Hailing from Manchester the Rock ‘n’ Roll factory, The Slow Readers Club have solidified themselves as the alternative rock stalwarts. Before it all began, vocalist/keyboardist Aaron Starkie and bassist James Ryan were in a band named Omertà. When it came to an end, the two of them brought in Aaron’s brother Kurt Starkie on guitar as well as his friend David Whitworth on drums, eventually evolving into The Slow Readers Club in 2009.
Recently released their fourth studio album The Joy of the Return, the band returned with their ever-morphing sounds and a maturation of ideas. Each track responds loudly with real wit and warmth in the guitar riffs. With a tenacious opener ‘All I Hear’ – translating fervent heat and a state of restlessness – the album continuously propels you forward through the insanity in life. Lyrically, they’re delivered with clarity and sympathy. It’s no doubt that The Slow Readers Club will be the last ones standing.
During the lockdown, we spoke with vocalist and keyboardist Aaron Starkie to find out how the band examines success in their creative career, the stories behind their latest album The Joy of the Return and the thrills of playing festivals.
An interview with Aaron Starkie from The Slow Readers Club
Who decided on the name “The Slow Readers Club”?
I came up with the name. It’s supposed to be a little bit subversive. As a council estate kid, I guess I’ve always had a bit of chip on my shoulder about the odds being stacked against me/us.
Are you tired of people asking you where your inspiration came from, and have you figured that out by now?
A little (laughs). The inspiration came from my childhood memory of a tour around secondary school where we were shown the different classrooms. One of the rooms had ‘Special Needs’ written on it. I thought that was a scary concept that you could be taken out of the mainstream of education and thought separately.
What is it about your latest album The Joy of the Return that you’re most proud of, compared to your previous releases?
I think musically it’s our best record. It’s got lots of beautiful moments and great hooks, grooves and bass lines. I think it’s pretty good lyrically too. We are four albums in, so finding new things to write about or different angles on recurring themes is a challenge. But I think we have achieved something that sounds fresh on The Joy of the Return.
Name one song on The Joy of the Return that would make you feel like a proud dad.
How do you identify success or failure in your creative career?
Our music has connected with a lot of people. We’ve had many people tell us that it’s helped them through some shit times. If it all ended tomorrow, I would still have the memory of that. We’ve played some big shows and sold a decent amount of records and T-shirts. But it’s knowing that our music means something that matters the most, that the thoughts I have aren’t madness, that other people feel the same way. It’s great.
What would be your worst nightmare during a live performance?
My voice giving out.
Do you enjoy playing festivals for the reason of winning over new fans or do you prefer playing more intimate shows?
Both are great. But festivals are more exciting at the moment, especially as a lot of them like Rock Werchter and Mad Cool have been overseas. You feel nervous and that energy permeates the set where you are waiting to see how each track goes down. Nothing beats that really.
What non-musical activities give you just as much pleasure as playing music and songwriting?
Designing. I do our artwork and it used to be my day job. Also, seeing other bands at festivals and gigs, dancing to tunes around the house. I’m also well into video games and the usual big series on Netflix.
What would be your advice for all of us that are in lockdown during this bizarre time?
Call your mates on FaceTime or Zoom. Call your family. Get out for a walk, spend a little time each day doing something you love. Stay home, stay safe. If you can’t work remotely from home because you are a key worker, respect to you, please stay as safe as you can and thanks for everything you’re doing.