"We’ve lost the bullshit - it’s the honeymoon period all over again" - Interviews - Soundblab

"We’ve lost the bullshit - it’s the honeymoon period all over again"

by Steve Reynolds Rating: Release Date:

Slowdive formed in Reading in 1989 and went on to have success during the heavily lauded shoegaze scene of the early 90s. They released three studio albums, calling it a day in 1995.

Come 2014 and due to the wonders of social media, overwhelming demands from fans and promoters alike mean that Slowdive are very much back in vogue. And so they should be - they were a shining light in the 90s indie world.

I spent a while in a cafe in the company of guitarist Christian Savill from the band to discuss why they got back together, Googling yourself, and bizarre gig tales.

What was the catalyst for you guys to reform and do it all again?

Twenty years ago there was no interest in us at all and it’s weird that the questions had been asked before about would we consider doing this or doing that, but the time was never right for us due to families and commitments. This time the families have grown and suddenly we all wanted to do it. We also has some really good offers from festivals that compounded our desire to do it again, and when something like Primavera wants you to play it was a straight yes, so it’s really nice to be in demand.

How were you approached?

I’m not entirely sure but Neil (guitarist) is still been pretty active in bands, and with his solo work he has kept the same booking agent the whole time. I think the booking agent was approached with the idea of Slowdive reforming to play some gigs. We then chatted about it as a band last summer and said should we do it and also record material, and that was that

Had it been a while since you’d been in the same room together and how did it feel?

It was a bit weird at first as we never had a big falling out when we originally parted. We’d all stayed in touch sporadically and from time to time we would run into one another but all five of us had not been in the same room together for 20 years; it was very surreal. Then we went straight into it, played a song and we all started laughing. 

The first song we did was ‘Slowdive’ as it’s very easy to play but Neil had to borrow an electric guitar and I didn’t have an amp, so we had to reacquaint ourselves with the guitar pedal technology.  A lot of it just came back instantly whilst other songs required a degree of head-scratching because there was some strange guitar tunings that none of us could remember. 

I had been speaking to a friend of mine who was in a band called Chapterhouse, and when they reformed the bit they enjoyed the most was the rehearsing, all mates back together having a laugh. It was the like the old days for us 'cause when you form a band you like the same music and you get on with each other and have a laugh, but as you get older you get a bit disenchanted with all the bullshit. We’ve now lost the bullshit and it’s like the honeymoon period all over again.

How was playing some of the songs, bearing in mind the hiatus the band has been on?

Nick hadn’t picked up a bass guitar since the band stopped originally so he had to familiarise all over again but Simon (drummer) and him were locked in straightaway. Because we never got to play anything off our last album it was fresh and it was nice to work out how we were gonna play the songs live. Some have caused us a few headaches but we’re getting there.

You must be pleased with selling out the Village Underground (London show) and being booked for Primavera. Do you think that will be it for gigs?

There are 25 gigs booked but only two in the UK. We are getting to play places we’ve never done before: Asia and Italy for example, and possibly looking at other countries in 2015.

Is there a new record in the offing?

Definitely, that’s one of the main reasons why we got back together, but at the moment we just want to nail the set down and make it watertight before looking at recording new material and to ensure we have it in us once we’ve done the gigs. It’s got to feel right for us, and if we do record we would put it out ourselves as we had such bad experiences with labels back in the day that there is a reluctance to go with one again.

Who are your favourite bands nowadays?

For me, My Bloody Valentine - their new record and tour. Mogwai have also been impressive. But to be honest, I generally prefer the odd song by a band rather than a whole album. I could probably do a bloody good mix tape but not tolerate the same band’s recordings.

Mogwai have been very kind to us; one of them tweeted us about coming back and recalled watching us live and looking at our guitar pedals. We were one the first bands they had seen and they wondered how the fuck a guitar sounded (like that), which is really cool.

What’s the weirdest gig you’ve ever done?

We did a gig in Toronto on a rotating stage once, and I remember feeling really sick and disorientated. I knew it was time to quit when I looked up from my shoegazing at another gig and all there was a woman mopping the floor. It was then when I thought it was time to get a real job. If I see that I will know it’s that time again. 

It was a horrible way to end. Our accountant ended up in prison, we were made bankrupt and it was a real mess. It’s good to be back on a high now.

What’s your favourite song to play live?

Christ, I don’t really know. Probably the one where we don’t fuck it up. I am looking forward to playing ones we never did before which is exciting as well as the ones we can play in our sleep.

You still make music now?

Yeah, I work with a mate Sean in a band called Monster Movie, and when we have the time we work on stuff but it’s like a bedroom project. A really cool label in Chicago called Graveface put out our recordings when we find the time to do so. They have a great band on their roster called BlackMoth Super Rainbow – definitely check them out.

Final question: Have you ever googled yourself?

Yes, one time I was talking about MBV to someone and they couldn’t believe they had bowl cuts and looked like the Monkees, so I typed in 'early MBV’ and hit the images button and the first picture that came up was one of me looking really obese and that freaked me out a bit so I stopped doing it. I try to steer clear of all that. We all sat down as a band and said how relieved we were that the internet wasn’t around when we started out – no mobiles, Facebook, Youtube, but now you can’t control the output. 

I went to a gig recently and people were getting their phones out and I was like “just watch the gig”.  The whole landscape has changed, I am not saying it’s a bad thing but sometimes the pictures of you can be less than flattering.

You can keep in touch with Slowdive and their activities at www.slowdiveofficial.com and on Twitter:  @slowdiveband.

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