Friday, 9 October 2009

Slow Club

Folk wasn’t really a word that the ‘New Yorkshire Revolution’ dealt with when a splurge bands engulfed charts, clubs and parties a few short years ago. Monkeys went mental and Kaisers were (unfortunately) crowned but Sheffield’s Slow Club maybe slipped under the radar despite their loveable rockabilly ideals. After forming from their previous band, The Lonely Hearts, back in 2006 they’ve moved into their own loveable scatty street folk pop. The currently touring duo made up of Charles Watson and Rebecca Taylor took some time out before their show at Sheffield’s Plug to tell us more.

“Everyone stopped wanting to be in the band and we [just the two of them] were playing little nights that we enjoyed more. We started doing covers and then we wrote songs together and it kind of went from there.”

There is an unassailable union between the two which translates across in their harmony infected heartbreak folk, they finish each other’s sentences and have identical ideas which seems almost telepathic.

The intense relationship between the only two members of this band, who spend most of their time singing together, brings to light many questions about their relationship and whether it has passed into something more than a musical affiliation: “Absolutely not, never. We’re best friends but that’s it. Everywhere we go people think that but it’s not true, maybe that’s why guys never come near me, because they think I’m with Charles,” says Rebecca, the duo’s drummer/vocalist, quick off the mark to quash any wonderings.

The twosome is something that they like though, despite the speculation what lies between the two as guitarist/vocalist Charles interjects: “It’s great that this is a band, there are only two of us but we both write  and sing the songs. There are so many bands that are almost run by one person, like the Shins, I really like them but it’s all about James Mercer who writes and arranges, that’s fine for some people but this works for us.”

Tonight Slow Club are back in their home town and it’s been a while: “It’s the first time we’ve been back in Sheffield since we moved to London and it’s a bit mad, my phone won’t stop going, we’ve got a lot of friends up here,” says Rebecca,

The madness isn’t something that’s always appreciated as she continues to explain: “I’ve really been getting into Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Rumours’ recently and sometimes I would just rather go home and play it over and over again,” before she adds with a slight snigger: “Maybe I’m just sad.”

Certainly not, but there is an underlying theme of sadness and heartbreak with this band that sits between their quirky folk n’ roll. Their debut album, ‘Yeah, So’, aptly demonstrates this despite the fact it was a long time coming, having only been released in July this year:

“We wanted to make sure we liked it,” explains Charles, who is the more focused and intense of the two, he’s calm and measured about what he says: “We went into the studio and put songs down but after a couple of weeks of listening to them we weren’t so sure. It was important that we liked the songs so we wrote some more and went back to record the album. Our record label [Moshi Moshi] are really great, they’re really supportive, and we’ve not even had to sign anything with them.”

"It's great that this is a band, there are only two of us but we both write and sing the songs."

The band also have plans for a Christmas EP which Charles tells us more about: “We’re looking forward to it, there are going to be four songs, all Christmas songs, including [previous single] Christmas TV, I think we’re going to do a couple of gigs around then too, one in London and maybe one in Sheffield.”

Tonight may be their last gig in the place where everything started for them until the Christmas festivities are upon us and as they open tonight in Plug they’ve gone against the grind. They appear unplugged in the middle of an already encapsulated audience which goes deathly silent so you can hear every well executed note from the two singers and their acoustic guitars.

Slow Club have a rapt and attentive crowd tonight and it remains loveably haphazard and shambolic throughout, they’re raw and fun loving, if they make a mistake then they start again and Rebecca persists in asking for the red hot lights to be turned down, leaving the show in almost total darkness apart from the soft glow of a red bulb, radiating the intimacy and energy of this band.

Haphazard and shambolic is in no way a bad thing for Slow Club, its part of their charm and when they reach ‘It Doesn’t Have To Be Beautiful’ they’re in full flow and ramble: “So let me tell you, tell you, a thing or two about how to survive when there’s a me and a you, it’s awful it’s gruesome, it’s something, it’s cruel. Forever you will ask out how this happened to you,” with their immaculate harmonies carrying them through in their own slapdash style.

They finish the evening outside in the smoking area on top of a bench surrounded by hundreds singing ‘Christmas TV’ at the top of their lungs. Never before have I witnessed a more fitting encore, or one that befits a band and it leaves this crowd thankful that they’ve played their own cameo role in Slow Club’s continuing folk fairytale.

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