One thing I love about music (haha how many variations on that sentence can I use in this blog?) is discovering a new artist, playing them on Spotify and then listening to them live for the first time. It’s kind of like a test drive in a car thinking it’s OK, and then taking it for a good run out to see what really under the bonnet.
On those winter evenings, it’s really a bit of a struggle for this particular old man to move the cat from his lap, put on his layers and brave the cold (and if I’m honest I had tickets to see the wonderful Andrew Cushin and Rolla at the back side of Leeds that night too, but that was a train too far). But the temptation of seeing Mirfield based The Slates for the first time, just a two-mile stroll away at my local venue was really too great to turn down.
The Slates (Joe Briggs, Jude Wales, Louis Barnes and Zak Oldroyd) currently have two tracks released on Spotify, both of which I rate hugely. The commonality with both Try That and Fumes and Tunes is a great vocal, some interesting guitar work and a tight beat. As it turned out The Slates, a bunch of uber talented 16-year-olds delivered, not just with infectious youthful enthusiasm but with a set of class originals, including the tracks from their forthcoming EP.
What stood out for me was what is becoming a solid trademark connect between the guitarwork of Louis and Joe. I really got into that jangly high pitched guitar work of one guitar contrasting with the steady pulsing sound of the other and a very solid drum and bass to keep it all pounding. If you are thinking a gang of 16-year-olds can’t pull off control and professionalism, then give your head a shake.
Clearly every fresh band has to introduce new songs into their set, and tonight we heard Wrong Place, Wrong Time which felt good and fresh. On record, I like the expression and tone of Louis’ vocals and live it’s as solid as stone. The new EP is going to include some new favourites and there was a tantalising run through this evening.
I asked the guys about how they produce their music and where their inspiration comes from.
“We’re all into indie rock and all love the Brit pop kinda scene and that’s the genre we try go for on our newer stuff”.
“When it comes to our old songs, it’s just little stuff that we all chipped away at and then we chucked it all together with the help of Louis’ and Joe’s song written capability and thought it sounded pretty class so why not keep it”.
“It’s how it always works, one of us brings the song and then the rest of us make it sound massive by adding to every little aspect of the song with our own ideas to give it some umff”.
There’s very wise heads here in The Slates. Watch the Beatles Get Back biography, watch the career of any long-established artist and it will always tell you the same. The genius is not in having all the ideas, but in being big enough to share, collaborate and bounce ideas off each other.
The Slates set itself had plenty of eye-catching jewels that many more established bands would kill for, and I also appreciated how the band controlled their set; this was an opening set in a fairly quiet room; not a place to go wild, but for it to work, a space where the band had to show a bit of confidence and tell the audience that you are there and waiting for them to respond. The Slates touched it perfectly, and there was a positive hue and buzz in the room at the end of the set.
I’ll give final word to The Slates as they told me they love all of their new stuff and that you need to have a bit of a laugh with it all. Their favourite lyric is “…and he was having a right time” from their song Shield Your Drink. I’d add a word and go for “a right good time” to sum up The Slates live. Give the band more than a test drive when you get chance.
* The images are a bit rubbish… I fess up, they are mine.