Slowdive on ‘Everything Is Alive’ and the Upcoming Bangkok Show

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When Slowdive, one of the 80s/ early 90s shoegaze pioneers who disbanded after their third record, announced their comeback in 2014 with the self-titled album in the following years, it’s beyond the wildest dreams young fans like us would never expect this to be real. But here will be our second time seeing them live with our eyes in our hometown, believe it or not!

In this COSMOS’ Space Invader, we’re with Slowdive’s guitarist Christian Savill, on their second record after the 20-year hiatus ‘Everything is Alive’, and everything else we’ve never known about them that makes us feel alive.

Slowdive

We grew up with synth music. So it’s always been an important part of our musical development. I remember being obsessed with Kraftwerk when ‘The Model’ was number 1 in the UK in 1982. That was way before I got into guitars. Neil (vocal, guitar) got really into electronic music in the early 90s and that influence can be heard on ‘Pygmalion’. So it’s not feel like a big jump for us. In recent years Neil and Simon (drums) have been experimenting and writing with synths. I think Neil is just enjoying writing songs in different ways and we liked the song ideas he presented for this record. 

I can’t speak for Neil so don’t know if there was anything during touring that provided inspiration. Neil is always working and writing, but that’s harder during touring. We chose to take a year off after the last album and then Covid hit. So I think a lot of writing happened during that period. 

The Velvet Underground were always a massive inspiration for us and our whole generation. One of the reasons I wanted to join the band back in 1989 was because of a brilliant cover of ‘Stephanie Says’ they did. That was before the band became Slowdive (fka The Pumpkin Fairies). I know ‘Paris 1919’ by John Cale is one of Neil’s favourite albums. 

We didn’t have the maze in mind when the record was finished. We were all trying to find art that fitted. Neil’s partner Ingrid found the old illustration of Labyrinth of the Reims Cathedral and we all loved it. We changed it slightly to have a more spectral figure in the middle. Ingrid has a great knack of finding the right art for the music. She also had the idea for the 2017 record which was from a Harry Smith’s 1957 film ‘Heaven and Earth Magic’.

We don’t really think about it to be honest. Obviously we got labeled as shoegazers back in the 90s and it wasn’t complimentary. Whereas now it’s been reclaimed and turned into a positive thing for kids finding or starting bands. I’ve noticed older people in the UK can still be dismissive of us as just shoegazers when I doubt they’ve heard things like ‘Pygmalion’ and are still just taking old reviews from the 90s as gospel. 

Definitely not. It’s truly amazing to us. You have little ambitions when you start a band… do a gig or two, maybe even make one record if we’re really lucky. The thought at the time that you could make a record that would still be being discovered 30 years later would be like the wildest of ambitions. 

We’re totally fine with how people find us… If some people just love the old stuff, that’s totally their choice. From our perspective we want to make new music as well. We still love the feeling of playing new music that we’re all excited about. Hopefully people who love the old records will give the new songs a listen too. But obviously we’ve noticed that some of the newer songs like ‘Sugar For the Pill’ or ‘Kisses’ get cheered as loud as old favourites.

I think that’s the case for all performers regardless of age. A song can be a little snapshot of a particular moment or feeling that you may never feel ever again. Playing the songs live is different every night. Something can happen in a show that can make playing a particular song special… could be the sound or the audience reaction or something else that makes it emotional. 

We’ve seen all the ups and downs of the music industry. It’s like life. Just gotta make the most of the good moments and don’t take anything for granted.

Audiences are different around the world. We’re just grateful there is an audience because in 1994 that wasn’t always the case. We played in South America and the audiences there were so raucous and loud and it was really fun. It’s totally fine if audiences are quiet and more restrained or respectful. People can express themselves however they want. Sometimes when it’s really quiet we worry that we’ve done something wrong.

We can’t wait to come back to Bangkok. We get to play for longer and play songs from all our albums. Thank you so much for all your support. We’re so excited to play for you. We hope you’ll enjoy the show with us.

See you on Monday 18 March at Voice Space for their sold out show #HYHBKK Live! with Slowdive

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อิ๊ก นักเขียนสายดนตรีที่เกือบจะต้องวางมือ แต่คงหนีไม่พ้นเพราะยังอยากพูดถึงวงและเพลงดี ๆ ต่อไปเรื่อย ๆ

Photographer: Parri Thomas
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