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The Slow Readers Club
The Slow Readers Club is a band from Manchester, England, originally formed as Omerta in 2003. The members are Aaron Starkie on vocals, Kurtis Starkie on guitar, James Ryan on bass, and David Whitworth on drums.
The band releasesOn The TV, from Build A Tower, as a single. Aaron:
On The TV is a song about feeling a sense of discomfort, disassociation and extreme anxiety at the state of the modern world. It’s a scream against everything from caged kids at the Mexican border to the rise of nationalism in the UK and US. In the verses I seek solace in family and ask my parents for guidance. It also has a great riff.
The band releases an acoustic EP containing songs from their first three albums: Block Out The Sun, I Saw A Ghost, Forever In Your Debt, Supernatural, On The TV, and Lunatic. The album was produced by Phil Bullyment.
Aaron and James are interviewed by The Manc, for The Manc Meets interview series. On the Manchester scene:
AS: It’s good. In the early days it was tough, because there’s a big shadow you have to operate under. But now, with bands like The Blossoms, Cabbage and ourselves, breaking through and doing decent sized shows, there’s something happening again in the city.
JR: There’s loads of venues opening up now…The music scene’s good, but starting out, back in the day, sometimes it was hard to get away from that big, old Madchester scene. If you’re from Manchester because people will automatically think, “I’ll compare them to a Manchester band”.
Aaron and Kurt are interviewed for MCR Live about their upcoming acoustic album, For All Here To Observe. Aaron:
We’ve done a few radio sessions and acoustic stuff, as well as supporting James at Albert Hall at the end of last year. We figured we’d just get it recorded.
When we’ve done radio sessions before, me and Aaron normally turn up with an acoustic guitar and now and then we’ve had Jim on acoustic bass so we decided to mic up the drums and use brushes. It really gave the whole thing a different texture.
The band records a three-tracks live session for Radio X [Link to Session], including Lunatic, Supernatural, You Opened Up My Heart, and I Saw A Ghost. In an interview, Aaron talks to Kennedy about the band’s progress.
We’ve got a strong commitment to memorable melodies…We’re ‘all killer no filler’…I spent a lot of time when we first started out, trying to sound more like everybody else, trying to sound more indy. But I’ve got a reasonable range and as I’ve developed and become more confident in what I’m doing it’s become more honest and truthful. It seems to be working.
The band are profiled in Manchester Evening News. Aaron talks about playing Manchester’s Apollo on their upcoming tour:
It’s a venue we’ve always wanted to play. There’s something special about the Apollo. There aren’t many places bigger in Manchester. Except the
arena – but let’s not get ahead of ourselves…
On their rising profile:
When you hear the likes of James, The Charlatans, and Clint Boon talking about you in positive terms, to get their
backing, it’s awesome. It makes it all worthwhile when you’re playing the Roadhouse to 20 people and you think maybe you’re mad for sticking with it…It feels a bit mad to be
honest. This is always the nervy bit. Just as tickets are about to go an sale and you wonder if you’re going to get that extra boost. It’s squeaky bum time. But we’re just going to enjoy it…We’re just so grateful to [our fans]. They’ve really driven it. They’ve dragged their mates along to shows or shouted about us on the internet. This gig is as much about them as it is us.
The band announces a five-day headline tour of the UK and Ireland.
Friday, October 12 – Belfast – Belfast Limelight 2
Saturday, October 13 – Dublin – Button Factory
Saturday, December 8 – Glasgow – Glasgow School of Art
Tuesday, December 11 – London – London Scala
Friday, December 14 – Manchester – Manchester o2 Apollo
The band reaches the semi-finals of the Manchester Music Cup, a knockout voting contest, hosted by XS Manchester. After beating Joy Division and The Charlatans, the band is knocked out by James, who are beaten by Oasis in the final.
The band are interviewed before their show at Rock City, Nottingham. On the crowd reaction on the tour:
Aaron: We’ve had good crowds everywhere. There’s one in particular that the crowd have really got on top of, and bouncing around. Manchester’s probably the first gig we had when we had people on people’s shoulders. The energy in the room has been fantastic…On the TV in particular, it’s got a really strong riff from Kurtis and a very direct chorus. The first few days on the tour the album wasn’t actually out, but you could see that people were getting on it in the moment. People were singing the riff through the tune, and before we came on for the encore.
Kurtis: My take was that when we first did the first couple of gigs before the album came out. I thought Supernatural was getting the best reaction. But it’s changed since the album came out.
OUR ALBUM IS NUMBER 18 ? Build A Tower is in the top 20 of the official album chart, properly mind blowing. We want to say a massive thank you to all our fans for getting behind us…Thanks for spreading the word, here’s to the next stage of the adventure ??
The limited edition Live At Festival No.6 album is released, as part of certain initial pre-order bundles from the band’s webstore. The album, recorded in Summer 2017 at Festival No. 6 at Portmeirion Town Hall, comprises a six-song set of stripped down songs accompanied by strings arranged and conducted by Festival No.6 composer-in-residence Joe Duddell.
The band release their third studio album, Build a Tower. The album is released on Modern Sky Records and was recorded and produced by Phil Bullyment at Edwin Street Recording Studios in Bury. The album is released in multiple formats including limited-edition red and yellow vinyl, and cassette tape.
We’re really proud of the record as we’ve learned a lot since our last, self-released, album. Build A Tower feels like a big step up. Even though fans have heard a couple of the tracks played on the last tour, there’s a lot we’ve been holding back until they had the album in their hands, so we’re also looking forward to getting out and playing live. We’re excited to see what people make of our new music.
In advance of their Leeds show, Aaron talks to Darren on Proper Sports’ Big Sports Breakfast, about how their previous tour with James came about.
It was an amazing opportunity for us. They tweeted one of our tracks that we performed — I Saw A Ghost — acoustically in Manchester Central Library. It was like a guerrilla thing. We just turned up and did it for a YouTube channel. Jim Glennie tweeted via the James account, and we were like ‘Christ, gotta get on to this’. Luckily enough for us they had a new album and tour coming up. There’s a guy who’s supported us for years that’s written about us in Manchester that we knew did their sleeve notes and knew the band. So I manged to get a CD to the band via him. Then a week or so later we got a note from their management offering us 14 dates on their tour. We ended up playing Brixton Academy, Manchester Arena, Liverpool Echo Arena. That was massive for us. It gave us an audience all over the UK.
Aaron and Kurtis appear on the It’s Only Rock’N’Roll show on Fab Radio International. On their growing support:
Kurtis: One thing you notice is audience sizes. Going from doing the smaller venues where the odd pockets of people knowing the words, and then getting to the stage where people are all singing it back and chanting ‘Readers’ is a different level.
Aaron: The connection with the crowd is incredible now…David Bowie said, “Don’t play to the gallery”. That sticks in my mind: you get down and sing to those that are buzzing at the front, and you see it roll back through the venue.
On the upcoming album:
Aaron: A lot of the stuff in the past has been introspective and existential (Kurtis: mean and moody!). I wanted to explore different territory anyway and be a bit more positive anyway. But then Brexit happened, and Trump, and the world seems to be getting very polarized. The trajectory of the planet seems to be completely different. So I thought I was important not to be majorly political, but put a positive message out. Songs like Through The Shadows are about getting through difficult times and the most important thing being about those you love. A more positive message than before, but more universal, and bits of social commentary. Whereas, before it was a bit more about my own insecurities and demons…We’ve sold nearly 2000 pre-orders so far. If we get a decent chart position it leads on to other things.
The band release the official video for You Opened Up My Heart, directed by Croft.
Aaron: The concept was a collaboration. We gave [Chris] some ideas of what we wanted visually: very graphic and high energy. He sent us a few examples of 3D projections. The cube felt a little bit ambitious for the budget. And we were like, ‘that sounds risky’, and we tipped up in the morning and it was a bit of a seat-of-the-pants thing…It’s a cube that has a projection that runs right the way round. To see it in person was incredible. It’s one of our best so far.
The band are interviewed by Too Many Blogs, talking about their upcoming album, Build A Tower, which will be released on May 4.
The Star Wars thing is just a coincidence, we won’t be doing a gig in Jedi robes or anything.
We have developed a lot as musicians since Cavalcade, so there is more invention in terms of melody, rhythm, song structure…Some tracks are very personal and explore the feeling of being in love with someone and the delicious fragility of it, the sense that it could disappear before your eyes (‘Supernatural’). Some tracks refer, very specifically, to the external political environment (‘Lunatic’/’On the TV’). Musically, it’s probably more consistent in terms of style, as the album was written in a tighter time-frame than the last album. It’s pretty inventive – hopefully, our existing fans will love it and, hopefully, it continues the work of the previous album (in winning over most people that hear it).
The band announce two tour dates in China, one in Beijing and at The Strawberry Festival in Hangzhou.
Aaron: The label we are signed to, Modern Sky, is Chinese. It’s odd one: we’re going on the Wednesday and coming back on Saturday night, and back to work on Monday. We thought Isle of Wight on one day was bad. It’s Beijing and Hangzhou. It should be great. I thought we’d be doing Berlin before Beijing. The ambition is to get out to Europe an the states. Europe seems a logical stop. I’m a stats nerd so we can see on Spotify we’re being listened out there.
The band release You Opened Up My Heart, from the album, Build A Tower.
A lot of our songs are existential and angst-ridden but, in an age where we’re faced with stuff like Trump and Brexit, and people are becoming more polarised, it felt right to offer something with a more positive message. It’s an electro-indie love-song, basically, with great hooks. The lyrics ‘Believe enough to lose control/Where there’s love there’s always hope’ are about a basic belief that humanity and compassion will win the day.