Oct 15, 2011 Issue #39 - Best of 2011 Photography by Wendy Lynch Redfern
When Slow Club multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Rebecca Taylor was seven, she fell in love with Strictly Ballroom star Paul Mercurio. "I remember thinking, 'I like him a lot and I don't know why!" she giggles. "I was going, 'Oh Mommy, let's watch that film again!'"
"I think I wanted to have it off with Rachel Weisz," adds guitarist/vocalist Charles Watson, referring to his first crush, before glibly musing, "or was that yesterday?"
Now in their mid-20s, and no less infatuated with the idea of love, Taylor and Watson (who have never been romantically connected) tapped into their favorite director Woody Allen's wry worldview to write and record their sophomore album, Paradise, which both members agree focuses primarily on sex and death. The album, with its gleeful blend of pop, folk, and rock, is a scrappy musical conversation that mirrors Taylor and Watson's propensity for interrupting each other for the sake of cracking a joke. Its Motown-tinged lead single, "Two Cousins," went on to spawn an eye-catching, black-and-white music video, where two male tap dancers in suits take solo turns before dancing with each other, their playful rapport a contrast to the track's lyrical themes of familial detachment.
Taylor and Watson joke about how they understand each other's inside references and often feel like they can read each other's minds. However, their connection was tested during the album's difficult recording process. The intensity in the studio was thanks in no small part to producer Luke Smith (Foals), who forced the duo to work significantly longer hours than they had on their self-produced debut, Yeah So.
"I never thought it was our difficult second album ever, until it became difficult," quips Taylor, referring to the Paradise recording sessions, before jokingly adding, "I'm a broken woman! No man has ever broken me like Luke did!"
To cut the tension and break up a workday that often stretched into the early morning hours, the pair took frequent breaks, watching videos to distract themselves. While Taylor was content to catch up on soaps, Watson sought out more adventurous viewing.
"I started watching BASE jumps on YouTube," he recounts. "It's the only thing you can watch without sound."
"I think you should look into doing that," Taylor interjects.
"It's really dangerous!" Watson retorts, horrified at the idea. "That's why I turn the sound off, so I don't hear any legs breaking on the way down."
Thankful to be full-time working musicians—long hours and all—both members see their current career as a welcome alternative to what could have been, namely attending college.
"I think in England, the university system kind of makes everyone end up the same," explains Taylor. "I think we would have lost that desire to be as creative as we've been able to be."
"Our parallel universes would be such a nightmare, wouldn't they?" Watson comments, recoiling at the thought.
"Charles would have been the biggest stoner geek," replies Taylor. "I would have been the most annoying girl. I would have been in all the plays and shows."
Pleased with the gradual upward trajectory of Slow Club, Taylor and Watson are content that their career path has led them to the recording studio and the road rather than to the corporate world.
"Most of my friends who have left uni now are in terrible debt," Watson reflects. "I feel so lucky that we've come out, and we've got five years of amazing travels, and we've met so many amazing people...we've been so lucky to do these mad things. I won't change it for the world."
Taylor agrees. "Everything we've ever got has been a massive bonus," she says. "We're still really happy to get a nice dressing room sometimes! I think I'd rather be like that because it's still little things that make us really grateful and excited."
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