The short-lived dreamy pop shoegazers SLOWDIVE lived quite a short life. They experienced some great times yet watched their career as a band devolve from there.
Formed in 1989 In Reading, Berkshire, Slowdive consisted of the band’s guitarists and vocalists Rachel Goswell and Neil Halstead, bass player Nick Chaplin, guitartist Christian Savill and the very temporary drummer Adrain Sell who left the band after just six months to attend university. He was then replaced by Simon Scott in 1990.
After distributing demo tapes to a variety of labels, they found themselves comfortable with Creation Records; also home to Primal Scream, Ride and My Bloody Valentine.
After releasing their first demos as a self-titled EP in late 1990, Slowdive presented to those that would listen their debut record, Just For A Day, in 1991. Although it as written and recorded in as little as six weeks, it came as slightly disappointing, only because shoegaze was becoming a thing of the past due to the music world throwing itself into the world of grunge.
Regardless of this, Slowdive also released two EPs in this same year – Morningrise and Holding Our Breath.
With three releases in one year, it took them another two years to push their sophomore record out. Souvlaki has been remembered as Slowdive’s greatest album. This is due to it’s popularity and how well it was received. Also featuring a collaboration with Brian Eno, Souvlaki was most probably the peak of Slowdive’s career.
Regardless of the success of this shoegazy record, the release of 5EP saw the beginning of Slowdive head in a different musical direction. Unfortunately it wasn’t for the better.
In 1994, the band’s drummer Simon Scott left Slowdive due to creative differences and was replaced by Ian McCutcheon.
Slowdive released their third and final LP Pygmalion in 1995. Excessively misinterpretated and misunderstood, this ambient record is quite possibly what ended Slowdive.
Halstead had been warned by Creation that unless a pop album was conceived, the relationship between the label and band would perish. Considering the fruit of Pygmalion, Slowdive were ditched by Creation just a week after the release of this final record. Pygmalion was also deleted from the label’s back catalogue and was seen as a collector’s item due to it’s lack of distribution.
After breaking up with Creation, Halstead, Goswell and McCutcheon went on to record a country-influenced album under the name Mojave 3 and were soon signed to 4AD Records.
Christian Savill and former member Simon Scott were the only members to not steer too far away from Slowdive’s original, shoegaze sound.
Savill went on to form the dreamy pop project Monster Movie and has since released three LPs – Last Night Something Happened, To The Moon, Transistor and All Lost.
Scott created Televise in 2004; an eclectic band who blended shoegaze elements with experimental song structures and some electronic instrumentation. Televise helped define what we know shoegaze as today.
In 2005, all of Slowdive’s records were reissued. Just For A Day included a bonus disc that combined all of the tracks from the first three EPs, as well as the John Peel Session recordings that Slowdive performed back in 1991.
The reissue of Souvlaki included a bonus disc with the remaining EP tracks, as well as ‘Some Velvet Morning’ – a track that never actually made it to the Volume 7 complilation it was recorded for.
Pygmalion was also reissued. Although not containing any extra material, the record’s second entrance into the world was enough for any Slowdive fan.
Words by Hannah Galvin.