are slaves satisfied? why the kent duo are the new sound of british punk
Cheer up London! These boys have Shut Down the live lounge and are ready for the afterlife.
Hailing from Maidstone in Kent, Laurie and Isaac are Slaves, the punk band currently giving the UK music scene a huge shot of adrenaline. Just last week they covered Skepta's Shutdown for their Radio 1's Live Lounge, scoring approval from the grime god in what looks to be the start of a beautiful collaboration. They've also just dropped an awesome video for the aptly timed Cheer Up London and have a full and impressive line-up of festivals spanning the summer, including The Great Escape, Japan's Summer Sonic, and British classics Leeds and Reading. Journey through their colourful music videos and you'll feel like you could be watching The Mighty Boosh 2.0. Watch them live and you'll struggle not to get caught up in their energy. These are the kind of boys that compliment you on your handwriting one minute and proclaim FUCK UKIP the next, before suddenly declaring their undying love for Robbie Williams. Their music is angry and loud but they're (not so) secretly charming, funny and without a doubt one of our favourite double acts. We went for lunch with the dream team and discussed life after death, the state of the school system, their debut album Are You Satisfied? and periods.
Isaac: Oooh, look at your handwriting! I admire that a lot. Handwriting says a lot about a person…
What does it say?
I: It says that you care.
What's your handwriting like?
I: I think mine's quite nice but it's bigger than that… that's really intricate and small.
Laurie: Mine's quite heavy-handed and always slightly forward slanting and then depending on how excited I am it gets messier. So it's quite bold. My dad's got really cool handwriting.
What's it like?
L: It's like forward looping italics which is almost like unreadable but I like that.
So was it always impossible to forge notes in school?
L: Yeah. I never did that though. I never had a school detention ever. The worst it ever got was when I had a lunchtime detention. It wasn't that I was really good, I just good at not getting caught.
And what were you like at school Isaac?
L: When he was there!
I: Yeah, I didn't really get on too well with the school system. I had a laugh though.
L: They just didn't get on with you mate! The school system's fucked! I was having a discussion with someone about this the other day and found out that the school system was invented to get people into the workplace in Victorian times and they haven't changed the structure of it since.
I: It's fucked up. Creativity isn't encouraged.
L: SLAVES: boycotting school! I don't think I'd force my kids to go to school. I'd quite like to just give them a magnifying glass and tell um to go down the woods.
I: Or just lie and say they're being homeschooled when really they're just on the road with me doing fun stuff… like fixing guitars.
Being your slaves. What famous duo do you reckon you two are most like?
I: Ant and Dec!
L: You're Ant and I'm Dec…
I: What side are you on? I think I'm always on the left?
Why do you always stay on the same side?
I: I just think that being a right-handed guitarist, it looks better to have the guitar neck going out. It makes it way more balanced on stage. And from then on I just wanted to be on the left all the time.
And do you stay on those sides in your respective beds too?
I: Yeah, good point. I sleep on the left of the bed. Everything I do seems to be on the left.
L: Yeah, I'm on the right…
I: We can share a bed, mate!
You two met at the Tunbridge Wells Forum, right?
L: Yeah, well I'd watched a few of Isaac's bands at the Forum and one of his bands was actually one of my favourite bands. I remember watching them and thinking 'that's the band I want', and then I ended up joining. But then I realised that I actually just wanted to be in a band with Isaac. So we split off and made our own thing. I sort of feel like I picked my front man, and then I had to go and get him.
I: And then you had me!
And how do you feel now you've won his heart?
L: I feel great! We broke many on the way but I won!
Well done both of you. So what was a typical night down the Forum like?
I: When I was growing up it was a really buzzing place and there'd always be massive wars outside cause everyone would hang around drinking on a Friday night.
L: Yeah, the chavs would come down and start fights with us, the grungers essentially.
I: Chavs vs grungers sort of thing.
I: Yeah, I watched so many fistfights. We've got a song called Girl Fight and it makes me think of this one at the Forum. I saw these two girls on the Green outside kicking the shit out of each other. One girl literally had the other girl by the head and was repeatedly kneeing and kicking her in the face while she was throwing her around the grass. Tunbridge Wells girl fights mate!
What's the last thing that made you think Cheer Up London?
I: I think it quite generally when I'm on the underground.
L: We've just been in Amsterdam, which made me realise that London needs to cheer up, a lot.
I: Yeah, being in such a liberal, happy city really made us see that London's got some issues.
Well done on the album by the way. I was listening to it this morning and I absolutely love it.
L: Thank you! We painstakingly spent ages selecting the tracks… It's evolved hasn't it? There are songs on there like Do Something and Ninety Nine that're going in more of a poppy direction. There's one called Sugar Coated Bitter Truth that we wrote just after the EP came out, and then it disappeared from our sets because we decided we didn't like it. But I stumbled upon a video of us playing it so we recorded it and ended up having it as a big finish on the album.
If Are You Satisfied? was a soundtrack, which film do you think it would fit?
L: I'm really biased because I have an all-time favourite film that will never change and that's Leon. I could imagine loads of Slaves songs in Luc Besson films.
The acoustic track on the album was a nice surprise and made me wonder, do most of your tracks start off like that?
L: You know, since I moved to London, because I don't have an amp in my house, things like Hunter all started as riffs on my acoustic guitar and then I'd come to practice and see if it works on an electric. The interesting thing about Are You Satisfied? is that we spent a couple of hours in the studio trying to do it but ended up using the original demo that was recorded on my old phone.
I: It was at the end of a really long practice and my voice was completely shot to bits but we liked that.
L: It captured the moment of when we wrote it.
When you expire and they lock you in a box, do you think that's where it stops?
I: I don't see how my consciousness can just end when I die. I'm gonna go somewhere else… I'm not sure where though.
L: I've met a few people in my time that say that they have sort of medium properties. A girl at uni had a Romany gypsy family and they started talking about old souls and new souls and apparently I'm a new soul. So the idea of that is quite interesting - the idea that maybe you do get passed on to someone else. You're recycled.
So you haven't lived many times before?
L: Yeah. That's why I'm banging onto the scene! I'm banging on my first time round.
I: I just feel like the whole living earth is just one big breathing thing. So when you do die and you go into the earth, you become materials. It's all just one big ongoing cycle.
L: When you think how everything ties in with the moon and stuff. Everything is way more linked than you realise…
I: Like, the moon affects the tides and people's moods…
L: …and women's periods. It's crazy. Like, if women move in together, their periods sync which is insanely weird. I think there's another element to humanity that people don't realise. And also, I think you have to be positive! If you expect everything to end maybe you'll just get switched off because you're not worth being recycled.
I: Yeah… that's a very good point.
Who's gonna switch us off though?
I: Yeah, that's what I don't get…
L: The Matrix. Who's to say that there's not one person in every room that's just keeping everyone in check? Or like, maybe there's one person every square mile who has to sort things out if anyone realises.
I: It could be that guy there…
L: I reckon Morgan Freeman is probably in charge. The voice of God is Morgan Freeman.