Foto-© Paul Husband
The Slow Show gehören schon seit vielen Jahren zu unseren Lieblingsbands aus UK, ist doch der Albumtitel nicht nur eine Reminiszenz an einen The National Titel, sondern auch klanglich, wie auch was das Melancholie-Level der Band um Frontmann Rob Goodwin angeht, orientiert man sich hier bei den US-Amerikanern. Nachdem die Band aus Manchester relativ schnell hintereinander ihre ersten beiden Alben White Water (2015) und Dream Darling (2016) veröffentlichte, nahm man sich für das Drittwerk Lust And Learn, das am kommenden Freitag erscheint und bei unserem dieses Wochenende anstehenden Golden Leaves Festival seine Live-Taufe erlebt, etwas mehr Zeit und feilte lange Zeit an Konzept, Inhalt und eigentlich auch jeder musikalischen Note. Grund genug einmal bei Reibeisenstimme Rob persönlich nachzufragen – unser Interview mit The Slow Show!
What is your first memory of a contact with music? When did you then start to play music and write your own songs then?
My first musical memories were family holidays. We always went on holidays in the UK so we‘d drive for hours and my parents would play their favourite records in the car. My mum loved Eddie Reader and my Dad, James Taylor. I remember songs like ‘Fire and Rain’ blowing my mind. I understood nothing of the lyrics but the songs still moved me. I remember being flooded with feeling, I loved those journeys. It wasn’t until years later that I started to write music of my own but music has always been very important to me.
The last time you visited us for an intimate living room show was in November 2012 and you didn’t have a debut record out yet. A long time ago it seemed, probably feels like a lifetime for you, right? Can you still recall the show and how do you feel about the development of the band in the last years?
I remember the show well. That tour was our first and it was a really formative and inspiring time for us. The shows were so intimate and the audiences so kind. We couldn’t believe people cared about our band and our songs. I remember those shows convinced us that this was what we wanted to do, I wanted more of everything we experienced on that Tour. The Bedroomdisco show was incredible, i remember somebody wrote ‘I love The Slow Show’ on a steamy window. I took a picture of it, i was so proud.
After having released your two first records kind of back to back in 2015 and 2016, it took three years until the third one was ready. What were the reasons for you to „take it slow“ this time or how did the process feel for you?
We needed a short break for a number of reasons. We loved making music together but sometimes life gets in the way. We made a few necessary changes to allow us to concentrate on our music again so the break in many ways was worthwhile. We’ve never been more passionate about making music than we are right now. The time was necessary and I’m glad we took it. We’ve already started working on new songs so we’re not intending on taking another hiatus.
Could you tell us a bit about the production process of the record? When and how was the record done, which was the best, which the worst moment of the time and which is the most told anecdote of it?
We spent long periods working on ideas alone and then we’d meet for short, intense spells together refining things. I think this space and distance had a positive influence on the record. It allowed the songs/ our early sketches to develop slowly at their own pace and the distance amongst us as songwriters created a patience, a freedom and openness to new ideas and ways of working. We also worked with Ian Grimble. Ian joined us towards the end of the record which was timely in many ways. He has a very honest way of making music, creating space and emotion in his mixes. He was very positive about the songs we worked on together which was really encouraging. We produced our previous records alone so hearing Ian’s thoughts on this record was refreshing and having his input towards the end of the process felt an enormous seal of approval.
We read that you feel that this record should be heard in one sitting, back to back, best case scenario. Why would you recommend that and does this also evolve in how you will present this record in your live shows?
This record has lots of instrumental pieces which connect and introduce songs. We spent so long thinking about the record’s balance, light/shade, question/resolve…its feel and tempo. We hope people get something from listening to the record as a whole, something more than individual moments of feeling. Something more permanent. We‘re absolutely looking forward to incorporating these instrumental moments into our live shows.
Was there also a concept for this from the start to make it like one connected piece of music or what was the plan you had before going in writing the third record?
Rather than writing explicit stories, we wanted to create moments of feeling, moods, scenes for people to explore and experience in their own ways. We hope there’s a depth to allow this and that people may see something of themselves in these songs. That they’ll relate to them, be moved in some way. That’s always been the goal.
Lyrically a lot of the record seems to be very heavy, but not without a little shimmer of hope around the corner. What stories, situations and feelings push you to write your lyrics and in which surroundings do you write best?
Lyrically I’m constantly inspired by ordinary people doing ordinary things. Life’s wild enough, there’s no need to embellish anything.
The song St. Louis seems especially heartbreaking – could you tell us a bit what it is about, if there is a story behind it and how it came into life?
St. Louis describes the loyal love a daughter shows her father, even after disappointment and cruelty. We often ask Kesha Ellis to sing on our songs. Her voice is so fragile and floored in the most perfect way. She allows us to tell a story from different perspectives, on this song she represents the heartbreak and disappointment of a child being let down by her father beautifully.
The author Karl Ove Knausgard is also mentioned as an influence for your writing – what do you like about his writing and how did he influence your style on this record?
I’ve always admired brave and honest writers. Writers that expose themselves unsparingly and that describe thoughts and feelings simply as they are and how they feel. I think Knausgård is a great example. I often wish I wrote more abstract lyrics, that there was more space between what I write and who I am, but writers like Knausgård remind me how powerful honest direct words can be.
You sing about a lot of very personal themes and open up your inner self for your listeners – was it always easy for you to sing about your personal downs and feelings or did this evolve with the time? Did you have personal idols in that matter that you wanted to follow?
Writing has always been a helpful and necessary part of my life. It’s a way of making sense of things and being present. In that way it’s easy. The difficulty is taking responsibility for what you’ve written. That was something I wasn’t prepared for when the band started. I think in this respect we’ve all become more comfortable in our respective roles.
Also you describe playing your songs live as cathartic for yourself and the audience – could you describe how you mean this?
I think great concerts are great ways of being present. For lots of us peace and presence are hard to find. Concerts for me both playing and watching are precious moments of both. I hope people get something from our shows, that they leave feeling better than when they arrived.
Playing Golden Leaves Festival one day after the release of Lust And Learn will be kind of the first time you play the songs of the record live, when it’s out. Probably a special show for you, right? What can we expect?
Releasing a record is always exciting. Making public something that’s been so private is terrifying but there’s also a sense of closure. The next challenge is to perform the songs with integrity, to bring them to life in real time unique moments. We wanted to play at Golden Leaves Festival as we‘ve heard so many great things about it. It looks a unique and intimate place to share our record for the first time.
We read that you also have a special bound to Germany, you even moved to Düsseldorf – how did it come to that and why would you think did you connect that good to German audiences?
As a band we’ve always felt at home in Germany. It was the first place we ever played outside of the UK and it was so refreshing. We really found our feet as a band in Germany, the people here were so supportive. We‘ll always have a special connection to the country, we‘re very grateful for those early shows and people’s continued loyal support. I met my girlfriend at the Haldern Pop festival and I’ve lived in Düsseldorf for a year now. Germany is a special place, I love it. The people are open minded the beer is great and life moves a little slower for me than it does in Manchester which I love.
For this record you also changed your label and are working now with PIAS – what was the idea behind this, how did you get in contact with them and why did you choose the label?
We’ve always loved PIAS. Of course it’s a special match up for Fred (growing up in Belgium) but we’re all excited about the future with them. They asked to hear the record, flew to Manchester to talk about music and we signed with them shortly afterwards. Of course, we’ll always be very grateful to Haldern Pop for giving us an opportunity with the first two records but everything changes and we remain good friends.
What did you learn in 2018?
As a band we were reminded how much we love making music and how much we miss it when we’re not. We learnt to savour it.
Which song makes you dance every time?
LCD Soundsystem – all my friends has always had a powerful, hypnotic effect on me. I love it’s drive, it’s euphoria. Amongst other things, it compels me to dance.
How would your Bedroomdisco look?
It would be full of people I love, all behaving like nobody’s watching.
The Slow Show Tour:
31.08. Golden Leaves Festival, Darmstadt
17.10. Gloria, Köln*
18.10. Zeche Carl, Essen*
20.10. Uebel & Gefährlich, Hamburg**
21.10. Columbia Theater, Berlin**
22.10. Technikum, München**
26.10. franz.K, Reutlingen**
27.10. KUZ, Mainz**
* Support: Honig (solo)
** Support: Cosma Joy