What a year 2014 has been, especially if you’re a member of Slowdive. 12 months ago they hadn’t played together for nearly 20 years, this year they spent much of the year playing to huge festival crowds followed by a North American tour. Their live dates conclude this weekend with two nights at The Forum in London.
Between all the constant touring, we managed to get Christian and Simon to answer many of the questions you sent in…
I would like to know each of the band member’s musical inspirations. What did you guys listen to as teens? Jenny Torres
Christian: The first band that influenced me to start playing the guitar was ‘The Smiths’. Although I quickly realised I would never be able to play like Johnny Marr. Then ‘The Jesus and Mary Chain’ became a massive influence. I loved it that the bass player only had 2 strings on the bass. It seemed like a total ‘fuck you’ to all the boring musos. I was also massively into ‘The Cocteau Twins’, ‘My Bloody Valentine’ and ‘Sonic Youth’. I really liked the way they were doing different things with guitars. Tunings and weird sounds and I’d think ‘how the hell are they doing that?’
What song that isn’t yours do you wish was yours. Jason
Simon: So many but a few include ‘Riverman’ by Nick Drake, ‘God Only Knows’ by The Beach Boys and ‘8 Miles High’ by The Byrds.
Is there a chance of live concert video? With tons of lights…
Simon: Yes it could Happen. We are getting used to playing on stage with a ton if cameras around us. It just seems to be the usual thing when playing festivals so doing a live DVD could be a possibility in the near future and we are loving playing live again.
What is your least favourite Slowdive song? Chris Mathews
Christian: I would say ‘The Sadman’ never really grabbed me. But ‘Just For A Day’ was hard because we’d already put out all our best songs on 3 EPs that year. There was huge pressure to deliver an album with no time to actually write or rehearse for it.
Simon: One or two tracks that never made it out of the rehearsal room that we never recorded. A lot of the tracks that we did record but never officially released are really pretty good. Joy, Hide your Eyes and Sleep I really like.
If you were to make another album would you get Brian Eno to produce it it even feature on some tracks like Souvlaki? Jamie Smith
Simon: The new album wouldn’t be produced by Brian Eno but I’m sure we’d all welcome working with him again. Yes we’d have him feature if he was to drop by the Studio once we begin recording it.
What was your response to Manic Street Preachers saying they hate you more than Hitler? Jess
Christian: They used to record near Reading so our paths would cross from time to time. They always seemed like nice boys. They were masters of soundbites and grabbing publicity at that time. It’s one of those things that people always remember, so I guess it was a good soundbite.
You mentioned in recent reviews that a new album is a realistic possibility…would it include re-recordings of those never used demo tracks …or would you focus on completely new songs? David
Simon: We’d write, record and release new songs. The demos are out there floating around on the internet so people can find those so it’d be an album of new tracks. Potentially we’d one day like to remaster the demos, as frankly the sound quality on many of the tracks is appalling and taken from old cassettes, but we aren’t sure if we can find any of the original master tapes.
Back in the early ’90s it wasn’t the likes of Slowdive, Chapterhouse or even MBV that headlined festivals and got in the grown-up charts. It was terrible transit bands in big shorts, a la Carter and The Wonder Stuff. Do you feel vindicated now that history has determined that you’re the ones with a legacy, while those ‘fraggle’ bands are completely forgotten? Jonathan
Christian: That stuff is out of our control. We were lumped in with the shoegaze crowd and that was fair enough, but I think we existed in our own little bubble and didn’t really think too much about what other bands were doing. It’s been great to be able to come back and have loads of people so excited about it. The motivation is to enjoy playing together and try to sound as awesome as possible rather than have some sort of redemption or vengeance against things that happened in the past.
Do you like being labeled as shoegazey and the whole shoegaze scene in the early ’90’s? Mac Gazer
Simon: In 1994 shoegaze was a dirty word and used as a derogatory term. Today it’s a respected musical genre and we are happy to be called shoegaze. So much fantastic music has been inspired by it so it’s positive rather than negative now. It is strange how over twenty years this term has slowly lost any connotation that is negative. I think the term was never a derisory name in North America but in Europe it wasn’t nice for a while.
What was irritating was being lumped into a scene back then. We never felt part of it, despite touring with Ride and Swervedriver, and always felt dislocated from those other groups. Yes we went to clubs where other musicians were hanging out but it was with Blur, Suede and Levitation who aren’t shoegaze at all.
What are do you consider to be your biggest regrets and proudest achievements in Slowdive? Dagny
Christian: A lot of the regrets for me are things that only come with the benefit of hindsight and growing up. But I’ll take this opportunity to apologise to everybody for everything. Proudest moments in the band have mainly just been when we’ve done songs that sound amazing and you genuinely think that if I wasn’t involved with this band I’d love this.
Well I wonder if you guys will record all those outtakes from Souvlaki officially? Patricio Zenteno
Simon: We wouldn’t re-record the outtakes although we’d love to find the master two inch tapes so we could remaster them. There were some great tracks that never made it onto any official releases so it’d be a pity to only be able to hear them on YouTube taken from an old cassette.
Back in 90-91, you guys were such a breath of fresh air and each of your releases was more intoxicating than the last. I was fortunate to catch you’re performances in the states a few times. What are your first memories of coming over here to tour? You can vent about SBK if you want to! Adam Pacione
Christian: Coming to the States for the first time was one of the most exciting times of my life. It felt totally unreal. We arrived into Manhattan and were walking around totally open mouthed. We were also always really blown away by the overwhelming enthusiasm from the audiences.
Simon: Adam, we loved coming to the US and Canada to play live. We took a beating from the UK press and that soured the audiences perception of us back then but over there people were so enthusiastic about Slowdive. It felt like those tours we were playing to people who “got it”. Personally each of us had so much fun playing music together, travelling around visiting all those wonderful places we’d only seem on tv. In the UK we’d dream of visiting and experiencing what we’ve only read about or seen in movies so sharing those moments of discovery together was special. We were kids really, nineteen or twenty years old, so we were mind blown that we had a special connection to our audience in North America. We couldn’t wait to return in the autumn!
Christian was a member of Eternal and the band was a part of Sarah Records. What guys think about that label and do they have any favourite Sarah Records bands? A Dzhigit
Christian: The fanzine scene was pretty big back then and Sarah records were born out of that. It was cool because there was no internet, so it was a nice way to feel part of a community and hear about bands that weren’t quite in the music press. They had that whole DIY, shambly C86 vibe which was quite nice. Pristine Christine was a good single.
First let me say a gigantic- THANK YOU! Both for your original music contribution to our lives (especially -”When The Sun Hits”!), and second for bringing it round to fans once again. You all are stellar! My question to each of you is: Looking back on Slowdive’s legacy with 20 years matured eyes, what was your favorite moment with the band and why? Hope to see you in the states! Have Fun!! Mitchel Wilson
Christian: One of my favourite moments is the night before we went to record a demo, which actually accidentally became our first EP, we were rehearsing and we started playing ‘Avalyn’. Everything just clicked and suddenly it sounded like Slowdive. It was the first time when I thought ‘Wow, we’re really got something special’.
Christian – it’s a good job you did, but why did you apply for the role of a female guitarist? Have you ever worn a dress while performing or rehearsing with Slowdive? Alex
Christian: I had seen them play and realised they were way better than all the bands I’d previously been involved with and we obviously had the same tastes. I survived their brutal initiation ceremony and luckily for me they overlooked my obvious shortcomings as a guitarist and a human being. I don’t scrub up well in a dress. Nick dragged up, however, looks like Courtney Cox and I have proof.
My question is regarding effects. You guys used FX-500′s and Korg A3′s back in the day. Theres a few settings on those processors from back in the day that are hard to replicate even with todays effects. Do you guys plan on using the old processors, Or are have you gotton to the point where your happy with stompboxes? Thanks for reuniting. Seen you guys play about 5 times in California. First time being May 29, 1992 @ The Palace in Hollywood. Jason Howard
Christian: I used an FX500 back in the day, but a lot of it made my guitar sound like a washing machine, but that might have been because I didn’t understand how to program it. I’m not going to use that one now as the pedals around today are absolutely amazing.
You were the band which always used Telecasters, Stratocasters and Rickenbackers (which is the cool thing). why never Jazzmasters and Jaguars? Dude from Russia
Christian: I’m left handed so never really had the pick of guitars and was always too broke to be able to afford good ones. I do have a couple of Jaguars these days which I’ll use for the Slowdive gigs.
Where does playing the revolving stage at Ontario Place in Toronto rank in the gigs you played? Cam Lindsay
Christian: It ranks as one of the most unusual for sure. Strangely, I don’t remember the actual gig itself at all.
Have the guitarists in the band had to spend a lot of time buying up various replicas of the original guitar effects pedals used to create the band’s original sound? Pugwall
Christian : It’s been fun checking out all the new pedals as it’s changed so much in 20 years. Most of the pedals that I used before have all broken and I never really had any money to go crazy and buy too much equipment back then. I think we can make it sound even better now.
What is your favourite song to play live? Rodrigo
Christian: I always liked the ending of Catch The Breeze as it’s a lovely tune and it sounds enormous.
Any plans for Asia peoples ? Farid
Christian: We would love to come to Asia as we didn’t get an opportunity first time round. We’re working on it.
Thank you Rachel, Neil, Nick, Christian and Simon! You are the soundtrack of my life, please please please, won’t you come in Italy? We are crazy for you! Hope to see you soon…Davide
Simon: We played the Radar Festival in July and were really excited about it as we never got to play in Italy.
Will there be a south american tour ? Adrian Moreno
Christian: We get an absolutely unbelievable response from South America and would love to come over. We’re definitely trying to arrange something.
Are you guys going to recreate the exact sound as you did in the 1990s? Jules Trum
Simon: We wanted to recreate the songs so that they sounded as good as they possibly can. This means using new effect pedals, guitars, sound equipment, etc. essentially it will all be played live except a few parts, such as a Hammond organ on ‘Blue Skied An Clear’, wherever simply don’t have an extra pair of hands onstage. We are a band, a group of musicians, so we want to perform with that almost psychic and telepathic connection a good band has when each song is allowed to flow and change every night. ‘Golden Hair’ is often improvised during the instrumental outro as an example.
Have you thought about coming to South America? Carlos Elgueda
Simon: Yes we have and we’d love to make it happen. Nothing booked yet but it is certainly a place that we wish to tour.
Hello, as you plan new gigs will you be returning to Reading to play new gigs Stu
Christian: I don’t think we’ll be able to play Reading this time, but I think Reading has seen more than its fair share of Slowdive gigs in the past.
After the bad experience with big labels such as SBK will you definitely choose a decent independant label to release possible new material?
Simon: It’s unlikely we’d go looking for a record deal to release a new record. You can always rely on a record label to totally screw up any plans you make so why put the music into the hands of people who just want to make money from you. I think we’d either release it ourselves or only consider an offer from someone who totally gets us and would give 110% of their time to make sure the record is given full support. I run a small label (Kesh) and can see why bands are increasingly releasing their own music these days. MBV are a success story who didn’t need a label to sell and market their new record.
Who would be your dream collaborator out of the many artists to debut since Slowdive disbanded in 1995? Or even someone who you didn’t get to work with first time around? Daniel Cox
Simon: A collaboration with David Lynch would be pretty cool. A new movie from him with us as the house band, playing in some odd location or in club Silencio would be fun! His movies are epic, very influential and are timeless works of art.
What do you think about Russia? Will you ever gig there? Roman
Christian: Always wanted to visit Russia and would be fantastic to play there with Slowdive.
What was the inspiration behind Souvlaki? Cameron
Simon: The Jerky Boys released a tape and we listened to that filthy humour a lot, everyday almost, on tour. The album title comes from a sketch that is on that tape. Radiohead’s ‘Pablo Honey’ album title was also taken from that tape. It’s funny and stupid and ideal for a tired touring band to keep their spirits up.
What are you guys currently listening? David Sanchez [Slowdivedatabase.com]
Christian: I really like Mogwai’s new album ‘Rave Tapes’.
Assuming you plan to record a new album of material would you continue the ambient style of Pygmalion or revert to the dreamy pop of Souvlaki/Just For A Day? Jason
Simon: We want to make a band album so it could be dreamy pop songs but today we have more technology to help us sculpt our sounds so there could be some more experimental moments mixed in. This Slowdive 2014 line-up is the one that recorded the first two albums so there would be a continuation of some kind. Dynamically we want to work together and create dynamics together as a band. Pygmalion was mainly Neil working with loops and a sequencer so the new Slowdive album will feel more ‘live’.
I really, really, really hope you would do some kind of european tour (preferably Oslo). Any chance? Neil borrowed my el piano when playing in Oslo last year, so he owes one! Benjamin Westerfjell
Christian: We played Oslo in the summer, sounds like Neil owes you a beer.
Slowdive play The Forum, Kentish Town, London on Fri 19th and Sat 20th December 2014. Limited tickets are still available from Songkick.