Tuesday 20 September 2022

The Slow Readers Club - Interview

We caught up with The Slow Readers Club last week in Liverpool as they prepared for the second night of their current UK tour to talk about being back on the road, the adjustments they've had to make since COVID stopped the momentum of their top ten The Joy Of The Return album and their next record. Today they've announced a UK and European tour for 2023.

You're back out on the road. We noticed from the setlist that you've taken some of the older songs out of the set and are playing quite a lot from the last two albums. Was that a conscious decision?

Aaron : We toured at the latter end of 2021 and we'd had two records out in 2020 so this is an opportunity to play some of the deeper cuts off those two records. It's been very interesting, we've only played once show so far, but it felt like it was a success from the feedback we got from the audience. It might be that it was the first night of the tour exuberance though (laughs). We do tend to go for singles to form the backbone of the set most of the time with the odd album track thrown in but this one is more of a mix. It's more like listening to a normal album than a ‘Best Of’ if you know what I mean. 

Does that mean that given the albums were released in 2020, it's a couple of years, it'll be three by the time we get to 2023, is this tour clearing the decks in a way given there's no new material?

Aaron : Yeah, it's about giving that material a fair run out. We released 20 tracks in 2020 across two albums and a single, it would be a shame for some of those tracks not to be heard live.

We've been in with a new producer this year, we've got another record done so there will be a new record next year and a new tour. People will hear about it before the end of the year.

So that will answer all the people who are asking why you haven't played a Manchester headline since 2019?

Yeah, I guess so. It wasn't our intention not to play Manchester. Ideally, it feels natural to play around Christmas time, a big hometown show. But with a team involved, their advice is to play it around the record release and that makes sense. Had our original plan rolled out as we'd intended, had the pandemic not happened, obviously there would have been Manchester shows in 2020. 

With a new record coming out, does it almost feel like it's starting again. You released The Joy Of The Return just as the pandemic hit and it stopped you in your tracks. Does it feel like you've had to go back to how you used to work?

Kurt : We're doing it around day jobs again

Aaron : It's more comparable to how we used to work on the first three albums. Working with a different producer on the new record, there's a different sonic signature to it and the new producer has contributed a lot more in a pre-production and arrangement point of view than we'd been used to.

Was it an intentional move to do something different?

Aaron : Yes, when we were with Modern Sky and previous management they'd touted the idea of working with different producers as it's unusual to work with the same producer all the way through. We loved working with Phil, but he, mainly due to the pandemic, has stopped working in music so it was sort of a mutual parting of ways.  It's different. We did some pre-production at Hope Mill Studios, we'd demoed there so had all the songs, the bones of what we were doing when we went in with the new producer.  Management helped us navigate to the right producer as well. We're pleased with what we've done so it should be cool next year. 

You went out with Pixies in the summer. How was that experience?

Kurt : I'm the biggest Pixies fan in the band. It was great to be back out and doing bigger shows as we haven't done massive shows of our own for a long time. It's nice watching the gigs every night too, but we didn't really speak to them too much. We left them to it. We said hello to them a few times, but we didn't want to go over and bother them.

Aaron : You keep a respectful distance. We spoke to Joey Santiago. He's a lovely guy, we spoke to him at Castlefield and when we did Bingley Festival, which we happened to be on the same bill as them as well as the headline shows, I had a quick with Frank. It's weird, these god-like figures in the music industry, you don't know how they're going to be, but they were lovely. 

Kurt : I find it really interesting that they've got this legendary status and they still get younger fans, kids getting into them. One of those bands like The Smiths that you have to get into when you're young.

Parents record collections probably

Aaron : I think if you're a goth kid or into rock and grunge, alternative, post punk or whatever -  Pixies are one of those bands that will always get mentioned as pioneers, so if you get into Nirvana or whatever you might work your way back to Pixies.

Do you not find that with your gigs?  Your core fan base is older and they bring their kids to your gigs.

Aaron : Friday night in Sheffield felt like a really good mix of generations. You could see various levels of bouncing.  It's partly down to us having quite an eighties sound so that will attract a certain age group and our most audience-gaining time was supporting James and that's a similar audience, but it's definitely broadening out. The more festivals and supports we do though more opportunities we have to broaden that further.

You’re on this tour. Are you playing anywhere you haven’t played before - or particularly looking forward to?

Aaron : We were meant to play Paisley yesterday but that got cancelled by the council.

Jim : Aaron thought we hadn’t played here before (everyone laughs). He thought it was a new venue until someone told him on the internet they’d seen us here in 2021. It’s not like he’s had a few years to forget it.

Aaron : I wasn’t drinking then so I don’t even have that excuse. I don’t have a great memory. David is the memory man of the band.

Jim : We’re doing weekends as you’ll have noticed because of our work situation and it’s difficult to get people out on a Tuesday night when they’ve got work the next day. It’s a hard sell. And as much as the fans will come out and see you when you’re playing you know if people have got work the next day . It’s not that they’re not buzzing, but they’re less pissed.

We’ve played most of these places before, in fact I think all of them before even if different venues. This tour was put to us as not playing the usual big cities for us, and I know Liverpool is a big city, don’t get me wrong. We’re going as far as Norwich, Oxford and Brighton and Stoke has always been a good place for us.  Normally we play Manchester and London and we’re not playing them or Glasgow, places you’d normally always associate with playing a tour.

That’s intentional then?

Jim :Yeah, I think that’s the plan. 

Aaron : It’s about building a following across the country and not just being big in Manchester.I think Brighton and Oxford are doing very well and will probably sell out. 

It’ll balance out next year. Now we’re working again that’s a bit more restrictive.  People will ask “why aren’t you playing this place or that place” In 2019 and 2020 we were full time and we were able to do big tours, I think one was thirty two dates. Hopefully we can get to that point again.

I guess that’s what happened with the European tour that got moved, then moved again then cancelled. Do you still plan to get out there?

Aaron : We’ll get out to Europe but not as extensively as we did or as we intended, just purely because of our availability.

And the States as plenty of people have been asking?

Aaron : We’ve been hoping for the States for some time. We see people on our socials asking us to go to all sorts of places.

Kurtis : I think what we did in Europe was to go and play a couple of festivals and then we went out there to loads of places we’d never touched before and relied on word of mouth. It’d be hard to do that in the States because of cost. 

Jim : Going over there you’d need to do a decent number of shows

Aaron : Ideally it’d be a support slot or some festivals involved in it to build on.

You talked about management. Does it feel like you’re planning longer-term than you had previously since you went full-time?

Aaron : I think from Build A Tower onwards we started to plan a year in advance. One of the things that dictates that now are vinyl lead times, they’re ridiculous. We’ve recorded an album and it’s ready to go but it’s partly dictated by practical reasons like that. I’ve seen a few people come unstuck where they’ve had to delay it for a few weeks or it impacts first week sales.  The charts have a lot of catalogue stuff, it’s quite difficult to compete.

Jim : Yeah, a band will jump in at number four or five and the next week they’re nowhere to be seen. They’ve had a big push for that one week. There’s also questions like how many do you get made. In our situation we don’t have a big label who will pay for thousands so we have to decide based on previous sales. The cost will come down per unit if we order more but you have to find the balance of how many get made because if you sell out your vinyl in the first three days you aren’t getting any more made in that first week. We sell vinyl, we do well on it, people love coming up and buying it and we’ll sign it so for us the lead times on it are a joke 

Kurt : For the next album we’re going to do all the colours of the rainbow and each band member is going to have their own individual sleeve. 

Aaron : We won’t be doing that. I find that really weird. 

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

They play Stoke Sugarmill (September 22), Norwich Waterfront (23), Oxford O2 Academy (24) and Brighton Chalk (25).

Their 2023 tour takes in Leeds University Stylus (March 4), Glasgow SWG3 (6), Aberdeen Lemon Tree (7), Nottingham Rescue Rooms (9), Birmingham O2 Academy 2 (10), Bristol Thekla (11), Portsmouth Wedgewood Rooms (13), London Lafayette (14), Manchester Albert Hall (17), Berlin Lido (23), Hamburg Kent Club (24), Antwerp Trix Club (25), Paris Supersonic (30), Rotterdam Rotown (31), Amsterdam Paradiso (April 1), Belfast Limelight 2 (14), Dublin Academy (15) and Porto M.Ou.Co (29).


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