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Samar Maguire

British punk band Slaves want people to stop being 'wrapped up in themselves'

Ahead of the British punk band Slaves' show at Gorilla in Manchester, guitarist and vocalist Laurie Vincent chats to MM about their new album, surreal gigs and love of grime.

As the general elections take centre stage, it’s becoming harder to refrain from reflecting on the state of our country as something of a potential apocalyptic disaster. ‘Please, not the Tories! Anything but the Tories!’ they exclaim.

Enter the resurgence of punk. The major cultural phenomenon was an inevitability, given the current climate. A genre of music that encourages those fundamental questions.

Can a new government propel positive change? Do the political structures that exist nurture favourable development?

Is it possible that the elected will be moulded by pernicious undertones that have already corrupted whoever has entered those chambers? Is Nigel Farage a tortoise?

Slaves are a punk duo from Kent that consist of Laurie Vincent and drummer, Isaac Holmann - who, since signing with Virgin EMI records in March, are the new in vogue 'primal' duo after making the influential BBC Sound of 2015 shortlist.

Like comedian and political activist Russell Brand – who claims we should all vote Labour (unless you live in Brighton) – Slaves believe that we have the capacity to influence change.

But while not echoing Brand’s political stance, or any other for that matter, Laurie does want a revolution. A personal one.

"We don't say ‘fuck the government’ because it would be way too easy and stereotypical. It’s about encouraging people," said the 21-year-old, who's band are championed by Radio 1's DJ Zane Lowe.

“There’s a track on our new album called ‘Do Something’, which stems from our generation spending too much time looking in mirrors, taking selfies, and being wrapped up in their own heads.

"And rather than thinking about the people surrounding us, in reality, they aren’t actually doing anything with their life. Our generation are introverted. It’s a very broad comment, but we can all be culprit because of the way the modern world is as well."

Slaves' debut album 'Are You Satisfied?’ will be released in June. The band describe their music as 'primal' because it doesn't sound like bog standard punk music. It's simple, colourful and straight to the point.

Laurie explains that the inspiration behind the album came from the pessimism he received before the band began to become successful.

He said: "[The album name] stems from the idea that if you’re not satisfied, why aren’t you doing anything about it?"

"I’ve been saying my whole life to everyone that I’m going to be in a band and be a musician and the amount of people that either just don’t want you to, or disbelieve in you, or tell you to get a proper job, or worry about you. It’s just phenomenal.

"I’ve always been stubborn minded to it, but people that aren’t, I can imagine so many people getting discouraged on a daily basis to do what they really love.

"And when the band started getting successful it dawned on me that people need to get positive messages and need to be encouraged, because I don’t think our generation does that."

But despite signed to a major label and appearing on the 2015 NME Awards tour, the duo's steadfast nature was certainly the catalyst for their success.

And it’s not that often people take encouragement away from performing in front of absolutely nothing. Which the duo have done too.

“We’ve played to nobody many a time,” said Laurie, who’s deadpan tone made it hard to tell whether he was being serious or not. “We’ve been doing this for over three years now and when we started I used to book our shows myself. We used to go and play to people in pubs.

“The amount of strange pubs we’ve played in for no-one. In Manchester for example, when we started there it was quite a hard place.

“I think it’s only since the NME tour that it’s started picking up. But I love Manchester. They have a tram service, which is weird because London doesn’t have one.”

And what of these strange gigs? “I think the weirdest gig was in a place called Whitehaven, in the Lake District and about as far North West as you can go without being in Scotland.

“The pub was like a country style club and must have been able to hold about 50 people. We went up there once and it just kicked off. We played really loudly in the back.

“It was really, really random. So we’ve got a lot of fans in Whitehaven now, which is nice,” he added.

As with all artists, it's always interesting to hear what's on their playlists. Laurie revealed that he has been listening to artists like Stormzy and would love to collaborate with grime artists in the future.

"Currently I'm listening to the new Skepta track ‘Shutdown’, which I've listened to about a hundred times in the past 2 days.

"I was never really that into grime. Only very recently I’ve been introduced to it through Stormzy. I really love Stormzy. And through that I’ve been understanding what it’s about.

"We'd be 100% down for a [grime] collaboration."

Slaves are performing at Gorilla on 9th May as part of their UK tour. If you'd like tickets, please click here.