“TELL ME YOUR FEELINGS,” is not the phrase you’d expect to hear being spewed from an outwardly aggressive looking British punk band. Punk has changed, though, and Slaves are here to remind us of that. The duo’s latest work, Acts of Fear and Love, is a nine track Trojan Horse of sorts — it’s intention is to get you in the room with the band where their live performance will serve as both a physical and emotional release, as well as a reminder of what issues we need to be paying attention to.
So the title of the album… some people argue that every song is written about either some type of love or doing drugs. Is Acts of Fear and Love a derivative of that? Do you think that statement is true?
Laurie Vincent: I’ve never heard that statement before
Isaac Holman: I think I’ve heard that statement before
Laurie: It’s probably true then
Isaac: I don’t feel like any of our songs are about love or drugs. We’ve got songs about love, but any drug songs?
Laurie: No, and we only got one love song as well so — the rest of ours are more so social documentation and observation or political songs
Have you heard, “The opposite of love isn’t hate, it’s indifference”?
Laurie: Yeah, that’s true, as well. Indifference, you just don’t even care. Hate shows you have a love for something.
So hate is sort of a secondary emotion because love is still a part of that — because you do care. Do you think fear is like that or no?
Laurie: I know fear breeds hate and that’s basically what we’re trying to say. But also we’re not even trying to say it. His teacher said it and we’re just posing it — we’re just starting a conversation. I’m not sure… I do agree with it, when you hate something, it is just love and fear. And we wanted our album to make people think so I guess straight off the bat it’s working then.
pc: Daggers for Eyes
Do you think since you play louder heavier stuff that when people go to the shows and thrash around they don’t always take it in?
Isaac: Sometimes, but I think that’s ok.
Laurie: That’s a form of information as well and it’s a release if they want to do that.
Isaac: We want people to react however they want to our music
You also talk about technology a fair bit on the album, a lot of it is the negative effects of it. Do you think there was a specific invention or app or program that really created the cultural shift in our society where technology has become this —
Laurie: The internet
Isaac: Self-service checkout
Where you don’t have to interact?
Laurie: That’s “Artificial Intelligence”
What about in terms of social media — obviously as a band it’s important to promote your stuff that way. This is your career and you need to let people know, “Oh we’re on tour at this place,” “We released a new album,” “We released a new song.” How do you come to terms with not “selling out” but still sharing so you can continue to do what you do?
Isaac: I think you just got to use it in your own way
Laurie: I don’t think, as a band, I don’t believe in “selling out”. Like people who said you sold out just don’t like the fact you’re doing well. With music it gets like — if you’re doing whatever you want to do, you can’t sell out
Isaac: If you’re sticking to your guns…
Laurie: But I find it hard to balance the social media. I’d rather not be on it. I haven’t had Facebook for two years, I’ve deleted the Twitter app. All I do now is Instagram, but I struggle with the label or management posting your Facebook posts for you. At the end of the day we just want to play gigs so we try to do the bare minimum of involvement, but when we do it’s personal.
Isaac: It’s personal and it’s just like we mean it and it’s us.
I feel like a lot of punk music recently has gotten a lot more personal. There are bands like Idles that come out with an album that’s more about promoting this idea of love and anti-intolerance. Where do you think that’s coming from? Is it a social, cultural movement that’s inspired that change?
Laurie: There are a lot of people that are all having the same thoughts and it’s just showing now that that’s breaking through. There’s a lot of bands that have the same ideas and I think we’ve watched a lot of bands who all believe in what we believe in not make it as far as we have or as far as Idles have. I think people are sick of everything that’s going on and people want change and that’s why the music’s reflecting that. I just think the industry’s way harder than it’s ever been to break through, so I think it’s taking people longer to get that music, but yeah, it’s inspiring to hear people like Idles and what they have to say.
You’re creating your music in a different social and cultural context in the UK than we’re experiencing here. Do you think there are some things that are lost in translation or are interpreted differently because of that?
Laurie: I think there always will be. But I think liberals from where you’re from and where we’re from are on the same page. There’s just the scary underbelly of people in the middle on both sides of the pond
Isaac: Yeah, liberals are liberals everywhere
Laurie: The problem with liberals, it seems they argue amongst themselves a bit more. Whereas people with power and money just abuse the uneducated or the people without resources to win their vote. That’s happening in both countries. That’s why there’s quite a heavy swing to the right, which is scary. Seeing bands talk about it on their Instagram, and big bands, bands like Green Day, and their fans commenting about how basically their fans are Trump supporters and that blows my mind.
Isaac: Even us, when we were doing the “fuck Brexit” thing, the amount of comments from people who were on the other side of it who were fans of ours… I don’t know it’s weird.
Laurie: And it seems so obvious to us as humans to tear down the borders. We’re human beings: if someone’s in crisis, just lend a hand. Just simple acts that you teach your children — just be nice. I feel ashamed of the older generations in power that they’re like that.
Speaking of the older generation, a lot of people shit on the younger generation saying we’re idealists and we don’t put in the work. As musicians, do you feel like it’s your duty to share your political message so that even though you’re doing something artistic with your career, you’re also “contributing to society” or whatever? Do you feel like that’s an obligation?
Isaac: I think you just got to strike a balance. I do definitely think that if you’ve got a platform you’ve got to use your voice with music.
Laurie: It’s also absolute bullshit with the older generation. The world was their oyster. They could do whatever the fuck they wanted and there was no repercussions. Like in the UK, property was like literally a 20th of the price. People could buy flats in London for 14,000 pounds and now they’re 400,000 [pounds]. Our parents, they just had it all. And if they want to moan at us lefty liberals it’s like… then they expect us to go to university and do stuff. It’s a massive divide in that thinking and there’s so much pressure on our generation cause we’ve actually got to start coming up with solutions rather than arguing about it. My child might start… like walking around in New York or London, you start to realize that it’s harder to breathe. And that’s a reality. I’m living by the sea in Brighton and I can tell that the oxygen’s worse for you [in the cities] and people are just ignoring it.
Isaac: Like how bad is it going to get
Laurie: Just the whole social conscious is scary. How so many people so close in society, people wandering around the street just want to ignore it. We just want to be part of the good side.
I mean it makes sense. Your performances are very visceral and in your face and hopefully shocking people out of their general apathy and making them give a shit about things
Laurie: And also cause a little bit of… it’s got to be a bit of a bombardment. I hope that when you come to one of our shows and that’s what we’re trying to get across in the music with this new album. We feel like when we do the live show, we can get into your head if you’re in the room, but this new album is how can we get even more people in the room so we can fucking show them what we’re about. That’s kind of what these songs are like. They’re almost like a little bit of bait and we’ll come sort them when they come live. Like I guarantee once they come they’ll get it.
It’s hard not to get it after seeing Slaves live. It’s almost more performance art or political protest than live music event. Whether they’re weaving in and out of the crowd, encouraging everyone to hug each other, or telling overeager fans who have taken to the stage to kindly fuck off, it’s an experience that is confrontational and cathartic. They perfectly execute the delivery of these important messages while still allowing the audience to completely lose themselves in the music. I left drenched in sweat and other people’s drinks, but felt invigorated and inspired. If that many people can get together in a room with something are powerfully unifying as music, hopefully these people can also go out into the world and enact real change. As far as I’m concerned, Slaves’ Trojan Horse was fully effective — now it’s up to us to pass on the bait.