The Slow Readers Club were, up until last year, one of Manchester's best kept secrets. While it can't be said that they're unheard of outside of their city, the band hold a special place in the hearts of those who have been there from the word go, seeing Slow Readers Club grow and evolve in to the band they are today, an intelligent and musically sound quartet whose sound has drawn numerous and fitting comparisons to the likes Editors and Interpol.
Not only does their music seem as if it would go down perfectly in one of Manchester's sticky-floored indie clubs, it has gone down perfectly in those clubs, serving to only heighten the sense of Mancunian pride in which the band are draped. The Slow Readers Club, their debut album released last year, was filled with frenetic and angular guitars and driving percussion occasionally offset by candid moments of poignancy. More recenet releases, however, such as last month's single 'Forever In Your Debt' and it's flipside, 'Days Like This Will Break Your Heart', feel much more realised, as if the grandiose aesthetics hinted at in their debut have not only returned, but have been explored, built upon. There was always a maturity exhibited by the band (something attributed to three-quarters of them having been in much-lauded Manc outfit Omerta) but latter tracks in their canon just hold up that little bit more, begging the question, will 2014 see the release of a much anticipated second album?
It's safe to say the answer is yes. With support from XFM, NME, BBC6 Music to name but three, the support behind The Slow Readers Club is incredible and a follow-up to their self-titled is as inevitable as it is anticipated. With a wave of hype building within in Manchester at the moment around bands such as MONEY and Kult Country, it seems a fitting time for TSRC to make a push, joining such influences as Arcade Fire on festival bills, not just club playlists.
We caught up with singer Aaron Starkie for a chat about Manchester, influences, and most importantly, what we can look forward to going in to 2014.
Hi Aaron, thanks for taking the time out to talk to us. First of all, The Slow Readers Club is a fantastic name, where did it come from?
AS: Thanks, glad you like it. One of my clearest memories from childhood is being taken around the senior school and being shown the different class rooms. One of the rooms was labeled ‘Special Needs’, I remember finding it alarming that you could be classified like that. I guess our name is an expression of discomfort with that notion.
U&I: Your most recent single 'Forever In Your Debt' has garnered plenty of attention from smaller blogs and online publications. How important do you think this kind of media coverage is to up-and-coming artists such as yourselves?
AS: Very important, we are self funded so don't have a marketing budget for press and radio plugging. At the moment we are promoting our selves using Twitter and Facebook. They have been great tools for getting our music out there and getting in touch with bloggers.
As you say we have had great support from a lot of independent music blogs and we have also had lots of great support from fans posting links to our videos and Soundcloud and helping to spread the word.
U&I: 'Forever In Your Debt' seems to somewhat more matured, maybe more fleshed out than some of the tracks on your debut. How much do you think you have progressed as band since the release of The Slow Readers Club? And what can we expect from any forthcoming material?
AS: Yeah I would say it feels like a step forward from the first album. Its more intelligent in terms of arrangement, its quite sparse compared to previous tracks, we had a lot of synths and sequenced stuff on the first album.
In terms of more stuff we have been experimenting with different beats and sounds, we want to do stuff that excites us. We are working on some really cool tracks at the moment and we have a great working relationship with our producer Phil Bulleyment. People can expect good things!
U&I: You've been playing live for a number of years now, as a result you've played with your fair share of other bands from Manchester, who have been some of the best to gig with?
AS: Puressence are probably the best Manchester band we have played with, we have done a few gigs with them over the years and always get a warm welcome from their crowd.
U&I: Similarly playing such an amount of gigs is bound to have given you some stories to tell. Care to share any with our readers?
AS: Ha! What happens on tour stays on tour…
U&I: You've drawn comparisons to the likes of Interpol and Editors plenty of times before, something which can obviously be attributed to the sense of moody anthemics within your music, but what other bands would you cite as influences that we might not have picked up on?
AS: Currently listening to The National, Maccabees, London Grammar, Foals, Arcade Fire, LCD Sound System. In terms of older bands The Smiths, The Beatles, Bowie, Echo and The Bunneymen, Lou Reed, The Doors, New Order, Elvis... too many to mention.
U&I: What do you think it is about Manchester that has made the city such a massive place for both contemporary music, and older bands that have become household names?
AS: You have a good mix of cultures I suppose, it has a massive student population and it draws people in from all over the world. It also has its fair share of council estates, rain and misery. I think a lot of bands start making music to escape the drudgery. You would think geography would be less relevant in the internet age, perhaps it will be in the future.
U&I: Do you think that being a band from Manchester, people already have a certain idea about you, and do you feel that you might be expected to live up to certain stereotypes?
AS: Yes probably, its understandable I suppose. There’s a strong image in most people’s minds of traditional Indie/Madchester in terms of both sound and image but It’s a shame really because the music coming out of Manchester is as diverse as that of any other place.
U&I: Manchester's a city renowned for it's array of eclectic, if not occasionally ramshackle, bars and venues, but which has been your favourite to either play, or watch a gig at?
AS: The Deaf Institute, The Night and Day and The Ruby Lounge
U&I: Finally, what can we expect from the band going in to 2014 and beyond?
AS: We are going to be releasing another single in March with a small tour, with our second album to follow soon after.
U&I: Thanks a lot guys, it's been a pleasure.