Meet Slaves: two scuzz-rock Kent boys shaking up the alt charts.
All clothing: MODEL’S OWN, Makeup: Jessica Taylor using MAC COSMETICS
Taken from the Summer 2015 issue of Wonderland:
“Slaves is a meeting of two personalities. We should be interviewed separately,” says Laurie Vincent nonchalantly, his heavily tattooed hands gripping the plastic cutlery he’ll use to tear apart his lunch. Vincent, the guitarist of the post-hardcore duo Slaves, gels seamlessly onstage with frontman Isaac Holman. And it’s clear from their visceral, heart-pounding and sweat-soaked performances, that they are not messing about.
Their story starts in Tunbridge Wells, the kind of place where you assume everyone knows each other, especially two attitudinal, well-groomed yoots – so it wasn’t long before they met. By Vincent’s account, his singer/drummer buddy was a bit of a local sensation. “I was in a band called Bearface,” Holman says. My band and Laurie’s band played together a couple of times and [we] just got chatting.”
“I was playing in a really scrappy punk band and he came up and said, ‘I really like that,’” Vincent remembers. “I was blown away – my favourite local band was watching me, and Isaac’s a year older than me and when you’re 16 or 17, that’s a lot. I said, ‘If you ever need a bassist, look me up’. I joined that band and that’s when we realised we had a good writing partnership and we ended up splintering off as Slaves.”
Early musical forays spawned tracks like 15-second neck-breaker “Girl Fight” and the grinding bounce of “Beauty Quest” – both from the band’s 2013 debut LP Sugar Coated Bitter Truth. The lyrics, veering from cutting social observations to amusing surrealism, were shouted at increasingly rabid audiences from behind Holman’s stand-up drum kit. By the time they spat out breakthrough single, “Where’s Your Car, Debbie?” people were claiming Slaves had brought punk back. “Where I am now isn’t the same as where I was when I was 15, but when I was a kid I wanted to be in a punk band,” Vincent admits. “So as annoying as it gets to be called that now, you have to remind yourself where you started.”
Signing to major label Virgin EMI, the boys expected fans to throw the “sell-out” tag their way. “No one expected much of us, I don’t think. It’s not a bad thing,” says Vincent. “Everyone who knew us coming up knows we’ve stuck to our guns. We haven’t changed.”
In a musical landscape peppered with pomaded rock-gods lighting each other’s Cuban cigars, Slaves are a necessary injection of grit. This was never more evident than when they appeared on Later… with Jools Holland alongside bloated behemoth, U2. But for them, ambition isn’t a dirty word. “We want to play as big a stage as possible,” says Vincent. “If you’re talking about trajectory, I’d love to get as big as Eminem, then just write songs about salsa.” “I used to be obsessed with Eminem when I was young,” adds Holman. “He was a white, bleach-blond haired rapper that blew up into the mainstream, then said ‘I’m gonna do whatever the fuck I want’. It’s amazing.”
Their second album Are You Satisfied? – set for a June 2015 release – is indicative of Slaves’ restless creative spirit. It feels familiar yet fresh, with evocative but diverse reference points from The Pixies and Marilyn Manson to Blur and Jamie T. “I like all of them,” says Holman, cheerfully. “Better than fucking Sham 69!”
Slaves debut album “Are You Satisfied” is out 1 June.
Photographer: Jonnie Craig
Fashion Editor: Issey Brunner
Words: Taylor Glasby