The Alchemy of Slender Pins

If you haven’t already, it’s time to meet Slender Pins. 

The London-based quartet may have been together for just under two years, yet in that short time they’ve managed to rack up several plaudits for the handful of absolutely explosive earworms they’ve released — and it’s easy to see why. Each track is adrenalized to its core, and transcends genre labels entirely. Instead, Slender Pins crafts their own elixir of sound and style — one that somehow manages to sound both warmly retro yet completely new, zany yet effortlessly cool, and delivers just as many addictive hooks as it does thrash and burn to a life of its own. The result, of course, is something that perfectly walks the line between fresh and familiar.

Slender Pins’ most recent venture took place earlier this month, when they released their latest track, “Apprentice to Life.” Accompanied by an eclectic music video that features a collection of friends and fans like dancing to the track in their homes, “Apprentice to Life” raucously underscores the benumbing state of being many of us can so easily find ourselves in. It is important to note that despite the subject matter, the track evades all traces of wallowing. Rather, “Apprentice to Life” smirks its way through the struggle against a sonic backdrop of resonance and pure grit, one that feels far more expansive than the two minutes the track is contained within to the point where the ear is left naturally craving a part two.

The work of Slender Pins is a necessary anecdote to whatever it is that we can even call modern life. Its raw and refreshing nature catalyzes an almost instantaneous sense of connection, in no small part due to their ability to curate a combination of whip-smart lyrics and engaging arrangements. Slender Pins blends realism with a sense of sardonic fun and innovation, therefore giving the experience of listening to their work the same effect as a margarita at a summertime happy hour: people will keep coming back for round after round without fail. In short, their work has all the makings for an enduring sense of relevance, and deservedly so.

To learn more about Slender Pins and their work, read on below to see what Ash (vocals), Ed (drums), Alex (guitar) and Rob (bass) have revealed about “Apprentice to Life,” how emerging artists can be better supported, who they’d cast to play themselves in a potential biopic, and much more. 

RAMzine: What are some aspects of being in a newer band that people wouldn’t know existed unless they experienced it? Is there anything that, in your opinion, they may be surprised to know? 

Ed: The utter utter joy when a person you don’t know and have no ties with gives your band or music a compliment, or an insult – I don’t think there’s anything else comparable.

Alex: It’s unglamorous to a fairly farcical degree sometimes.

Rob: Every bass player you ever see performing is frowning because they’re worried their bass volume is too low in the mix.

RAMzine: If your discography manifested itself as a person, what would they be like? What kinds of things would they do? 

Alex: I think they would be the kind of person who drops morbid one-liners about how terrible everything is and then occasionally inexplicably blows up and gets in a massive argument. We all know (or are) that person.

Ash: Lustful and frantic. Cynical, but beneath that deeply romantic, but beneath that… also in Alex’s answer, he’s actually just describing himself.

RAMzine: Using only film titles, how would you describe your work to those who may be unfamiliar with it?

Ed: The Titfield Thunderbolt. It’s a film from the fifties about a group of railway enthusiasts who try to save their local decrepit branch line from government closure, and the new local bus company is the main villain in the film. It’s a great metaphor for the band – we’re the branch line, with a small group of followers trying to prop us up.

Ash: An American Tail: Feivel Goes West. It’s a film about a mouse teaching a cat how to be a dog. Therein lies all the secrets of our work.

RAMzine: What’s something no one else knows yet about “Apprentice to Life”?

Ash: It is common knowledge that the title was mis-transcribed from a book of Stalinist propaganda. Even your granny knows that. What is not so well known is that this book provided MANY other titles, and the next one could be sprung on you at any time.

RAMzine: How did you come up with the concept for the music video?

Ed: I always like to get a video out with our tracks. Last year, Ash introduced me to a historical event known as Dancing Mania – which was this bizarre epidemic across Europe in the 1600s where people would just break out into dance. I mean, I love the notion of that! We’ve actually got a song about it.

So, with that in mind I thought I’d make the most of people stuck at home during the pandemic and see if anyone would be willing to dance along to the track in their bedroom. I initially suggested people should film it after a few drinks – but I think most people were stone cold sober. Isn’t it amazing what people will do if you ask them nicely?

Rob: I was amazed and humbled by the contributions of the “Apprentice Dancers”.

RAMzine: Let’s pretend it’s the future, and a Slender Pins biopic is in the works. Who would you cast to play yourselves and why? 

Ed: David Harbour, who plays the police chief from Stranger Things. I’ve started watching the series again and we have a similar physical aesthetic – except I’m much much shorter.

Alex: I’d like to say Ed Norton – I think he’d bring his usual intense energy and meticulous preparation to the role – but it would probably end up being that guy who played Laurie in Little Women.

Rob: I think I would be comically off-screen the whole movie, only alluded to but never actually shown in the film. You would be able to hear the bass (albeit very low in the mix) but not see me playing it.

Ash: Kathy Bates.

RAMzine: In your opinion, how can emerging artists be better supported? Feel free to speak to this in any facet or capacity you wish. 

Ed: There just needs to be nice, genuine people out there who want to help artists out and spread the good word – and I actually think there are a lot of people like that out there already. I’m always amazed and truly grateful when music lovers and blog writers put time to support our music for no economic reciprocation. Also, mainstream radio and publications can definitely do more to support emerging independent artists. Now that things like the Top 40 and labels are, in a number of cases, redundant assets, I think the gatekeepers, producers and editors need to take more risks. Why the hell should the cultured listeners of Greg James’ BBC1 Breakfast Show be deprived of the likes of PVA, Goat Girl or Adam & Elvis?

Rob: Ed said it. I also think there should be less emphasis on ‘genres’ as it encourage and pressures artists to avoid experimenting and taking new influences.

Ash: Resurrecting John Peel, or failing that, less reliance on radio playlists. I do not need to hear The 1975 cover the Animal Hospital theme tune TEN TIMES A DAY. If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a thousand times. 

Alex: I’ve seen so many decent bands with a following just give up because they can’t get anywhere or support themselves with it. Same goes for venues which are shutting across the country. I think we’re at the point where the government probably have to directly give funding to smaller venues, but it’s incredibly unlikely. The Tories would say “taxpayers shouldn’t have to prop up enterprises that can’t survive on a commercial basis”, well fine, let’s just live in a completely shit world then.

I get that people want to be optimistic but it’d be nice to see more people who are in positions of influence actually speaking out about stuff like this rather than just saying everything’s fine – Anthony Fantano has been good on this, for example. I don’t think listeners always realise what an arduous task it is to actually get the music out there.

RAMzine: Since gigs have been out of the realm of possibility for a while, how would you describe your live sets to those who haven’t been able to see one yet? 

Ed: After our first show back in 2018 some guy joked that we sounded like a ‘shit Smiths’, haha. I like to think we improved a little bit after that, but we’re going to be going back to square one again aren’t we?

Ash: Antique.

Rob: It is very fast music and good to dance to, I’ve heard, although the bass volume is often a little low.

To keep up with Slender Pins, click the following links to their Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter pages. To stream their discography, you can visit their Spotify and Bandcamp pages. You can also directly purchase their music via iTunes.

Lolly Rockly
Every great dream begins with a dreamer...

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