Slowdive was a dream pop / shoegaze band formed in 1989, lasting until 1995. The band was formed in Reading, Berkshire, England and signed to Creation Records in the UK. Initially championed by the British music press, the band scored a UK top forty entry with their debut album Just for a Day. The band consisted of Rachel Goswell (vocals/guitar), Neil Halstead (vocals/guitar), Nick Chaplin (bass), Christian Savill (guitar), Simon Scott (drums, 1990 until early 1994) and Ian McCutcheon (drums, 1994 onwards).
The band consisted of Rachel Goswell (vocals/guitar), Neil Halstead (vocals/guitar), Nick Chaplin (bass), Christian Savill (guitar), Simon Scott (drums, 1990 until early 1994) and Ian McCutcheon (drums, 1994 onwards). Goswell and Halstead had known each other since early childhood in Reading, Berkshire.
Initial demos were released as the Slowdive EP in late 1990 - the band's sound was influenced by the Cocteau Twins and Creation labelmates My Bloody Valentine, featuring heavy use of guitar effects and muted vocals. Reviews in Melody Maker and the NME were enthusiastic, and two further well-regarded EPs followed in 1991 (Morningrise & Holding Our Breath). The debut album Just for a Day was written and recorded in six weeks, and was generally felt to be a disappointment. Also, the UK music press had started to pick up on the american grunge scene, and the more introspective sounds of Slowdive, labelmates Ride, Chapterhouse and other "shoegazing" bands had fallen from critical favour. American label SBK pushed back the release of the album after a disastrous viral marketing campaign (involving vandalism of a public statue). In early 1992 the band toured the USA with Ride, and returned to the UK to record a second album.
The following album, Souvlaki, is probably the band's most popular and well-received record. Two songs featured contributions from Brian Eno, "Souvlaki Space Station" was influenced by dub reggae, tracks such as "Dagger" and "Here She Comes" were indications of the country-rock direction Halstead and Goswell would take a few years later, and several songs such as "When The Sun Hits" and "Alison" continued the style of the first album, with better songwriting. Initial copies of the UK version came with Blue Day, a compilation of most of the early EP tracks which was originally released as a separate album in Japan and some European countries. Later in the year the band released 5ep, four songs which showed the influence of ambient techno - the lead track "In Mind" was remixed by Bandulu and Reload (both then signed to Creation's dance label).
As with the first album, SBK delayed release, and the band found themselves touring the USA in the summer of 1993, supporting Catherine Wheel, with no product to promote. The US version of Souvlaki was eventually released in early 1994, and included "Some Velvet Morning" (originally recorded for the Volume 7 compilation) and three of the tracks from 5EP. When Slowdive were finally able to tour America to support the second album, SBK withdrew funding halfway through - two further tours in 1994 were entirely funded by the band.
Simon Scott left amidst creative differences in 1994 and formed televise in 2002. He was, however, replaced on drums by Ian McCutcheon. The band had almost become a Halstead solo project by the recording of their final album, Pygmalion. A misunderstood and widely misinterpreted "ambient" record, it took the dreamy guitar sound and warm yet solemn tone of earlier Slowdive to a newer, more minimalist extreme, similar to earlier "dreampop" bands such as A R Kane, and bands such as Labradford. One track from this period, entitled Headcandy, appeared on an Album by Brian Eno. The album was very limited edition and was circulated at the launch of a new product also called Headcandy.
Slowdive was dropped by Creation a week after the release of Pygmalion - Halstead had been warned before the recording of the album that the relationship with the label would end unless he delivered a "pop album". A legend arose that the band was dropped due to the Gallagher brothers refusing to sign Oasis to Creation if Slowdive and their counterparts remained on the label's roster, although Oasis had in fact released their debut single almost a year before Pygmalion.
After being dropped from Creation, Neil Halstead, Rachel Goswell and Ian McCutcheon recorded an album of country-influenced songs, and were signed to label 4ad, changing the band name to Mojave 3. Halstead and Goswell have also both released solo albums for 4AD.
Christian Savill went on to form Monster Movie, a dream pop group that continued where Slowdive left off. They have released three albums thus far, Last Night Something Happened (2002), To the Moon (2004),Transistor (2005) and most recently All Lost (2006).
In 2004, Simon Scott formed Televise, a group which developed the lengthy noise swells and experimental song structures that helped define shoegazer and includes a more electronic brand of indie rock.
All Slowdive's albums were reissued in late 2005. Just For a Day included a bonus disc with all tracks from the first three EPs, and the three songs recorded for a John Peel session on 26 March 1991. Souvlaki included a bonus disc with all the remaining EP tracks, and "Some Velvet Morning" (originally recorded for a compilation). Pygmalion (which had become a collector's item in the years since its release, never having been issued in the USA) contained no extra material.
Despite their popularity and prominence in the British music scene of their time, and their importance to the shoegaze scene in particular, they are possibly best remembered for the infamous claim by Richey Edwards of Manic Street Preachers, who declared in an interview with NME that "[Manic Street Preachers] will always hate Slowdive more than Hitler". This statement is still often quoted in the British music press today.