Slow Crush are leading the way for a new generation of shoegazing

Like soaking your head in a warm bath of water, the Belgian group are well crafted in the art of abrasive immersion. Formed from the ashes of various hardcore projects, Slow Crush formed in 2017. Since then, they have toured with well admired scenes across the world such as Gouge Away, Torche, Tennis System and had their first EP Ease distributed by US based label Deathswish Records. We caught up with vocalist and guitarist Isa Holiday about their ventures at home during the start of the COVID 19 Pandemic.

You had so much planned 12 months ago, what have you been up to in the meantime?

Slept! Haha, we had such a big schedule for 2020. We had just gotten back from a US tour, when we sort of heard the news creeping in about the pandemic potentially ruining plans to tour Italy, which was the next stop. So we were watching the news, and seeing all of the countries slowly on our tour schedule just sort of disappear. It was like, “Okay, maybe it’s best to just stay home”. Plans for recording  also needed to be rescheduled because  wherever we wanted to go initially, that just wouldn’t have been able to happen. Eventually we found that the perfect fit and finally, we were able to do that in January. So yeah, we were just using our time productively to work on that while being stuck at home.

Logistically, how did you manage to come up with ideas for recording whilst everyone was initially apart from each other?

With the whole introduction of zoom as well as WhatsApp message groups and everything like that it gave us the opportunity to share ideas over the internet. I think the pandemic did cause people to get a lot more creative or, or just think about how you can go about things differently, because stuff still needs to be done. You can’t just sit at home, although the government would want you to.

Are there any ideas that you’ve sat on for a while?

We have tonnes of ideas that don’t all come into fruition to make it onto an album. It just depends on the creativity flow, right. Being stuck at home can work in both ways in that respect, because it could spur a lot of inspiration, but then it can also be very restricting if you’re only seeing the same four walls over and over. 

What was your favourite tour of your career thus far?

They’re all so much fun and they’re all very different! I think all of the tours have had something memorable about all of them. Just because crazy shit goes on all the time that you can’t predict. But I think that one tour that I really enjoyed a lot was the Soft Kill tour. That was towards the end of last year as well. The whole tour crew were really fun. Their merch guy like he and I, we would just be dancing every night and we promised ourselves before heading out on tour that we would do cartwheels every night, but we never got around to it. They got me on stage to play bass on one of their songs for half of the tour. So it was just really fun. But like I said, every tour is fun. Especially now you look back when you can’t do it. And yeah, it’s just amazing to get to know all of these people, like all of people from from the other bands that you’re talking with, and then just being in different places and learning or seeing things that you wouldn’t see on this side of the world.

It’s interesting that you bring up Soft Kill as they are essentially a group of hardcore kids that ended up making heavy dreampop. Do you feel like there are similarities with how you started Slow Crush?

The style that we’re playing is sort of a kind of lighter version of what we sort of grew up listening to and what we grew up playing. But then again, we do incorporate some little hints to hardcore now and then. 

What was the first shoegaze band you ever saw live? 

I saw Nothing and Newmoon together in 2016. Hardcore and shoegaze go well together because its all organised chaos! I think Nothing actually ended up renting our van at some point as well. Around that time we had just kind of quit our doom metal band and we were considering continuing in that style, but with me on vocals. So then, I started like listening to a lot of Pity Sex. And like bands like Mumrunner, and Jaguar. I got the inspiration for my vocal sound and range sort of fits well with their style of singing. They all have that shoegazey sound although Pity Sex were a little bit more punky or raw I suppose. That’s that is the inspiration that led to the beginning of Slow Crush. 

What other music do you listen to besides shoegaze?

I haven’t personally sort of looked out for new music for a while, just because I’ve just been so busy with with, like, the day to day work and everything else. So I suck. But, um, but something that that I have discovered recently is Cassandra Jenkins. It’s very kind of soft, easy going stuff. I’ve also been going back to old hardcore like In My Eyes whenever I go for a run, which hasn’t been for a while. I know that when I used to drive into work, I would put on Carry On. And that would get me pumped to like, start the day and this is something relatively new, I suppose. But the Curse These Metal Hands song “High Spirits” is very motivational song. 

Tell me about the recent indoor live stream show you performed earlier this year?

The Ancienne Belgique is one of the most renowned venues in Belgium. I have been to numerous concerts there. I think even my first concert that I went to without parents was there, which I think was Green Day. It’s like a huge hall with balconies as well, which is quite intimidating if you’re standing there to an empty room. I imagine it’s more intimidating when there are 1000s of people there! I’m kind of glad that that was my first experience on that stage to an empty hall. It’s a dream to be able to play there. It was also the same venue that we played the last show of the Soft Kill tour in but we played a smaller room. I haven’t seen any images yet, but  they are prepping everything right now and just editing everything together.

What is the most personal song you have ever written?

From Aurora the title track is quite meaningful to me. It was written about a friend who was having a hard time with a breakup and everything like that, so it’s kind of my tribute to her. That’s pretty close to my heart. “Tremble” is another good one. It is our protest song, being a voice for the voiceless. Whether it’s animal rights or any other injustice that the government throws at us. 

If you could change one thing about the music industry what would it be?

It would be great if all venues shared the same hospitality as one another. I’m not being a dick, but you should at least offer a drink to a touring band regardless of how big they are. After the pandemic ends it would also be great to see more government support for the music industry and the arts in general. Don’t get me started on Brexit either. It’s made it so much more difficult for touring bands to come to the UK and vice versa unless you’re huge. In Belgium we just received the news yesterday that the biggest festival in the country is not going to take place this year. Everything is just postponed to next year. They’re still debating whether the late summer festivals can take place. If any festival booked, the bill is going to be local bands, because travelling is just going to be almost impossible until the vaccinations spread like wildfire.

Slow Crush’s AB Session will be streaming on April 24th, tickets available here.

The live audio will be released on April 25th, available to pre-order here now.

The Horrors – Lout EP Review

Wolf Tone Records – 2021

Heavy and harsh is the sound of The Horrors newest EP Lout. Following on from 2017’s V, an album that blended the emo-rock aspects of the bands sound with a synthesised drive. They return with an EP that is full of abrasive, distorted and beat driven tracks that returns to the heavier roots of their 2007 debut album Strange House.

Title track “Lout”, which is a word used to describe brutalist men, bursts into action with its heavy syncopated drum beat and industrial metal guitar lines. As lead singer Faris Badwan borders on the lines of screamo and the bands classic emo rock, you can hear the true ferocity that the band have tapped into. The soundscape is alive, continuously grinding and overall just simply exciting to listen to.

Moving into “Org” with sounds that were found on the likes of Poppy’s I Disagree, the band go even more left-field incorporating their synthesised sound into a new blistering form. The glitchy vocals and beats are pounding and it feels like you’re at an underground rave, roof shaking all whilst the guy on stage sees how many effects he can throw onto a sound. There’s even some 100 gecs inspired movements during the second with the off-key switch up. It’s both disturbing and emphatic at the same time.

And on “Whiplash” the band combines elements of both previous tracks to create a harsh and unforgiving goth metal banger. This newfound sound from the band both matches the melodic and stylistic feelings from previous workings, whilst simultaneously pushing the boundaries of how far the heaviness of their sound can go. Upon the announcement of this EP the band said that this would be an insight into the direction of their upcoming album. If it’s anything similar to the quality of this EP then it could well be some the bands most exhilarating work of recent times.