Commercially potent twenty something bands who’re tackling the self-destructive, somnambulant mood of mid-2010s Britain can be counted on the fingers of one hand – perhaps even one finger. Slaves, the hyper-motivated Kent duo of Isaac Holman (vocals, drums) and Laurie Vincent (guitar), have followed a spectacular 2017, in which they became the year’s most important homegrown breakout artists.
Slaves first emerged in 2012, working their way up through Kent’s toilet-venue circuit. The band’s first two albums ‘Are You Satisfied?’ & ‘Take Control’ smashed in to the UK Top 10 and earned the band huge critical acclaim. Thanks to their charismatic mash-up of punky urgency and silly humour, they bagged Kerrang!’s Spirit of Punk award and NME’s Best Video award 2 years in a row, while also securing nominations for the Mercury Music Prize, and for Best New Band at Q and NME.
Along the way, they’ve won the hearts of The Streets’ Mike Skinner, stolen the show on the NME tour, had Skepta join them on stage at Radio 1’s Big Weekend, and toured with Kasabian, Jamie T and Wolf Alice.
Enraged by the apathy and cultural neutering afoot amongst their own generation, and in society as a whole as the country lumbers towards Brexit, Slaves made a conscious effort to raise their game musically, in order to deliver their wake-up call all the more powerfully. Their second album ‘Take Control’ duly finds the pair sharpening up their skills, both in songwriting and in execution, hatching a tumultuously heavier sound which far exceeds any reasonable expectation of a two-man outfit.
For their fans, they offer an alternative, a rallying point for dissenting ideas amid the superficial torpor of youth culture’s Instagram fixations.
“Our band is something to be part of,” Vincent continues. “I’m sure loads of other people making music feel like, ‘I’d quite like to be in a band like Slaves, but it’s too much of a risk. I’ll just be a DJ instead’. We both feel very privileged to be part of a band where you come to our show, and you’re part of a gang that sees the world differently. We have this real sense of community.”
Buzzing from their success, Isaac and Laurie weren’t content to sit back and lap it all up. “If you stop making music, you stop being relevant,” reasons Laurie, “so we just cracked on”.