Kent duo Isaac Holman and Laurie Vincent, AKA Slaves, have had something of a whirlwind year. Having become one of the most talked about bands and with debut album Are You Satisfied? reaching critical acclaim in the past several months, it’s hard to imagine they’re anything but excited about what the future will bring. Ahead of their first headline show in the Academy this Thursday, we chatted to guitarist and “40% frontman” Laurie Vincent on the highs, the lows and breaking the mould.
You’ve just recently kicked off your tour in Moscow – how have you found the reception over there? Is playing Europe different to the UK crowd?
It was amazing actually, about 500 people turned up which was surprising, they’re just really connected. They knew all the words and were singing along. They don’t have the same inhibitions as the UK crowd do; they let the music take over.
You’re playing larger venues this time around, you’re playing huge festivals like Glastonbury, do you prefer playing the smaller venues?
I actually like playing the bigger ones, you have to think about them more – what goes in to your set, the lighting, how you are going to fill the stage and work out how you’re going to keep the audience interested because at a festival, if they haven’t heard of you before you have to command their attention, so I like the challenge. Both myself and Issac are the frontmen, probably Isaac 60% and myself 40%. The drum kit kind of restricts him, so he’s like a caged animal, which I quite like. I work around his playing and his energy, that dynamic has always worked for us.
You’re nominated for the Mercury Prize, did you ever see yourselves reaching such a wide audience?
It’s a dream come true really. It doesn’t feel like it’s about being big enough, one of the things I always liked about the Mercury Prize is that it’s purely about the music. It’s still surreal to be nominated, it hasn’t quite sunk in yet!
You’ve been described as a punk band but would you say Slaves fit in to a genre? Do you feel music is becoming more genre fluid?
I think genre just puts a ceiling on the type of music you can do. With social media and everything, people have more access to different types of music. When we were growing up, you’d buy a CD and go to your mate’s house and you’d all sit around listening to it. You would fall in to these packs where you’d all dress a certain way and be listening to stuff like Limp Bizkit. Even the clothing people wear can’t be defined anymore. I don’t really like it, it’s harder to form an identity and stand out as a band, but I suppose it’s good because people are learning from different types of music.
I read before that you described the grime scene as your punk, which I loved. It just shows music is more of an attitude, then a stereotypical image or sound.
Exactly, that’s what I like about the grime scene – it’s not contrived. It hasn’t been ruined by mainstream media, it’s very honest. Like with punk, you can go down to Camden and see everyone with Mohawks, studs and leather, it’s almost become a caricature of itself. But it’s definitely more about attitude and what you bring to it.
Does creating music for a living inspire you to be creative in other aspects of your life? I know you’re an avid painter and you have your clothing line with the Young Lovers Club?
Definitely, playing music for a living has allowed me time to do other stuff creatively – tattooing, painting and creating clothing. It’s inspired me to just do whatever I want and achieve my goals. When you’re in a band, there is no denying that kids look up to us, so we want to have a positive outlook. It’s easier to make money out of being creative nowadays, there are just so many outlets people can reveal their work with.
You’ve had controversy with your name in the past – do you feel, with social media and everything, that people try and stir controversy out of small, trivial things? How do you feel about that controversy in hindsight?
Well you’ve hit the nail on the head there, social media gives everyone a voice, so you get a lot of people not really thinking about what they are saying. They look for something to latch on to in terms of controversy. As a band you’re left wide open anyway, so you’re very vulnerable to being attacked. I just feel that if it wasn’t our name they would have found something – anything to cause negativity.
You’re doing your first headline show in Ireland soon, what can people expect?
A lot of fun, something different! Even if you’re not too familiar with our music, you’ll come away from it having had a great night.
What’s next for Slaves?
When we’re finished in the UK, we’ll be going to the US. We have seven new songs that will go on the next album, so we may be playing those!
Slaves play The Academy, Dublin tomorrow – Thursday, November 5th – and tickets can be found here.