I interviewed Slowdive in 1994

I interviewed Rachel and Nick from Slowdive back in 1994 at the Middle East in Cambridge, MA for my old Splashdown zine... it was during the "Souvlaki" tour... I think I asked a lot of good questions that true fans will appreciate...

How old were you when you formed Slowdive?

Rachel: Well, me and Neil went to school together, so I'd known him since the age of 10 or something. And we formed a band of sorts when we were 15. I used to play keyboards and stuff. It was quite appalling.

Did you really once win a Siouxsie Sioux look-alike contest back then?

Rachel: No, that was just Christian joking, but I did model myself on her at one point. We met Nick through our first drummer. Christian joined 6 months later when we put an advert in our local paper for a female guitarist and he was the only person who applied so he was in, really. Simon used to drum for the Charlottes and approached us at the end of 1990 because he heard we were looking for a new drummer. So he joined then. Simon left in December and Ian has been with us since the beginning of the year. He's a good chap.

How did you get signed to Creation?

Nick: We sent a tape to them, but they get so many tapes sent to them, so they probably never heard it. So what happened was a friend of Alan McGee's went to check out a band called 5:30 playing in Reading and we were supporting them. He caught us opening and thought Alan would like us, so he came up to us after, we gave him a tape, and he gave it to Alan, and the rest is history.

Are you friends with other Creation bands?

Nick: No, they're all bastards (joking)
Rachel: We don't fit in with the group.
Nick: Well, the truth is, we live in Reading and the others like the Primals probably live in Memphis. We don't like to get involved in that rock'n'roll cliche of bands hanging out together. They're all false, just hanging out cuz they're in bands, even if they don't like each other. They just talk about how many drugs they take and what kind of guitar amps they use. It's all really boring. But, we are friends with bands we've toured with. We all really like the Cranes, but they are actually our friends and the fact that they are in a band is secondary to that. And they're not on Creation anyway :)
Rachel: Cranes are the only band we keep in touch with outside of band stuff.

Didn't you tour with Ride in America?

Nick: They were really nice guys, but we didn't really have much to do with them. We'd share a beer, but not really hang out. I haven't seen them in ages.

Rachel, How did you end up singing with Chapterhouse on "Pearl"?
Rachel: Well, I was friends with them....
Nick: Ha, this is going to contradict everything we just said.
Rachel: Yeah :) I knew Andy and Stephen before both of our bands got successful. Se we were friends for a few years and it was just a favor they asked me. I thought it would be quite a laugh, so I did it.

How did you guys feel at the beginning, always being compared to My Bloody Valentine?
Nick: That was frustrating. We didn't mind being compared to MBV because they were obviously a big influence on us at the start, but it's frustrating being put into a box with bands you really have nothing to do with. The whole "shoegazing" scene; Ride and Blur were in it, but what's the connection between us and Blur?

What does the British press say about you lately?
Nick: Nothing, our sort of music isn't fashionable in Britain now.

What is fashionable now?
Nick: Well, it's the "new wave of new wave" isn't it? The resurgence of punk.
We're the antithesis of something like that.

Does the new "5ep" give a sample of your new sound?
Nick: No, it was sort of an experiment.
Rachel: More like "Souvlaki Space Station", that sort of thing.
Nick: We were just bored and wanted to put a record out, its not our new direction.

There seems to be a lot of people in your song titles... who is Celia from "Celia's Dream"?
Rachel: Celia was taken from an Australian film me and Neil watched called "Celia's Rabbit".
Nick: She had a dream in it, Neil said it was connected to her dream
Rachel: Just a throw-away title.

Does anybody have a sister Sue ("The Ballad of Sister Sue")?
Rachel: No, that's sort of our "country" song, isn't it?
Nick: We thought it was a "country" sort of title.

And "Alison"?
Rachel: The name just fits i with the tune, so.....
Nick: Well, that's what Neil told you...
Rachel: (to Nick) No. *grumble*
Nick: Most song titles are like the lyrics; they have some reference, but are not directly about one thing.

What did you do for the 2 years between albums?
Rachel: Recorded, toured; we went to Europe a few times, here with Ride... we went into the studios and rehearsed the songs until they sounded right.
Nick: We wanted it to sound different from the first one. We didn't want "Just for a Day: Part 2"

Do you like the second album better than the first?
Rachel: Yup.
Nick: Well, there's bits on both I like. "Just for a Day" is more of one complete piece, while "Souvlaki" is more of a collection of different sides of the band.

Which are your favorite songs?
Nick: Recorded "Spanish Air", Live "Souvlaki Space Station"
Rachel: Recorded "Souvlaki Space Station", Live "Melon Yellow"

I like "Waves."
Nick: Lots of people like "Waves" but we've had trouble playing it live so we gave up on it.
Rachel: I like "Primal."

What about most of the songs giving sole credit to Neil, does he write all the music for every song?
Rachel: Neil does a demo and when we rehearse they change quite radically. Songs like "Souvlaki Space Station" began as just jamming in a studio, as did "Shine" and others.
Nick: Neil doesn't just say "you play this". We use his demo as a guide, but we're not told exactly what to play. But the "5ep" was pretty much completely Neil.

What about the lyrics and melodies?
Rachel: Sometimes I'll work on those, but obviously I don't do as much as Neil.

Do you have enough money from Slowdive that you can quit your other jobs?
Rachel: We make barely enough to live and we're all too lazy to get proper jobs, so we just make due.

At what point did you quit your jobs?
Rachel: I quit mine at the beginning of 1991 before "Morningrise" came out; early on.
Nick: Pretty much as soon as we got signed.

So as soon as you got signed you were given a certain amount of money?
Rachel: Yeah, advance money.
Nick: We signed our publishing away, which is not smart to do at the beginning, but it gave us money to buy decent equipment and give up our jobs so we can go out and tour. But we could probably make more money if we swept floors.
Rachel: A fucking easy cleaning job would pay more money.
Nick: But we don't do it for the money....
Rachel: Nah.

Why did you want to be in a band?
Nick: I never wanted to, it just happened.
Rachel: Things happen.... shit happens....I always wanted to be in a band and I always wanted to make my living from it, so I was quite lucky.

Did you just want to make music, or to be famous too?
Rachel: Probably a little of both. People like getting their pictures in the papers, can't really deny it.

Do you like America?
Rachel: Yes, we love it!

Better than England?
Rachel: Yes, absolutely.

Which cities?
Rachel: Everywhere
Nick: New York; the gigs are much better because people here are not so bothered by what's hip or trendy and they're more receptive to what we do. If they like something, they like it and don't really care. They have much broader taste in music which is much better.

Do you like the west coast?
Nick: I don't. (to Rachel) You like San Francisco, don't you? Neil likes Los Angeles. The west coast is false. New York is exciting, there's an edge to it.

What do you do when you just hang out?
Rachel: At the moment, sleep. The tour is tiring. Our record company are complete wankers, no publicity for the new album. We want to get dropped from SBK and join another label. So, this is a self-financed tour.

Where did the "Beach Song" flexi come from?
Nick: They were from the original sessions tape. Two songs from the same tape, "Slowdive" and "Avalyn" were used on our first EP. We didn't re-record them.

Then Christian walked by, so I asked him about his band, Eternal, who released just one 7" on Sarah Records.

Were you already in Slowdive when you did the Eternal 7"?

Christian: No, it was just before.

Who else was in the band?
Christian: Just a couple of mates of mine from Reading. It wasn't even a band, really. We just did a tape and for some strange reason a small company wanted to put it out. It was a one shot deal. :)

So there were no plans to release anything else?
Christian: Well, we did some other stuff, but they told us to get lost. They said it was the biggest pile of shit they'd ever heard in their lives.
Nick: Apart from us, of course.
Christian: it was really weird.


echoed said...

wow, gr8 interview... so close and honest... i apreciate a lot yr fan approach to the band, you know... some kind of journalists always want to adopt that annoying "not envolved" attitude (i don't know why... are they scared or something ???)... but this is so different... so natural and real... thank you... good job... i'm a slowdive fan too, i owe a lot to them and i always wanted to ask them questions like yrs...

cheers and have a nice day !!!

Techx said...

I just read the interview, kick ass! I enjoyed it, was nice to learn some things I didn't know about them.


Anonymous said...

Great. Thank you for sharing. Was at this show with my wife and in fact must have been in close proximity to you as I spent time with Rachel, Christian and Nick as well after the gig.