Ahead of our first gig in association with Lynx, we sat down with the tattooed twenty-somethings to mull over fury, rage and why failing your GCSEs is no big deal. Sign up for ticket notifications at ShortList.com/48hours
One half of Slaves, Laurie Vincent, is staring at a bowl of freshly-peeled white onions. The 23-year-old is hoping it’ll cure his cold (on advice from his girlfriend). The second half, Isaac Holman, can be heard shouting profanities off in the distance. His pet rat, Betty, is on the loose, you see. “There’s f*cking strawberries all over my kitchen,” he says, before softening: “She’s so clever.”
If that all sounds a bit chaotic, well, that’s because it is. There’s an intensity to these guys. They scream, veins popping, into the microphone during savage live performances. That this oddball punk band became one of the unlikeliest success stories of 2015 – their debut album Are You Satisfied? reached the Top 10 – is testament to the importance of their voices. This year’s follow-up, Take Control, released ahead of them opening our 48 Hours To… gig series in sponsored_longform with Lynx Anti-Perspirant, brings yet more apoplectic rants and aggressive riffs. But are they really as angry as it sounds? Is it all a punk-posturing facade? We decided to find out.
Right then, guys. What was the last thing that made you angry?
Isaac: I just bought some Hoover bags that don’t fit in my Hoover. That really p*ssed me off.
Laurie: Did you? I’ve got one of those Dyson pan things.
Isaac: Think I need to re-evaluate my Hoover situation – it’s not going well. My flat’s f*cking disgusting.
It’s the small things, huh?
I: Well, it’s the big things too.
L: Brexit made me really angry. People didn’t vote because they wanted to leave Europe – they voted out of anger. It made me laugh that everyone gets angry about someone in Belgium telling us what to do. Why does anyone really care? No one likes being told what to do. Does it really matter?
Someone’s still going to tell you what to do.
L: Exactly. It’s a massive step backwards. What scares me is this weird phobia of outsiders coming into our country. We had a great union of people, and countries. You could have gone and lived anywhere in Europe, all you needed was a passport. But we’ve got rid of all that.
Do you think young people are angrier now?
L: There’s anger, yeah, but I also think people bury their heads in the sand and only think about themselves. There’s a Kate Tempest song called Don’t Fall In that I’ve been listening to on repeat. Lots of bands are pointlessly angry – they’ll just say: “Everything’s sh*t. F*ck, f*ck, c*nt.” Kate Tempest’s song perfectly sums up how we’re all humans and that, even though you’ve got your own little family unit, we should look after each other. A lot of like-minded people my age are angry, but then others don’t care as long as they can buy a bag of pills or MDMA at the weekend.
You’ve said you’re tired of being called punks. Why?
I: Punk has been and gone, and we’re not recreating it, we’re doing our own thing.
You’ve certainly got elements, though. That raw, angry sentiment, for starters…
L: Sometimes angry is the wrong word. Sometimes it’s, like, deflated. And disappointed. Or when you just feel a bit lame and bored. We’re not angry. Anger means you hate something and you want to rail against it. Sometimes we’re just saying, “Oh, that’s a bit sh*t.”
If you were in charge and could change one thing, what would it be?
L: Cancel Brexit.
I: That’s a very good shout.
L: Arts and music funding.
I: You pretty much do maths every day at school, which is crazy. And then you do one art or music lesson a week. When artists and musicians get deemed geniuses just as highly as mathematicians and scientists, I feel like we need to address that issue.
What’s the one thing holding back society in 2016?
L: School. You’re told from an early age that going to university is what you should do. You’re made to feel bad if you’re not good at English or maths. We’re not taught how to cook. We’re not taught social skills. The way we bring kids up in this country is a bit backwards.
I: I failed my maths GCSE four times. It clearly wasn’t my thing.
L: I just feel sorry for the people I grew up with who were really good at school and are all f*cked now because they’ve got huge loans, are miserable and don’t even have a job they like.
Failing maths GCSE four times was a blessing in disguise, then?
I: Definitely. If I hadn’t found music, I honestly don’t have a clue what I’d be doing.
//SLAVES PLAY THE ZANZIBAR CLUB FOR FREE//
That’s right, the punk duo are playing a free gig in Liverpool for ShortList readers on 20 October at The Zanzibar Club, 43 Seel Street, L1 4AZ. Doors open at 7pm.
This is the first gig in our 48 Hours To… series in association with Lynx Anti-Perspirant, where we’re staging four incredible gigs with four different artists, all for free
Sign up for ticket notifications at ShortList.com/48hours
Strictly over-14s only. We will be recording the event, so by your attendance you will be giving your consent to be photographed and/or recorded for content on ShortList.com and ShortList Magazine.
(Image: Derek Santini)