I love the O Genesis record label so I was thrilled when I got the first ever interview with signings Slowgun. They were as lovely to talk to as their music is to hear. It was first published on Louder Than War on 3 September 2013.
We’re really digging Slowgun recently – we premiered a couple of their videos a few weeks back and now we’ve been lucky enough to snag the first interview with the dream-pop band.
And it’s a great time to chat to them – despite having been gigging as a band since 2005 things are starting to happen for them with the release of single double A Side Next Time and Sidekick Me on Tim Burgess’s O Genesis label on 30 September and a string on storming festival slots over the summer.
Sarah Lay chats to Toni, Piers, Stef and Matt about the band’s story, working with O Genesis, their influences and music recommendations.
LTW: You have been together as a band for a while now, tell me a little bit about how you all met and started playing together?
“Toni, Stef and Piers were friends through Valentina, Slowgun’s original
drummer, who Piers and Stef also used to be in bands with.Toni had a bunch of songs which we all liked a lot, so we got together to play them and that was pretty much the start of Slowgun.
“We’ve actually been playing on and off for quite a while – since about 2005! Most of us have been/ are in other bands so we’ve had to put Slowgun on hold a few times while various members do other things.
“Matt joined a couple of years ago – we knew him from his other band Smallgang who we’d played with, supporting Shonen Knife at The Scala.”
LTW: Your next single is released on Tim Burgess’s O Genesis label this month. When Louder Than War premiered a couple of your videos a few weeks back Tim told us how he’d first heard Slowgun – how did the hook up happen from your side?
“Dr Kiko now has a tour van business but he was our manager a while back.
“One day he called Toni up, saying he was driving Tim Burgess around on tour and
Tim had heard our songs and really liked them. Then all of a sudden she was on the phone to Tim, talking about recording them.
“It’s amazing how it happened really!”
LTW: What’s it been like working with O Genesis and how are you feeling about
the 7″ coming out?
“We’re all really excited about the single!
“We recorded three songs in a day at The Charlatans’ studio near Crewe earlier this year which was great fun, and we were really chuffed with how they turned out. They really capture the spirit of the band as we are now.
“Tim is great to work with – he’s really enthusiastic about the band and clearly knows his music! We had a great conversation about Factory records catalogue numbers! In fact, the whole team at OGenesis has been lovely!”
LTW: When we premiered the videos for Sidekick Me and Next Time on Louder Than War we got a few comments about the ’90s sound. What would you say your main influences are? Is there a definite sound you are looking for when writing songs?
“We certainly are fans of bands like Pavement, Sonic Youth, Pixies, Dinosaur
Jr, My Bloody Valentine and all that stuff, but we also love good pop music.
“We’ve been known to listen to Destiny’s Child and Abba on the way to gigs!
“And of course the unmistakable sound of Fleetwood Mac. Basically a good tune
is what it’s all about really.
“We don’t look to have a definite sound when writing songs. The sound just happens naturally when we play together, which is where our influences kick in probably.”
Stef: “Yea, well, I reckon anything after Pussy Galore is s***! Ha-ha”
LTW: Where do your songs come from? Is it a group writing effort or does one
person lead? Where do you find inspiration comes from?
Toni: “I basically play around on the guitar until I find a chord progression or melody that fits with a vocal melody that I like and try to turn it into a song with some lyrics. I then take it to the band and together we elaborate on it.
“Some of the lyrics are inspired by imaginary characters, superheroes or just how I feel about someone or something, silly stuff.”
LTW: What’s the most exciting thing about being a musician at the moment? And the hardest?
“Well, for us it’s been really exciting to play some festivals this year, which is something we hadn’t done before.
“It’s been great playing with some of the other O Genesis bands like The Velveteen Saints and Hatcham Social at the festivals. It’s so much nicer to play with bands you know and like.
“The hardest thing would have to be juggling day jobs with band commitments! Thankfully we’ve all got fairly understanding bosses.”
LTW: What were the first records/songs/albums you bought or remember falling in love with?
Piers: “One of the first 7″ singles I bought was When Doves Cry by Prince. I still think it sounds amazing – such a simple arrangement, but very effective!
“I was a massive Madness fan for a while when I was young too, but I suppose the first music that I got seriously into was The Smiths. I still remember the first time I heard The Queen Is Dead – it blew me away!”
Matt: “Well, as a kid, getting into music I was obsessed with Prince and Depeche
Mode, both great singles artists. But it was probably hearing Napalm Death on John Peel’s show that had the most profound effect on me generally, because it taught me that music could be whatever you wanted it to be.
“The Jesus and Mary Chain’s ‘Upside Down’ is one of the greatest singles of all time and anything by Joy Division still floors me to this day.”
Toni: “I fell in love with the Pixies when I was teenager. I hadn’t realised that they were an old band and was so disappointed to found out that I was too late to see them.
“I did see them when they reformed and found myself appearing in the Loud Quiet Loud documentary.”
Stef: “On My Own by Nikka Costa – I learnt it by heart in perfectly made-up
English (I’m Italian) and performed it in front of my parents and our next-door neighbours as part of a show we used to put on with my brother and our neighbours’
daughters every other weekend.
“The highlight would be Wordy Rappinghood by Tom Tom Club, which the four of us would perform together. Talking of which, I think Slowgun should cover this!
“And then Duran Duran happened – I was nine yrs old. This is where I started to
learn English. Three years later, I would be attempting to translate Pornography by the Cure.”
LTW: What can you recommend to our readers / what are you listening to lots at the moment?
Piers: I’m really enjoying the new James Blake album, but annoyingly it looks like we might be clashing with him at Festival No. 6. Bah!
“I really liked Connan Mockasin’s album Forever Dolphin Love – I think he’s playing in
London soon. The Crumbling Ghost II record is very good too!”
Matt: “Through OGenesis, we’ve been introduced to the work of R. Stevie Moore,
which is amazing. Brilliant lo-fi pop songs that lodge themselves in your head.
“I’ve also recently found a couple of early solo albums by Michael Rother, the guy from Neu!, which are really beautiful.”
Toni: “I would recommend Keebo. We played with them once and they blew us away.
But at the moment I’ve been listening to R Stevie Moore. His songs are brilliant! You must have a listen if you haven’t already.”
Stef: “Been listening to Toni’s latest song a lot! I love it and can’t wait to play it!”
Interview by Sarah Lay.