We’re still trying to explain, when we get our haircut, that what we do is real.
Sheffield’s Slow Club possess the kind of substance that swallows up other guy-girl duos and makes vintage-tinged pop songs out of their bones. We caught up with Charles Watson and Rebecca Taylor about their third studio album ‘Complete Surrender’ and upcoming tour.
So the new album lands this month, what did you want from the record?
I guess we just want people to get what we do and enjoy it. We were a lot better prepared this time, we had a really clear vision of where we wanted the sound to go, we demo’d it quite well and you can hear that when listening. Producing it was a lot easier; the second record was quite a riddle because we were messing about with sound as much as we could and didn’t have this clear an end result — we’ve had clarity pretty much all the way through this one.
And you recorded back home this time?
Yeah we did it in Sheffield, it was a pleasure. We got to hang out with our friends and it was a really lovely relaxed time in our lives really, which recording often isn’t. I think you can hear how relaxed and happy we are in it, we’d just gotten out of an awful stage of our lives so it was really great to do something that we were both really excited about — and it was going well. We were much more carefree than we’d been for a long time.
The slick simplicity of it is quite far removed from that of your past albums…
It just reflects the period of time in our lives, you’re always going to think the new thing is the most exciting, which it is at the time. With a bit of perspective it’s hard to slag off your back catalogue, people do that a lot. It’s not like we tried to move away from something because we didn’t like it, we just wanted to keep ourselves excited.
It feels a very natural transition then?
Yes definitely, we think our band is a natural movement in one direction. We never really try and ‘do something’, it’s always just like, “oh we’re listening to this kind of music, let’s write some songs and see what happens”. I suppose most of the songs, if you just play them with a guitar, they’d sound just as much ‘us’. It’s how you arrange it and present it to the world that makes them sound different.
You’ve returned with a new look as well, is it important for you to get that aesthetic behind the music?
It’s been really nice to get a bit more coherence and for things to have a continuity that they didn’t have before. We’re on a different label so there are people in place to make sure you’re doing that. Before it was just, like, whatever we fancied. We look how we sound; it’s all making a bit more sense and coming together a bit more easily.
Over the last few years we’ve seen a lot of duos come and go, it must be great to have found that staying power, coming back with a third album stronger than ever…
Yes it’s because we’ve been given the time to grow, really. With the first two albums we got some good people that really liked our music, but we’ve not ‘blown up’, we’re not huge. We’re still trying to explain, when we get our haircut, that what we do is real. That affords you the freedom to grow up and realise what works. We’ve been lucky so far in that we’ve not had to do the same things and we’ve been able to experiment, grow and change. It’s nice that people are listening a bit more now, but we still feel like our next record can be whatever we want because nothing is expected of us.
If people don’t take art seriously then it’s just going to become really sh*t.
Strangely, you also received some government funding recently, right? Not much of that in the UK.
Yes, we didn’t know it was part of the government scheme until quite late on actually, but it’s about time really that arts were taken more seriously. There were so many funding cuts when the Tories came in and that’s just the way they govern. Education and arts budgets were slashed; if people don’t take art seriously then it’s just going to become really sh*t. In Canada and France they really support art, as part of the fabric of society, and it makes everything better. It’s encouraging to know that it’s at least on the agenda and hopefully they’ll take it much further. They need to emphasise the youth side of it. There are young bands that need a leg up big-time because the recession is really starting to hit.
Truth. What sort of thing did the funding allow you guys to do?
The fund that we received was just to go and tour in America, so we’re going out there soon to do a few acoustic shows and some radio. Obviously that’s really helping out because if you can spend time going to radio stations, especially in America, it really makes a massive difference to your live show because you’re reaching so many people in one go. That’s going to be the big change for us, being able to go out there and do all that. Hopefully it will be a good investment.
It must be great having the new record out on the cusp of a big summer tour…
Yeah definitely, we just want to get going and play gigs. We’re really fed up with not playing shows. You get this feeling when you’re playing that it’s what you’re here for; we’re performers and we feel like we’re of use when on tour. Also, it’s so lovely having a finished product ready to show off in a way. We can’t wait to find out what people think of it, who knows the words, who bought it — we just can’t wait.
Check out ‘Complete Surrender’ right here: