Last week, Slowdive fans got the news they’d all been waiting years for: the announcement of the band’s fifth album, Everything Is Alive (out on 1st September 2023 on Dead Oceans) along with the release of its first single, “kisses”.

As such, things are about to get very busy for the Reading five piece who first formed in 1989, split in 1995 and then reformed in 2014; autumn tours of North America and the UK will follow as well as dates on the South American Primavera bill with, amongst others, The Cure. 

Before all that though, this past weekend they had a warm up show on Saturday night in Exeter which sold out in six minutes and an early evening Sunday slot at Glastonbury. We had a chance to catch up with guitarist Christian Savill for a pre-gig pint to chew the cud on life in the band in 2023, how the new album came to be and what fans might expect from it

Slowdive re-emerged in 2014 and after a series of gigs and festivals dates around the globe, released their self-titled album to critical acclaim in 2017. When the touring cycle for that album came to an end in late 2018, a year off saw the band pencil in recording for a follow up in early 2020 only for COVID to make the world a very different place. Delayed recording sessions eventually started post-pandemic at Courtyard Studios, their old stomping ground from the 1990s and as Savill admits, making an album in 2023 is quite different to those old days. 

Christian Savill of Slowdive | Pic: Geoff Shaw

“We’re not like the Monkees, all living in the same house like back in the ’90s so it’s not easy juggling around families and so on,” he says. “Neil will often come in with a bunch of ideas and we’ll see what can be shaped to give them a band feel. There’s quite a lot but only some come together to be a ‘Slowdive‘ song and that takes awhile. Not all five of us will agree, but each track gives off a vibe and over time, fits the record. There’s one song in particular on the new album, Prayer Remembered, that when we played, really reminded me of old Slowdive. A bit like when we recorded the demo for ‘Avalyn‘ and got that moment of magic when it all comes together.”

As is often the case, songs and ideas go through different iterations; a quick glance on YouTube for “Slowdive Demo” gives a plethora of unreleased songs, and the new single “kisses” is no exception. “That is one that had different lives and versions,” says Savill. “It started off as a more traditional song in demo form, and we went down the electronic route with it which sounded amazing. Will that come out at some point? Maybe, but it was a case of  ‘How do we play that live?’ and so it came back to something that was much closer to Neil’s original demo.” 

The key question fans will want to know is what will Everything Is Alive sound like? For a band that has a definite ‘Slowdive’ sound, they have released four albums which are quite individual in identity. When it comes to what people may make of the new album, Savill is unsure, but stands behind the finished product. “It’s still obviously Slowdive, but it’s not going to be “When the Sun Hits” several times over. The first song is a weird windswept song with hardly any lyrics, the second is an instrumental, so some people might think ‘What the f*ck is this?’. But it is the album we as a band have made, that when we listened to, we liked it. It is a set of songs that works as a whole arguably better than the 2017 album did”.

Slowdive live in Exeter 24.06.23 | Pic: Geoff Shaw

Given that the final version of ‘kisses‘ was influenced by how it could be played live, how then does the band create their setlists? “They’re constrained by how we play,” says Savill. “We don’t use backing tracks so it is simply a case of what we can play as a five piece. Not having any tapes gives an element of chaos and jeopardy which is something we like, but any song we play has to sound good. So when people ask why we don’t play this or that, it’s usually cos we tried and it sounds shit. Or it might be a song like “No Longer Making Time” off the last record which we were playing live but then for some reason, didn’t keep working. It may be that we will revisit a couple of songs off that record and of course we will look to add a song or two from the new album.”

The setlist will of course change depending on the type of gig. The show in Exeter had a fourteen track setlist covering all four released albums plus a debut for “kisses” but the set at Glastonbury was cut to ten to meet the one hour slot at the famous music festival, which was their first time playing. “The only one of us who has been before is Neil, who played in Bernard Butler’s band back in the 1990s” says Savill. (a subsequent chat with Halstead confirms this to have been in 1998. “It is definitely one that stands out and we’ve had loads of messages from people since we were announced so it is on everyone’s radar.”

Touring of course offers the chance for the band’s many fans around the world to see Slowdive, but it does present issues particularly post-pandemic and the issues are two fold. “We are very aware that right now people don’t have loads of money,” says Savill. “Paying £20 or £30 for a ticket plus hotel and travel isn’t cheap so when a date gets booked, it needs to make sense. We would love to play everywhere but all the gigs have to be routed and fit in with what is logistically possible and that is out of our hands somewhat.” The other problem is that post-pandemic, they struggle to find crew as many left the industry and from those that remain, many are already spoken for. “Other bands are also wanting to be out on the road, especially at this time of year,” says Savill. “So we can only do a certain number of gigs. We’ve announced a load for this year but there are more to come next year.”

One of the parts of the world Savill is looking forward to revisiting is the Primavera dates in November. “South America is really exciting,” he says. “The most insane audience we ever had was in Sao Paolo with the last album in 2017. I remember we were doing ‘Dagger‘ and the crowd were singing it back so loudly we couldn’t hear what we were doing on stage. And we’re not a singalong band, just a little indie band from Reading and all these kids in Brazil know all the lyrics. It’s just mental.” 

With that, time is up as a soundcheck awaits. The reception the band received later that evening at the sold out Exeter warm-up (link to review here) and online to the album and tours announcements suggests the world is more than ready for some more Slowdive. And that isn’t mental.

Full review and gallery from the band’s Exeter show coming later this week.

Slowdive’s new LP is available to pre-order at

Words and interview: Geoff Shaw @gshawisme