Its 2:30pm on Saturday the 29th of August in Little John’s farm; Richfield Avenue in central Reading. The sun is glistening and the birds are chirping, the scene is reminiscent of any opening sequence to a Hugh Grant film, except it’s not. Because in a tent on the edge of this farm, 22-year-old Laurie Vincent and 23-year-old Isaac Holman are preparing to go to war, flanked by masses of teenagers. How? Not even they know the answer, but for some reason the punk duo Slaves are at the forefront of what can only be described as an accidental cult following that just sort of – happened.
“Music is dead” is what I overheard in the que that morning for my routine morning sh*t in the long drop skip that Reading festival refer to as ‘a toilet’. He’s got a point. When have the music charts ever meant anything though? I wish I could stand here in my John Lennon inspired sunglasses and tell you that that they mean nothing and that it’s just a tool used by the corporate elite to coax us into believing that we have a say in what we listen to, but I’m afraid that is not the case. The charts do reflect a democracy – and they are very much an insight into what, we, as a majority, are listening to.
The charts right now? It’s like a zombie attack. It has been for the last few years and there’s no sign of Simon Pegg emerging with a baseball bat through a broken window in the Winchester pub to save us anytime soon. It’s like we’ve been thrust into a video game with no escape. An 8 bit medium of the same 4 chords over and over again. If Status Quo had tits, garage band and a techno pad and were subsequently the only people allowed to produce music, the music charts would not look too dissimilar to how they look now.(Actually reading that back, I’ve been considerably unfair towards the lads from Status Quo, in reality the charts would actually be far better).
The charts are dominated by artists labelled SaidFXlArge feat. your Nan (Or something like that). Want a number one? Get a lad on the laptop, give him a name that sounds like a 13-year-old’s Xbox Live gamer tag and get a woman. Get her to sing about love for a bit over this lads garage band mix and oh, make sure she gets her tits out for the music video. There’s your number one right there. Sony records, get in touch. (Seriously though, please do get in touch, I could really do with the money).
So why, amongst all of this automated sh*t are the punk duo Slaves now being played on Radio 1?!
And why, why is it, that at Reading festival this weekend, their set is one of the best out of the hundreds of artists on show?!?
Slaves were formed in 2012 and both members are from Tunbridge Wells in Kent. The name Slaves derives from the belief that “we are all Slaves in this modern age, whether it be to our jobs, corporation, social media or society in general. We are all in this together”.
Their punk inspired riffs echo through the NME tent at Reading festival, as guitar player Laurie Vincent bears his beautifully shining skinhead, one which my 50-year-old father would be proud of, and wiggles his hips to the crowd as if he is a Z list celeb on Strictly Come Dancing.
Isaac Holman, who plays the drums, stands up when he plays, his co-ordinated annihilation of the two crash symbols often leaves you wondering if he would be better suited in an African tribe.
Their songs not only drop mentions to global warming and other interesting and much under-discussed issues, but are also about mantra-rays and other beautifully obscure topics that will probably never feature on a Rita Ora album anytime soon.
But below them is where the real action is taking place. Thousands of kids, including myself, are tearing each-other apart. But in a nice way. As Vincent reminds us at the end of the set when he stage dives, “make sure you help each-other up”, we oblige. There is just as much hugging with strangers, as there is moshing.
When I have a minute to pull my face from out of the mud during the set, drummer Holman scans us with his possessed eyes hidden behind his oval sunglasses (which I can proudly say, I own a matching pair) to tell us “If you live like an animal, then I’m pretty sure you’re gunna’ die like one too”. The message is plain and simple – “Put down your phones and watch through your eyes”.
Slaves, are not however, some far out indie band that no one has ever heard of. Their latest album bewilderedly found itself in the top 10, and they are now being played regularly on primetime slots on Radio 1. Deservedly.
The problem with movements in the music industry is usually that there are too many. The Britpop movement of the 90s was an individual autonomy. It was one movement that everyone got behind. Perhaps the emergence of the internet is to blame for our generation not having a ‘Britpop moment’. You see, there is so much choice now, you can listen to anything, you can create anything. The problem with our generation is that we’ve all got too many fingers in far too many pies (where the f*ck are you going with this Bill?!?)
We’re all trying to push different movements, if we want to over-throw the monotone music charts we need to all get behind one movement and push together.
That’s where Slaves come in.
There is a movement and it’s happening – grime.
But without the help of the indie rock audience, it will never achieve the revolution we so desperately need.
Slaves however are doing something about that. Holman used to rap in a grime group before Slaves ever existed and Vincent too was a member. Skepta recently joined the boys on stage in Norwich for a rendition of ‘Shutdown’. They are also close pals with JME. There are distant rumours, that we only dare whisper, that they may have intentions to work on something with grime artists on a next album.
Anyway, time to stop trying to change the face of music Bill, get back to the sh*t jokes mate.
In the last few years I’ve seen the likes of Green Day, Arctic Monkeys, Eminem, Kendrick Lamar and Queens of the Stone Age amongst many others. However, the set that I witnessed from the punk duo Slaves on that sunny Saturday at Little John’s farm is right up there and had an energy unlike one that I’ve ever felt.
Slaves recently told the NME in an interview, that “we’re exactly what this generation needs” – I’d have to agree.
Slaves are coming and they’re bringing an army. No one is really sure how they acquired their army, but for some reason, along with the die-hard punk fans, the teenage girls who listen to Radio 1 are behind them also
If Slaves do become the monumental phenomenon that I so hope they do, then please, remember this post, and remember, I told you so.
If they fall flat however, and no one ever hears of them again, please forget I ever said anything, thanks.
This post is dedicated to Gerald, a soldier who fell 5-years young. RIP Gerald.
Anyway, who are you guys listening to at the moment? I love checking out new music! Leave a comment or get in touch on twitter @BillyBlogged! Cheers.