For two dudes, Slow Talk are starting to make a hell of a lot of ruckus from their hometown of Melbourne. Come Friday, April 27, the duo will be releasing their debut EP, New Vernacular, but not before they prepare future fans (read: all of us) with what to expect. Today, Slow Talk premiere Disclaimer, the third track off the release, and another insightful peak under the sheet before the whole reveal.
Disclaimer is softly spoken, yet manages to get every word under your skin. With such a sparse soundscape, it’s clear that every beat; every strum, pick, tap, pulse and flurry was scrutinised, and had to prove it’s worth. There’s no wasted sound on Disclaimer. It’s dreamy and lean but intense and confident. To say this is for fans of Circa Survive is underselling it – this is for fans of stories told through luscious sonic minimalism.
The other jams that make up New Vernacular aren’t so far removed. New Vernaucluar indeed – the release translates alternative rock into an interesting and unique dialect, one with very little jargon, very little shit talk, but plenty of substance.
To get a handle on this new dialect, we spoke with Slow Talk vocalist James Butler and guitarist Ash Fuller.
The Neversphere: Today we’re buzzed to be premiering your new single Disclaimer. This is the third single you’ve released off the upcoming EP. How well do these tracks set us up for the whole release?
James: The two remaining tracks couldn’t be more different from each other, each occupying their own space sonically. But tied in with the three singles, in the context of the record, the progression from start to end couldn’t feel more natural. There’s an inherent sense of narrative and we couldn’t order the tracks any differently if we tried.
The Neversphere: With a name like ‘Disclaimer’ I can’t help but feel there’s a strong story behind the track, I’d love to know what it is!
James: The track is about prematurely writing off promising relationships due to differences in background, personality etc. It’s an expression of self-doubt and insecurity, manifesting in internal dialogue. Funnily enough, the song runs contrary to how those relationships played out. In that regard, the song is a reminder to steer away from such dismissive and destructive thinking.
The Neversphere: I read that both members of Slow Talk contribute to the writing process, I’d be really interested to hear how this works, from the start of a song right through to the end.
Ash: Our writing is split into two stages, and chronologically so to speak – the instrumental and the vocal. Most of our writing occurs in my home studio setup, with guitar being the primary initiator. We start to jam out melodies and chord progressions and from there we continuously add layer upon layer. If we agree there is potential and we emotionally identify with it, we record it and start to compose other elements such as drums, bass and production elements. Once we have a solid foundation, we make a start on vocals and begin to add the nuances that make it all work.
James: We work hard to imbue a sense of narrative into the instrumental, which I think is a big part of our sound. In that sense, Ash is kind of at the wheel and I try to play navigator / back-seat driver.
During that stage, we’re both constructing melodies and storylines which all influence the direction of the song. As a result, even though the vocals and lyrics are mostly written afterwards, its as if they’ve already been expressed by the instrumental. The lyrics come quite naturally after that.
The Neversphere: What stories did you find yourself telling on your debut EP? Is there a concept story to the release at all?
James: We like to think of the EP as a coming-of-age journal, and personally it chronicles a particularly transformative time in my life. The record captures a lot of the internal dialogue and emotion through experiences of love, loss and exploration, all the while battling various insecurities.
The Neversphere: How did you find the process of telling a story via an EP, was it everything you expected, or a whole new animal altogether?
James: When you embark on writing a record it can be a daunting prospect to try and conceive a collection of songs that fit together and form something greater than the sum of its parts. Further, as our first release, we needed to create our own unique sound, setting the tone for the band. That wasn’t easy for a duo who, at the outset, wanted to be the band that did ‘everything’.
At some point though our process changed from writing riffs, verses and choruses and we found ourselves focused solely on developing musical narratives. Every point in our songs had to be a unique moment in a story, moving towards the next plot device or some ultimate realisation. I like to think that, if we don’t already, we could fluidly dance between a variety of genres because it’s not the instrumentation that defines our sound. What defines us is our story-telling and that gets me moist with excitement.
Once we nailed the process, the EP came quite naturally. The tracks wrote themselves in quick succession and form the perfect snapshot of where we were at musically and personally at the time.
The Neversphere: As well as writing and recording, you guys also oversaw production of the EP. That’s a lot of work. Now it’s all complete, is it something you’d do again?
Ash: One-hundred percent. From previous experience, we found that when we oversaw the production of the songs, we were completely aligned with our vision. For us to provide everyone and ourselves with the most authentic and honest release possible, we’ll definitely do it this way again.
James: Ash and I have been writing together since late 2013 and have since become a tight-knit army of two. Like most bands, we saw ourselves expanding to a five-piece but things simply didn’t work out that way. It’s forced us to be more than simply a guitarist and a vocalist, we’ve had to become an entire band and more.
It’s not always easy, I’ve been tempted to shear my laptop in half on many occasions, but it’s been a really rewarding process. Everything becomes another conduit for expression and creativity, and as Ash said, it helps the entire release align with our vision, from the music to the artwork. We owe this creative control to being a two-piece and for that, I wouldn’t ever change it.
The Neversphere: Now that you’ve opened the creative floodgates with the EP, where’s your head at for an album, is that on the cards for the near future?
James: The release of New Vernacular marks a significant moment for us in our lives as it’s something we’ve been waiting to share for a while. Right now, we’re doing our best to support and share the EP as much as we can.
As for an album, we’re not going to come out and say we’re hoping to drop one by the end of the year. But if we were to release one you can 100% expect us to push boundaries and hit you deep in the feels. Also, if we were working on new tracks we’d probably test a couple at any gigs we happen to play, like at The Curtin, May 11.
…You know, if we were.
Slow Talk EP Launch
Tickets available now
Friday, May 11
The Curtin, Melbourne
Tickets: Music Glue