Darkness seeps into the very core of Slow Riot’s sound, lyrics and visuals. It’s an outlet to express deeper meaning, troubled thoughts and feelings. Its in this beautiful disposition that we find the bands debut EP ‘Cathedral’, each track holds its own energy, its own guttural vindication, but it’s the bands venomous playing and instinctual charisma that really haunts. A band like Slow Riot are rare to find.
I sat down with the trio to talk further about their forthcoming EP release, why vinyl is still so important, working with the legendary photographer Steve Gullick and much more.
Where did it all start for Slow Riot – what’s the backstory?
Niall: Myself and Aaron were friends before Slow Riot. We were both in bands that had broken up and we both wanted to get going again so we said we’d get together and give it a go. We had never played together before. We initially got a friend to play drums at the beginning but he moved to NYC, Paul then joined in Dec 2014.
Paul: Yes it was kind of like an X factor audition as when I arrived into the room the two lads were sitting there at a top table and they just say ‘play’, I made it through bootcamp so I’m delighted.
How has it been working with the majorly talented, Steve Gullick? You’ve worked with him on recent photoshoots, artwork and your debut music video…
Paul: To be honest I think we were all a little nervous before we met him. He’s a legend with such an amazing back catalogue that I guess we questioned why is this guy flying to Ireland to photograph us? 5 minutes after meeting him we loved him. Just the right amount of crazy for us and a very funny, engaging and entertaining dude. His work was incredible and we are forever grateful that we got to work with him. Also drinking whiskey with him at 4am in the middle of Co Clare is fun.
Let’s talk about your artwork. It’s striking and bold imagery, what’s the meaning behind the visuals?
Aaron: The single artwork for City of Culture and Demons were photos taken by Steve Gullick in the front of Paul’s car when we were driving around Limerick. There was no plan for any type of style for the band to lead with, for the artwork. We work more on a gut feeling of what we like, but I think we wanted the artwork to compliment the tone of each track and it worked for us. The Cathedral EP artwork was done by ‘Smiler’ and it’s certainly has a wow factor about it. The artwork looks amazing on the physical copy of the EP, we’re all ecstatic with how it’s all turned out.
You recently signed to Straight Lines are Fine, congrats on that by the way. How has it been working with them?
Paul: Straight lines is the baby of industry legend Steve Warby. Steve came to a London show last year and we immediately hit it off. He had heard demo’s online and wanted to check us out in the flesh. The rest is history and Steve has been our guiding light for the past year for the release of Cathedral. One of the most genuine hard working dudes out there and we are so glad to be working with him. He’s the 4th member of Slow Riot.
Was an independent record label always the way to go for Slow Riot? Self-releasing can be hard to sustain and major labels aren’t always the right fit…
Aaron: It’s nothing we planned at all really. The most important thing is working with the right people who want to help you grow and who shares the same belief in your craft as you do. I think many young bands are impatient these days, they get a lot of buzz, sign to a major and disappear 2 years later. Tortoise or hare I guess? We self released a few demos in the early days of the band, I can honestly say it’s the least glamorous part of being in a band!
You’re about to release your debut EP ‘Cathedral’ soon. Can you run us through each of the tracks on the EP? What’s the story behind the songs?
Niall: There are four tracks on the EP – Demons, City of Culture, Adele & Cooper’s Dream. I’d rather not get into the specifics on what each tracks is about as I’d rather the listener made their interpretation on the tracks.
Aaron: The joy of music is the connection the listener has with the songs, and everybody’s connection will be different and unique to themselves. A small amount of the themes I think we touch on are Anxiety, Worry, Nervousness, Despair, Love, Jealousy, Doubt (you know, the classics).
Out of all the tracks on ‘Cathedral’ which one do you find sums up the band the best? If you were to listen to Slow Riot for the first time, which song would you point people to?
Niall: That’s hard to say.. I don’t think there is any one song that encapsulates the sound of the band. I feel as though all of the songs are important in their own way. The EP works best if you listen from start to finish so that’ s what I would encourage new listeners to do.
How long did the recording process take for the EP? Was is it an easy process?
Paul: The recording was done in three solid days in Faster studios in Cardiff. Long 12-14 hour days. As the tracks were essentially recorded live, we had to keep the concentration levels up. It was tough but extremely enjoyable as the guys at Faster were so cool and Kevin, our producer, knew how to push us in areas we may not have thought of.
The EP is made up of your earliest tracks. How much material, bar the songs on the EP, do you have stored up in the Slow Riot catalogue?
Niall: Not too much material to be honest. We tend to know early on with an idea.. whether it’s worth developing or not.. so it’s not like we have lots of half baked songs ready to work on. We started writing new material after we had recorded the EP & we will be heading to Brighton in October to record some new tracks.
Paul: We are very picky when it comes to new tracks and if we don’t feel it has potential to be a big song, we scrap it. The great thing is that when we do get something, it tends to come together easily as the three of us can usually sync up quickly. We have a couple now we are itching to record and get out.
The EP is being released on vinyl, is a physical release still important to you? Are you a collector of vinyl yourself?
Niall: Yep, I buy records and it absolutely is important to us that fans can buy physical copies of the record. If I love an album, I want to buy it so that I can hold it in my hand. Records are works of art – the artwork & way that a record is designed add massively to the personality of the artist/record.
Aaron: I was woken up by the postman this morning delivering me some records I ordered online!
Paul: Aaron’s post arrives at 4pm.
What is a typical Slow Riot gig like? I’d imagine performing the songs is very cathartic?
Niall: For me, there’s a lot more to our gigs than just being tight musically – There’s a lot of raw emotion in the tracks and it takes a lot of concentration to be able to encapsulate those emotions in a live setting. Personally speaking, I’m fully focused on the band and what we’re doing when we play live.. The audience sort of fades into the background.
Aaron: There’s no better feeling than playing live, the euphoria and delirium of performing your music to a crowd is untouchable.
What are your hopes for Slow Riot? In a perfect world, where do you want to take this?
Niall: We don’t have any crazy goals or targets. We want to continue to enjoy writing and recording songs & to continue developing as a band. We want to be proud of the records that we put out. We haven’t played a proper string of dates yet so it be amazing to tour the record at some point.
Aaron: Touring the world playing your music, never having to work the 9-5 grind again, releasing records, that would be pretty special.
Paul: Hopefully all the way to the live shows with Simon…
Slow Riot’s debut EP ‘Cathedral’ is released on Straight Lines Are Fine on 23rd October. Pre-order the vinyl here.