bass line or drum beat that kicks it off and then I'll do the vocal melody around.

Kurtis : In terms of melody or lyrics, it's Aaron, but the rest could be anything. We have to get into it in the studio and progress it from there.

With the recent airplay on 6 Music, does it feel there's a groundswell of support building?

Aaron : I think so. You can judge it off the people who interact with you, the spike we've had on social media, we've had a couple of plays for Don't Mind and before that Start Again was played.  Ideally, Forever In Your Debt would have got played too, but we didn't really PR that and relied on chance.   Hopefully, we'll get play-listed in future because you need serious airplay in order to go out and do a big headline tour.

What it has done is buoyed us up and made us believe.  We believe in what we're doing obviously, it just gives us more confidence that we're going in the right direction.

Does that frustrate you?  You're fairly unique in the circle of bands that I listen to that everyone I introduce to you loves you and wants to hear more.

Kurtis : I think a lot of bands have that issue.  However good you are, and you need to be good, it can depend on how much exposure you get.  You can be mildly talented and get a lot of exposure and do OK.  You need to tick all the boxes and have a bit of luck, however good you are, when you have your best tunes ready and you need good people helping you.

Aaron : We've probably been a bit naïve about that in the past and spent too long between releases, but it is difficult when you're doing it all yourself.  When you have a label behind you, you know they're dealing with the release and getting you on a support tour or on a festival. 

We take heart from the fans we have knowing the words and singing them back and that gives us confidence.  We've stuck it out this long, if it was all about the fame of it, we wouldn't be doing it.

Your artwork is quite striking on the last three singles and there appears to be a theme to it, is that something you do yourselves?

Aaron : Without sounding like a control freak I do them (laughs). It's actually my day job, I'm a graphic designer so I do the artwork.  The revision of the logo for the second album I'm really pleased with.  It makes you read it slowly which I thought was quite clever.

The artwork for Don't Mind was a still from the video and Forever In Your Debt was an image that Jim found that I did the typography and Start Again was a picture of me as a child which fits into the song about going back and starting over and the heroic image of me in the Superman outfit.

The guy who's done the videos is an old pal of ours and works out of the building we rehearse in. We used to go clubbing with him when we were younger so it feels like a bit of a cottage industry.  We work closely with him on the videos.  It helps us get the music out there.

After September 20 at The Night And Day, what are your plans then - to play live again in November when the album comes out?

Kurtis : That's the idea

Aaron : We're in the process of sorting out a London date, because there are people who want to see us there.  We have a reasonable London crowd, but there are industry people there we need to play to.  We get people in contact with us all the time asking when we're playing places, but you have to be confident you'll pull in a reasonable crowd and radio play helps with that.

Final question - do you have a title for the album yet?

Kurtis : When we have more words, we might have more of an idea what we want.

Aaron : (laughs) Slow Readers Club 2. We need a bit more inspiring than that, but as yet we don't know.

Kurtis : We can't call it the Second Coming.

As we conclude, Phil Collins comes on the jukebox and bass player Jim turns up.  We switch the recorder off and then chat for another twenty minutes.

The Slow Readers Club can be found at their website.  They are also on Facebook and Twitter.

They launch Don't Mind with a gig at Manchester's Night And Day this Saturday. Tickets are available from here and you get three live songs from their show at Manchester Central Library free if you email with proof of ticket purchase.

Don't Mind is released digitally on September 22nd from this link.

Follow Even The Stars on Twitter at @eventhestarsuk and like our Facebook page for all the latest updates

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