SLAVES TAKE CONTROL AND DISCUSS EVERYTHING FROM MUSIC TO MEDITATION
Taking control, sticking it to the man. That’s pretty much what Slaves’ are all about. Take what you want, do what you want, for yourself and no one else. Do what makes you happy. Who cares if other people hate it? This is what Slaves’ second studio album ‘Take Control’ stands for. But there’s more to the apparent angry punk band than meets the eye. In the world of Slaves; rats, art, Phil Mitchell and meditation are just as important.
Slaves are on the road and in a cluttered spare dressing room at Birmingham’s O2, the bond between Isaac [Holman] and Laurie [Vincent] of Slaves shines through. They are brothers from different mothers; two guys whose intuitive understanding shines through not just in their music but also when they’re enjoying rare moments of downtime. Sharing jokes, stories, inspiration and endless admiration of one another, the pair are in good form.
“I’m, good today, thanks,” says Isaac.
“Me too. My endorphins are quite high today,” adds Laurie.
It’s no wonder they’re both happy. Slaves are on an incredible high after packing out the Second City’s O2. Tonight, they’re psyching themselves up, ready to smash it in front of a sell-out crowd. “It’s always amazing coming into these new venues we’ve never played in before, like the academy 1 and knowing that there’s only like 50 tickets left so we’ve sold like 2,950 tickets just in Birmingham, it’s mental, isn’t it?” Laurie remains humble and down to earth about being on a sell-out tour, despite being swept up into a whirlpool of success ever since their first album, ‘Are You Satisfied?’ in 2015.
‘Take Control’ has been massively influenced and tweaked by the Beastie Boy that is Mike D, producing the album and bringing out the best of Slaves’ comedic shenanigans. “When we wrote ‘lies’, we were just messing about and Mike was like, ‘right, write this song, it needs to be on the album’ and it’s probably my favourite,” Laurie unveils. The pair work together on everything they create, bouncing off each other’s ideas and inspiration, they just needed that little push, that “icing on the cake”, as Isaac puts it, to push them into turning their dicking about into a track that ends up having a huge impact on their perspective of the album, “he was a creative director” adds Laurie.
As shocking as it may seem, take control is the message of the album. The album isn’t a compilation of single releases after single releases, it’s a message of them taking control over their work and doing whatever the fuck they want with it. Essentially, rebelling against the norm; the major labels, the critics, you know, the big boys in the business.
Following the popularity of the likes of, ‘Where’s Your Car, Debbie?’ and ‘Cheer Up London’, Slaves felt like people expected more of a pop album from the punk duo. While these tracks will always remain the ‘classics’ so to speak, they were just songs that cemented a spot in the industry, simply a stepping stone to expressing themselves further. “It [Are You Satisfied?] wasn’t at the core of the band, the band is about making music that we love and love to play, comedy isn’t something that’s actually on our mind, we just have a laugh, so ‘take control’ is the message. Do exactly what you wanna do and make sure you’re happy doing that,” explains Laurie as he reflects on the first album compared to ‘Take Control’.
The response to the album has mostly been positive adoration. Landing them slots on festivals in the UK such as, 2000 Trees, Bestival, Kendal Calling, Live at Leeds; not to mention the US tour and invitation to overseas festivals such as, Woodstock, Rock-am-Ring and Rock for People. Taking control isn’t such a scary thing after all. But it comes with some backlash, there’s always going to be that bunch of kids who despise you, hate your music and will go out their way to make you feel inadequate. This doesn’t faze Slaves, they know they’re hated by some rivalry fan base, but to them it shows they’re doing exactly what they’re supposed to be doing and as Isaac puts it, “to divide opinions.”
When it comes to touring, Isaac and Laurie are like every other band, standard requests. Food and booze. That’s pretty much what any band wants isn’t it? A good meal and a shit load of alcohol.
But, it’s not quite what you think… No, it’s not a can of Red Stripe or shots of tequila, but the finest red wine Tesco has on offer, Laurie lets us in on his new-found wine knowledge, “bit of Bourgeois, Côtes du Rhône.” Who’d have thought the gritty guys of Slaves loved a glass of red before a show?
It’s easy to forget that artists have lives outside of their busy careers, they relax, socialise, eat whole packets of digestives in a binge session of Fresh Prince of Bel Air. For Slaves, they still create, they can never do nothing. When Laurie isn’t touring, he gets stuck into painting, “it took a lot longer for me to feel comfortable with my art than it did with music, it takes balls to get up on stage, but it takes guts to say, ‘I’m an artist’, being a musician helped me get over that,” admits Laurie. Most of the band’s artwork has derived from Laurie, from the early days of the original T-Shirt designs and gig posters; he still does a lot of work for the band in terms of their image and designs. “I always do the practical side and Isaac has ideas; I did a lot of the 7-inch covers and the Take Control cover.” While Laurie isn’t making music, he’s still working, dedicated to the band and continuously creating, without the band there wouldn’t be a platform for him to share his art, without the art there wouldn’t be that distinctive Slaves image we all recognise and love.
Meanwhile, Isaac dabbles into everything in his spare time, meditation, domesticating his pet rat and continuously creates music, “he’s pretty much got a solo album,” interjects Laurie, pushing Isaac to talk about his secret side project, “yeah, I plan to release it at some point but there’s no rush.” Isaac’s a lot more reserved about his solo work, waiting for the right moment and not giving too much away about what he’s concocting for us.
Something Isaac is very open about, is his love for Phil Mitchell and Greggs, he’s an avid Soap enthusiast, particularly the characters. “When you actually explain it, it’s true that like he acts being drunk so accurately,” comments Laurie on Isaac’s soap confession, “oh yeah, like it blows my mind how good he is at acting drunk, he just has that hollow drunk persona nailed, he’s so good, I love him.” Everyone has their quirks, their guilt pleasures; Isaac is just incredibly open about his Soap Opera addiction with a Greggs twist. For Isaac’s recent birthday, Laurie scored him a Greggs voucher, is that friendship or what? “I’d want Phil to eat a steak bake though,” declares Isaac, “no, a three course Greggs, pizza slice, steak bake and caramel donut.”
Slaves maintain a comedic value to their image, though not intentional; they have fun in what they create and are on the path to making more music and art that reflects the band they want to be.