SOME artists might blanch at being “Harry Potter’s favourite band”. But Charles Watson of acclaimed indie duo, Slow Club, seems comfortable that actor Daniel Radcliffe is a fan. For good or ill it’s a subject that constantly comes up.
“I don’t consciously embrace it,” says Watson. “I don’t look things up on the internet, to see if that’s how people get into our music. All we can go on is the response we get from our shows. That’s where the real connection is. Everything else, you just have to let it go.”
“Has it helped us? I’m not sure,” says singer, Rebecca Taylor. “Maybe it made some people aware of us. I don’t think there was a big difference afterwards in terms of interest. But he [Radcliffe] really likes the band. That’s why he got in contact. We became friends out of that.”
Because their intensely heart-felt music is piled high with emotion, Watson and Taylor are often mistaken for more than collaborators. On stage, they have an electric connection, playing as if they are the only two in the room. There’s an assumption they are a romantic couple. “Nothing has ever happened like that,” says Watson. Ever since we met, our obsession with songs is what has drawn us together and driven us forward. That’s where the connection lies.”
Taylor was newly single when Slow Club were writing and recording their recent third LP, Complete Surrender. She hesitates to affix the cliche of a ‘break-up record’ to it. Still, there’s a lot of sadness and wondering in there, her reflective croon constantly on the brink of splintering.
The pain has not been in vain. The album has won the duo their most positive reviews yet and their profile has grown exponentially. There’s a sense Slow Club could be on the brink of something. “It was a lot of fun to make,” says Watson. “That isn’t to say the process was always easy. A great deal of blood and sweat always goes into a project like that. It’s a document of what you are going through, isn’t it?
“At the time, you don’t always realise. When we listen back to our older music, it’s really striking: it’s like a diary you are sharing with the public.”
Radcliffe isn’t their only champion. Florence and the Machine, and Mumford and Sons, are also fans and have invited Slow Club to tour with them, while critics have been in the corner from the start. The record-buying masses have also begun to sit up and pay attention: Complete Surrender went Top 30 in the UK, audiences warming to its trappings of brass and string (orchestrated by fellow Sheffield musician, Richard Hawley).
As a duo, Taylor and Watson live constantly in each other’s shadows. Personality wise, they are compatible, though there are moments when they crave a little more personal space. Taylor nods: a duo is a strange relationship. You simply have to make it work as best you can.
“Anyone who collaborates closely with another person is always going to need time apart, space to think about stuff. This is how we have worked for years,” she says.
Their music is frequently quiet and fragile, so playing live can be precipitous. Nothing shatters the spell of an intense performance quite like the clang of glasses from the bar or the sound of someone yapping on their phone at the back of the room. With their North of England pragmatism, Watson and Taylor tend to just get on with it. Still, they are glad their first ever Irish headline date will be at the Pepper Canister Church.
“I much prefer places like that,” says Watson, “You can use the room as an ‘instrument’. We’ve played Union Chapel in London on many occasions, and it’s always been special. It keeps it interesting for us. You play a lot of the same kind of venues in this job. Anything different is always of value.”
Before he goes, Watson returns to the Daniel Radcliffe thing. Slow Club’s association with a famous actor has brought internet vitriol. Nothing they can’t handle — but a glimpse into just how nasty strangers can be behind the anonymity of a computer screen.
“People can be quite mean on the internet,” he says. “They are anonymous and feel they can put out whatever opinions they want. It can be really damaging. If you are a certain kind of person — if you were very sensitive in that way — it could be a proper pain. Fortunately, we’ve never had that much of it. And what we have had, we’ve been able to ignore.”
- Slow Club play Pepper Canister Church in Dublin, Wednesday; and Róisín Dubh in Galway on Thursday