Thursday 30 September 2021

The Slow Readers Club - Interview

The Joy Of The Return was the title of The Slow Readers Club's fourth album that went top ten just as we entered lockdown. As they finally are, fingers crossed, about to embark on the tour to promote that record and its follow-up 91 Days In Isolation and new single Tell No Lies, we caught up with the band backstage at Hebden Bridge Trades Club as they prepared for their Passport: Back To Our Roots show, their first indoor show since February 2020.

We're in Hebden Bridge, just before your first indoor gig back. How does it feel to be preparing to go out on stage in a venue for the first time in two years?

Jim : It feels normal, it feels the same, we're sat here now and we're not masked up. I think if there was still the mask thing, I see more people without masks than with, then at least in my head it's gone back to muscle memory. We've done a soundcheck and gigs before and it feels like we're going back to that. I hadn't really thought about it until you asked though so nice one (everyone laughs)

Aaron : I agree and because it's a familiar place because we've played here before, Phil's doing a great job on sound and you sort of feel comfortable, so far, touch wood, it's been pretty good. I'm probably less nervous than when we did festivals, but they probably mean we're less cold to it than we might have been. It might be different when we're in there and we see a packed out crowd and you're indoors, it might feel a lot different. Hopefully it'll just be fine.

And then from here, it's on to the much-rescheduled tour

Jim : We need to play these dates. We can't keep putting them off. Obviously people's health comes first and we hope no one gets it and we can play them and not create super spreader events, but for the band, financially. It's not all about money, but people might think that because they've had tickets since March 2020 we might have had the money for them, but we've not. It's not just about that, but if we keep putting back tours and putting back tours, we can't look ahead. If we do this tour, we can tour again next year and play other venues and add some songs to it. If they were to get put back again, we wouldn't be able to tick them off and move on.

You took the huge step in December 2018 of going full-time. Has it ever felt during lockdown that it might not have been the right decision?

Jim : It's not felt wrong because, for me personally, we had a year of being in a band properly and for me, from a work perspective, and I'm sure the lads will agree, it was the best year I've ever had as far as working is concerned. We were doing the thing we'd wanted to do for years and years so I don't think it was the wrong decision because we'd have been in work for another year and then I don't know what situation we would have been in.

Aaron : When we say about getting the tour out of the way, it's not in a bad way. We did another album, so what do we do about a set? It's the Joy Of The Return tour but we've got another album now. We don't want to leave it another year and then what would we be touring then? Another album?

Jim : It's not about ticking it off. We get all geared up for it and then someone pulls it from underneath you and says it can't happen. It was supposed to be March, then September 2020 then it was March 2021 and here we are again. Everyone must be feeling the same who's bought a ticket and we want to play them. It's not just a case of crack on and plough through. We want to play them because we'd practiced shitloads for them and we had an album release so it's one big shitstorm. Let's not get onto Brexit and travelling to Europe, that's a whole other question.

So, as you've said, you're about to go out on that tour finally and you've got two albums that you've released since your last tour. How have you gone about choosing a setlist?

Jim : We've not yet (everyone laughs)

Aaron : We're nearly there. We may rotate songs in and out. I think you just choose what balances the set best from all the records.

Kurtis : It would have been easier had it just been the Joy Of The Return tour

Aaron : We're trying to base it around that and then pick a few songs from each album. We also have 91 Days In Isolation. How many songs can we play from that and keep the set balanced. 

That's a problem you're going to have going forward, you've got five albums now and it isn't going to get any easier.

Jim : We don't just want to play the new stuff. I know some bands do that, but we know some people come to see the older tunes, the big tunes, the ones that got them into us. I think most of our fans Cavalcade was their first, or big, album. We know we should still play songs off that. If I went to see Bon Jovi and they didn't play Livin' On A Prayer I'd be fuming. Imagine hundred quid for a ticket and they didn't play it.

You wrote and recorded 91 Days In Isolation last year. Did that feel like something you had to do to keep the band going when you couldn't tour?

David : It was a way of getting through the actual situation full stop for me. Not just the band, it was personal. You're in your house for twenty-four hours a day doing nothing so it was an easy way of dealing with it for me I suppose. 

Has that methodology of writing cut across into the way you're writing new songs now?

Aaron : Yes definitely. We're not in the rehearsal room as often as we were because we're all working again so we can't be in as much, we were in three days a week at least physically when we were full time, plus all the stuff that goes alongside it. When we're writing at home remotely we can focus on our own parts, Kurt might layer up guitar and present that to our Whatsapp group. Things get developed more on an individual basis than they might do when we're in the practice room. On 91 Days In Isolation it definitely brought things out that might not have had legs in the practice room because it doesn't get people buzzing straight away. It's good in that regard. 

It's been tough period since 91 Days seeing the tour move back further and further; it felt like a very turbulent sea, but we've had the last few months where you've seen festivals happen, we've played some of them, and you see bands do big shows like Blossoms at the arena last night. It feels like it's back now and the challenge for us it to get some sort of momentum back, trying to get fighting fit and better at everything that we're doing. We're always trying to improve what we do, from a writing perspective, from a live show perspective.  

It's been a year since 91 Days In Isolation came out, have you been writing in that intervening period. You've just released Tell No Lies, is there now a batch of brand new Slow Readers songs?

Aaron : Yes, in various stages of completion. One of the challenges we face at the moment is the vinyl lead times, about 5 to 7 months, bands releasing twenty versions of an album probably doesn't help.

Dave : That dictates when we release an album, which dictates what we do next year. Going back to your first question, we need to get beyond this tour to plan what's next. As a band we're back in that 2018 space again of thinking about going back full time at some point. Until you know what that plan is you can't and obviously the vinyl situation kind of dictates when we might be able to have an album out. But we're always working on new stuff.

Tell No Lies is your new single. Could you tell us a little about it and why you chose to put it out first?

Aaron : It was the first one that was ready if we're being honest (everyone laughs). I had the synth part already and we went in and jammed it out. It came together very quickly, the lyrics I'm really pleased with. There's a proper story to it and that doesn't always happen. Sometimes it can be difficult, you get some really nice bits and then others are quite abstract and it doesn't sit together as a whole conceptually. It's hopefully up there with what we've done before.

The video for Tell No Lies includes an appearance from Craig Parkinson from Line Of Duty.  How did that come about?

Aaron: I first met him at Kendal Calling before our show at Tim Peaks, he was chatting to Chris Hawkins and Tim Burgess and I got introduced. Think he got into the band from there and he later offered to get involved in a vid. He was amazing to work with, he improvised a full performance as the faith healer character. It was really cool.

Is it representative of what you're writing now and are you looking to take your music in a different direction?

Aaron : It's brighter, that's one of the things I was conscious of personally. I can't speak for the others, but when we've been through COVID, the nihilism and the existentialist doom laden stuff felt less appropriate for the world we're living in so lyrically I'm trying to be more positive. I like that positive sound. Obviously the melodies we write have always been positive. There's a real mix, some of it is synth stuff, some of it is guitar-heavy, some of it is quite bright, they've all got code names at the moment. We're not very good at 'we're going to do this' in terms of overall direction, we go in and jam and see what comes out.

Kurtis : We don't go in with a birds eye view and think we're going to write in this way or that. We go in and see what comes out and we like to get variety in there. Things change when we get into the studio as well, and on Joy Of The Return we went to a different studio so that had an impact too. 

We have a couple of questions people have asked us to ask you. You're doing this big tour, and whilst there's a Night And Day show at the end of the tour, there's no big Manchester show, is there one planned?

Jim : No. The plan was this tour was supposed to happen in March 2020 and the plan was there was going to be a big Manchester show at the end of that year. With everything that's happened fortunately we didn't commit to that as it would have been bad for us financially. That's what should have happened. We don't know until the tour's done if it's going to go ahead and it'll only be at the Night And Day that we'll be sure the tour's done. We will obviously play Manchester at some point, but we can't commit to it yet without the bigger picture of what we're going to do, maybe having a record out next year, lining that up. And not knowing what's going to happen, if venues are still going to be open, it's difficult to commit to anything until there's a clearer picture.

Going back to the albums you'd said a while back there was going to be a tenth anniversary vinyl pressing of the debut album. I guess the vinyl production times we've already spoken about has impacted the release of that?

Yeah, we've been faced with the pressing times challenge. It's quite difficult to know what to say without knowing what the full situation is. Phil (Bulleyment) has remixed it. The intention was to have it out by Christmas, but we don't know whether we will now.

Do you have any message for your fans coming to these tour dates?

Aaron : It’s been a long time coming and it’s amazing to be back together again. Massive thanks to each and every one of you for keeping hold of your tickets. We are really excited for you to hear the new tracks live.

We’re excited for 2022, we’ve got some cool stuff lined up on the live front that should help us grow and reach more people. We are glad to have weathered the storm as far as the virus stuff is concerned, big thanks to our fans on that who have been amazing through things like Patreon and buying tshirts and stuff. With gigs going away for the best part of two years that was and continues to be a massive help.

The Slow Readers Club's official website can be found here. They are also on Facebook and Twitter.

They play Sheffield Foundry (September 25), Blackburn King George's Hall (26), Liverpool O2 Academy (27), Leeds Beckett Students Union (28), Edinburgh Liquid Rooms (30), Warrington Parr Hall (October 1), Gateshead The Sage 2 (2), Nottingham Rock City (3), Birmingham O2 Academy 2 (5), Cambridge The Junction (6), Cardiff The Globe (7), Bristol Thekla (9), Portsmouth Wedgewood Rooms (10), Brighton Chalk (11), London Electric Ballroom (12) and Manchester Night And Day (15) before heading to Europe in 2022 to play Antwerp Trix Hall (January 31), Cologne Luxor (February 1), Rotterdam Rotown (2), Amsterdam Bitterzoet (3), Hamburg Ubel Und Gefahrlich (4), Copenhagen Vega (6), Stockholm Nalen (7), Oslo John Dee (8), Berlin Hole 44 (11), Prague Cafe V Lese (12), Budapest A38 (13), Zagreb Culture Factory (14), Milan Biko (16), Munich Ampere (18), Zurich Papiersaal (19), Frankfurt Zoom (20), Paris Supersonic (21) and Lille Aeronef Club (22).

lead photo - Paul Husband


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

1 comment:

  1. Fantastic music and the best group out really brilliant I luv them xx