This week we caught up with Alt-pop British-French trio, Slowrush to discuss how they’ve been keeping busy through lockdown, the release of their latest EP, The Parallel World and what the Bordeaux music scene is like…
1. How did the Slowrush form?
The Slowrush project is the natural culmination of a three-way partnership that has developed over a few years on various live projects, some of which are still in the pipeline! But we especially wanted to work on some original material and perform our own songs, so the Slowrush format and concept really came together early in 2020. In a way, the band already existed, it’s just that we now have a name, an identity, and our own repertoire!
2. It’s been a difficult year with the COVID pandemic, how did the band keep busy during lockdown?
If anything, the lockdown restrictions caused and enabled the project to gain pace, particularly given that drummer Dorian and myself (Tim, guitar and vocals) were trapped in the same household! With that extra time on our hands, we wrote some brand new songs and set ourselves the target of recording four tracks, so that we would be able to emerge fully-formed from that unreal period with a bona fide EP on our hands! So there were countless recording sessions in our little home studio for most of the instrumental and vocal parts, Olivier our bassist recorded his lines remotely, and it all came together through the magic of file-sharing! As well as releasing the music on streaming platforms, we’ve packaged the tracks as a collectible old-school CD, so working hard on the cover concept and design also kept us safely off the streets!
3. Who would you say are the band’s main influences and what drew you to them?
Personally, the key influences that have hopefully seeped into the music are typically British and go back a few years, i.e. bands and artists that descend from The Beatles, such as XTC, Blur, The Electric Soft Parade… and I’ve always had a bit of a healthy Joe Jackson obsession! What drew me to those artists is the emphasis on a good tune, and the desire to produce music that is both clever and challenging, and yet eminently accessible. Drummer Dorian is a big Everything Everything, Foals and Tame Impala fan (so much so that the band name is a nod to the latest Tame Impala album), so that adds a more millennial feel to proceedings! Olivier on bass has very eclectic tastes, so what he brings to the mix draws on just about every musical genre under the sun!
4. You released your EP, The Parallel World in July, what’s been the general reaction to the release?
Happily very positive. We know it’s a fairly lo-fi release but it seems to be doing the job as a showcase of what we can deliver, and people have been very receptive to the tunes, the arrangements, and the songwriting. Importantly, it is also enabling us to gradually build an initial listener base, both locally and beyond, so when the next songs come along later this year, we will already have the makings of a core audience out there.
5. Is there a particular meaning or message that you wanted to represent through the EP?
Musically we wanted a set of songs that come across as being coherent when listened to back-to-back, whilst also being diverse enough to keep things interesting, so hopefully there’s a nice variety of moods in there. Lyrically, there’s no overriding theme. Title track Parallel World is about the sense of frustration you get when you wake up and realise that whatever wonderful dream you’ve just had has faded to nothingness. Mr Morality is about overbearing parents! The other two tracks are kind of offshoots of a blog I run called Invisible Bordeaux, documenting lesser-known sights and stories in the area. I’ve found that interesting subjects covered on the blog can sometimes be applied to songs, and when it works the songs almost write themselves!
6. What’s your favourite track from the EP and why?
Probably Bordeaux Watergate, and predictably it’s the track that has generated the most attention locally! First of all it’s a personal favourite because it is a full-on product of the lockdown period. And secondly because it applies that technique I just mentioned of taking a blog subject and translating it into song. It’s inspired by an obscure 1970s wine sector scandal in which thousands of bottles were mislabelled and sold at inflated prices. At the time, one of the main culprits compared it to the US Watergate scandal and maintained he would go down in history as the Richard Nixon of Bordeaux. There was definitely a potential lyric in there!
7. You guys are based in Bordeaux, what’s the music scene like there?
There are some great small and mid-sized venues that are very active and put on some fantastic bands throughout the year to audiences that are anything but rowdy! Also, towns and cities in France have always been very big on the whole notion of summertime open-air festivals. We’re not talking Glastonbury-scale, but often with free admission, one or two stages, a varied lineup, and attendance ranging from the low hundreds to several thousand. There are quite a few of those events in and around Bordeaux, and I’ve always found that it’s actually the best way to discover new local bands in great settings.
8. Tim is originally from Bristol, how would you compare the UK music scene to France’s?
I would pinpoint two main differences. Firstly, I think the grassroots scene in the UK is much, much more active than in France. That applies to the sheer number of venues putting on live music, and the amount of bands operating on the circuit. We’re in our ramp-up period right now and on social media we’ve found we’re connecting with far more bands with a similar status in the UK than in France! Secondly, France is still a far more centralised country with Paris very much at its heart. In the UK I’ve always been aware of local “scenes” like Glasgow, Manchester, Liverpool and, yes, Bristol… whereas in France you’d be hard-pressed to name a provincial city that is synonymous with its music scene…
9. There’s a father / Son combination within the band – how did that occur?
Dorian has been drumming since he was six and, ten years down the line, has developed into a fine, fine musician… and I like to think my appreciation of how good he is hasn’t been too distorted by the fact that he’s my son! He’s been performing with me on stage for a number of years so we have developed a bit of a rapport, and that just naturally segued into working on existing and new music, as well as becoming regular concert-going companions checking out the same bands. For now he’s totally fine with being in a band with his dad, although I’ll no doubt do something embarrassing and cringeworthy at some stage down the line. Anyway, who knows what lies ahead for Slowrush, but beyond getting our music out there the band is giving Dorian valuable musical experience at a relatively young age. The dad part of me hopes we’ll be like a feeder football team and that our drummer will go on to greater things with a far bigger band a few years from now!
10. What are your aims and ambitions as a band when gigs return?
The initial aims and ambitions are to be able to get out and about at least locally as soon as it’s possible once again, and hopefully find some way of securing a spot at one of those lovely feel-good summertime festivals I mentioned further up the page to start building a real-world following. And then we’ll just see what happens!…
Check out the band via their social media below…