Slow Motion Shoes - Interviews - Soundblab

Slow Motion Shoes

by Louise Harlow Rating: Release Date:

Having thoroughly over celebrated the last long weekend of summer, Soundblab limped up to Manchester on a sunny Bank holiday Monday to hear all about the world according to Slow Motion Shoes. The transatlantic four-piece - Lancaster boys Sam (bass/percussion) and Mike (guitar/keys) join Seattleite siblings Ryan (vocals/guitar) and Nathan (guitar/keys/production) in the line-up - have been racking up online acclaim from noted blogs including Transparent, High Voltage and Neu Magazine off the back of four months graft and three effortlessly luminous demo tracks. Here ensues a leisurely trot through giving chillwave the brush-off, the magnificence of Brendan Frasier, Public Enemy getting their KKK on, and a healthy dose of Bono inspired vitriol....

So, afternoon gents. I understand you guys played the first ever Slow Motion Shoes gig this week, right?

Sam Haha no not yet - it's actually on September 28... (High Voltage Presents The Islets w/ Slow Motion Shoes @ Islington Mill, Salford)

Ryan The only gigs we've completed so far are the imaginary ones, which so far have gone really well for us...

Mike Supporting Radiohead...

Haha, that's great - even in your fantasy gig scenario you're still only the support act. It's a dream gig, go for broke - make them open for you!

Mike Ha, Radiohead probably need all the help they can get from us right now!

In all seriousness, are you feeling excited for the live dates coming up in autumn?

Ryan Yeah I think we're all looking forward to it; I'm really excited by the live sound of the band at the moment - we're going to be using a female singer for gigs to add vocals. I'm a big fan of Elliott Smith and the way he used dual lines.

Apologies for kicking off with potentially irritating comparisons - but the demos ('Brendan Fraser' in particular) call to mind the sound of chillwave artists like Washed Out and Toro Y Moi....

Nate Ah here we go...

You've heard this one before then.... Well, off the back of that comparison, what I wanted to ask was how do you feel about live performance? When I saw Washed Out at Dot to Dot I was concerned about how it was going to translate live (he was using a live support band so there was that extra element). Do you write with live performance in mind or is it more of a necessary evil?

Mike I don't feel the chillwave comparison is warranted because there's a completely different sound to our music and the live aspect is completely different in that we all have our own parts to contribute...

Ryan I don't think there's any concern (when we're writing) of 'shit, how is this going to work live?' because subconsciously we know everything we write will go live eventually....

Because it's not a bedroom project or something born more out of production than performance...

Mike Yes, and that it's definitely not a necessary evil, it's something that we all definitely want to do, we're all really excited by how the live sounds shaping up, it's certainly very different to the demo tracks...

Sam More energetic...

Ryan We certainly don't want it to resemble the live set-up of a lot of solo artists where a lot of the sounds are pre-recorded - we'll have all the instruments you can hear present, so you can see where it's all coming from...

Mike First and foremost, we just want to record great songs and worry about the live delivery later.

Ryan Cross that bridge when we come to it.

Sam It might change now that we'll be touring more heavily but certainly up to this point there was no agenda to the song-writing, it's just 'let's do this 'cos it sounds good!'

So now that we've put the chillwave issue to bed, what are the musical influences you would cite collectively as a band? Is there anyone who directly influences your writing?

Ryan I don't think we have what we like in mind at all...

Mike We all very much have our own sphere of what we like, but as with a Venn diagram we have those areas of overlap where our influences as a band come from... but I wouldn't say that our influences play out in any obvious way in our sound...

Ryan Like Weezer and Radiohead, for example.

Mike Exactly, yeah, to cite them doesn't really say an awful lot about our sound.

It's more intriguing that way though, don't you think? When someone lists an influence that makes you think 'eh?' rather than just sounding like a carbon copy pastiche.

Mike It's quite interesting from our point of view when someone comes along and says 'you sound just like X'; trying to figure what they've heard in our music to spark the comparison.

Ryan Yeah, like what is this Washed Out?! Haha!

There's just so much of it (chillwave) about though isn't there? Do you think there's just a big audience for it because it's woozy, hazy summertime music?

Ryan I think it's a generational thing actually. I read an article - did any of you guys read it? - in the New York Times and it was so relevant - I think it explains why there's so much of that music around.

Mike Haha, it was about 'kidults'.

Sam It was talking about your emotional make-up post adolescence.

Ryan And how, basically, the twenty-something generation is transfixed by their childhood.

I think I am quite a pathetically nostalgic person...

Ryan There are a lot of nostalgic twenty-somethings about.

Sam You're grown up, but not quite a proper adult.

Are you going a bit Britney on us there Sam? Careful how you're phrasing this.

Sam Ahahaha! Well this article's argument was basically that no-one acknowledges that after adolescence society views you as an adult although emotionally you're not the adult being of your 30s, 40s, so forth.

It's a wilderness! Everyone expects you to be a fully formed person, and you're not... Well, I'm not, certainly not today.

Ryan I don't think any of us are!

Dipping back into the bottomless box of obvious, irritating questions, what's so great about Brendan Fraser then?

All Haha, we knew this one was coming.

Ryan You had to drag that one out, didn't you?

I know I know, it had to be asked.

Mike His clapping. The way that man claps.

Ryan The way he smiles.

And the way he makes sandwiches? Does the man bring magic to everyday life?

Ryan No really, the way he claps! We were watching this awards show, the Emmys or something, and the presenter tells a joke, the camera cuts to Brendan Fraser laughing and (attempting) applauding, and his hands just completely missed each other... Special guy.

Impressive. Let's hope that's one gift he's not passing onto his children.

Mike You could tell there was just so much joy inside that he wanted to release, but lacked the skills.

Ryan Haha, and then he made it WORSE trying to cover it up by pretending he was actually clicking his fingers not clapping.

Have you any plans to record entirely instrumental tracks? The demos all feel as if they have the potential to work as instrumentals without sounding incomplete.

Sam I was thinking about this the other day. It's definitely something we wouldn't rule out.

Ryan What, no vocals at all?

Not a swipe at the vocal quality at all Ryan I promise, just the demos all feel as if they have the potential to work as instrumentals without sounding incomplete.

Sam I think it's probably due to the way Ryan writes at the moment.

Ryan Well, there's definitely a reason for that I think, most of the songs tend to begin life with the instrumental parts.

Mike And then we steer the vocal melody towards the guitar lines.

Ryan Actually, I don't know why I'm saying that because at the moment I'm tending to start new songs working up from a vocal line.

There's no derogatory implication with that question, it just does sound like the instrumental lines could easily stand up by themselves.

Ryan Well, that is probably due to the talents of Nate here who does all our production work.

Mike Yeah when other bands wax lyrical about the production wizard they've collaborated with, we've got Nate, and he's brilliant.

It's a tired question but let's wheel it out: you get to cover one track, who do give the Slow Motion Shoes treatment to?

Mike Well that would probably be different for everyone of us.

Sam I know it's a bit of a joke, but I think we should do it... (laughter all round) We were discussing the other day how we should do 'Empire State of Mind'... (more laughter) No really - I was listening to it in the car the other day thinking 'yeah this could really work!'

Nate That really would be amazing, haha!

Ryan I would love to try out some hip hop.

Mike We'd need a girl though to cover the female part.

Yeah, I bet there's not many women who can match the range of Alicia Keys.

Ryan I don't know, I reckon I could handle it... I mean, the first ever album I bought was MC Hammer.

(There's the first album sorted then-a collection of improbable cover tracks)

You're bottling Slow Motion Shoes up and selling it- what does the label say?

Ryan Hmmm, good question.

Mike 50 per cent 80s pop, 50 per cent chill

Ryan Yeah, I think we all just want to make really good pop music.

The band is pretty young - how long have you been together? Do you see your sound evolving as you play live more, or is the concept fully realised?

Mike Well, it was end of May when things really started gathering pace. I can definitely see the sound of Slow Motion Shoes developing, to say it's already fully evolved would no doubt be something I'd regret saying at a later stage. Certain songs have already evolved in the practice room so who knows where it will go from here.

The online coverage you've had has been pretty incredible in such a short space of time then.

Nathan Yeah, it's been amazing, there's been High Voltage, Pigeon Post, Neu Magazine, Transparent...

Transparent is an amazing blog...

Nathan Yeah, and I think we were also on the playlist for the Brown University campus radio in America which was unexpected, haha!

Sam I think we came on in between Lady Gaga and Eminem!

Perhaps a comment from the DJ on your place in the canon of pop music. Do you ever stick Slow Motion Shoes on for your own listening pleasure when no-one's around?

Sam I'll be honest, there's been one or two times where I've had my iPod on shuffle in the car and I'll be like 'mmmmm what's this?' Haha, and then I realise! Mike has the ability to listen to the same segment of our music over and over again continuously while he's finding ways to improve it. He's the only person I know who has the tolerance!

Mike I do have a strange tolerance for listening to our music which is probably uncommon among artists, but I will always listen to it with a critical ear, whether it's thinking how to improve a part or gauging the overall sound etc. Occasionally I do just enjoy it, but I think it probably helps at this stage that we've only had a lot of the songs a short period of time. I'm sure give us a couple of months and hundreds of plays and I'm sure it'll change!

I understand the band name came out of a game of charades.... eh?

Sam It was just a bit of a complicated variation on charades using a random assortment of words

Ryan Obviously it wasn't a deliberate exercise in finding a band name.

More aimless pop trivia: you can attend any classic gig from the past - where do you go?

Mike We're never all going to agree on this but for me, I'd say Jeff Buckley at Sin-é.

Nathan What about when U2 played in the deep south, I think it was actually Alabama, and Public Enemy was the support act. They came on wearing KKK hoods.

Blimey. I trust Flava Flav was still sporting his clock over his cloak?

Nathan Haha, I'd like to think so.

Otherwise people would probably just assume it was U2 coming on early....

(Here follows lengthy discussion of Bono's ceaseless, ego-maniacal bombast. Although Sam notes he has done some 'sterling work' for Poverty Aid, there's a unanimous consensus that the man is alabaster berk.)

Ryan How about Woodstock 1999? 'Cos they just burnt everything.

Haha, yeah, I think I'd choose something for completely non-musical reasons. The Rolling Stones at Altamont- just to witness the bizarre spectacle of Hell's Angels' stage security policy.

Sam I think I'd like to try the first year of Glastonbury - bit of free milk.

Ryan You got free milk?

Sam Yep, free milk for everyone and a £1 entry for the weekend.

You're obviously not financially reliant on the success of the band at the moment, but how do you feel about the prognosis of the music industry- will it evolve with download etc or is it on borrowed time?

Mike I think there will always be an industry in one form or another, dependent on how everyone s buying/accessing music. I just don't think we'll have the huge pop stars that we do today.

No more Bonos? Sad times.

Mike Apparently, there's a story that he flew off somewhere and booked a separate first class seat for his personal belongings. I don't like to hate anyone. (Long pause) But he's just a complete twat isn't he?

(Remorseful apologies follow)

Mike we decided before this interview that we want to be the nicest band in music. I've messed that right up. We've mocked Brendan Fraser and I've just called Bono a twat. It's all over.

Sam I personally still love to buy new albums (nods of agreement all round), and hopefully people that really care about new music feel the same way too.

Ryan It's a strange situation at the moment that it's possible to accumulate sizeable online coverage off the back of a couple of demos - gone are the days when you had to have a solid album success or a body of critically acclaimed work to merit press attention.

Mike It's true, there's a certain amount of pressure to keep uploading more tracks online because people are wanting to hear more new stuff; it's mad!

Ryan Also, there's one thing that you can't simulate and that's live music. If people truly love a band they will go and pay to watch them live, and I can't see that ever changing.

Catch Slow Motion shoes live at the following dates, (further details at http://soundblab.com/pages/page/view/id/40

High Voltage @ Islington Mill w/ Islets Salford, Manchester - Sep 28th

In The City Manchester - Oct 14th

The Ruby Lounge w/ Jim Noir , Manchester - Nov 18th

Download the excellent 'The Quiet American' now on the Soundblab unsigned mixtape.

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