With the new album Dream Darling slowly amassing positive reviews from critics, I spoke to James Longden from The Slow Show over email about the band’s musical tastes, Brexit, and their inspiration for the record.
What sort of music have you been listening to lately?
One of the great things about being in The Slow Show is that we all have very wide and sometimes very different tastes in music. This makes for a very eclectic mix on the tour bus. On this tour we’ve listened to Leonard Cohen, Bon Iver, Efterklang, Kurt Vile, Stevie Wonder and Nick Mulvey to name a few. One after-show party turned into a bit of an indie disco, with the likes of The Smiths, Oasis and Suede blasting out of the speakers.
A lot of the songs on Dream Darling seem to revolve around heartbreak and change. What was the thematic concept behind the album?
The concept of the album was change which has affected us all over the last 12 months to varying degrees. We’ve experienced births, break ups and the death of close relatives to name just a few things which have provided a huge source of inspiration during the writing and recording of Dream Darling.
The new album reminded me a lot of The National’s early work. Did their music have much of an influence on this record?
I wouldn’t say so. Whilst we do like The National, they don’t particularly influence either our sound or the way we write.
A lot of reviews have described the band’s music as minimalist. What would you say has influenced that aspect of your music the most?
I think the minimalist description of our music comes from the fact that several of our songs build from sparse instrumentation at the beginning of the track and also because the individual parts are quite simple. We all try and play what is best for the track and not to satisfy our own ego. This adds layers to the music and creates space/moments of silence allowing the listener to comprehend whats happening during the track.
One reviewer stated that the song ‘Brick’ reminded him of the films of Terence Davies. Would you say that you aim for a cinematic feel when writing songs?
It’s not something we specifically aim for, but our songs are often described as having a cinematic feel. I think this is due to the instrumentation we use and the space that we leave in our songs to create tension and emotion.
The song ‘Lullaby’ contains the line ‘If this is England that I see, then all of your values are foreign to me.’ It’s a lot more political than the rest of the album, which begs the question; what originally inspired you to write it?
Individually, and as a band, we were hoping that the UK would chose to remain as part of the EU. We’ve had many fantastic experiences playing all over Europe; both our record label and tour manager are German and our sound and lighting crew are Dutch and we felt that remaining in the EU would be in the UK’s best interests based on our own experiences. Sadly this didn’t transpire and Rob subsequently wrote ‘Lullaby’ with this in mind.
How would you describe your music to someone who had never heard it before?
I always find this a difficult question and struggle to attach a specific genre to our music but have often heard it described as emotional, cinematic, sparse, and uplifting which seems a good place to start.
If you had to choose one artist to collaborate with, who would it be?
We’d all have different choices, but mine would be Stevie Wonder.
What, in your opinion, is the greatest album of all time?
Everyone in the band will have a different answer to this question but my choice would be Pet Sounds by The Beach Boys. That album also contains my favourite song, ‘God Only Knows’.
The Slow Show are currently on tour in the UK in support of new album Dream Darling, which was released in September.
Interview by Zack Moore