Slowdive to play at the Fine Line

The band reunited after 20 years for a worldwide tour and will play at the Fine Line Music Café with Low.

Jackie Renzetti

After nearly 20 years of inactivity, British shoegaze band Slowdive has hit the road again for a new destination in their career.

Slowdive, comprised of Rachel Goswell, Neil Halstead, Christian Savill, Nick Chaplin and Simon Scott, first formed in the United Kingdom in 1989 and released three albums before breaking up in 1995. 

When the group was offered a spot at Barcelona’s 2014 Primavera Sound Festival, the members decided not only to take it, but also to reunite for a multi-continent tour following the festival. Minnesota band Low will open for Slowdive for most of their nearly sold-out North American tour, including a stop at the Fine Line Music Café on Friday. 

“I think [reuniting] was something we were thinking about, but [Primavera] focused our attention. That kinda gave us a goal,” guitarist Christian Savill said.

The members found themselves starting from scratch on a project that began nearly 25 years ago.

“We hardly had any equipment,” guitarist Christian Savill said, noting that bassist Nick Chapman no longer owned a bass guitar. “It was like totally starting again, really.” 

After acquiring the instruments, Slowdive’s next step was to get back in shape. Their rehearsal process preceding the tour spanned five months, partly because the members now live in different parts of Britain. 

“Some of the songs we could remember, but a lot of them we were like, ‘Oh god, I can’t remember how to play that, you know what guitar change was that?’ But that was part of the fun,” Savill said. “And it was brilliant because we’d play and we’d go out. Those are some of my happiest memories, just the five of us together.” 

Almost all of their North American tour dates are sold out, and Savill says they’ve received enthusiastic responses from countries they previously never had the chance to tour.

Upon arriving in Taiwan, the band realized their gear hadn’t arrived yet because of a typhoon. They used social media to spread word, and audience members happily lent them their instruments.

“It was like a party,” Savill said. “It’s just been crazy, really.” 

The widespread positive feedback contrasted sharply with their experiences at the end of their initial career. In 1995, the public didn’t take the shoegaze genre seriously. After the release of their third album, “Pygmalion,” the band received numerous negative reviews and their record label dropped them. 

“When we finished the band, [shoegaze] was kind of just like nothing, it was almost derided. But now … it seems to be a pretty big scene, relatively speaking,” Savill said.

Savill said he believes their fan base comes from listeners who enjoy bands that cite Slowdive among their influences. As a result, their audiences have consisted of primarily young people as opposed to the band’s expectation of mostly original listeners who are now middle-aged. 

Instead of adapting to keep up with newer shoegaze bands, Savill said, “We just coast along doing our own thing.” 

As opposed to their earlier career, they can now instantly receive feedback and feel support from their listeners through social media. 

Low joined the tour largely because of a Twitter interaction. When the two bands happened to both play at a show in Iceland, Slowdive members noticed that Low retweeted an audience member’s tweet saying that Low should open for Slowdive. Savill said this was a push to see if they were interested.

“We’re all big fans of Low. … We’d never consider asking Low to open for us because in our minds, they’re like this amazing band who kind of wouldn’t open for us,” Savill said.

Alan Sparhawk of Low also cited Twitter as an influence, but said he had no idea their retweet propelled the collaboration. 

“I remember seeing one of them tweeting about being excited to see us, and I thought, … ‘Wow, I didn’t even know they knew who we were,’” Sparhawk said. 

 The early years of Low collided with the end of Slowdive’s initial run. Sparhawk said that he recalled listening to their records while driving on tour.

“Even though we definitely sound different, they were one of the bands we were listening to that was sort of reassuring,” Sparhawk said, referencing the bands’ shared use of female and male vocals and loose structure. “It’s not so much an influence as much as it was a camaraderie.” 

Both Sparhawk and Savill said their respective bands had been musing about doing something special in light of Halloween for their Minneapolis show, but they had no concrete plans yet. 

Savill said that “the fact that people are coming is amazing,” explaining that his band was hesitant to book larger venues for fear of poor attendance. The band especially has looked forward to their North American tour and plans to create a new album when their time frees up afterward.

“Even when everything was really pretty horrible back home in the U.K. … the people were really responsive, and some of our best gigs were in America,” Savill said. “But we just didn’t anticipate the kind of response we’ve had, really.” 

What: Slowdive with Low

Where: Fine Line Music Café, 318 N. First Ave., Minneapolis

When: 8 p.m. Friday

Cost: $25-45 [SOLD OUT]