The Slow Readers Club
Ten years after they first formed
created their dark and brooding indie electro, the Slow Readers Club
are celebrating in style. A massive 47 date UK/EU tour marks their anniversary
and is not just a milestone for the band due to its scale. The major
event marks their first tour as full time musicians following the massive
critical and commercial success of their latest album Build A
Tower which launched into the top 20 upon its release last May.
Ten years on, Dom thought it was high
time that R*E*P*E*A*T took time to take a listen to the slow readers...
So this is your first tour as full time musicians! What were you doing before and how did you sort of manage your passions and your career?
Aaron: I was a designer
Jim: I was a school teacher
David: I was an insurance underwriter
Kurt: I was a manager in the NHS
A: Brilliant! Wed been building up quite a bit , in the UK at least to be playing pretty big shows at least in Manchester. Financially we got to the position where we were able to um, not get divorced scare our wives to death. Felt like wed take the plunge this year and go at it properly, so we were going from doing tours of like 14 dates to 48 this time round. Still alive, thankfully.
So it's been ten years now since the band formed. Happy anniversary for one. how did the band actually come about?
A: Jim and I were in a band called Omertà which came to a sort of natural conclusion, and Kurt was in a band called Belief System which came to a sort of similarly natural conclusion. And so he came and jammed with us for a bit; we did have our original drummer from Omertà but then David came and joined us from the second album onwards and thats when we truly became The Slow Readers Club, you could say.
Really interesting name too, Whats the meaning behind the name? Im sure you get that question a lot .
A: It as from a memory I had from childhood from when I was going from junior school to senior school, and we got a tour around all the classrooms English rooms, science labs and all that stuff. And there was a room called Special Needs and I thought that was a scary, weird concept that you could be taken outside the mainstream of education, so it's like a championing of the underdog if you like, two fingers up at the idea you can be underestimated.
If there was someone who hadn't had the absolute pleasure of hearing your sound how would you describe your sound to them ?
K: Indie doom pop weve been labelled as before.
A: its like melancholy indie electro.
Manchester, the 02, I think you played to over 3000 people?
D: [To band] 3500 right?
A: Yeah full cap.
How do you go into a show in a more intimate venue like Sin City with a cap of say 300 to 500?
J: We still practise the same, the only difference is the sound is a bit different
A: You bring less lights...
J: [On the bigger stage] you probably get a better sound on stage and obviously you're in front of more people; on a smaller stage you're closer and you sort of feel the vibe a bit more, but we prepare the same .
A: It can be more of a party atmosphere the smaller the show, everybodys
top of you, you haven't got that division that youve got with
the barrier and stuff with the bigger shows. Honestly like with the
Apollo, its like the spectacle of the crowd and you see the video on
youtube of the crowd all singing the tunes back, that's amazing. But
yeah the smaller ones you feel a bit more..
D: Involved More of apart crowd yourself
Obviously you're gaining some heavy traction lately, have you got any strange fan stories, like Mac Demarco once had a tattooed pig foetus, whats the Slow Readers Clubs, tattooed pig foetus?
J:Someone brought you some honey
A:Thats true, Ive had a few paintings as well. We had a very, very passionate Italian fan, that got, too obsessed so he's not with us anymore were only joking- we bumped him off. That came to a faithful conclusion, but uh yeah...
Care to elaborate or Is that a touchy subject ?
J: Our fans are great, theyll come to a gig and then theyll come to another one, but theyll bring other people with them they wont just keep it to themselves. Weve relied on that big time because we dont get a massive amount of radio play, so we need people who come to our gigs, or if theyve seen us at a festival you tend to get them saying we saw you at a festival and I've brought my two mates along as well, and the next time their two mates might bring two more mates. Thats whats really good about our fans, they're so passionate and they really want us to do well and because of that theyll buy our songs, theyll buy our merch and theyll bring their mates and their mates will bring more mates. It's helped us out massively!
I was going to say you've grown massively lately. What was the moment you realised you were becoming a bit of a big deal, or was there a moment like that?
J: Because its been gradual, it's weird. You see these bands or groups on tv or whatever, and they might be nobody knows who they are and within a week, they're on the tip of everybody's tongue. Like we said before, ten years , I dont think well think oh this is the point weve made it because it's been a proper hard slog. So it's just a gradual thing. I know it sounds a bit cliché, but take everyday as it comes. I dont think therell be a point where we think weve made it now.
D: In the Apollo we look at it and think thats fucking top, but we look at it like what are we doing next?
A: it would be great to play Glastonbury and venues wise I'd like us to be in the position to play Apollo sized venues all around the country. And in Europe, like were going out on our first tour of Europe in a few weeks and that'll be cool, the first opportunity for people to go and see us out there, other than online of course.
Get a few more crazed Italian fans
A: [laughs] We have people flying over from Germany, we have hadfor a few years now, and Italy and other parts of Europe. It's good to be able to return the favour.
J: We all hate different tracks [laughs].
D: It could be something different the next day, it depends what the vibe is.
A: If I had to pick one it would be Lunatic for me now, thats because we didnt see it as a single at first and then it was actually our producer first of all, then management and then the label that said thats a single, and then it was a single and it sold really well, so I like that one just because its a surprise I suppose.
Its an important track with the album, the album title takes from a lyric there, can we talk about that lyric there what is the symbolism behind building this tower?
A: It was to isolate yourself from the madness in the world basically in that particular track. The album in terms of lyrics anyway was influenced by the world as it is with Brexit and Trump and everything else going on. The environmental catastrophe around the corner, it was a very anxious time I suppose. But you know, with an upbeat melody and some danceable drum beats.
When did you start writing the album, what was your process, how long did it take and when did it feel like you could say weve got it completed?
D: It took over a year but we didnt start writing it as an album. I think we had Through the Shadows and Lunatic and we recorded them and then the rest of the album came within the following year, like December time, but-
A: We did talk about an EP at one point didnt we?
D: At the start we didnt have management, an agent, a label, when we started writing those couple of tunes so we was still doing DIY I suppose, so we were thinking what the best way to do that was and whether wed go with an EP or a bunch of singles. We talked about a few things , I can't remember what the turning point in that year was, where we decided to pick. We had a decent spring tour, and then management came and then label and then agent all of a sudden, ducks started to appear into a row, it made sense for us to have more of a strategy, and then there was a deadline because wed signed a deal with someone to say we needed to get one out. Luckily it all came about quite quickly.
A: Since weve gone full time weve been writing in a more concentrated fashion in January and February of this year, as most bands would I suppose, like two months getting in and jamming and writing together putting as Dave described it, its more like evenings after work. Just starting Ideas. The germ of an idea would start with us just jamming and Id ad-lib a melody on the top, and that'd live on a Whatsapp group for a while and then you'll have maybe ten or twelve little ideas, and then the best will go to a best of group, and then those are the ones that get made.
Powerful story of perseverance really, like you'd been going for 10 years, you did tours totally DIY and then this record deal came about - actually yeah how did that come about?
A: We did a show in London with Echotape, and their manager liked us and then uh introduced us to Igor hes called, Russian guy funnily enough - he recommended us to someone Russian, and then Modern Sky who are Chinese owned actually, and then Modern Sky got in touch with us and said he loved what we were doing, were we talking to anybody and that kind of thing, and then yeah. Came to see us in Liverpool live show and then yeah, the conversation progressed over a few months then, we were getting management and an agent as well so... The main difference they made was the marketing strategy, getting it distributed properly; we knew how to release a record ourselves cuz wed done that ourselves before. Our management as well had a lot of input as well in the release week, and getting those numbers out, getting us in the charts.
Of course with the Success of this album , I suppose there's a fourth album in the works. any particular direction with this one? Or writing what you love and compiling it?
J: Just writing what we love and what we like to hear; it's good though because were full time now so weve got more time to do it, so instead of going into a studio like we used to with maybe a song that was three quarters done, now hopefully we can go into a studio with a song 95% done. We just write and jam out songs that we like and if we all carry on playing , that tends to say we must all like it so we stick it out. Weve not sat down and all said we need to put more guitars on this one, there's already too many on the last album [laughs] - only joking.
So to conclude, are there any particular influences that you have that might be perhaps not what you'd expect. like a lot of interviewers and articles say theres a Joy Division vibe to it. What are the influences that may not be as recognisable in your work?
A: For me theres a lot of, I'm big on really memorable hooky melody so that can be anyone from Abba to the Bee Gees to The Beatles to Simon and Garfunkle to Joy Divison to Echo and the Bunnymen. As I went down that scale we got less memorable melodies probably [laughs]. Echo and the Bunnymen is probably more the vocal side. From, a melody point of view, I just like pop songs, like hooky pop songs if you want to communicate something to somebody best way about it really is being as memorable as possible
K: We do get comparisons to the likes of to Joy Divison. actual influences more the Beatles for me, Smiths, Stone Roses, you know bands like that. And not at all to the bands we usually get likened to, the bands we get likened to are still good bands.
Cheers chaps .
Ive been Dom Waters, chatting to, The Slow Readers Club.
Read Dom's review of the gig here
Thanks to Thom at Sonic PR for sorting things out