With 10 years of being a band under their belts and seven since their first releases, Charles Watson and Rebecca Taylor have had a pretty sustainable career so far. It has been incredible to watch them develop and mature since the twee folk of debut EP Lets Fall Back In Love way back in 2008, building all the way up to this year’s fantastically refined third album Complete Surrender. We finally meet the spunky indie-pop duo from Sheffield before they took the stage two weeks ago at Electric Brixton. Rebecca strides into the small backstage room and goes straight for a beautiful – although slightly out of place – Victorian chair fit for a Queen. “I bring this everywhere with me,” she joked. “I’m excited for the show tonight – my parents are also coming! My dad kept telling me how happy he was that he managed to get train tickets for five quid from Sheffield because he booked them early. We’re also performing at Ally Pally supporting Jamie T, so we’re really looking forward to that as well.”
Charles then walks in the room after a slight momentary disappearance. When looking back and talking about the juxtaposition of debut Yeah So five years ago in comparison to new album Complete Surrender, Charles and Rebecca have no regrets, and talk about having a lot of fun with the latest record, although Rebecca admits that she wished she had not written too many words with the debut record. Having moved from the straight-forward pop-folk sound of Yeah So to a firm progression in sophomore Paradise, Complete Surrender just goes to show how brilliantly they’ve still retained their fun, jangly indie-pop-folk sound everybody loves them for throughout. Yet, with this record, it also manifests in a more raw and pure essence with highlights like ‘Everything Is New’, ‘Not Mine To Love’, ‘Number One’, and ‘The Queen’s Nose’ all highlighting Charles and Rebecca’s brilliantly rich vocal range – a range which reaches whole new levels live on stage. And when a band or any musician has been going for so many years, sometimes it gets difficult to juggle your creative needs and still engage with your fans along the way. “We’re an indie band so we kind of just go along with what we always do. Although I can’t believe we’ve been in a band for 10 years. Crazy, isn’t it? Well, at least we haven’t done anything controversial, like doing a trance album or something.” Slow Club trance record, anyone? Maybe not.
Fast-forward to the front of the crowd and you could feel the anticipation for Slow Club to take the stage after a brilliant effort by Zero favourites Happyness in support. After from what seemed like an hour of technical problems, the duo finally took the stage kicking off with ‘Tears Of Joy’, instantly charming the crowd and easing many into a glass-eyed stare. “Sorry for the wait. Well, at least I had enough time to try and put my jeans on. So did you guys get the 3 for £12 Jagerbomb deal, then?” Rebecca quips. With a set list spanning throughout all three albums but with an understandable bias towards their most recent, Charles and Rebecca impeccably delivered song after song, switching instruments as they went. It was impossible to pick a favourite moment, although Rebecca’s poignant rendition of ‘Not Mine To Love’, stripped down to just her and the guitar, turning the crowd to silent onlookers just trying to grasp hold of what a hell of a singing machine she is, and of course no set would be complete without Charles swooning the crowd like his acoustic version of ‘Paraguay and Panama’.
With both of them seemingly striking their individuality so perfectly in the songs from the latest record, I asked them about the songwriting process, which evoked some interesting metaphors. “We work very strongly with each other but sometimes we also write the best when we’re in our own space. Songwriting is like having a baby… unexpectedly,” said Charles. “Sometimes you’re just writing and then suddenly you come up with lyrics you had no idea you were going to write – just like finding out you’re having a baby, unexpectedly.” “Yeah, it’s kind of like an accidental pregnancy,” joked Rebecca. We then drifted completely off topic with this baby talk, ending up talking about the documentary television series I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant (yeah, you can witness actual cases on TV). Coming back to the realization that we were doing an interview, we then got to the classic case of what they would be doing if they weren’t making music. “I would’ve done drama, although growing up, I had like 15 careers in mind,” Rebecca huffs. Charles mentioned that he would’ve gone back to university, although he wouldn’t have finished anyway: “If I went back to university, instead of doing History, I would’ve loved to do Fine Art.” Towards the end of our conversation, I asked Rebecca and Charles to create a mini mixtape comprising of songs they would shower to, one of the most challenging playlisting situations.
Rebecca: I don’t know if I’ve got a reason for showering to songs but I kind of just like to stand in the shower and stare at the wall. I used to pretend I was in a band in the shower when I was a little girl. And I remember thinking my band would have all these special effects because I was obsessed with Peter Gabriel at the time. I would just look at the shower head and imagine my band was singing about rain and I would just stand there for hours (laughs).
Charles: I’m gonna go for California Dreamin’ [by The Mamas & The Papas]. It just hit me how bloody good it is. It’s really incredible – what a song. It’s quite a nice way to start your day, I would say. Although sometimes you might want to get a shower at night, so it’s a nice way to end it as well. I would go for a bath at night, with scented candles and all.
Rebecca: You have a lot of time on your hands don’t you, in a band? (laughs). I assume we would both shower to ‘The The – This Is The Day’. That’s our favorite duet. We both like that song and it’s a good song to wake up to because it says “this is the day your life will surely change” which is a great lyric for people like me. We both also really like ‘Shake It Out’ by Taylor Swift.
Charles: Unfortunately I do.
Rebecca: He hates himself for it (laughs). You choose the last song.
Charles: Rip It Up by Orange Juice. Great tune.
The gig was now approaching its end, and Rebecca starts calling for an elusive character named “Ben”, which ended up becoming a mantra amongst the crowd. “Ben! Ben! Ben!” This Ben guy then finally appears on stage and calls his girlfriend on stage. We all know where this is going, don’t we? He then got down on one knee and popped the question, with his girlfriend accepting the proposal in total shock. Congratulations, Ben and girlfriend. Who would have ever thought they were going to witness a proposal on stage at a Slow Club gig? Quite amazing. It’s not everyday that you get to see a band deliver an incredible show, and Slow Club delivers exactly the kind where you just stand back and sort of appreciate everything in the moment, and watching them pour their hearts out on stage feels like their 10 years together as a band squeezed into a single moment. The feeling you leave with is exactly like what Rebecca was quoted saying to Charles backstage – “I love you, man.”
Words by Hazlinda Elina
Photography by George Dunne