Since their inception The Slow Readers Club have continued to stun every Manchester crowd and countless others up and down the country with their intensely melodic indie electronica. The band recently released their brilliant sophomore record ‘Cavalcade’ (you can read our review here) and are awaiting a summer packed with festivals.
But before then, I caught up with their frontman, Aaron Starkie, to chat further about their new album, touring and much more.
Your whole approach to the aesthetic of the band is something I’ve always praised. Bold imagery, emotive and strong like your music and you create all the artwork and sleeves in-house, don’t you? Tell us more…
Yes, design is what I do for a day job so it feels natural for me to do the artwork. I’m not a control freak honest 😉
It’s some times a struggle to decide on final artwork but it doesn’t do to procrastinate too much. We work best when under time pressure, often the first idea is the best, that’s true of music too I think.
Your sophomore album has been out in the world for a couple of months now, and you’ve been touring it quite extensively also. Now that you’ve had some time to live with the album and experience playing it live, has it changed your own thoughts on how you perceived it pre-release?
We were confident about it. We had already released three singles and they had received decent reviews and radio play. We knew the quality of the song writing equalled if not surpassed the first record. We are better musicians now and have a great working relationship with our producer Phil Bulleyment.
It’s always nerve wracking though, introducing new songs live, nothing beats the moment you finish performing a new track and you are waiting for the crowds response.
What has the fan reaction been like to the new record?
Brilliant, we have had lots of great feedback at gigs and on social media. It’s massively important to us as its our fans that help spread the word – we don’t have a big label backing us or a massive marketing budget.
In some ways the new record signifies a re-birth for the band. In terms of from album one to two, there has been a slight line up change within the band, as well as a move towards a more refined sound. Would you agree?
Yes I think so, the first album was written over a longer period with many of the tracks coming from Omertà (mine and Jim’s previous band) so it had some tracks that are now 10 years old!
The new album was written over a much shorter time frame with a good portion of the album written in a two day writing session – the tracks were then fleshed out and refined in the practice room and studio. As you say we have also had a lineup change with David coming in on drums. David is really versatile and inventive its been great to explore new territory with him – he is also reasonably tolerant of my ‘do do do – dat dat dat’ drum noises.
I heard that ‘Secrets’ nearly didn’t make the album, why so?
Yeah I heard Kurt had been chatting to you about that. It was just a song that had been kicking around for a while that I hadn’t really settled on lyrics wise, the band all said what I was singing was fine so we recorded it and it turned out alright 🙂
How many tracks did you demo for ‘Cavalcade’? Out of the ones that didn’t make the cut, are there any that might be taken further in the future – re-worked and released maybe?
We had three or four tracks that didn’t make it, one in particular was just too sunny to be a Slow Readers Club track, it had a Spiritualised / Arcade Fire big choral feel to it. The others didn’t make it out of the practice room. We will probably start fresh for the next record though, we already have in fact.
Have you started thinking about a follow-up to ‘Cavalcade’ yet? If so, is a clear direction forming?
Yes so far we have one track of album 3, too early to talk about direction though 🙂
Now that you have two albums under your belt, it must be hard when choosing songs for a set list? How do you go about it?
At the moment we are doing 30 – 45 minute sets, we prioritise new stuff and try and keep the biggest tracks i.e. the singles from the first album. We are talking about doing another big Manchester show later in the year and will look at a longer set for that.
Within a band there has to be a certain amount of delegation when it comes to roles. Does the responsibility of band leader fall to one of you or do you each take on some of the responsibility?
I guess I am band leader, we all pitch in though. We are building up a good network of promoters and pluggers so we have help, we are speaking to managers at the moment – that should be a big help if we can sort it.
You’ve collaborated with Croftwerk on the majority of your music videos to date. A collaboration that has definitely paid off. The videos are always unique, and he always seems to capture your vision so perfectly. How is it working with him? Do you always bring in the initial treatment or is it a collaborative process?
The concepts for most of the videos have come from CroftWerk – the control freakery has to end somewhere 🙂 The only video we came to him with a concept on was ‘Don’t Mind’ I had recently watched the film Submarine and wanted something like that – we worked together with him on that.
You recently played one of your biggest headline gigs to date at the academy 3 to a sold-out crowd. Now, Manchester’s music scene has been growing over the last few years and it seems to be steadily gaining momentum again in the overall scheme of things. What are your thoughts on the new wave of young musicians around the city? Have you started to feel a renewed buzz around the city’s music scene?
It definitely feels like a vibrant scene these days, with lots of bands coming through like Glass Caves, Blossoms and Delamere. The main thing is, you have promoters like Scruff Of The Neck, Big Slice and This Feeling working hard with bands to establish nights with a good reputation. My favourite band coming through at the moment though is October Drift, they are from Sheffield I think though.
You have a summer of festivals coming up, is it important to you to play at festivals?
Yes the more we can play the better, its a great chance to be in front of lots of potential new fans. The first festival we are playing is Isle Of Wight, we were over the moon when that offer came through 🙂 Can’t wait 🙂
‘Cavalcade’ is available on limited edition CD and vinyl here.
Photo Credit: Midi Photography. More at: http://midi-photography.co.uk/