'FUCK ME ‘TIL I SHIT'
Interview Josh Jones
Photography Dan Wilton
I first came across Sheffield’s Slow Club, a.k.a. Becky Taylor and Charles Watson, nearly three years ago. It was a fateful day, as I was dragged across Bestival wearing a white shell suit and in a “festival-day-three” haze by a friend to the Radio 1 New Music tent to check out this ‘Tilly And The Wall-like duo, who play chairs, bottles of water and extremely good, folky music.’ Unfortunately, I spoiled the atmosphere when Becky asked the crowd to say something nice to the person standing next to them, by shouting out a particularly disgusting statement that my friend and I had seen emblazoned across a girl’s T-shirt earlier that day.
My second encounter with Slow Club was in a vegetarian café in London surrounded by a knitting club and chatty drama students, before the pair went off to play yet another of those big-brand-sponsored One’s To Watch shows. A riotous interview with two of the nicest people you can meet started off with me admitting it was me who yelled “FUCK ME ‘TIL I SHIT” that one time at Bestival when I was out of my mind.
Becky (Laughing): That was you! I remember that. You were funny! That was a very early gig for us.
I’m glad you thought it was funny!
Becky: God, could you imagine that happening? You’d have to be like, ‘Please stop it now, I’m going to have to shit!’ That’s funny. That’s pretty cool – finally we’ve tracked you down.
So yeah, hello again!
You’ve just got back from a tour of Australia and New Zealand haven’t you? How was that?
Becky: It was great. We got back like, not even a week ago. It was awesome.
Charles: We played shows in Auckland, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth.
Becky: We had a really, really lovely time. It was so nice to be able to go and sit on a beach before you went and sound checked. Not particularly inspiring, just really cool.
How were the crowds for you? Melbourne’s a pretty good town for music.
Becky: Melbourne was really awesome, but every single gig in Australia was great. All the audiences we had were amazing.
Charles: We didn’t have one bad gig.
Becky: We did one night supporting Camera Obscura and one night which was our own show and they were some of the best shows we’ve ever done. I think one night we sold something like 65 CDs off the back of it.
How long were you guys there, then? It’s not as if you can go to Australia and New Zealand for a week can you?
Both: We went for 10 days.
Oh. Then I guess you can.
Charles: We could have, and should have, gone for a little bit longer, really. We both got back and were absolutely wrecked for a week afterwards.
Becky: We did eight shows in 10 days. It was really hardcore.
Charles: We didn’t really get to see that much to be honest. We hung out a bit with the promoters, and they showed us around the cities a bit. We drove up to the Sydney Opera House and then we drove back.
Becky: We didn’t even get a photo of it. That’s something I kind of regret now. I was telling someone that the worst thing about the whole tour – and this shows how good it was – was when we had a fish platter and all the food was fried. We thought we were going to get all this nice, fresh fish, but it was all fried.
That was the worst thing that happened there? When I lived in Sydney, I found the worst thing was I could only find chicken sausages. No pork ones at all.
Charles: I had chicken sausages over there. They were really nice.
Don’t you think it’s a bit wrong to make a sausage out of a chicken?
Charles: It’s a weird feeling.
Becky: But Charles is into food like macaroni pizza.
Charles: That was, actually, disgusting. I went out in New York and I bumped into these two kids who’d flown in from Nashville to see us play. I ended up hanging out with these two 16-year-olds in a pizza restaurant on my own, just talking for about two hours, absolutely wasted. I was like, ‘Do you guys want to go the pub?’ And they were like, ‘Um, we’re 16 dude.’ I ended up going bowling with them and then later on I found loads of macaroni in my bag because I’d put a piece of pizza with it in there to save for later in the vain hope that it would dry out. I still keep finding pieces of macaroni in that bag.
You guys have got a really good live following now, haven’t you? People are flying from Nashville to New York to see you, for instance. It’s weird that I’ve been seeing you for nearly three years and you’re still doing these Ones To Watch shows.
Becky: We’re getting there. I think it’s a case of Ones Who Are Getting Slightly Bigger. Playing London’s really great now though, because we can definitely play to more than 300-400 people guaranteed. We love it in Scotland too, and America is incredible for us. But there are still a lot of places in the UK where people don’t know us.
Charles: Milton Keynes, Wolverhampton…
Becky: Crewe was brilliant.
Charles: Yeah, Crewe was brilliant. And when we played Guildford. That was amazing. We played in an old courthouse.
Becky: Back when you saw us, that was at the time when we had given up going to university and were taking it one week at a time and hoping that we’d make it to see the next week.
Are you guys bored of being called ‘twee’ yet?
Becky: Yes! I can’t remember what publication we said it to, but we said we’d kick people in the tits if they kept calling us twee. I don’t think it was well read enough because people still keep saying that about us.
Charles: I don’t think anyone who’s seen us would really describe us that. If you come and see us live, you’ll realise that it’s a lot different to listening to our album at home. We’re a lot more punk-y live. People will always say stuff that we don’t agree with, but we don’t really care.
Are you also bored about talking about ‘playing a chair’?
Becky: The thing is, we don’t even do it now. We’ve stopped playing the song that I played the chair on. I know everyone gets a bit embarrassed about what they were like when they first start out in a band. We’re really proud of everything we did, but that was a silly idea we had when we were 18. Sometimes we’re a bit like, ‘Get over it!’
What do you make of the comparisons you get to the White Stripes and the Kills? Is it frustrating to be pigeonholed because you’re a boy/girl duo? You don’t sound anything like them.
Charles: I know, we don’t sound like either of them. I really like the guitarist in the Kills though, because he plays the guitar with his finger like this (Charles wiggles his finger). The White Stripes thing is pure—
Becky (interrupting): Laziness. It’s pure laziness.
You’ve been signed to Moshi Moshi since you started out, and they seem to be a great label for you guys. It must be great to have a label that understands you as much as they do, as well as the rest of the bands on their roster.
Becky: Yeah, they’re a perfect fit as a label. And some of the bands we’ve met from the label have now become our best friends in the world.
Charles: I think I only listen exclusively to Moshi bands these days. I go into the office and see all these new albums and I’ll take all of them.
Becky: Yeah me too. I get obsessed with bands on Moshi and then talk about them incessantly to anyone who will listen. It’s great that we don’t know what it’s like to be on a big label. I can’t imagine it being better than the relationship we have with them, and through them I’ve met people that I want to know for my whole life.
Your labelmates the Drums were on the cover for the last issue of ’SUP.
Becky: They’re so handsome aren’t they? I used to have a big crush on the drummer, but then I thought he’d stolen my snare stand, so I didn’t know how to go up and talk to him. I do look like I could be his mother, though. In fact there’s a long line of people I’ve had a crush on that look like I could’ve given birth to.
Yeah. That’s a bit weird.
Becky (laughing): No! It’s not as if I fancy my kids! I just look too big to be anything other than their mum.
You’re just hanging around outside the school…
Becky: No, no, no! It’s not true! I mean that I like little teen dreamy boys that are actually in their ’20s. Ah, forget it.
Do you like The Karate Kid?
Becky: No. He doesn’t do it for me actually. There are other famous boys out there though. Think boys with blonde hair and blue eyes and loads thinner than me. But they’re not little boys!
What about the guy in our Michael Jackson tribute in issue 21? He’s really blonde.
Charles (looking at the magazine): He looks a bit like Tilda Swinton. In fact, Becky, was it you that told me that Tilda Swinton keeps a man at the end of her garden?
Becky: No, not in the garden. She’s got a husband who’s a similar age to her and a really young male partner. Her husband knows about this boyfriend. Charles made the bit about him being in the garden up.
Why let the truth get in the way of a good story?
Charles: He’s in chains at the bottom of the garden. He’s constantly got a hard on. She just opens the door and shoots a Viagra dart into his neck. ‘Come here… have another blue pill…’
Um right, yeah, so your new album? How’s that going then?
Charles: It’s not really, because our first album (Yeah, So, Moshi Moshi, 2009) has only just come out in Australia and America, so we’re going to be doing a load of shows for that. The new stuff is coming along, we’re just making slow progress with it. I’m really excited about it though. Since we finished the last one, which came out summer 2009 in the UK, we’ve both become a lot better songwriters. We’re a lot more concise and a lot less faffing with stuff. Before we did the first album we spent a lot of time trying to find a way of being comfortable in a studio. Now we’ve found that it’s a lot better and easier for us both to go in and record.
Becky: We’re both in a very different place from when we wrote the first record. [The next one] is gonna be an album that’s going to be inspired by every day things, I think.