Slowdive: “A young teenage audience was the last thing we expected when we reformed”

Ahead of their US tour next month, Slowdive have spoken to NME about how TikTok has impacted their audience, the ongoing shoegaze renaissance, their unexpected place on the line-up of Las Vegas heavy festival Sick New World and much more.

READ MORE: The future is NewDad’s for the taking

This year marks a decade since the Reading shoegaze stalwarts undid their post-‘Pygmalion’ break-up with a reunion show at Primavera Sound. Since then, they’ve released two albums, including last year’s ‘Everything Is Alive’.

Still touring the record to multigenerational audiences and many younger fans who fell in love with the band through TikTok (where ‘Souvlaki’ track ‘When The Sun Hits’ went viral), the band will soon hit the road in the US – supported by Drab Majesty – before heading back to the UK and Europe for another slew of headline shows and festival dates.

Hours before their sold-out show in Singapore, NME caught up with vocalist and guitarist Rachel Goswell and drummer Simon Scott to talk about TikTok virality, whether they’d work with Slowdive fan and acclaimed video game designer Hideo Kojima (of Metal Gear and Death Stranding fame), and more.

NME: Hello, Slowdive. I don’t know if you saw, but there are already kids sitting outside the venue.

Simon Scott: “Are they teenagers?”

Yeah, they seem young. Teens and young adults.

Rachel Goswell: “Yeah, that’s been pretty standard on this tour. Wherever we’ve played around the world, actually, since we came back last year to tour properly, it’s a lot of kids.”

Scott: “Our children, now, a lot of them are teenagers. They’re starting to hang out with friends that are into mum and dad’s band Slowdive. It’s crazy that we have such a young teenage audience. That probably was the last thing we would have expected to have happened when we reformed 10 years ago. But we did want new fans and we wanted to evolve again, so it’s really cool. It’s so flattering.”

Goswell: “It’s pretty obvious it’s TikTok.”

Do you or anyone in the band spend any time on the app at all?

Goswell: “No. [Laughs] I’ve looked at it and it’s too much for me. In a world where there’s 24/7 information, TikTok is a step too far for my brain to deal with, basically.”

Which Slowdive songs have your young audience responded to the most?

Goswell: “Well, from the new record, ‘Kisses’ definitely. ‘Sugar For The Pill’ always goes down really well. ‘Slomo’, ‘Star Roving’…”

Scott: “Yeah, quite a lot of new stuff. Last night in Bangkok, the promoter said 70 per cent of the people that bought tickets are under 25. For the audience to really dig things like ‘Slomo’, ‘Star Roving’ and a lot of new stuff is amazing, because they found us through ‘When The Sun Hits’ and ‘Alison’, which are 30 years old. So it’s cool. Thank god they’re not just like, ‘play ‘When The Sun Hits’ for god’s sake!’”

A lot of up-and-coming shoegaze bands are also naming you as an influence, for instance NewDad and Whitelands, who opened for you on tour as well. Are you also keeping up with newer shoegaze artists?

Scott: “I have a mastering studio in the UK and I master lot of new, up-and-coming bands: Whitelands (I did their album), Deary. There’s some really good stuff coming through. We play so many festivals. We just wander around, grab a drink and watch new bands.

“There’s some great music coming out of this side of COVID. Bdrmm are really good, Pale Blue Eyes supported us in Europe, they’re great. It’s really exciting.”

Do you have any theories as to why shoegaze is having a renaissance right now?

Goswell: “Because it’s escapism from the real world, perhaps? We’re not an outwardly political band – not to say we’re not political in our own lives – but the music has always been about escaping, certainly out from the day to day.”

Scott: “Yeah, it’s a dark world. So I think we kind of have that window open for you to connect to the emotions in the songs, personal struggles, worries about the world. Identity struggles.”

Goswell: “The world is a shit place, generally. I feel really sorry for younger people having, I think, so much more to deal with than we did at their age.”

Scott: “So much pressure on social media.”

Changing gears a little: Welcome back to Singapore and to Asia. It’s been a long time, and the region’s excited to have you back. When you played in Japan, Hideo Kojima left some flowers in your dressing room. Had you corresponded with him before?

Goswell: “We knew he was a fan and when the album before this one came out, we sent him a copy of the record and loads of merch and stuff. And somebody at our management company is heavily into gaming. Shortly after that he was in London and Nick [Chaplin, bassist] and Neil [Halstead, vocalist and guitarist] met him actually, a few years ago now. So yeah, so we know he’s a fan. And it was nice to see him post about the album when it came out.”

ONG!! This SLOWDIVE’s new album is so great!! I can listen to this for a long time!!! Indeed I’m listening to this over and over!!! Man! pic.twitter.com/UlvTpCjBA2

— HIDEO_KOJIMA (@HIDEO_KOJIMA_EN) August 31, 2023

So would you work with Kojima? Would you work with a video game developer in general?

Goswell: “We would, we would. We’re not right now. But we would.”

Scott: “It depends on the game. It’d be nice to do something different.”

Goswell: “Who knows?” [Laughs]

When news came out about the Asia tour, there were lots of fans in Indonesia and the Philippines –

Goswell: “I knew you were gonna say that.”

– asking why you weren’t playing in their country. They are a very vocal and passionate bunch. So is there any particular reason you’re not touring there?

Goswell: “When this tour was being put together, I did put forward: can we look at playing in Indonesia, because there’s so many people asking online. And our booking agent did look into it, but I don’t think there was anything available that we could add on to this tour that wouldn’t have added on several days, and it would have made it difficult for us to do.

“Actually, I met a girl after the show last night who had flown over from Indonesia. [Imitates upset fan] ‘Why don’t you play Indonesia?!’ I know, I tried. Hopefully, one day we’ll get over there. But we are very aware of it, and we’re sorry that we weren’t able to do so this time.”

Scott: “We’d love to go. My sister-in-law’s from Manila. I’d love to go to the Philippines. I’d love to go to Vietnam.”

Goswell: “One day, one day.”

Speaking of more touring, you are going back to the US, the UK and Europe for more shows and festivals. One of those festivals is interesting: Sick New World, headlined by System of a Down and Slipknot and with a bunch of other heavy bands on the line-up.

Goswell: “Can’t wait!” [Both laugh]

༻𖤐 SICK NEW WORLD 2024 𖤐༺

Register now for the presale that starts Friday, October 13, at 10am PT. All tickets start at $19.99 down. https://t.co/6a21OZ4pea pic.twitter.com/AUdtQh5j6V

— Sick New World Fest (@snwfest) October 9, 2023

So how did this booking come about?

Goswell: “We were asked to play by the promoter. And we were like, ‘Yeah, don’t be silly!’ Metal fans aren’t gonna like it. Then they were like, ‘Watch, there’s this big crossover, blah, blah, blah’. So why not, you know? [Do] something completely different. Neil was a little bit nervous, he’s like, ‘I hope they don’t put us on the same stage as Slipknot!’ [Laughs] I’m sure it’ll be an experience. But yeah, [it’s] something completely wildly out of our comfort zone.”

Scott: “I think Placebo did it last year. Rachel’s friends with Brian [Molko] and he said, ‘It’s really well-organised, it’s a great festival, you should do it, it’s fun.’ So…”

Goswell: “Well, Placebo…”

Scott: “They’re a bit heavier than us.”

Goswell: “Yeah, they probably fit slightly better than us, don’t they? But we’ll see. Hopefully we’ll get all the metallers weeping.” [Laughs]

Slowdive are on tour throughout 2024. Visit here for US tour dates and tickets, and here for the UK and Europe. See full dates at their official site

The post Slowdive: “A young teenage audience was the last thing we expected when we reformed” appeared first on NME.

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