I’ve met with Nick Chaplin and Christian Savill for a brief talk just before their concert in Warsaw, back in October 2017. I must say, I had great time chatting about their break from music and how their children react to Slowdive’s newly found fame.
How are you feeling right now, after coming back and putting out the record after quite some time?
Nick: We kind of got used to it, it’s been 3 years since we did the first shows, but we’re so used to play live again, to me it felt like I’ve been doing this forever. What’s nice is playing the news songs from the new record, having fun playing something different and just seeing the audience react, mostly to the new but also to the old stuff, you never know, do you. Like I remember we went to see Pixies at Primavera and people were reacting mostly to the old song, which is also good.
How is it really, to play your old songs 20 years later? Was it different, was it like you’ve stopped in time, as if the time was not counting?
Christian: We sound exactly the same, but then again, we look pretty horrible, old and horrible.
Nick: We were pretty horrible before.
Nick: Some of the songs are pretty easy, we obviously had to do some hard work before we’ve got together, we didn’t just decide one day to get back together and then go to a room the following day, it took quite some time to discuss which songs we would like to play and so we picked the well-known and probably easy ones. And once we’ve got through that batch, we went through the slightly tricky ones. With time we’ve forgotten a lot of what we did. But as it turns out it comes back pretty quickly.
That’s why we had to wait 3 years for a new record?
Nick: Yes, cause we had to go through the old songs probably. It took us a bit longer to create the new record, than we wanted to. But we also played a lot more shows than we thought we would and in between shows we had to go back and look after children, to our families. So there was not much time to go to the studio, so we just concentrated on the shows. So yes, it took longer than expected.
Actually when you stopped playing, I was just 4 years old.
Nick: We were mentally only about 4. (Laughter)
I had to dig up some old stuff and some things I’ve read were pretty horrible. 90’s was all about rock and then we went through the pop era all around the world. Do you think you were just ahead of your time?
Christian: No, I think this whole time we were just doing our own stuff. Some bands kind of moved from one popular thing to another. Don’t you think?
Nick: Yes, even when we started and critics were really kind to us, we were doing our own thing. There were bands following the same kind of style before us, we obviously had our own take from there. As Christian said, when the kind of funky drummer thing started, every band was having it in their songs. We never did anything like that. We were moving as far from what was trendy as possible, but I think it’s just what we wanted. Sometimes people have liked it, other times they thought it was shit.
Was it really hard to come back after taking all this criticism?
Nick: Not really, people always ask us, if we came back for some kind of revenge, to show everyone we came back and just fuck you! But no, we haven’t really thought about it, people were just doing their jobs and that’s what this job was at the time, to sell newspapers, so they knocked the band down, made fun of it and people thought it was hilarious and then they moved to a next genre. But that doesn’t exist anymore. We were bumped up about it. If our comeback would not work, we would just go back to work in a computer company.
So you were working in a computer company?
Nick: Yes, we worked in the same office.
Nick: It’s a company that employs people, who know nothing about computers. That’s why we’ve got jobs there.
Oh yeah, been there done that!
Nick: So yeah, we thought it will be like 8-10 shows, we never hoped we would do another record. We obviously ended up doing a lot more. People wanted to come to our concerts.
I actually checked and Pitchfork has put all of your records in “50 best shoegaze albums of all time” in the top 10. In the social media era, where everything spreads worldwide really fast, like STDs on Coachella, do you think it’s better for musicians?
Nick: It has two sides, on one side it’s too much music out there, I think. It’s hard to find something at the volume that’s acceptable. But the flip side of that is, anybody can be accessible, when before you needed a label, which you don’t necessary need anymore. The trick is, how to get the music out there, for people to find it. For us it was easier, because we have a name, which people with a certain age and certain musical taste have recognize straight away, so when we came back and put the record out, we didn’t have to tell people who we were. For a new artist it’s a lot more work.
How does it feel to be in the spotlight again? With new fans, finding you on Spotify, going to your concerts, taking pictures and following your every step on Instagram?
Nick: We’ve got used to that, but actually Rachel is really good at that, the whole social media thing. I don’t object to it, this is really important now.
Being some sort of famous these days bases on people recognizing you a lot more often, asking for selfies, starring at you. Is there anything you would not accept?
Christian: It never happens to us. It’s good, you can go to a show and literally just go straight to the audience and no one would bother you. It’s mostly Rachel
Nick: Yes, well, it happens to us occasionally. Of course every band has it. When we decided to get back together, we wanted the original five. If one of us didn’t want to do it, then we wouldn’t do it. We all have an equal fair share. But Neil wrote songs and Rachel, for better or for worse, is the girl in the band. The wide media attention is focused on the girl in the band. She doesn’t like that, but we sort of accepted, that’s gonna happen and we can’t avoid it. When we play a concert and someone snaps a photo, we can’t control which picture is going to be published in the article. And we know they all gonna be of Rachel. (Laughter)
Is it hard to marry music and family? Usually when musician start their careers there are no strings attached, no family, just groupies everywhere, at least that’s what I’ve heard.
Christian: When we were younger we were basically living in each other’s pockets. Right now we live in different cities, having families.
Nick: We have a beautiful calendar, which we share and we block out the time we are busy with family or doing other things. So we can look at it and find a period of four days, that we might be able to do something. Me and Christian live quite close to each other. But not together (Laughter), we went through that phase. Simon lives in Cambridge, Neil and Rachel live in the south west. England is not a massive country, but there’s still 4 hours’ drive from ours to Neil’s, he has 2 kids, I have got kids, Christian has got kids, so it is kinda difficult. But at the same time we’re older and some things are easier now, with technology.
Are your kids proud of you?
Nick: They’ve been to our of our shows just recently. Your son loved it, didn’t he?
Christian: Yeah, my boy, he’s 7, loved it, my daughter, who’s 11, was not impressed.
Nick: Mine is slightly younger. My son is 9 and he was a bit overwhelmed by the whole thing, he’s quite sensitive. He was a bit afraid of going into the crowd, so I told him to watch the show from the side of the stage. He was afraid everyone’s gonna look at him. I said “trust me mate, nobody’s even looking at me, everyone’s looking at Rachel.” My little girl is 6, she thought the whole thing was hilarious.
Christian: “Look at daddy’s dumb face!” (Laughter)
Nick: So I think they’re kind of proud, but I think they’re also embarrassed. When you tell people about what you do in life, and we respond, we’re in a band, they ask “what is you’re really do”, so we need to convince them it’s really what we do, just being in a band. Most people can’t see anything between playing in U2 and a band that just plays in pubs. They just can’t understand how you can make a living out of it, when you’re just playing in pubs and not just working too.
That’s weird, UK is actually a house to great musician and a lot of different music.
Nick: Not many people have interest in that. Not many care about music. I know Britain has a history of great music, right now it’s basically just X-Factor and so, they are buying CD’s in a supermarket, not accepting people can make living out of it.
Thank you very much for the talk and have a nice one on stage today!