Assignment 1 Blog 3: Slaves’ new album “Take Control” encourages people to change

“We don’t say fuck the government … It’s about encouraging people” (Laurie Vincent, 2015)

Slaves is a punk-duo band from Kent, consisting of Laurie Vincent (guitarist) and Isaac Holman (vocal, drummer), who released their debut album “Are You Satisfied?” in 2015 and after a year, they announced their second album “Take Control” in September 2016. The band confronted a lot of political issues, “throw together punk existentialism, sketches of suburban life and absurd narratives about manta rays and sasquatches in noisy three-minute bursts” (Perry, 2015).

The first album has received a lot of positive reviews, frequently being played on Radio 1, and even reached number 8 on UK Top Chart in the first week after the release. Even the band members were surprised about the success themselves, Holman added “The fact that we’re being played to the masses is just weird. You almost forget that it’s your own band, and just think: ‘Thank fuck Radio 1 are playing something like this, something that isn’t a love song.”

Rude and unconventional, punks tended to view established social conventions as hypocritical obfuscations obscuring the brutality of real life (Dunn, 2008:195). Punk rock and its subcultures seek out uniques and outside the mass culture (Levine & Stumpf, 1983:433). The band attempted the difficult task of adding more content to their “abrasive, reckless sound by addressing the political and societal corruption and imbalance in the world today” (Carr, 2016). The first song “Spit It Out” opened the album with strong images about the young generation being ignorant, selfish and immune to everything that happens around them.

“Maybe you should put yourself

In someone else’s shoes

Try hard not to dwell upon

Decisions that you choose

(Spit It Out, 2016)

“Hypnotised” is followed with the blame on people and their technology (TV, HD, 3G), spending their time eating junk food, watching reality shows etc in a materialistic society. The third track “Consume or be consumed” also delivers the similar message about social consumption, criticises the way we are being controlled by the government to consume what they told us to, or else we would become unconventional and “be consumed” by the laws. The whole album follows the same theme, to encourages people to “take control” of their own lives and decisions, not being influenced  by the mass, which is what punk is all about.

According to Vannini and Williams (2009:71), “punk seeks to change individual mindsets as a precursor to the types of ideas that bring about change”. Punk artists’ desires are to be subversive in the reshaping of culture through art (Simonelli, 1976:125). Slaves has challenged the listeners to get out of their comfort zones, to lead and not to follow. “Take Control colourfully, and often cartoonishly, blazes with a refusal to accept the monotonies of everyday life” (Leivers, 2016). Laurie Vincent, the guitarist, added “And when the band started getting successful it dawned on me that people need to get positive messages and need to be encouraged, because I don’t think our generation does that.” (Mcguire, 2015).

REFERENCES

Carr, P (2016) Slaves: Take Control Available at: http://www.popmatters.com/review/slaves-take-control/ [Accessed 21 November 2016]

Dunn, K (2008) Never mind the bollocks: the punk rock politics of global communication, Review of International Studies, 34, 193-210

Levine, H. and Stumpf, S. (1983) Statements of Fear through Cultural Symbols: Punk Rock as a Reflective Subculture, Youth Society, Vol. 14, No. 4, p. 417 – 435

Mcguire, S (2015) British punk band Slaves want people to stop being ‘wrapped up in themselves’

Available at: http://www.mancunianmatters.co.uk/content/090573370-british-punk-band-slaves-want-people-stop-being-wrapped-themselves [Accessed 21 November 2016]

Perry, K (2015) Slaves: meet the young Kent punks putting the party in the political

Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/music/2015/may/23/slaves-the-hunter-feed-the-mantaray [Accessed 21 November 2016]

Simonelli, D (1976-1978) Anarchy, Pop and Violence: Punk Rock Subculture and the Rhetoric of Class, Contemporary British History, Vol.16, No.2 (Summer 2002), pp.121–144

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One thought on “Assignment 1 Blog 3: Slaves’ new album “Take Control” encourages people to change

  1. – As both a fan of punk and of Slaves, I found this overall arc of thought rather interesting, especially when you make brief connections to punk’s overall aesthetics and its attempts to un-conventionalise the conventional, however there is room for you to perhaps further this by exploring the connection between the overall punk aesthetic and Slaves punk aesthetic, as the two are actually quite different and although their lyrics, as you’ve pointed out, are quite politically charged, they themselves shy away somewhat from that notion of punk. Having interviewed Laurie Vincent from the band myself, he said: “ I guess the ideology of punk is not trying to be anything, and that’s what’s annoying about the stereotype – it’s all anti what punk actually is! We don’t even look like punks or make music that sounds like traditional punk!” (Press, 2016; http://nativemonster.com/music/upcoming-music-events/interview-slaves-laurie-vincent-speaks-ahead-of-wolverhampton-show). I’d recommend reading some of Biel’s work, particularly his book Beyond The Music: How Punks are Saving the World with DIY Ethics, Skills, and Values (2016) as he discusses the notion of defining punk movements, the difficulty of doing such a thing, and furthermore the argument that punk is about the attitude of confrontation as I believe this would only strengthen your own argument and understanding, particularly in analysing their lyrical output.

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