Slaves (UK)
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Slaves (UK)

Maidstone, England, United Kingdom | Established. Jan 01, 2012 | MAJOR

Maidstone, England, United Kingdom | MAJOR
Established on Jan, 2012
Duo Rock Punk

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"UK Punks Slaves Are A-OK with Your Outrage"

“Slaves are about saying what you like, doing what you like, and flying free in the face of their critics.”– Noisey

UK Punks Slaves Are A-OK with Your Outrage

Tweet this! UK Punks Slaves Are A-OK with Your Outrage



We hang with the duo in Austin to discuss their new Mike D-produced LP and the ever-present controversy that surrounds them.

​Slaves have just finished their first US festival slot at Austin City Limits, when two armed policeman come marching towards their dressing room. Onstage, guitarist Laurie Vincent instructs the crowd: "Anybody watching us who's voting for Trump, fuck off. Go to the other side of the festival." The officer cracks a smile. "I sent a video of you performing to my wife," he says. "She said: 'That'll wake you up!'" The policemen request a picture with the raucous British punk duo—that's Laurie and his shirtless partner-in-crime Isaac Holman. "Thanks officer," says Laurie. He turns towards the crew. "Well, that's never happened before!"

The day before, Slaves' freshly released second album, Take Control, went to Number 6 in the UK Album Chart. The collection is a call-to-arms to young adults who complain about their humdrum existence, yet do nothing about it. It beat last year's acclaimed debut Are You Satisfied? by two chart positions. The band's label, Virgin/EMI, voiced concerns about releasing another record just 16 months later, but in the spirit of the power-wielding themes of Take Control, Slaves did what they wanted. In fact, they want to put an album out every year. Two top 10 albums isn't bad going for a couple of guys from Kent, an area far enough outside of London to lend their songs an everyman perspective beyond the UK's capital. "The live show is secondary. At the end of the day a painter wouldn't paint the same painting every day," says Laurie of their need to keep creating. "It gets repetitive."​



One way of avoiding repetition is wardrobe. Before the set, Laurie bounces about the dressing room. "Hat or hair?" he asks, taking his beanie off, putting it back on. "Energy! Energy! Gimme, gimme!" puffs Isaac. Onstage, Isaac pulls his shirt off after one song. Hunched upright over his drums, he booms into the mic, every thwack is a full force smack. Before their biggest singalong, "Cheer Up London," he sits on the edge of the stage, doubling up as a stand-up Cockney town crier. "This goes out to all the miserable commuters on the buses, on the Tube," he says, referring to London's subway system. "If you're not happy in your profession, do saamfink else. Don't infect me wiv your negativitee. I'm a HAPPY MAN!"

Every belt of his pub punk anthems—"White Knuckle Ride" and "Debbie Where's Your Car?"—are like savage responses to Ian Dury's assertions on "Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick": "Hit me!" Whack. "Hit me!" Bang. Turns out Dury is one of his heroes. "Ian Dury's the boss," Isaac tells me later. "If he was around now, he'd be slated by the same people who slate us."

Today in Austin, no one appears to be having an adverse reaction to the duo's serrated punk. The crowd swells to double its size over the course of their 45 minute set. As they race towards the final song, Isaac lies over the amp playing dead, his sweat-wet torso rising up and down. Then he swivels round and bolts like a raging bull for one last boxing match with the drums. He comes off-stage and shakes off the sweat. How was that? "Lu-ver-ly," he smiles.



Isaac is what Grace Jones might describe as a slave to the rhythm. "It's fucked my body up," he says, demonstrating how to pop his shoulder back in its looser-than-loose socket. Their gigs are so brutalizing that one of his shoulders had to be operated on earlier this year, the morning after a notoriously messy industry night out in London. That scheduling could have been avoided. "I had to be at the hospital at 7.30 in the morning," he says, as he recounts stumbling onto an operating table fresh from the party. "They put a pipe down my throat to stop me from swallowing my tongue. I hadn't slept, then I'd been KO'd. I was blinking one eye at a time when they brought me back around and this nurse was laughing at me." He's alarmingly unperturbed. "I'll be a hunchback one day," he says grabbing a spoon for his rare American breakfast: Fruit Loops. "When in Rome!"

Laurie seems less cavalier, a sensitive soul. Before this trip he went to seeBridget Jones's Baby with his girlfriend (verdict: "fucking good"). He's unintentionally funny ("I had an ex-girlfriend who didn't believe in giraffes…"), and unpretentiously fanning out over The Cribs and The Gaslight Anthem. A painter and designer, he's decorated with a plethora of self-sketched tattoos. His right sleeve is all his own. He has a spider web on his head, a pirate crossbones on his neck, and a massive alligator down his right ribcage. He had those three done in a two-week window. "Then I got tonsillitis," he laughs. Round his former neck of the woods, Laurie's tattoos likely sealed his twin fates as a musician and artist.

Isaac, with his easy charm, comes from a creative pedigree—a family of naturally musically-inclined folk. Laurie on the other hand, well, you get the sense that Laurie's got something to prove. For one thing his parents are more traditional; they expected him to go to university. "The first song Isaac ever heard was "Monkey Man" by The Specials," he says. "Mine was probably Shania Twain." Ironically, despite their debut's title, Laurie seems short of satisfied with how well the band have done. "I'm a proper dreamer. We're not a household name. We're successful in our own right, but we could always be bigger."



"I wanna cook my back," says Isaac, venturing to a sunspot and taking off his shirt again. Slaves spent a portion of last year opening for London rapscallions Wolf Alice, but despite this, and their home turf success, the duo remain anonymous in America. Laurie has his own tactic for dealing with skeptical members of the public: "You know Mike D from the Beastie Boys?" he told hotel staff earlier. "He produced our new record."

He did. Out in Santa Monica for two weeks last summer. Mike had heard Take Control early on and reached out to Laurie. The songs are technically as punk as anything the Beasties did (that is, punk in ethos), and spliced with skits. "Rich Man" is lyrically inspired by Blur's "Country House" and the news of former UK Prime Minister David Cameron's off-shore tax benefits, meanwhile "Lies" was written in reaction to the Syrian refugee crisis—that reaction being "pissed off." The title track of Take Control itself is almost a fired-up take on Baxter Dury's "Claire" from the 2011 cult classic Happy Soup (one of the only LPs the pair share in common). Whereas Dury pleads, "Don't waste your life, Claire," Slaves reverse the tables and tell the tale of ennui from the band's perspective as modern men. "Don't ask me where I'm going, I'm just following my feet," blares Isaac.

Elsewhere "People That You Meet," is the record's standout track: a judgment-free, social commentary on the weird characters the pair stumbled upon during their Stateside travels, written with Wolf Alice's drummer Joel Amey. They'd been drinking all afternoon and during soundcheck, before a show in Nebraska, Slaves started jamming to a bass riff, then Joel jumped on his kit to play along. The song's first character is Terry. "He was in Philadelphia, a homeless guy telling jokes for money," explains Isaac, before giggling about the following verse about a sex shop. The final few lines are a home run: "I know a man called Michael / He hails from NYC… He used to be a Beastie Boy / But now he works for me."

What was it like recording that in front of Mike D? "I was hammered," Isaac notes for the umpteenth time. "Me and Joel had been partying all night and Laurie said, 'Whatever you do please don't come in hungover.'" Mike D was getting his hair cut in the kitchen and didn't hear the lyric until Isaac was doing his last vocal take. Laurie continues: "Because Isaac was so smashed his takes were getting worse." Mike D wasn't annoyed about the line, but he was riled about the takes. "He said, 'If you're gonna fucking cuss me, at least do it fucking well!'"



The song's brilliance is bittersweet given it's about extending the benefit of the doubt to strangers, where that courtesy has not been returned to them. Press has been favorable and damning in equal measures. Laurie in particular has an encyclopedic​ knowledge of his critics and is naturally defensive. He admits that since school, he's felt that people have pre-judged him. There is definitely a sense of Laurie versus The World. "Did you have any preconceptions about us?" he asks. "It's not a problem if you have. Everyone does."

Not everyone understands Slaves' humor. It's dark like Irvine Welsh'sTrainspotting, twisted like if Mike Skinner had a Keith Flint inside him raving to get out. They're often described as "aggressive" or "angry" when in fact they're seeking to alleviate those feelings at gigs, promoting a place for relief, community and—heaven forbid—fun. They've supported online awareness groupGirls Against​, plus they proactively police sexual assault at gigs, responding to fan concerns posted on their own Facebook. "I'm not scared of confronting people. I'm not big and I've never had a fight, but I always stop shows and call out security guards that could easily squash me," says Laurie.

Unlike other polarizing British lad bands, like Royal Blood or Catfish & The Bottlemen, Slaves deny their purported laddy-ness. Their detractors take umbrage with more ideological issues before the band have strummed a single note. Why's that then? Well that would be the name: Slaves. When I broach the topic, Laurie seems exhausted. Given the political temperature and the social media age we live in, it wasn't the wisest choice, but still they've stuck with it. And they've "equipped" themselves for interviews.

In America, criticisms are even more vexed. The Fader once asked "Why Should a Band of White Dudes Name Themselves Slaves?" The band chose the name to evoke a sense of oneness in the face of overbearing authority. "We are all slaves in this modern age, whether it be to our jobs, corporations, social media, or society in general. We are all in this together," reads their statement on Facebook. Given that Viet Cong recently changed their name to the infinitely less problematic Preoccupations,​ was there a point when Slaves considered making a similar move?

"No," says Laurie firmly. "Then it wouldn't have been our band. Our band is set to challenge. That's the point." My assessment is that the band likely hadn't even thought about connotations of historic slavery when they chose it, and neither did those around them. Initially managed by Three Six Zero, the same company who handle Rihanna and Calvin Harris, this ensured their music was placed in the hands of major influencers early on. "Kanye West was on his honeymoon listening to our first album by the pool," says Laurie, as if to infer that the rapper saw no issue with their moniker. "Why is your band name a problem?" asked Mike D more recently. "To us, it says a lot about society," offers Laurie, who agrees that social media warriors have a silencing effect on bigger conversations. "The internet has made things way more conservative and it should be doing the opposite."
He sighs, catching himself. "If I listen back to what I just said I'm open to someone calling me an idiot." Then continues. "Slavery is fucked up. There's a band called White from Glasgow but they make very different music from us [modern Krautrock]. If we were called White, would that cause the same issue? What if there was a funk band called Slaves? New Order: Is that not fucked up? They still headline festivals and that feels way worse."



As with everything in Slaves' world, there are two ways of looking at things. "It feels like our band name is important," says Laurie. "We gave it to ourselves, and it's making us work harder." Laurie accepts that he'll be questioned on this topic for as long as Slaves exist." Usually with people who are likeminded to us," he notes. "They're the ones who wanna be argumentative." If controversial music is intended to inspire debate, this certainly does the trick…

Laurie reads out one particular hurtful comment that mocked the cover art for Take Control, suggesting he'd ripped off the balaclava design from Pussy Riot, and capitalized on it. In fact the artwork's origin can be traced years back before the album's conception. The inspiration came from VICE magazine; a photo of a girl wearing a mask caught Laurie's attention. "I loved the femininity of the eyes, juxtaposed with the ominous mask. So I painted it. It was just an image. The soft versus the provocative."

But for Slaves this is not the be-all, end-all. "This is the starting point," says Laurie. Once they've diversified their shows, and caught a sniff of potential festival headline slots, they want to retire the band and graduate to a production duo. The pinnacle would be to make a collaborations-led album, something akin to the Gorillaz's output."I don't wanna be smashing them drums forever," says Isaac. "I wanna crooooooon!"

As we wrap up our chat Laurie's phone buzzes. It's grime MC Skepta inviting him to karaoke tonight. In London. He's one they'd love for the future collaborations album. "We hold each other in high regard," says Isaac, standing up. His back is well and truly "cooked."



Having had enough of festivals for the year, the boys ditch ACL's afternoon lineup in search of cowboy boots in downtown Austin. Isaac's has a specific, longstanding vision involving black and red boots and some "arseless chaps." He wants to pose in that outfit with Betty, his three-month-old pet rat, on his shoulder. Then Laurie is going to paint this portrait for the mantelpiece in Isaac's apartment, just up the road from his family home in Kent.

Meanwhile Laurie (who's newly relocated to Brighton on England's south coast), has an extra special present waiting for him back home: In early December he'll become a father for the first time. He shows me his iPhone home screen—it's a picture of his pregnant other half. "That's love, innit?" While Laurie's on paternity leave, Isaac's scheduled to get his other shoulder operated on.

Unlike Isaac, Laurie doesn't like going back to Kent, from the politics to the way people live, it's just not his bag. "It makes me realize how fucked up it is. I have a lot of anger. It's a ghost from my past, a dark place." Laurie's family didn't really encourage art as a vocation—he doesn't like the small-mindedness—but he's terribly fond of his folks. To this day he tries not to swear because he imagines his mother flinching with every cuss.

As Isaac marches ahead, off to buy his first Snickers Xtreme (verdict: "too extreme"), Laurie pauses to consider all we've discussed. "You know I wasn't conscious of it when I was younger, but I think the reason I got all my tattoos was to save my breath." It comes back to preconceptions. For people who won't approach Laurie because they think they know what a guy "like Laurie" is about, it means he doesn't need to engage. "In a way, it's the ultimate bullshit filter." I hazard a guess that he feels the same way about Slaves as an entity, not just a name. Slaves are about saying what you like, doing what you like, and flying free in the face of their critics. - Noisey.com


"Slaves Gonna Make You Sweat – The Full NME Cover Interview"

Kent duo Slaves set themselves up as the cartoon face of punk with their 2015 debut ‘Are You Satisfied’. Just a year later, they return a more serious and political force with the Mike D-produced ‘Take Control’. Dan Stubbs gets inside the most intense partnership in pop

Isaac Holman has two-day-old tomato ketchup in his ear, residue from shooting the video for new single ‘Consume Or Be Consumed’. In it, he and Slaves guitarist Laurie Vincent cram vegan hotdogs into their gobs, squirt sauce, lick each other and vomit uncontrollably. Shooting it was a sensory onslaught heightened by an odour emanating from Isaac’s sport shorts which, thanks to their many wears on stage, have a stench so noteworthy it briefly dominates the conversation when we sit down for a lunchtime chat at a Hertfordshire pub. “Those shorts are what I imagine hoarders to smell like,” says Laurie, visibly searching for the right words. “Like, you know when you’re walking around a shop and all of a sudden you have to move because someone stood next to you smells so bad? Like, B.O. is one thing, but this thing has different layers to it…” Isaac nods, and adds matter-of-factly, “I sweat so much on stage it’s f***ing repulsive.”

For most people, all of the above might be seen as a sign that personal boundaries have broken down and it’s time to consciously uncouple from your pal. But for Slaves, this friendship, existing beyond the barriers of politeness, is the dynamic at the heart of their brutalist punk act. It’s a relationship with shallow roots – they met in another band before splintering off to form Slaves together in 2012 – but it’s one hardened by an extraordinary last year-and-a-bit spent living in each others’ pockets: on the road, at festivals and recording their second album at the Malibu home of Beastie Boy Mike D. It’s given them a bond that’s less like friendship and more like symbiosis. In interviews, Laurie does most of the talking, often leaving Isaac staring into the middle distance with a half-smile on his face, as if remembering a Buzzfeed list he once enjoyed. Onstage, the power balance is flipped: Isaac is a natural frontman, Laurie is happy not to be the centre of attention. Laurie recently moved to Brighton with his pregnant partner, Isaac says he might follow him down there.

image: http://ksassets.timeincuk.net/wp/uploads/sites/55/2016/10/2016_SlavesNMEOct14_JordanCurtisHughes_02_131016-1.jpg


“I’d say we’re like brothers, there’s no other way to describe it,” says Laurie. “And when you’re not with your brother you wanna be with your brother,” says Isaac. Then it’s Laurie again: “I do feel [we] have this sort of importance to each other where if you’re in a social situation there’s a stronger bond between us than anyone else in the room. It’s that feeling, like, when you catch each other’s eye, we sit back and grin about stuff. There’s a really deep connection.”

Like any brotherly relationship, it’s not always rosy. “To do what we’re doing you have to be extremely focused and that can drive a massive wedge in between you,” says Laurie. “I have days where I don’t want to talk to anyone, and then I have days where I’m jumping off the walls,” agrees Isaac. And today? “I feel good today…”

Isaac has every reason to feel good. When Slaves put out debut album ‘Are You Satisfied’ in May 2015, you wouldn’t bet on it going Top 10. There isn’t, after all, a great precedent for smash-hit hardcore duos with a singing drummer, ear-searing guitar riffs and an absurdist, wordy sense of humour delivered, like Ade Edmondson as Viv the punk, with an air of hardly-contained menace.

Yet at Reading & Leeds 2016, in one of the best-attended mid-afternoon sets of the festivals, Slaves stepped up as arena rockers in waiting. “The Main Stage is like a proving ground: can they do it?” says Laurie. “I don’t think anyone was anticipating us having that many people [in the crowd]. Normally when you get up on those big stages it doesn’t feel as big, but that one was, yeah, ridiculous.”

Alongside their onslaught on the music world, Laurie – a trained tattooist, and covered in ink himself – has concurrently been chipping his way into the art world, producing two all-new collections of his Keith Haring-like paintings in the space of a year, and designing a range of clothes, Young Lovers Club, that is now stocked in Selfridges. Isaac, for his part, has been working on solo material, though he’s yet to perform beyond the city limits of Royal Tunbridge Wells. Pushed to describe his material, he says it’s “quite Slaves-esque, but more melodic.” As a duo, they’ve worked with Chase & Status, formed a friendship with Skepta, toured the States with Wolf Alice and played two consecutive nights at London’s 4,900 capacity O2 Academy Brixton. This is alongside relentless touring that’s won them legions of fans but has been costly to their health; Laurie’s broken two bones so far in 2016, while Isaac suffers from hypermobility, a condition which means his joints dislocate easily. It’s exacerbated by his metronomic, monkey-with-a-drum performance style and has led to numerous cancelled gigs. “I’ve had surgery on one shoulder, one of my knees, and I’ve got surgery on my other shoulder in December,” he says. “Hopefully my arms will stay in, from now on.”

Then last month, in a gob in the face to the typical, tedious three-year touring and release schedule, the band released a follow-up album, ‘Take Control’, a mere 16 months after the first. As well as their sound and their charisma, it’s their relentless work ethic that’s put them on top.

image: http://ksassets.timeincuk.net/wp/uploads/sites/55/2016/10/2016_SlavesNMEOct14_JordanCurtisHughes_05_131016-1.jpg


“It’s a different life now,” says Laurie, gnomically, when asked about their successes. “Not in terms of with the band, you know. It feels so different now it’s like we’re in a different place.”

That idea – being different, existing outside of normality, is absolutely key for Slaves. Their Chase & Status collaboration was the acidic, Prodigy-like ‘Control’; their album is named only incrementally differently: ‘Take Control’. Control, authority and individuality is an obsession, not just in the band’s music, but in the churches and bishops that pop up frequently in Laurie’s artwork. So what does the word ‘control’ mean to them? “It stems from everything,” says Laurie. “The whole album has this concept – ‘do it yourself’.”

Do it yourself: a founding punk ideal. And for a group frequently (and pointlessly) accused of being plastic punks, there seems to have been more of a concession to the roots of the genre on the harder-edged ‘Take Control’. They even look more punk, somehow – Laurie has added a spiderweb face tattoo (“It scares off the people you wouldn’t want to talk to,”), and Isaac’s fashion sense has solidified around a foppish twist on the East End bovver boy: today, a wife-beater vest with a furry suede overcoat and a single fingernail painted baby pink. Asked if there’s any significance behind it, he replies, “Only that I was bored and there was some pink nail varnish around.”

Slaves’ lyrics are pointedly more political too, but often as a polemic for personal control. “Our music is not saying vote left or right, it’s saying it’s all wrong, so take a wider perspective,” says Laurie. “I think we both agree that society is fundamentally flawed in the sense of, like, go to school, go to uni, eat three meals a day. All of that stuff isn’t necessarily proven to work for everyone. I’ve got a massive bee in my bonnet about going to school and how it didn’t feel necessary. People have these assumptions of how you have to live your life and get a proper job, but it happens that some people don’t have proper jobs and not everything is based around money. We just want people to think for themselves.” Do they feel smug about breaking out of the grind? “Smug isn’t the right word,” says Isaac, “but I definitely feel proud. In the general sense I just feel f***ing proud of me and Laurie.”

image: http://ksassets.timeincuk.net/wp/uploads/sites/55/2016/10/2016_SlavesNMEOct14_JordanCurtisHughes_06_131016-1.jpg


It’s perhaps a bit of a cop-out, picking your politics from an uneasy mix of libertarianism, nihilism and egalitarianism, but the band have tackled real issues too, whether aligning themselves with the Girls Against group, who challenge sexual harassment at gigs, or speaking out about Brexit. “You never feel comfortable talking about politics because you get misquoted all the time,” says Laurie, “but I felt more confident about it this time. There came a point about six months ago where I realised we actually have a platform now. Something like Brexit is really sh*t, and every musician thinks it’s sh*t, so why aren’t more musicians saying that it’s sh*t?” The duo both grew up in Kent, home to former UKIP leader Nigel Farage’s South Thanet constituency. Did they see the attitude shifting? Isaac: “Yeah, like, how many houses do you see in towns in Kent with the St George’s flag outside? I think it has something to do with the sense that you’re in the place where everyone is coming through – you arrive in the country through Kent.”

The duo’s political stance was one of the things that first attracted Mike D to them. The former Beastie Boy, who turned to production following the death of his bandmate Adam ‘MCA’ Yauch in 2012, told NME: “I was impressed with the band’s strong point of view. They actually speak their minds about social topics.”

The band’s first meeting with the producer, real name Mike Diamond, was a little frosty. “We’re sitting waiting in this restaurant, Mike is late and we’ve been there half an hour. He’s a busy man and when he arrives his phone is constantly going, loads of texting going on. So in my typical blunt fashion I was just like, ‘Shall we all put our phones down then?’ From that moment on he f***ing loved it,” says Laurie. “I feel sometimes with our brothers from across the pond you have to sort of warm them up a bit first before they engage.”

image: http://ksassets.timeincuk.net/wp/uploads/sites/55/2016/10/2016_SlavesNMEOct14_JordanCurtisHughes_131016-1.jpg


The irreverent master-student relationship is reflected in the song ‘The People That You Meet,’ recorded the day after an all-nighter with Wolf Alice, whose Joel Amey appears on drums. The verse in question goes like this: “I know a man called Michael / He hails from NYC / Now he lives in Malibu / In a mansion by the sea / Production is his game now / He called my friend Laurie / He used to be a Beastie Boy / But now he works for me.”

Did he mind? “I went up during it and I was like, ‘What do you think about this then, eh, Mike?’” says Laurie. “He went, ‘If he’s gonna slam me, at least do it f***ing good – this is a sh*t f***ing vocal take.’”

Laurie and Mike D now speak on the phone every single day, and are already discussing future collaborations. “He’s become almost like a third band member,” says Laurie. “At the moment, we don’t want to record without him. It feels like he gets the best out of us.” The results can be heard on the record: as well as having more bite, it also sees the band toning down the funnies. For a duo too easily viewed as punk’s answer to Ant & Dec, but too different from that in real life for it to be tenable, that’s a wise move. “People expect you to be funny and mad all the time, but sometimes you’re really not up for it,” says Isaac. “Like yesterday in Leicester, these three lads came over when I was just sitting on a bench. I was still friendly, but I got a sense they were let down that I was just a normal bloke on a bench.”

image: http://ksassets.timeincuk.net/wp/uploads/sites/55/2016/10/2016_SlavesNMEOct14_JordanCurtisHughes_08_131016-1.jpg


Mike D may be the third member of the group, but that doesn’t mean he’s signed up to join Isaac and Laurie on what they’ve lovingly dubbed the ‘Back In The Van’ tour. The 15-date jaunt hits up smaller venues in unglamourous, lesser-toured towns. Today: St Albans, not a million miles in location or spirit from Royal Tunbridge Wells, where Slaves formed. The band feel at home, but no more than they did in Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire, last week. “I don’t really know how to explain it apart from I don’t really feel like a southerner,” says Laurie. “Essex and London – that’s all people care about in the south. I feel more related to a northerner.”

A typical day on this tour sees the band waking up in a local hotel, checking into the venue, then exploring the surroundings to seek out a vegan lunch and raid the local charity shops (“We’re quite obsessive clothes collectors,” says Laurie). Today, at music pub The Horn, they relax in the bar before the gig in the main room, where fans ranging from heavily tattooed 30-somethings to schoolkids in uniform have gathered for the gig. Most have paid just £1.99 for the privilege, but some don’t have a ticket and nervously await a 7pm raffle draw for the last few pairs. As Laurie and their crew play pool, he and Isaac stop occasionally to pose for pictures with a trickle of incredibly polite young fans. The backstage area offers no luxury: it’s the size of a toilet cubicle and about as comfortable, but it’s where Isaac goes to strap himself up before the show, the everyday result of his hypermobility. He’s still a model of calm shortly before showtime, and I ask if it takes much to get in the mood. “We are still us on stage, but we’re channelling different part of our personality,” he says. “I’m still definitely me; just a different me.” Bruce Banner wouldn’t make such an understatement.

Half an hour later, the band on stage, the gig is an unrelenting thrill; dark, noisy, sweaty and savage, the new songs rubbing up against older favourites including ‘The Hunter’ and ‘Feed The Mantaray’. But it’s not all love from the crowd. “Suck my dick!” shouts a girl at one point. “Suck your dick?” replies Laurie. “OK, you can get out. Go on. Get out.” Another cry from the audience: “Suck. My. Dick.” Laurie’s seeing red, but Isaac steps in and takes control, interrupting his bandmate with the cue for the next song. It’s that symbiosis in play again, the balance of power, the exercise of control – the special thing that happens when these two are in action.

Read more at http://www.nme.com/features/slaves-nme-cover-interview-1554726#MOzv1QFYv1TrtStP.99 - NME


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