Meet British punk-rock duo Slaves, who just launched their new album ‘Take Control’, taking them straight back to the top ten of the British album charts.
Political, cynical, ruthless and energetic. Not only that they release great records, they are especially well known for their ecstatic live performances. We were lucky to meet them before their gig at Franzz Club in Berlin, which was an absolute cracker.
The whole crowd blurring into a wild mosh pit while the band finished the night with the warning to ‘watch out for those kids!’ (‘Hey!’) captures it quite well. Twenty-one songs in 60 minutes. That’s as punk as it gets. The calm and melancholic ‘Steer Clear’ was still a highlight as singer and drummer Isaac Holman walked his way through the crowd.
Laurie Vincent proved that he is an absolute riff-machine wether that’s on guitar or bass, doesn’t matter. We met the guys before the show and had a quick and interesting chat with Laurie & Isaac.
Hi guys, how are you doing?
Isaac: Good, really good, we had a nice day in Berlin.
Have you been in Berlin before?
It’s been a good last couple of years for you guys, hasn’t it?
Isaac: It’s been alright, been fun.
You charted with your first album about two years ago…
Laurie: We charted with both albums! A number eight and a number 6!
That’s true and how does it feel to go top ten with a punk-rock album? It’s not the ordinary these days.
Laurie: I don’t think we ever expected it, I didn’t really understand what it was, I didn’t know about album charts, I only knew about single charts, because that’s what they play on the radio. So when we were told we had a top ten record and got big shiny discs for selling 60.000 copies, it’s fucking weird. It’s not gonna happen, is it?
Do you listen to chart music?
Laurie: He does. Oh not trap? No I listen to chart music sometimes.
And you listen to trap music, Isaac?
Isaac: (laughing) Yeah.
Laurie: Depends if it’s good or not, most of it is shit, as in chart music. There are few diamonds in the rough, you know what I mean?
That’s true. I think before slaves you two played in a different band before, how come you decided to strip back and continue as a duo?
Laurie: I think it was because I joined his band and they were one of my favourite bands and then when I joined it I ended up actually having like a really shit time, it was not what I wanted it to be.
Isaac: It was already over by the time he joined.
Laurie: Yeah, me and Isaac clicked quite instantly, I think I could tell his heart wasn’t in it, I remember having a conversation where I said to him, I’m actually gonna stop doing this, I’m over it. And he was like ‘me too’. So I was like should we do something together? There were other members in the band but I think we were just naturally drawn to each other, we have the same sort of mindset, we wanna make the same kind of music, the other band members didn’t like the punk style, they wanted it to be more poppy.
Do you have any special influences for your music? Like icons or idols that you’d say had an influence on what you do?
Isaac: I don’t really know. There’s definitely influences, like we both love Mike Skinner from The Streets, one of my favourite lyricists is Mark Perry, who was in an underground group called Alternative TV. He’s like one of my heroes as well. Eminem!
Laurie: Yeah, Eminem’s like one of our ultimate heroes. I think one of the most underrated bands I forget to mention are The Specials. When I first heard The Specials…I think Terry Hall was the first UK rapper. When you listen to ‘Do The Dog’, that bit where he goes like ‘All you punks and all you teds’ he’s practically like rapping and it’s over ska-beat and they’re like originally punk boys, that for me was like, you can do whatever you want and mold it into one thing. The Special were a massive influence on me.
What was the latest record you bought for yourself?
Laurie: I bought one today, I actually bought ‘The Joshua Tree’ by U2. Surprising, right? I have come to a point in my life where I know it’s not very cool to like popular bands because it’s not very punk, but at some point in your life you have to admit that Oasis wrote bangers and so did U2. And I’m at that point and ‘The Joshua Tree’ is fucking hits after hits. But I also bought some yesterday, I bought The Cramps ‘A Date with Elvis’ I bought two Billy Childish albums and I bought Talking heads.
Isaac: I bought a Public Enemy album today and I bought Beastie Boys album, Young MC album.
Where did you buy them?
At the flee market around the corner, that’s so sick.
So guys, what does fashion mean to you?
Isaac: We like clothes. I spend all day looking at clothes. Laurie’s got a design brand (which we will feature very soon, watch out for that one!).
Laurie: Yeah, I make clothes, we’re called Young Lovers Club and they’re stocked in Selfridges in England. I make kind of like street wear, like t-shirts, track-suits, stuff that we’d like to wear.
That’s really cool. Do you have any indispensable items, especially on tour?
Laurie: A hat.
Isaac: Always hats. You’ve always got bad hair, so you’ve got to wear a hat.
Laurie: I always take a track suit on tour.
Isaac: Yeah, comfy bus-clothes. Always make sure you bring lots of pants, we go through twice as many underwear as people, because we sweat so much on stage. So if you’re going on like a month of tour, that’s like fucking sixty pairs of pants. Socks too.
Laurie: Dr Martens and Airmax, they are like two shoes I wear all the time.
Isaac: I always just wear ten eye boots.
Nice. Is there anything on your minds you wanna say?
Isaac & Laurie: We love you, we’re still at home here. FUCK BREXIT!
That’s a statement. We love you too and we’re looking forward to see again soon. Thank you for your time and a brilliant show. Check out Slaves latest album ‘Take Control’, which we think is a fantastic record which does the bands life performances justice.
xx smoke and echoes