Interview: Slowly Slowly’s Ben Stewart takes us behind the scenes of St. Leonards

The long awaited new album from Melbourne’s Slowly Slowly is getting closer and closer to landing with fans and already, we’ve been given some stellar insights into what’s to come. You’ve got “Alchemy”, lively and surging with frenetic energy. Then there’s “Aliens”, of course – a different facet of the band’s songwriting on show, honest and to the point. As their first entry for 2018, “Aliens” was a strong step forward and as the St. Leonards material continues to reveal itself, we’re confident that Slowly Slowly are about to experience one of their strongest chapters as a group yet.

Chatting with Ben Stewart about the record recently, the creative process behind St. Leonards is one that proven to have been fulfilling on a whole other level.

“It’s really exciting for us,” he explains. “In the past, because we do all the recording and everything ourselves, we’ve always been working over deadlines and pushing things back. It’s always right up until the actual release with things being really stressful, but because we’ve set our goals to a really hard date earlier this year to have it finished by, we’ve really lived with the album and listened to it.  Come to terms with it all as a whole before everyone else hears it. This time around, I’ve been able to process it all and I’m going to enjoy it a lot more than I have in the past.”

“Band morale is very high.” Stewart adds. “We just have worked out all of our roles and personality like cogs in the machine; we know what everyone does best and when to let other people step into the spotlight. We had a changing roster of members of the band; me and Alex would do all of the writing and recording, so when our first album came along I played all of the instruments. With this album, it’s different and we approached it as a group, and I think you can hear that shining through. I really feel like we’re operating how it should be. We had a good time away from each other, which I think is super important. When we come together, it’s a good meaningful time. I love the band on tour together, it feels really sustainable at the moment.”

Spurred on from the making and release of Chamomile back in 2016, Slowly Slowly approached St. Leonards differently and as Stewart mentions, the new album went through a number of stages before landing in its final form.

“It definitely went through a few incarnations that were on there and weren’t on there,” he says of the final track list. “It definitely wasn’t one of those albums like The Blue Album by Weezer or something, where all the songs are the same vibe and were all written during that period. It was all quite a retrospective writing process where I was just turning out as much as I could, trying to look back over it and see not only what fit together, but what felt good. We would put it together in the end, and I think it kinda fit together anyways. It definitely wasn’t what we set out to do but listening to it now, I can kinda see that this is an really well-rounded representation of the band.”

“I was happy with the life cycle of it and I’m really excited about it; I’ve never really been excited about anything to do with a release before. Like you said its a love-hate thing; I’ve never really known when to pull the pin because we do everything ourselves. It’s always like, “Oh maybe we should do this maybe we should do that,”but I guess… whatever, I like it or not that’s how it is. It was like a weird psychological switch that got flipped in my brain; we handed it in and I couldn’t change anything, [it’s like] now I’m falling in love with all the mistakes and all of those things on the album that, if we had no deadline, I would’ve changed.”

Soon enough, fans will be able to fall in love with the intricacies of the album too, with Slowly Slowly taking St. Leonards out on tour through May and June. It’s going to be an exciting opportunity for the band to continue to see where this new material expands on the live front.

“We’re so lucky to have the crowds that we do,” Stewart says. “I’ve played a billion shows to no one, a billion demoralising shows to no one so we take none of them for granted. I remember going off stage and having those conversations backstage where its like, “Hey did you see that one person dancing? That one person knew the lyrics to that song!” and I won’t forget that because we’ve played more of those than the good ones and so we don’t take any of these for granted.”

“They all hold their own significance in our fan’s lives,” he says of recent shows. “Just like I would with my favourite musicians, they’re the soundtracks to little things that happened to me and once that all comes together in the room and people are all locked in, I love that feeling.”

SLOWLY SLOWLY TOUR DATES
Tickets available via www.oztix.com.au

May 11th | The Saloon Bar, LAUNCESTON
May 12th | Hobart Brewing Co., HOBART
May 25th | Crowbar, BRISBANE
May 26th | The Chippo Hotel, SYDNEY
June 2nd | The Ed Castle, ADELAIDE
June 7th | Amplifier Bar, PERTH
June 9th | Mojo’s Bar, FREMANTLE
June 16th | The Corner Hotel, FREMANTLE