For over 10 years now, The Slow Readers Club have been amassing an ever-growing, loyal fanbase on the back of five stellar records. The Manchester band’s reputation as a top class live act has seen them climbing festival posters at home and abroad, whilst also attracting desirable support slots with the likes of James and Pixies.
Today, the band announced a brand new tour, with new music just around the corner too. We chatted to frontman, Aaron Starkie, about what fans can expect from the forthcoming new material and live shows. We also discuss Manchester, James, that fanbase and plenty more…
NC: For some bands, things kick off straight away, but yours is a story of true graft. Let’s take it back to the start, how did The Slow Readers Club come about?
Aaron: “Jim and I were in a band called Omerta for a while. We did okay with that, had some successful singles and radio play. We got to a certain level and it wasn’t progressing further but Jim and I decided to carry on, bringing my brother in on guitar and trying something new. We initially had the Omerta drummer but David joined shortly after recording the first record.”
NC: Did the audience grow naturally over time or did you notice a certain point when things started to get moving for the band?
Aaron: “We’ve always just plugged away I guess, hoping each song builds us up a bit more. Over the years it’s been a gradual growth but we can now fill decent sized rooms around the country and in Europe. We’ve been playing some really cool festivals so we’re happy with how it’s going. We’ve not rocketed into the stratosphere yet but we’ve got a connection with an audience who really love us, and that’s a great thing.”
NC: Was the ‘Manchester band’ tag a blessing or a curse?
Aaron: “It’s a bit of a double-edged sword, isn’t it? From an industry perspective, it felt a bit limiting in the early days, especially with Omerta. We’d had the Factory days and then Oasis so as a city, it was disregarded. Nobody was looking at Manchester for the next big thing, and although there’s not been a huge Manchester band in a while, they still cast a long shadow. There was an era where you’d go into venues in Manchester and you’d see lads with hands behind their back doing a Liam, and nobody could move on from it for a while. So it was understandable that people might have thought the city was trapped in the past, but things are moving in the right direction.”
NC: Let’s discuss the fans. What is it about The Slow Readers Club that makes the fans so passionate and loyal?
Aaron: “A lot of our growth has been word of mouth and from our live shows. I feel like our live show has improved gradually as the fanbase has grown too. I used to be quite self conscious when we played places like the Night & Day Cafe, I didn’t want to come out and give it the Bono. We graduated to smaller festivals and bigger support slots, and once you’re in those kind of environments you need to develop the show, and I think that was a big part in the audience growing.”
NC: How important a role did James play in the band’s growth?
Aaron: “We’d had two albums out at this time. We first became aware of James knowing about us when they tweeted an acoustic version of “I Saw A Ghost”. I had huge respect for James, my wife’s a big fan and I’d performed covers of “Sit Down” when I was young. We managed to get a CD to them and as a result of that managed to get a support slot on their album tour. We didn’t have an agent or management at the time so it was unusual for it to work out, but it was a nice band-to-band moment. They liked us, they took us on and helped to expand our audience all over the UK.”
NC: Do you still stay in touch with them?
Aaron: “Yeah we’re good pals. I mainly speak to Saul but we get on with them all, it was Jim Glennie who first noticed us. I’ve performed “Sometimes” on stage with Tim at Albert Hall and in Portugal at a converted bull ring, which was quite a unique experience.”
NC: You’re on tour at the minute, how are you finding it being back out there?
Aaron: “It’s been really good. We had two albums out in 2020 and we couldn’t tour “The Joy Of The Return” because of the pandemic. So we ended up with about 20 tracks in one year. We’ve now done two tours for those records and it’s been great to play deeper cuts of the newer songs. Traditionally our sets have always been a ‘best of’ experience, but the recent shows have been more like experiencing the studio albums. It’s more light and shade rather than just the bigger singles. We’ve felt the audience atmosphere change with the set too, so it’s been really cool.”
NC: It must have been strange that these songs are a couple of years old but this is the first chance many fans will have heard them live?
Aaron: “It’s weird because we hadn’t rehearsed some of them for live before so they’ve felt fresh to us too. With waiting times on vinyl at the minute it often means songs are years old before people hear them anyway, so we’re kind of used to it. It’s been nice to play the full breadth of what we’ve released ahead of the next record.”
NC: And I’m assuming with today’s announcement you’ve got the touring bug. Tell us all about the 2023 shows?
Aaron: “It’s a lot of the cities in the UK that we didn’t get to this year. We’ve got Leeds, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Birmingham, Nottingham, Portsmouth, Bristol, London and Manchester. We haven’t played a big hometown show since 2019 when we did two nights at the Ritz, so we’ll be doing the Albert Hall. We’ve played there a few times, it’s a beautiful venue and it’s got a great energy. Then we’ll be off to Europe. We’ll be playing new material and we’ve got a few surprises in store.”
NC: What can we expect sonically from the new material?
Aaron: “We’re leaning more into the electronic side of things. It features more synth and we’re working with a different producer. It’s a natural progression really. On “The Joy Of The Return” it was more guitar leaning, so we’re exploring the other side. It’s always exciting to have new music though and we can’t wait for the fans to hear it.”
NC: Is there a pressure to avoid reinventing the wheel?
Aaron: “A little bit, you don’t want to keep repeating yourself. I think of it from a live perspective and having variety in the set. We’ve looked at the body of work we’ve got so far and how that works live. It’s about finding a way to create different moods and enter new terrotories sonically. It’s not a drastic shift like Radiohead!”
NC: What do you have in store to build on the highly regarded Slow Readers Club live shows?
Aaron: “We’re working with different people in production. I’d love to do 3D projection and spectacular things but we’ve not really got the right rooms for it at the minute. It’s something we’re building towards to ensure our live shows keep improving.”
NC: What would you say is your proudest acclompishment to date with the SRC?
Aaron: “Selling out the Apollo at the end of 2018 probably. Livewise that was our peak.”
NC: What is the big goal for the band?
Aaron: “We want to have an audience all round the UK, Europe and America. Wherever people want to listen to us really. It would be nice to get some extensive European and US tours booked in. There’s always stuff like that keeping driving us forward.”
NC: And finally, what else can we expect from The Slow Readers Club in 2023?
Aaron: “Hopefully we’ll be getting out to some new festivals and we’ll keep writing new material and evolving the live shows!”
Head to https://www.theslowreadersclub.co.uk/ for more information on the new tour.
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