It’s good to see Slow Club back on Sheffield ground. The duo have been voracious tourers during their nine-year period as a band, which undoubtedly has given them time to hone and shift their sound from the indie-folk jangles of debut album Yeah So to the sleek, soulful pop ballads which saw Complete Surrender as the toast of many music critics last year. Currently in the early stages of writing material for a fourth album, we cordially invited Charles and Rebecca to play a couple of live tracks for us before taking to the Exposed stage at Tramlines this year. But first we grabbed a pew at the Picture House Social for a natter before filming commenced on their stripped-back live session.
Which tracks do you have lined up for your live session with Exposed?
C: We’ll be playing a song called ‘Don’t Call Me Kid’, a B-side from the last single. We’ll also be playing ‘Tears of Joy’, which is from the last album.
You chose ‘Tears of Joy’ as the opener for Complete Surrender. Was that a conscious decision taking into account it’s got quite a welcoming, soulful vibe about it?
R: To be honest, we gave up agonising over track listing a while back. We have a manager whose favourite pastime is organising things so we passed those responsibilities over to him. When you do your first album you’re absolutely adamant about managing every aspect, but you start to relax after you’ve done a couple of records.
C: I think on some albums it’s fairly important and requires a bit more attention. With the last album it just naturally fell into place.
The other track, ‘Don’t Call Me Kid’, that’s a bit of an older tune. Why did you pick that one?
C: Yeah, I think it was the B-side to the Complete Surrender single. We just had a bit of a chat about songs we like to sing together and settled for that one.
I’ll confess that I’ve not heard that one before. What’s it about?
C: *Laughs* I’m glad you asked. Basically, it’s a semi-fictionalised version of a lap dance which went wrong.
R: There you go.
Semi-fictionalised? And what went wrong?
C: Yeah, it’s based on truth and then the story stretches into fiction. You’ll have to analyse the lyrics to find out.
There was a lot of press talk about how Complete Surrender, your third album, marked a ‘coming-of-age’ for the band. Do you recognise that? Or is it more of a throwaway phrase for journalists to use when talking about a band reaching their third album?
R: Yeah, I think that’s part of it. I suppose there has to be some growth in maturity simply due to the fact that it’s been eight years since we did the first album and it’s easy to point out that we have, quite naturally, grown during that time. In terms of music, we’ve both started to get into different things and that’s definitely changed our sound. I think another learning curve is touring with an album, because you want to ensure that you’re always giving strong live performances – I see that as a sign of maturity for most bands.
Have you found that your music tastes have synchronised or diverged? I suppose that when you spend so much time with someone it’s probably one or the other.
C: We’ve always had really different music tastes, right from the start. We both intersect on plenty of the same things as well, but we also pull on other influences when writing and I think that’s what makes for interesting songs.
So, after spending a lot of time touring you’re back in Sheffield for a little while. Is it nice to be home?
R: Yes, it’s brilliant to be back. I’ll admit that I’m pretty terrible at touring so it’s nice to have a bit of time off. We’ve spent today writing new songs and I felt a nice rush of excitement when thinking about playing them live – it just shows that there’s life in the ol’ dog yet!
Do you always come home to write new music? Or is it more about some free food back at the parents’ house?
R: It’s more of the latter for me!
C: We wrote the last record in a house in Stroud – well, most of it anyway. It usually just depends on where we are at the time and where it feels right.
R: Yeah, for the last record we both wanted to get away, and this time around I do feel like writing some music back at home.
C: We’re planning to rent a house out in the Highlands and basically lock ourselves away over the summer for the next record. It’s strange because we’ve never really done that sort of thing before. We might not come back.
R: Or one of us might not!
How big of an impact does the location have when you’re working on an album?
R: For me, it’s not about where you are when you’re writing, it’s more about how you are feeling during that time. I’ve got to want to do it. If we were both stuck in some small room in London, then I wouldn’t be comfortable with it. Sheffield is always an easy place for us to write simply because we have friends here, people who can lend us kit, and genuinely feel more comfortable.
Of course, you’ve got a big homecoming gig lined up at Tramlines on the Exposed In Session Stage. How are we feeling about that?
R: Can’t wait! We’ll be spending most of our time writing so it’s our biggest gig of the summer. Tramlines is always a bit of a treat – we’ve done the last three and it’s a brilliant weekend.
Any acts you’re looking forward to seeing?
R: Wu Tang is pretty big. I must admit that I’m usually horribly drunk and can never quite remember seeing most of the acts.
C: Yeah, there’s always a good mix of stuff on the bill. I just think it’s great to see great bands in spaces that you grew up in: I used to spend ages hanging around Dev Green as a kid and I’ve since seen some brilliant bands on there. I think Sheffield was crying out for a festival like Tramlines before it came along.
Rebecca, we have a Sheffield Wednesday fan in the Exposed office who’d love to see the SWFC dress make a return for Tramlines. Any danger?
R: Maybe one day … but I can’t wear the same dress twice. I’ll have to see if I can get a re-design done.
Perhaps we should put Charles in red and white so we don’t alienate some of the crowd?
R: I don’t think that will happen.
C: I’ll wear my, erm, Newcastle shirt.
Oh, you’re a Newcastle fan?
C: No, I don’t like football. I just thought I’d get involved.
You seemed to be enjoying your time back home during your set at The Leadmill for the 35 years anniversary of venue. You must have some great memories of that place over the years?
R: Of course! It facilitated me snogging boys for many years. What about your memories, Charles?
C: I just watched. *Laughter* I was one of those that stood quietly in the corner and got a taxi home early.
R: No you wasn’t! You used to love it in there – with your little yellow t-shirt! When I met Charles he’d always be wearing this tight yellow t-shirt with a leather jacket and brogues. And he would be absolutely cleaning up on the dancefloor.
C: I remember getting to the bottom of a warm pint of beer and finding some chewing gum in the bottom. Somebody obviously dropped it in when I wasn’t looking. That wasn’t great…