An Interview With Slow Readers Club
Slow Readers Club have spent five years touring since their debut, and that experience comes through in the craft and focus of their new album, Cavalcade. We met up with them on tour to talk about videos, past bands, and their future.
Ellipsis: This is your first album in five years, isn’t it?
Kurt [Guitar]: Is it?
James [Bass]: Yeah, about that. 2011 – maybe four.
E: Do you feel like you’ve changed much since then?
Aaron [Vocals]: We’ve probably a slightly different sound, yeah.
David [Drums]: Got a different drummer.
A: On the first album, some of the tracks came from a previous incarnation of ours, a band called Omerta that Jim and I used to be in, so the first album was written over a much longer period than this one.
K: It felt old.
A: The songs stood up but a lot of the first album felt quite old, to us anyway, but the second album, that was written over… maybe two years, I don’t know.
D: Two years, yeah.
A: Two years, around day jobs and things, and we had a really good working relationship with the producer – not that we didn’t on the first one, but I think he got a little bit more out of us, and it was a little bit closer to what we wanted.
E: So you’d say this one’s more cohesive?
A: Yeah, probably – we’ve got more of our own sound on this one, maybe, whereas on the first album we were trying out a few different things, sort of big string-symphonic melancholy stuff, synth-driven stuff. We’ve the same on the second album but less… less orchestration, I guess.
J: It’s a lot brighter.
A: We let the parts speak a little bit more, you can hear the individual parts a lot more on this album. I think on the first album we had all the tools, and we could just go mad with it.
K: First time, isn’t it? You just try everything.
A: We’re pleased with both of them, they both have their own merits, but we’re probably happier with the second one.
E: I’ve seen you compared to New Order a fair amount, would you say that was accurate?
A: I wouldn’t say it’s a core band, for me personally. In terms of influences, I’m into stuff like Echo and the Bunnymen, Jesus and Mary Chain. When I was growing up, I was probably more into the Roses, The Smiths, The Beatles, Charlatans – we all used to go to indie clubs in Manchester, like Forty-Twos and Fifth, the indie scene then was great, really. Those kind of bands are a big influence on us. [To the rest of the band] You got any you’d add?
D: No – you’ve put a lot of Liverpool ones in there, that’s good.
A: Lyrically, I suppose there’s more influence from books – George Orwell, Herman Hesse, Douglas Coupland, songs about, er…
J: Miserable stuff.
E: You were saying before that there was a previous incarnation?
A: Yeah, Jim and I were in a band called Omerta for a couple of years, we released a few singles, and that, er, came to an end. The guitarist and drummer… left that, and we got Kurt in, my brother, and formed the Slow Readers Club. We had a few different drummers in and then David joined, and it’s basically him on the second album.
E: How long have you been playing overall?
A: Me and Jim have been in a band about ten years, haven’t we?
J: Yeah, a few years.
A: A while. We’ve played a lot of little venues in Manchester and worked our way up, basically.
E: [To Kurt and David] And were you playing before this?
K: Yeah, we were in the same band together, once upon a time. I think when you’re in the early stages of being in a band you sort of try and stick at it a few years, see if you make any progress, and if you don’t it usually takes care of itself – I think it was fortunate that it happened at the time that I was available, and I ended up in a band with [Aaron and Jim]> Obviously David came in a little later, so it’s worked out quite wel. I think we’re all quite happy.
E: So this is your first tour as this line-up?
A: No, we’ve done tours before, we’ve done… how many tours?
J: As we are? I think one similar tour where we’ve done a few dates, about March-time. We gigged a bit last year but we were mainly finishing off recording, so this year’s our first proper tours.
A: Both tours have been really good. It’s great to go to other cities and see people singing your songs back at you. I think we’ve made a lot of progress since the album’s come out.
E: Have you played a lot in Liverpool?
A: No. I think me and Jim played here once as Omerta, but this is our first time as Slow Readers Club – bizarrely, considering we’ve been around quite a while. It’s a long overdue visit, but I think we’ll be back again. I really like this venue, I’m sure we’ll be back next year.
E: Are there any support bands you’ve especially enjoyed working with?
A: There’s a band called October Drift who we supported in Sheffield that I’m a big fan of. Quite dark, emo-y, sort of eighties-sounding, not too dissimilar to us but a bit more grungey. They’re really good, they have great videos as well.
E: Do you think videos are an important part of a band?
A: They’ve been important for us, we’ve had a good partnership with a video company called Croftwerk in Manchester, he was a friend of ours – Kurt, you went to college with Chris [Croft, director], didn’t you?
K: Yeah, yeah.
A: That started off on our first album, he did a video for Sirens. He filmed us in the practice room, went away and cut some stuff from that and that went down really well on Youtube. I think we did Block Out The Sun with him after that and just carried on onto this album, it’s been really good. It’s sort of given us a worldwide audience – hundreds of people in countries rather than thousands, but fans all over the world. That’s the great thing about the internet, your music can go out there and have a global audience, and if it’s decent people get onto it. But yeah, I think videos are very important.
E: You’d say you’re quite a visual band, then?
A: Yeah, I mean, I work as a designer, the logo and the single artwork are mine, so we do have an eye for the visual part of what we do, and how that’s part of our identity. More recently we’ve been playing bigger venues, so we’ve felt the need to step up the show a bit and get more involved in thinking about the lighting, and staging things properly, and all that kind of thing. So yeah, the visual thing is more of a part of what we do, and I think we’ll ramp it up a little bit more in 2016. I’ve always fancied doing a bit more with video and stuff live, but obviously you need the venue to support that – it wouldn’t be that appropriate doing something like U2 in a venue like the Night and Day, in Manchester.
E: Is there anything else you’re thinking of for 2016?
A: We’re looking to get on some more festivals. This year we’ve had some radio play in Italy and Russia, so we might look at going overseas. Ramsbottom and Isle of Wight were both good so we’re hoping we can get on there again –
J: Kendal Calling, as well.
A: Kendal Calling, yeah, we’re kind of talking to people about that but it’s in the early stages. It’s a good festival, we’ve been trying to get on there for a while, and they’ve seen a video of ours – speaking of the power of video – so they just need to come down to Manchester and see us for real first. So 2016 should be good. We’ll have new music as well at some point – hopefully it won’t be another five years between this album and the next.
Image Credit: Renowned For Sound