After a series of sold-out reunion shows on the West Coast, one of Canada’s most influential bands is ready to show the rest of the country what all the hype is about.
SLOW was formed by Thomas Anselmi, Christian Thorvaldson, Stephen Hamm and Terry Russell. Ziggy Sigmund was added to the line-up soon after as a second guitarist. The band released the 7” I Broke the Circle in 1985, followed by Against the Glass in 1986, which featured the legendary “Have Not Been the Same (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dD0xeHKAPOA ),” one of the most iconic songs in Canadian music history. The song’s name was even taken as the name for the CanRock Encyclopedia, published by ECW Press.
It is almost impossible to overestimate the effect of the band on Canadian music. Formed in the mid-80s in Vancouver, and releasing only one album and one 7” on Zulu Records, the band has consistently been calledone of the most influential punk rock bands in Canada and forerunners of the Seattle grunge scene. Perhaps most infamously, SLOW is also the band that brought Expo ‘86 to its knees when The Xerox Theatre was cancelled in the wake of their incendiary, politically charged performance.
“There have been a lot of wild rock ‘n’ roll bands in Vancouver,” says Vancouver Sun journalist John Mackie, “But SLOW took it to a new level.”
In August of 2017, spurred by the re-release of the SLOW catalogue on Artoffact Records, the band reformed.
“As soon as we got in a room together playing music it took on a totally different meaning,” said Anselmi. “I imagined doing a kind of proper professional re-enactment and gritting my teeth and getting through it, you know. But after hearing what it sounded like, I was like, “We have to do this, it’s amazing.’ And we wrote new songs immediately.”
SLOW performed 4 sold out shows in early December in Victoria and Vancouver, followed in April by a 10 night residency at The Penthouse, Vancouver’s most notorious cabaret. A new album is in the works with Dave (Rave) Ogilvie producing. SLOW is playing better than ever, mixing new songs, classics from its first inception, and unique versions of material from the history of Rock & Roll, creating an updated version of a classic revue. Added on saxophone and keyboards is Kurt Dahle (New Pornographers) and on backup singing are Vanessa Dandurand (The Ballantynes) and Jody Glenham (The Dreamers).
“I can attest that SLOW were great in the 80s, but they are just as good, if not better now.The band is very tight and give off a massive and positive energy.” says long time Vancouver music alumni Michael King,
J.B: Okay so let’s start off you guys have been getting a lot of questions asked about the reunion because the answer was always no so what seemed to have changed that made the reunion possible?
TOM: I mean, the main thing that changed was the opportunity to play was put forward by Elliot Lefko at Goldenvoice after the record was reissued. So it’s really thanks to him. At first it was that, an opportunity to do a reunion tour, but we started writing right away so it turned into something else. J.B: Have you written some new stuff to through into the mix of the upcoming tour for the reissue? We’re playing about half old and half new material. Plus a lot of songs that have influenced us. The format is a rock n roll revue, we have back-up singers and Kurt from the New Pornographers is playing keys and saxophone.
J.B: Of course you guys are an iconic Canadian punk rock band and currently it seems here in Ontario that the N.D.P is coming back strong and well we know what happened in B.C though with all the taxes and cost of living increase shortly after Expo 86?
TOM: I mean, politics don’t really interest me that much except in the way they reveal aspects of human nature. I think it’s obvious that social media, with all the free expression it affords us, is a also a new and more effective method of control and persuasion. As well as being an excellent way to market directly to people’s fears and desires and exploit those to an end, social is also a place where citizens satisfy their need to dissent or speak critically, liking this and commenting on that, exhausting themselves in a routine that is to activism what watching pornography is to sex.
J.B: When I was younger when we moved out of Vancouver I remember seeing the graffiti “Fuck The B.C.T.V” on the side of the studio in spray paint and bunch of people hanging out protesting.
TOM: Yeah, that’s funny.
J.B: Vancouver had always had it scene in every part of it but you guys have always represented the East Van that has some really iconic spots like the bridge and other hangouts. Are there any iconic venues that you would still want to play at other than the Rickshaw?
TOM: We just did a 10 night residency at the Penthouse which is a historic strip bar in downtown. That’s one of the few places left in Vancouver with any vibe.
J.B: I mean Funky Winker Beans is still around isn’t it?
TOM: No idea.
J.B: You guys have inspired many bands from just one iconic album that seemed to light the fire in the Seattle scene that truly Seattle isn’t that far away. What where your influences behind Against the Glass?
TOM: You know, everything from The Sex Pistols to Motown. We just always listened to all of it and are into music in general.
J.B: You know Agent Orange is still around considering it was the first gig have you guys thought about a tour with them to promote the reissue?
TOM:The thought had not occurred but they were always a fantastic band. The original Bloodstains on Rodney On the Roq blew my mind at 15.
J.B: Talking of course about Against the Glass reissue you guys have that collector’s colors thing going on?
TOM:Yeah, Artofact do a great job with that.
J.B: So you guys are playing some select shows and then what’s next after that for Slow?
TOM:We are gonna make a new album. Our first full length.
:J.B: We always end with a famous book or quote that inspired your life anything come to mind?
TOM:He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you. Nietzsche, Beyond Good And Evil
SLOW will be performing at a handful of select shows this throughout Eastern Canada this May.
Wed May 9 Toronto at Phoenix (with The Dirty Nil) Tickets | $20
Thurs May 10 Hamilton at This Ain't Hollywood (with Dearly Beloved + Flesh Rag) Tickets | $25
Friday May 11 London at Call The Office (with Dearly Beloved + Midnight Terrors) Tickets | $20
Sat May 12 Montreal at Casa Del Popolo (with Dearly Beloved + Public Display)Tickets | $22
And one date in Western Canada:
Friday June 22 Calgary at Dickens/Sled Island Music + Arts Festival Tickets $20
Tom Anselmi — Lead Vox Christian Thorvaldsen — Guitar