Slowdive reunion in the works? Or something else?

Slowdive in 1991

As everybody around here knows, I’m a big fan of shoegaze and dream pop. There has never been a band who was better at melding those two styles than Slowdive. That trailblazing band released three albums between 1991 and 1995. While they were never a huge commercial success, everyone who listened to them wanted to start a band.

The band broke up in 1995, and most of the members formed Mojave 3 from the ashes of Slowdive. They were much less shoegaze and much more folk. They had a longer and more productive career until they hung up their skates in 2006. Still, Mojave 3 was much less influential than Slowdive was.

There’s growing speculation that Slowdive are set to reunite at some point in 2014. But let’s back up a bit first.

Rachel Goswell put out one solo record in 2004, but she had to get out of the business when Mojave 3 called it quits. She had suffered some significant and permanent hearing loss along with tinnitus, so she pretty much ruled out making any more music and specifically ruled out any Slowdive reunion. In addition, her son Jesse has a horrible genetic disorder known as CHARGE syndrome, and she’s been putting her family before any possibility of a return to a rock goddess life.

Neil Halstead put out three solo records between 2002 and 2012, and he formed a new band called Black Hearted Brother in 2013. Their album —Stars are Our Home— was my sixth favorite album of 2013.

Slowdive’s seminal middle album —Souvlaki (1993)– is one of my all-time favorites and is generally regarded as their best. Their final album —Pygmalion (1995)– was a huge stylistic departure for them. They moved away from the shoegaze-y noise that defined their first two records and more into the direction of “experimental rock”. It has a much more atmospheric sound, which goes back to their 1991 debut Just For a Day, but it doesn’t have the dreaminess of Just For a Day. That last record was much more psychedelic sounding. And much quieter. Not dream-inducing, but coma-inducing. For many years, I knocked that album as being “really weird”.

I’ll get into this on a different day, but Creation Records was in a very strange place at the time, and label boss Alan McGee really wanted Slowdive to be as successful as Oasis. He essentially ordered them to make a pop record. Rather than bend to that, they just folded up their tent and moved separate ways. Mojave 3 found a good and supportive home at 4AD Records.

There have always been rumors of a Slowdive reunion, and they’ve always been cast aside. It isn’t that the band members don’t get along with each other. To the contrary, they’re still terrific friends. It’s just that they’ve moved on. Rachel has a completely different focus at this point in her life, and Neil has repeatedly said that the only way Slowdive would ever reunite is if there was a ridiculous amount of money involved.

I don’t know if someone emerged with bucketsful of money, but a lot of arrows are pointing towards a Slowdive reunion.

At some point very recently, an official Slowdive twitter feed was set up. No tweets just yet, but the twitter feeds of Slowdive members Rachel Goswell (vocals, guitar), Simon Scott (drums), Christian Savill (guitar), Nick Chaplin (bass) are all pointing to that Slowdive account, and they’re all participating in a countdown to January 29. Apparently, some announcement will come on that day. Neil Halstead isn’t active on Twitter, and his Facebook account hasn’t made any mention of any Slowdive activity.

So. The big question is what they’re going to announce. A series of album re-issues? A commemorative boxed set? A one-off show? Some new material? A proper reunion? A series of acoustic shows? A lot of people are speculating that it’ll be a reunion. Rachel and Neil have been spotted on stage together recently, as she’s popped up on stage with him to perform some acoustic versions of Slowdive songs. Here, for example, is the two of them playing “Alison” at a London club in October of last year:

If I had to make a bet about this, it would be that they’re going to do something to commemorate the 21st anniversary of Souvlaki. That seems to be the thing these days. A bunch of seminal 1992 indie albums were re-issued in 2012, and I’m sort of thinking that this will be something along those lines. A three-disc/seven-LP deluxe version with lots of bonus and live versions. Maybe a DVD to go with it. Maybe even a newly recorded acoustic version of the album. I’m envisioning something like that.

As much as I would love a full reunion with a new album and a full tour of both the US and the UK, I’m not holding out for that. I never got to see Slowdive back then. I saw Mojave 3 a couple of times, but I wasn’t lucky enough to see Slowdive. It would be excellent to finally cross that one off my list, but as I said, I’m not really holding out for that.

Either way, we’re down to 8. As they counted down from 12, they made lots of Spinal Tap references. 12 was “two louder than ten”, 11 was “one louder than ten”, 10 was “one quieter than eleven”, 9 was some reference to The Beatles’ “Revolution Number 9” and also a pretty oblique reference to Spinal Tap because of the White Album vs Smell The Glove thing. Today was 8, and Rachel simply said “Isn’t 8 a great number?”

Stay tuned.

About dlee

North Carolina born and bred. I'm a restaurant guy who spends free time listening to music, watching hockey and playing Scrabble. I have a bachelor's degree in political science and I will most likely never put it to use. View all posts by dlee

2 responses to “Slowdive reunion in the works? Or something else?

  • david

    Black Hearted Brother – thats great news cheers

  • jprobichaud

    Hmmm… There certainly has been a lot of talk around this. The only con that I can see is that perhaps Black Hearted Brother might not see as much light of day as they deserve. That was a great album and I’d love to see it performed live.

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