INTERVIEW: Slurs | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Fuzzy alt. pop duo Slurs have come a long way since their humble beginnings playing in a céilidh band together as pre-teens. Their musical leanings have certainly evolved, though the benefit of being best friends who have played music together for the best part of fifteen years is clearly apparent in the infectious chemistry of their sound. “We know and trust what the other’s doing all the time and we can be totally honest with each other about what we want to do with songs,” says vocalist and bassist Mark Simpson. “We’ve often thought, and will probably continue to think, about getting a drummer in, because it would just make things so much more fluid. We’ll never say never to it, but it’d be a funny dynamic for someone to step into, like moving in with an old married couple.”

After their céilidh band beginnings, Simpson and guitarist and vocalist Fintan Dawson continued to play together, with Dawson also playing in now defunct local favourites Cult Image and Retriever. In late 2014 the pair made the effort to finish and record several songs they’d played about with in previous years, which became their first EP, 2015’s Northern Electric; six punchy pop gems incorporating elements of Britpop, slacker rock and shoegaze to create Slurs’ catchy, upbeat sound. “It’s been a year since Northern Electric, and since then our sound’s come on loads,” says Dawson. “Listening back now, Northern Electric sounds really clean-cut compared to what our live sound has evolved into. Generally we’ve just added some vocal harmonies and a fair bit of fuzz. I don’t think we’re the only ones who’ve been listening to loads of early-90s indie bands over the last few years, and I think you can see a mix of stuff like Sleeper, Lush and the Beautiful South coming across in some of our songs.”

We know and trust what the other’s doing all the time and we can be totally honest with each other about what we want to do with songs

“There’s tonnes of influences we both have from down the decades,” adds Simpson. “I worship at the temple of Bowie, while Fintan’s idol is Elvis Costello. We just love good pop music really. As well as being a musician, Fintan dabbles in the visual arts and he’s always been obsessed with our region’s industrial past and what that means for the present.”

Slurs are now about to release their debut single, Murder She Wrote, via new Teesside-based label Coastline Records. An irresistibility hook-laden earworm, there’s a touch of The Futureheads about the track, thanks to its sing-a-long quality and its melodic guitar riffs drenched in just the right amount of fuzz to allow its poppy sensibilities to stay in the fore. “I think the pair of us are bringing some really hooky pop melodies to the table,” says Dawson. “We’re in the writing stages of our second EP at the minute. We want to take a couple of weeks towards the summer to nail down a few more floating ideas, then we’ll get into the studio. There’s no set date yet, but we’re planning to get something else out before the end of the year. Beyond writing a new EP in the next few months, who knows? It doesn’t look like either of us stand a chance of getting on the property ladder any time soon and we’ll be lucky if we get through the next few years without losing all of our basic human rights and being invaded by Donald Trump. But fingers crossed we’ll still be writing bangers, no matter which dystopian future we might end up in.”

Slurs release Murder She Wrote via Coastline Records on Saturday 9th April, and play Teesside University Student’s Union the same day.


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