I recently had the pleasure of catching up with The Slow Readers Club font man, Aaron Starkie, to discuss sell out shows, festivals, albums and the challenges of being in full times jobs with full time band commitments…
Heres how it went….
So, with the way things are going with the band, especially the last 18 month… I’m sure you’d be getting offers of management, now right? Yeah We’ve are getting plenty of interest, we are talking to a few people but not signed up with anyone yet, everything so far has been done by the band, management wise.
It’s so easy to do it yourself now? Yeah the one thing we haven’t got round to is physical distribution. We have had a few instances where we’ve played a city and fans have said ‘we can’t find your music – we’ve been to HMV…’ or where ever and we can’t find your music anywhere. So maybe we are missing opportunities.
Up until now we have been selling CD’s / Vinyls at gigs and direct from our website.
The thing is, the kids that do buy music these days don’t know what HMV is (laughter) No, no (laughter) That’s exactly what we thought but we do sell a lot of physical music still, and more CDs than Vinyl weirdly
The first time I came across Slow Reader Club was circa 2009 when an old colleague of mine was raving about you… not sure how long you’d been together at that point? Well, Jim and I were in a band before that, called Omerta, from around 2005 and then I think we started Slow Readers Club 2008/2009 something like that so we’ve been grafting at it for a bit, put the first album out ourselves – did ok, got some radio play and some bits like that but it’s all been about our second album, Cavalcade and releasing the singles.
I think we built up to Manchester’s Gorilla level, so we sold out that, then the start of 2016 the James tour happened, then we built up to the Ritz – so yeah! We’ve started getting more festival offers now too but I think the 2nd record being out there and word of mouth has been massive for us. Now, we’re going out to other cities, finding fans singing back to us – that’s pretty amazing. We didn’t really want to be JUST big in Manchester or whatever – we want the whole country to know about us, hopefully (laughter)
How was it playing the arena with James? Brilliant. It was a bit of a weird one – we got added to the bill so we had Jack Savoretti in between so it was fairly quiet in the context of the Arena but we’re still talking a few 1000 people, but yeah – it was amazing.
A better experience the same tour was probably Brixton Academy. It’s an incredible venue. It has a raked floor so it’s like looking out on a football terrace. It’s a great venue to play – My wife and I were stood at the sound desk watching James afterwards (she’s a mega James fan) and they were playing ‘Sometimes’ and the crowd just were singing back the chorus to them – for about 2 or 3 minutes or so… it was great to see.
You’ve supported James again since then at the Echo in Liverpool? Yeah, yeah. That was another one that was added on – Charlatans were playing at that one too. In may we did the full James tour except the arena shows, then we were offered Manchester arena, I guess when they realised we weren’t weirdo’s (laughter)
You were in the foyer for the Liverpool one? Yeah, that was fantastic, it was mad and we were a little hesitant at first as we didn’t know how playing the foyer would look or sound. But Saul (Saul Davies, Guitar, James) was like ‘f*ck it, just go with it’ as James have done all sorts of things in the past.
The James fans knew who we were to a degree, but the Charlatans fans were seeing us for the first time – we didn’t have the stage, the lighting, but it was really great! There was a time where we were playing and there were guys coming out of the lifts with arms full of toilet rolls but it was top – we were looking down the large corridor packed with people – and it seemed to go down really well.
Cool man, staying in Liverpool – How was playing at the Arts Club recently? That’s a great venue that is! It’s quite a shallow venue, isn’t it? Yeah, yeah but it stepped at the back so it’s really cool. Like a mini Brixton. Probably our biggest headline show outside of Manchester so far, in terms of numbers at least.
So, you sold out Nottingham! Top job on that yeah thanks, that was a great venue (the Bodega) quite intimate, we could feel a proper connection with the fans there.
The following night we played with The Jesus and Mary Chain, in Birmingham. That was cool, it was pretty full for our set and we seemed to go down well. Then we were in the studio for a two days, then back to work on Monday (laughter)
The next show is Hull at the Welly Club on the 8th April. Followed by a sold out show at The Border line in London on the 11th April then we’ve got Plug in Sheffield on 29th April – just a few tickets left for that one too. Then the last day in the tour in Leeds.
You had a good festival run last year – What’s in the pipeline this year? We’ve just been announced to do Dot to Dot festival, in Manchester, Bristol and Nottingham. We’ve also got Isle of White Festival too which is gonna be very cool and we have more still to announce.
It must be quite a special feeling selling out your own shows and having fans sing back words to your songs? Yeah for sure, it’s taken us a while to get there, I’ve really enjoyed seeing us grow and having people sing our songs back to us is great. To get to a level where we sold out the Ritz in Manchester was just, incredible! If we can do that in Manchester then there’s no reason we can’t do than in other cities too.
What’s next on the agenda? The aim is to have another release towards the end of the year, do another tour, hopefully be in a position where we can go full time in the next 12 to 18 months and do tours of 30 to 40 dates as opposed to what we are able to commit to now. Getting out of the UK now is also something we are keen on – interacting with fans overseas, it’s bizarre when we get contacted by fans from the other side of the world – but equally great too. You have to love modern technology? – yeah we had a guy send us a picture of him wearing one of our T-Shirts, in the North Pole (laughter) That’s where it’s at man, get to the North Pole for some igloo gigs? (laughter) it was just a little bit of facebook fun which led to us asking our fans where they’re all at – we had people from all over sending us pics – it was great! – the beauty of the internet!
Where did you record your Cavalcade? Edwin Street Studio in Bury, Sterling job with that production – yeah it was a guy called Phil Bulleyment, he’s a sound engineer on The Dutch Uncles records and live shows – we did our first singles and album with him and we had a great working relationship.
Having a successful record is down to many things – being exciting and fresh for everyone involved, having the producer believe in it – there’s a lot to the alchemy of it ending up a great record. On this record – we’ve been fortunate, the timing has been right, its sounding like we’ve been passionate about it – which we were.
With you all been in full time jobs – that must throw some challenges in to the mix? It was never really an issue before but the past 12 months or so, as we’ve become busier, we’ve had more offers, festivals, more opportunities to play different places – we’ve just had to be more selective on where we play, to make it work. We’re constantly hoping that we choose the right gigs, making sure we don’t use all our holidays on the wrong ones (laughter) Its daft really but that’s how it is at the moment. That said – what we have in the diary this year is REALLY exciting! Then it’s just about managing the balancing act of finding the time to write new material too.
8, 9 years in, is there still a long-term plan or goal? Yeah sure, to be full time, play the big venues, the arena one day maybe but not only that, like I said before – sell out more shows across the UK and maybe outside the UK too.
Thank you for your time Aaron, I’ll let you go and get back to it and to no doubt what’s going to be a strong finish to your tour!
Up coming Gigs
Feat. image by: Billy Seagrave for FOTF Magazine.