Slow Club: Heart of the Matter

Music Features Slow Club
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Slow Club: Heart of the Matter

British duo Slow Club has been together 10 years, released five albums, and even had Harry Potter himself star in the video for their 2012 single “Beginners.” But that hasn’t exactly translated to hordes of adoring fans.

“The other day we played and there was literally no one there,” multi-instrumentalist Rebecca Taylor recalls, smirking at the memory of the show she and bandmate Charles Watson were forced to endure.

“It was a festival tent and there was nobody in the tent,” she continues. “I’m serious! Not a single human. Finally one older man came in wearing a Bruce Springsteen t-shirt and sat down on his camping chair. A few years ago I would have just been devastated. ‘Why the fuck am I doing this? Fuck everything!’ This time we were just both crying laughing. That’s great. I’m so glad I’ve turned into this person rather than Madonna. I could have totally gone that way. I think we kept each other in that space. It’s fine; we haven’t hit some mad heights that we’re devastated that we can’t reclaim. It has become about music. Kind of because it had to in some ways. Because it should.”

There might not have been a fifth Slow Club release. And certainly their swoony, Dolly Parton-by-way-of-ABBA 2014 release Complete Surrender would have been a strong place to land. But to hear both band members tell it, despite tour-related burnout the mere idea that they might have more to say was enough to draw them back into the creative process. (“We just thought ‘Fuck it, let’s just write some songs and see what happens,’” Watson recalls.)

They began writing separately, Watson in London and Taylor in the English seaside town of Margate. Without much discussion the pair created a series of introspective, laid-back folk that Taylor refers to as their sleepy “red wine” album. (She also bemoans the fact that some “bangers,” including the lovesick blues ballad “Give Me Some Peace” still managed to make it on to the album—a happy accident that many bands only wish they could have.) But when initial attempts to produce the album failed to yield the results they were looking for, the band tapped musician/producer Matthew E. White (Natalie Prass), for an assist, setting up shop in his Spacebomb studio.

“It was a really fun week,” Watson recalls. “It wasn’t serious. It didn’t feel like we had to make this record in a week, we were just making this record in a week. It was really fun. It went without any hitches, really. Which is unheard of for us…With technology, people get so hung up on the perfect take. There’s no right or wrong—this is just our interpretation of it. People don’t want perfect, they want real and imperfect. Whenever I listen to a record if it’s been massaged it’s not human anymore. That’s something that bugs me quite a lot. I like the idea of it being real and living and human rather than this inanimate wall of noise. Which seems to be quite a common thing these days.”

A pragmatist about the process, Taylor has a slightly different take on their week together. It was great because they were working with highly trained musicians who could make things happen. Almost instantly.

“I like gratification,” she says, giggling. “And I’m just learning this about myself as well. Poor old Charles has had to make records with me going like ‘Come on let’s do it.’ He doesn’t have to work like that. Charles likes to experiment and play around with things. This one was much more up my street. It was quick. We’d have lunch and add the stuff and then have a beer and go home. Home by eight every day…Matthew thinks about things the way I do. ABC now, and then we’ll have lunch, and then after XYZ and it’s done. Which I love. The last record was so experimental. No time for this! Stop it, let’s go on.”

While the release is very much the result of two artists’ separate visions, both Watson came together on the title One Day All of This Won’t Matter Anymore as a perfect reflection to reflection of the album’s brokenhearted ballads and swirl of heady emotions. Even so, the phrase, a reference to a piece of art created by Taylor (who’s also a visual artist) isn’t meant to strike a sorrowful chord.

“It just felt like a nice kind of philosophy,” explains Watson. “It’s an ambiguous phrase. I’ve told a few friends what the record is called. Some people go, ‘Oh my God, that’s so sad. That’s the saddest thing I’ve ever heard.’ Other people go, ‘That’s totally nihilistic, I love it.’ I like how it’s just the way you look at it that determines how you look at it.”

“I get so emotional about everything,” Taylor adds with a moan. “Ten minutes by 10 minutes, this is the most important thing in the world. I’m going to drop dead if I don’t do it. It’s a mantra for me, definitely. It’s a positive thing.”

No matter what form the future takes, both members of Slow Club seem relatively certain there’s more where that came from. These days, their mission is strictly creative. They’ve already gotten more from the band than they could have ever anticipated.

“I want to be in stadiums!” Taylor says, laughing. “I want to be in a gown laying on a piano regaling the world with my pain! So that’s slightly where I’m at now. Why not? But do that on your own terms. Create your own universe where the stadium isn’t there, but that’s okay…Slow Club has totally achieved what I want to do and what Charles wants to do. We’re so lucky. I’ve seen so many bands fall apart. It’s because we’re so down to earth. We’re able to do gigs to no one 10 years later and not say, ‘Oh fuck it, let’s quit.’ I think that might be the key to it…I used to go see all Saddle Creek bands. Whenever they toured. Me and my then boyfriend went to three dates of Tilly and the Wall. I loved it. Them and their dresses. And I loved every single song. There were small rooms but they were full of people that loved it too. I was like, that’s what I want. I want a reason to go on stage every night and perform. That has happened. We have reached that goal.”