Slaves tell us about Slowthai, the health of punk, and their ‘heavy’ new material coming very soon

Check out our exclusive photos of Slaves, Slowthai and Ladybird at Ally Pally

Slaves, backstage at Alexandra Palace.

Slaves have revealed that they’re planning to release a ‘heavy’ new one-off single in the coming months, as well as opening up about the health of punk in 2019. Check out our full interview below.

Completing a successful year off the back of acclaimed third album ‘Acts Of Fear And Love‘, the duo played the biggest headline show of their career at London’s iconic Alexandra Palace.

“It felt good,” guitarist Laurie Vincent told NME. “To have the biggest crowd that we’ve ever had just for us was quite mindblowing.”

However it seems that they’re not done yet, as Vincent reveals all to NME about their plans for new material, what next for their record label Girl Fight, as well as discussing their love of rising star Slowthai and their tips for new talent in 2019.

Slaves at Alexendra Palace. Credit: Jenn Five/NME

Ally Pally is usually the last venue before bands step up to arenas. Is that what’s next for Slaves?

“Not in the immediate future. We’re quite happy with where we’re at. Our band feels more comfortable in Academy-sized rooms. I heard an interview with Liam Howlett where he said that The Prodigy had played Brixton Academy more than any other band and he was happy with that. That’s the kind of vibe we’re on. We want that kind of face-to-face intensity with the fans. We don’t want to lose that.”

No lasers, glitter cannons and pyro?

“No, it just adds too much confusion to the thing. We’re not that kind of band, although I do love a glitter cannon – but only on special occasions.”

Slaves at Alexendra Palace. Credit: Jenn Five/NME

You had Slowthai supporting too, which got a lot of people talking…

“We wanted to put in a special main support to make Ally Pally feel more special. We’ve been friends with Slowthai for a few years. I’ve been in the studio with him and we’ve both been keenly following Slowthai’s progress and love everything he does. For us, there isn’t another performer who embodies the punk ‘do what I want’ ethic as much as he does. To get him supporting us just feels obvious. It wasn’t a big deal to us, because if you look at the punk history of like, Run DMC supporting The Clash – hip-hop and punk have always felt hand in hand.

“He’s really authentic. Everyone’s trying to throw him in a box, and what I love about him is that you can’t. His on-stage physicality throws back to GG Allin, but in a more positive way obviously. Is he grime? Is he punk? Is he hip-hop? I saw someone describe him as a mixture of dub-step and garage. He’s wicked, he’s writing amazing tunes, and he threw up on stage, which is something I’ve always really wanted to do so I’m jealous.”

Slowthai at Alexendra Palace. Credit: Jenn Five/NME

Any other new acts you reckon people should keep an eye on in 2019?

“We’re working with a band called Lady Bird who we took on tour and who are signed to our label. They’re in the studio at the moment and working really hard. They’re not the same as us but they’re from the same place with a similar voice and energy. They’re definitely my ones to watch this year.”

Lady Bird

Lady Bird backstage at Alexendra Palace. Credit: Jenn Five/NME

“Also, he’s not new but everything Willie J Healey touches turns to gold. That last EP ‘666 Kill’ was just mind-boggling. He’s not been fully-realised yet, people haven’t paid enough attention yet. I’m also really excited about Bodega. I’m going to see them at Scala, which I’m really excited about. I’ve only been made aware of them in the last few months, but they blow my mind.”

“I’ve also just been made aware of DITZ. They’re from Brighton and have a very immediate, post-hardcore sound. It’s just good heavy rock music.”

Slaves backstage at Alexendra Palace. Credit: Jenn Five/NME

With the acts you’ve just mentioned, you guys playing Ally Pally and the wider world waking up to IDLES, do you feel as if there’s been a shift in the focus towards punk again lately?

“There has. I think about this quite a lot. When we were first cutting our teeth, the bands in the media were still more centred towards indie. Now you have a lot more punk bands getting the spotlight that they deserve. When we came out, literally all of the bands in a similar style either split up or stopped touring so there aren’t many left now.

“While IDLES have been doing it for years, it’s great to see that them, Shame and Dream Wife can all release an album in the same year and do really well. It’s amazing to have those artists, because with us all selling out big rooms it shows that kids have the hunger to go see a different punk band every week if they want. It’s good for whole scene if all these bands with a voice are being heard.”

Slaves backstage at Alexendra Palace. Credit: Jenn Five/NME

Are you looking for that kind of thing with your own label?

“I only want to do stuff that I feel that I can help with and be passionate about. Lady Bird were the starting point, because they were so good. There isn’t a sustainable way for a lot of these bands to exist. With streaming, it feels like the industry is getting smaller with the money only going to pop acts. It’s hard for a band to break or make a living, so for us it’s about trying to work with people and not rush it. Lady Bird have been our key focus for a year and we’re still working really closely with those guys. We’re not rummaging around too much for the next thing because for us it’s about nurturing what we have.

“The genre doesn’t matter – whether it’s rap, acoustic or anything. We just love music.”

Slaves at Alexendra Palace. Credit: Jenn Five/NME

So what’s next for you guys?

“I would love to put out an album for Lady Bird, but we also have stuff going on in our world. We’ve got music that’s ready to go again, so we’re just trying to get over all of our touring.”

What kind of shape is your new material in?

“We’ve got some music, we’re just talking about how it’s going to be packaged. We have a new single and there are more songs built around it, but there’s one that we know is going to happen. There will most likely be an EP coming. We’re very excited about it.”

Slaves at Alexendra Palace. Credit: Jenn Five/NME

Does the sound pick things up from the last album or go somewhere different?

“It’s a song we wrote during the sessions for the last album, but it’s heavier. It was a beat that I wrote on a computer as a grime beat, but we covered it to turn into something live and organic with Isaac rapping and shouting over it. It’s different to what we’ve done before but we left it off the album consciously because we wanted it to feel like it had a uniform flow to it and no weird moments that didn’t sit right. It was important for the album to be an album. This is heavy.”

Slaves at Alexendra Palace. Credit: Jenn Five/NME

Lyrically, what’s it about?

“It’s about the mundane, masculine man in who sits on a barstool in his hometown doing nothing but tell everyone that he knows all the locals. He’s that sad character that we all fear being. There’s a small town mentality that it’s so easy to get locked into. I’m sure everyone experiences it when they go back home for Christmas. There’s a bleak outlook you can get when you don’t go out and experience the world.”

When do you think we can hear it?

“I’m going to say definitely before March. Everything we do is quite self-led. It’s being mixed this week so I’m hoping that we can turn it around pretty quickly.”

Will you guys be playing the UK much this year?

“There are a few things on the table and some confirmed. We will definitely be appearing in the UK at least a few times, but I can’t say where yet.”

Slaves at Alexendra Palace. Credit: Jenn Five/NME

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Slaves tell us about Slowthai, the health of punk, and their ‘heavy’ new material coming very soon