Toilet Circuit Emancipation: Slaves break out

Toilet Circuit Emancipation: Slaves break out
Toilet Circuit Emancipation: Slaves break out

By Ben Tipple

Jan 15, 2015 19:10

You may have been to Tunbridge Wells. Other than its picturesque backstreets and reserved nightlife it is perhaps most renowned for its converted public toilet. It’s a fact that local residents may have grown tired of, and that staff most likely have heard on an annoyingly regular basis, but Tunbridge Wells’ notable venue, The Forum, used to be a space for locals and visitors to relieve themselves. Now that release is available in a different form.

Emerging from the toilet circuit – sorry, it’s just impossible to resist – Tunbridge Wells based duo Slaves are fast making a name for themselves. Having been picked up by BBC Introducing following the release of their ‘Sugar Coated Bitter Truth’ EP and the brash ‘Where’s Your Car Debbie?’ single/EP, 2015 is already shaping up to push them further into the public consciousness.

“We have steadily built our band base over three years, doing the circuit in our Renault Clio for the first two,” the duo explains. “I think we put the hard graft in on the road and got a chance to play Reading and Leeds in 2013 for BBC Introducing. That was the start of our Radio 1 career, so to speak. It’s all just been progress from then.”

Slaves are both aware of and humbled by their association with the BBC titan. Emerging from the BBC Introducing circuit, they graduated onto the Lock Up Stage at Reading and Leeds last year, and have found recent singles ‘Hey’ and ‘The Hunter’ enjoy regular mainstream radio rotation. “It’s amazing,” they exclaim. “We never thought we would play a gig on a stage, let alone by played on Radio 1. When in the studio or writing songs we regularly have moments of disbelief that music like ours is being played on the radio. We never considered it getting this big. It’s a blessing. We love being Slaves.”

With their sound largely rooted in punk, they draw inspiration from their local surroundings. It may prove difficult to find much to rebel against in a predominantly middle-class spa town in the Garden of England, however it is just that which led to Slaves. Frustrated by the area and its routine, the duo found a release for their boredom in writing and performing. The result has a more downtrodden feel. Rather than brimming with anger, Slaves accentuate their bleak despair.

It’s a quality that has drawn attention from artists outside of their more obvious scene. Social commentator and singer-songwriter Jamie T recently took them on tour, which pushed Slaves onto bigger stages. “It was great,” they state reservedly when asked about the tour, commenting on the experience of playing to bigger audiences on bigger platforms than before.

Their commercial notability, culminating in their position on the BBC Sound of 2015 longlist, has also seen them appear on the legendary Later With Jools Holland programme. “It was very surreal,” they recall, speaking of their moment on the show. “They got in touch last minute and said a slot had come up. We jumped on it.”

Finding themselves picked for big things in 2015, the duo are taking a more relaxed start. “We have recorded a full length, it’s being mixed currently,” they confirm when asked about their current situation. “We are taking a break from touring to nurse our ailments and take lots of vitamins, ready to take on 2015.”

What exactly that involves remains to be seen, yet with their current exposure on the up, and many fans being turned on to their often gritty, sometimes tongue-in-cheek but always bold tones, the future is looking bright. When asked what they hope to achieve as a band, the response is both clear, and characteristically vague. “As much as humanly possible.” At least they are off to a good start.