Interview Slow Club: Secret Tracks, Favourite Gigs & Working With Luke From Clor

Charles discusses Slow Club’s new album.

Slow Club’s new album sees them move away from the predominant acoustics of old and advance in a darker, more soulful direction. Charles from the band has just got off a train to explain to DIY the simple reason why. He also discusses a secret track, his favourite gig and working with Luke from Clor.

First off, you played a tiny ‘secret’ gig at Notting Hill Arts Club the other week. How did it go?
Yeah it was cool. We just played new songs. We’ve got a load of stuff that we’ve never played before or only, like, twice. So we’re just getting those ready for the tour now. It was fun.

Did the new material go down well then?
Yeah it did. It was weird. It was in an R ‘n’ B club – so there were a load of indie kids in the corner and there were loads of people who had just come down to the local R ‘n’ B club, so it was a mixed crowd. But yeah it was fun.

So, are there any songs, unlike the louder ‘Two Cousins’, on the new album which sound your earlier stuff? Are the acoustic guitars and strange percussion of old still there?
Not so much the strange percussion. There’s a couple of songs – ‘Hackney Marshes’ I guess is the closest one to an old tune. But not really… the record wasn’t supposed to please anyone… we just wanted to go forward. There wasn’t a conscious decision to move away from anything. It was just what we wanted to do at the time.

What were you listening to when you recorded the LP?
I got into Grizzly Bear quite a lot. I’ve enjoyed their last couple of records. Also a band called Woods… Air Waves… Women… Becky’s really into R ‘n’ B and pop so she brought the poppy side of things. We came from different angles this time. We spent a lot of time just listening to records – a lot of 60s records – the Monks and stuff like that.

So, how long have songs like ‘Two Cousins’ been in the works?
Well, it’s a funny one that. I recorded that piano sample at home about a year ago. I’ve just been messing about with it on my laptop while we’re on tour. Just playing with it and seeing if we could figure something out. I wrote some words for it. I then showed to Becky and we wrote some more words. She added the drums and then just pieced it together in the studio from there. It was a bit of a strange one because it was very much unfinished as an idea, but we still flashed it out it quite a short period of time. But I really liked the way it turned out. It was really good fun to make.

Luke of Clor assumed production duties. How did that come about?
When we started thinking about making this album we decided that we wanted to work with someone new. We’d worked with some friends and a guy called Mike Timm and also David Glover in Sheffield but we wanted someone who’d have a different angle and some different experience. We tried with a couple of people and then we went in for a day with Luke. It became quite clear that he was our kind of guy. He’s dead interesting, has a lot to say about music and has a strange approach to things that we would never have assumed. It was nice to get his opinion on stuff and work together.

Why is the album called ‘Paradise’?
There’s a song on the album called ‘Paradise’…. *whispers* it’s the secret track. We wanted to have a really short title for it. We didn’t have a title till really quite late on. It was only just before it was mastered that we decided. We had kept mucking about with different ones but nothing seemed to stick. It felt weird naming it when it wasn’t finished as we still didn’t know how it was going to turn out. It’s quite a fickle thing but I really like the word ‘Paradise’. It’s got no religious or spiritual connotations, nothing obscure, just a literal joke.

The artwork for ‘Paradise’ is pretty colourful and abstract. Who did it?
I did that. I was doing some collaged and stuff while we were mixing the record in the studio, trying to figure out a couple of ideas for it. A friend of ours helped us do the graphics designer stuff. The night before we did that, I was just messing about with a magazine and some paint and just ended up as the proper artwork. I probably spent about a month on one piece thinking really final but then it was the one which took like five minutes at the end of the night which we chose. I’m happy with the way it came out though.

You’re playing your biggest ever headline gig to date at Shepherd’s Bush. Is there going to be a massive party in store for attendants?
I’d imagine and I’d hope. We haven’t planned it yet but I’d definitely imagine there’d be a party. You should come down. It’ll be fun.

What kind of venue would you say complements your music the most?
It’s hard to say. We’ve got two different kinds of sets. We sometimes do quiet ones in places like Union Chapel – almost just voices and guitar. But if we’re in a club… the opposite. It depends on the crowds really, how many drinks we’ve had and how long the drive home is.

What would you say was the best gig or venue you’ve ever played?
We played on the Isle of Egg in Scotland last year which is an island in the Outer Hebrides. It was a festival organised by the Fence Collective and I think that was one of the most memorable things we’ve done really. We were there with a couple of friends and a couple of people from the label. It was more about the time and place than the actual gig I think. I seem to remember that being a really amazing show.

You’ve chosen the brilliant Sweet Baboo to support you on the tour. Are there any other lesser known artists you think we should know about?
A guy called Francois & The Atlas Mountains. He’s on Fence Records and has signed to Domino in France. He’s incredible. Definitely check him out.

Slow Club’s new album ‘Paradise’ is out now.

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