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 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 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.
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.
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 Slow Readers Club – You Opened Up My Heart (Official Video)
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.
The Slow Readers Club – You Opened Up My Heart (Official Audio)
The band announces their third album, Build A Tower, will be released on May 4. They also announce a tour to promote the album, with dates in Cardiff, Southampton, Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool, Glasgow, Newcastle, Hull, Nottingham, Wolverhampton, Norwich, Northwich, London and Stoke.
Aaron and Jim are interviewed by Reyt Good Magazine, while being driven through Salford, Manchester. They talk about their early days, the support of the band by James, and the changes since they signed.
We now have all the machinery established bands had. Before we were doing it all ourselves…we did our best to look around other cities and see what they were doing…if you go to a city where a promoter’s built a reputation, you do get music lovers turning up to see what’s going on. It gves you a chance to get in front of new people.
The band win the Best Breakthrough Act award at the 2018 City Life Awards, hosted at the The Deaf Institute, Manchester. Over 14,000 votes were collected. The band play a short acoustic set at the venue.
In an interview with Fred Perry Subculture, the Slow Readers Club talk about their favourite music, and share a playlist.
A British icon or band who inspire your sound?
James: We always get asked this and it’s really hard to answer because as a band we listen to all sorts of stuff… Some better than others. We’ve been compared to the likes of Depeche Mode and Joy Division. Possibly because our sound is quite dark and has some synths. Aaron also sings in a low range at times. We’re not moaning though, they’re both quality bands.
Aaron: Yeah sound wise, it’s a lot of different stuff as Jim says. Lyrically it’s Lennon and Morrissey are probably the biggest influences – I like stuff that’s personal, honest and semi-autobiographical.
The band releasesLunatic, the first single from their upcoming third album. The track was produced by Bullyment. Aaron Starkie:
It’s about feeling at odds with the world, especially politically in recent times, to the point where you feel as though you are losing your mind. There’s also reference to how psychiatry has been used to remove political dissidents from society: ‘Hard to find a fit, for I know that I’m a lunatic, Sure in days of old, I’d be chained to the floor’.
Aaron Starkie is interviewed by Bido Lito!, a Liverpool-based music magazine. He talks about the influence of Joy Division, and the influence of Liverpool bands, as well as the pressure of the band still having day jobs:
I won’t lie, it has been difficult for all of us to balance the band, work and home life especially in the last year or so. At times it has been physically and mentally draining. Aside from the logistical challenges of managing to write, rehearse and tour around work, we also do a lot of admin/business stuff as we have no manager, agent or label. That said, we have been rewarded for our hard work with amazing experiences. We ended last year with sold out headline shows in Manchester, London and Dublin. The Ritz in particular felt like a real celebration for us and the fans that have followed us over the years and helped spread the word.
On new material:
We should be releasing something, be it singles or an EP toward the end of the year. We are looking at the start of 2018 for the next album. In terms of what is influencing what we are writing, that feels pretty hard to pin down. Personally, I consume music mainly through listening to 6Music with the occasional bit of Absolute 80s ha ha… Lyrically, much of what I written so far has been quite personal, existential. I will try and broaden things out a little I think. Obviously the political environment, in a post-Brexit, Trump world will have an impact in some way. I think it will be interesting to see how all art forms respond to the political climate in the coming years.
The band play at the Ritz, Manchester, to a sold-out crowd of 1500. This is the first performance of Through The Shadows. As the band takes a bow, James gives a message to the fans:
We all go to work just like you. We all have day jobs just like you. We don’t have anyone who’s giving us loads of money. So the fact that you are all coming out to spend money on us. Everything you spend comes straight back into this band. Thank you very much. Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
The Slow Readers Club at The O2 Ritz, Manchester 18.11.16
The band are interviewed by BBC Manchester before their Ritz concert. James Ryan:
It’s been the best year for the band so far. In December last year we were playing Gorilla over the road. And that sold out, but if you had said then in a year’s time we’d be over the road at the Ritz, we wouldn’t have believed it.
We’re an unsigned band, so to be able to do this…and it’s just social media’s been great. James support has been great. And the fans.
Aaron: There’s men in suits have come up from London.
James: We’re writing, we want to do another album as well.
The band are interviewed by a Portuguese music blog where they talk about their sound, touring with James and a few favourites, including a wish to one day play Glastonbury.
First and foremost we write and perform great songs with infectious melodies and lyrics that connect and mean something to people. Whatever happens with the band, it is amazing to think that our music has been listened to and enjoyed by people around the world.
The band are interviewed by Northern Soul, a music blog. Aaron Starkie:
Last year when we played Ramsbottom it felt like the time that things were starting to kick off, and we were getting one or two festivals. And word started spreading.
On new songs:
We’re getting evicted from our rehearsal rooms, which doesn’t help. Someone’s bought the building and they’re turning it into a block of flats. We intend to have a month of writing and perform new material at the Ritz.