Longtime readers will know that Slowdive is one of my favorite bands, if not my absolute favorite band. Indeed, I even went so far as to call them “one of the most perfect bands to have ever graced God’s green earth” in my review of 2004’s Catch The Breeze compilation. But as much as I’ve loved their music since discovering them in 1995 — the same year they released their swan song Pygmalion — I never thought they’d actually reunite.
And yet, that’s precisely what’s happening. After the launch of an official Slowdive Twitter account and a series of countdown tweets, Neil Halstead, Rachel Goswell, et al. have revealed that they’ll be playing at Spain’s Primavera Sound festival in May alongside the likes of A Winged Victory For The Sullen, Arcade Fire, Chvrches, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Mogwai, and Pixies.
Even more exciting than concert dates, though, is the possibility of new material, which Halstead and Goswell discuss in an exclusive interview with The Quietus.
“The initial impetus was the idea of doing some new music,” Halstead explains, a revelation to get the hearts of the shoegaze hardcore all a flutter. “It seemed easier to do that because it’s not so public. But then we thought it would be good if we could raise a bit of money to make the record, and doing a couple of gigs would enable us to do that. And that’s the way it shaped up — while we’re rehearsing we can see if we’ve got another record in us.”
And then there’s this cheeky little bit concerning the challenge of playing music together again after nearly two decades:
“In the first rehearsal, the first song we tried was ‘Slowdive’ — the first song on the first EP,” Halstead says. “It was one of the more straightforward ones, and we had a real goose bumps moment. We all just looked at each other. It was quite creepy. It was like, ‘We were good!’ There’s only three albums — well, and quite a lot of EPs — to choose from. We will definitely be playing some stuff from Pygmalion, as we never got to play that record live before. I think the live set will be a pretty fair reflection of our career and our hits — or not hits as they were.”
The entire interview is an excellent read, though if you’re even a marginal Slowdive fan, you’ve probably already read it, maybe even more than once. What seems obvious from the interview is that Halstead and the others are in a good place collectively, and enjoying playing together again. Or as Halstead puts it:
“We want it to be fun for us, but we also want the people who are into Slowdive to come and see the band and enjoy it for what it is. I’m not interested in any critical reappraisal. I meet a lot of kids who got into the records after we split up and they say, ‘I’d love to have got the chance to see Slowdive play live.’ So for them, this is a nice opportunity and I hope they come out and enjoy it.”
Naturally, there’s bound to be some critical reappraisal, given that Slowdive will be sharing the Primavera stage with bands that they’ve no doubt influenced (e.g., Mogwai, Deafheaven). Once derided by the press, shoegaze/dreampop has seen a huge resurgence in recent years, from Sigur Rós and M83’s soaring post-rock anthems to the dreamy sounds of Memoryhouse and Pure Bathing Culture to the “metalgaze” of Deafheaven and Alcest. As such, it’s nice to see one of the genre’s shining jewels reunite and be able to take full advantage of the good will that’s been building for them and their music for the last two decades.