Larry Pink The Human is the name that Laurie Vincent from Slaves and producer Jolyon Thomas have taken for their emotional new project, one which sees Vincent show exactly who he truly is. Working with Thomas was a no brainer considering that he was the man at the helm for Slaves’ fierce 2015 debut Are You Satisfied? as well as 2018’s Acts Of Fear and Love — they have made a beautiful start to life under their new moniker.
Thomas has been a part of Vincent’s career since the very early days and knows exactly where the key is to find the more fragile side of the guitarist. Although Slaves still holds a special place in both of their hearts, the chance to experiment outside of the confinements of the group was an opportunity that they are both revelling in. Their debut single came in April with ‘Love You Bye’ and, since then, they have gone from strength to strength with ‘Might Delete Later’, ‘Purpose Built’ and the heartbreaking ‘Wasted Days (Inbetweens)’ which comes in collaboration with IDLES frontman Joe Talbot. It’s a canon that suggests the pair have found their happy place.
The project has been in the works for over a year prior to the releases and being able to focus on music has offered Vincent a crutch. Songwriting is a way for the guitarist to channel his emotions and explore his battle with grief after tragically losing his partner earlier in the year after a long illness.
Having the opportunity to work with somebody who knows him so well has provided Vincent with the perfect vehicle to create music out of the darkness and to do so with the comfort of not feeling afraid to take risks. Thomas has helped create some of the most arresting work Vincent has ever been a part of, as well as undoubtedly the most honest. “We’ve sort of been like friends for a long time and at first, it (Larry Pink The Human) was like a solo project but I wasn’t super confident,” Vincent professed to Far Out from the Ramsgate recording studio that he and Thomas were cooped up in. “I trusted Jolyon to help me try and get the best out of the songs. We were sitting there listening to the music and he said ‘Yeah I want to be involved’, that was a big green light,” he added.
“I’d been helping with lyrics with the band for a while but that wasn’t really my forte, that style of lyric writing, like the funny witty snapshot lyrics. I had to get really comfortable in my own skin and realise that that’s not my voice.” Instead, Vincent needed anew project to truly hear his own tongue: “You can even hear it on ‘Love You Bye’ and ‘Wasted Days (Inbetweens)’, they were both really early songs and there’s a lot of nerves. I’ve been learning how to use my voice and getting more confident with my voice as time goes on. It’s like you feel naked, so to do that with someone you trust is really important.”
Trust is a two-way street and it’s clear from our conversation that Thomas feels just as comfortable working with Vincent because their tight-knit relationship allows them to do. “What they want because there’s no real rules,” he explained. This has been a liberating experience for the pair and, even by the medium of video calls, you can tell that they feel totally unshackled creatively, whether it is songwriting or the drudgery of promotion.
“It reminds me of the early days of being in the band,” Vincent added. “I think relieving yourself of that sort of bracket that every musician gets put in when they’re known for something was incredibly freeing, and it sort of makes you feel like you’re shedding skin and starting again. Reinvention is really important and we all change as we grow.
“One of the best comments I had about the project was a friend saying, ‘This sounds more like Laurie,’ and I thought that was amazing. ‘This sounds like what he’s actually like’ and it’s quite a testament to the sounds we’re creating,” he proudly remarked, clearly imbued by the confidence of his support network.
Being honest with his art is something that Vincent can’t hide away from. Everything he creates is a way of expressing himself and Larry Pink The Human has seen him emotionally go all in, battling with love and loss. Earlier this year his world devastatingly got turned upside down when his partner and mother of his two children tragically passed away after suffering from cancer and, inadvertently, Larry Pink The Human has been the vehicle for his grief. But that was never the sole inspiration as to why Vincent started the project, it was meant to be his own expression. His lyrics read almost like diary-entries over the last couple of years, detailing how his life has changed since becoming a father and growing older as well as foreshadowing the awful event he suffered earlier this year.
“It’s been quite haunting in a way,” Vincent emotionally recounts. “Because a lot of the songs that have come out already were written not about the loss of a relationship but like how relationships change as you have kids and how your focuses shift. I was writing about something I didn’t even know was gonna happen and that realisation has been quite monumental. It feels very serendipitous, and also like the universe in action.
“I’m doing exactly what I should have been doing and if I hadn’t had the confidence to do this while she was still alive, trying to start it now would be so intimidating — it feels like a real payoff.” For Vincent, a man who has spent most of his career in the midst of raucous punk songs, the chance to make some more poignant tracks is coming to fruition. “It feels like people are connecting to the songs, I wrote them for a reason and then the songs that we’ve written that are coming up about what happened just gets more and more heartbreaking,” he painfully added.
The way in which Vincent writes has left him with no choice but to confront the darkness that was surrounding his life and that has bled into the work that they have released so far. “You can only sing what you know and write what you know,” he notes, “I’m so glad that it comes across as honest because some of the sentiments are simple and then put across as simply as possible on purpose, which means you walk a tightrope between being cheesy and being poignant.”
Another artist who has found himself walking that tightrope between being cheesy and poignant is IDLES lead singer Joe Talbot, a musician who headed down to Ramsgate to feature on their latest single ‘Wasted Days (Inbetweens)’ and absolutely thrived within their world. “We hadn’t heard what he had wrote for his part on the track,” Thomas recalls before adding that Talbot nonchalantly “came in and just laid it down in one track” which came as a much-welcomed surprise. They then comically note how the laidback Talbot was the polar opposite of working with Slaves’ Isaac Holman who needs at least 100 takes before being content.
With the collaboration, Talbot takes grasp of his opportunity to explore a similar emotional facet of his own character, just like Vincent has. He’s not the idolised witty, brash punk frontman that has helped IDLES become one of the most loved bands in the country and, instead, he offers up a retrospective, emotional performance where he leaves everything on the table.
“It was a real gift really, I feel like he sort of gave us a verse of himself in a way,” a humbled Vincent notes. “I have this joke that like this whole project is punk gone soft and to have another punk go soft with you and collaborate in such an unlikely manner just felt perfect. I was quite blown away, I had goosebumps as soon as he started doing that.”
Inviting friends like Talbot to their Ramsgate studio to collaborate with them is an example that the freedom that the project provides them with. They say they have “20 odd songs” and will just carry on releasing music before eventually releasing an album with a view to later taking it on the road. While touring was never originally in the plan for Larry Pink The Human, they are now itching to play live for the first time.
Being involved in not just the production side of things but getting a say in the identity of the band from the artwork to the videos is something that Thomas is revelling in. “You can’t express everything with music,” he states. “Visually you have to express things in other mediums so I think that’s been really cool for me, particularly. Like the artwork, you get to think about that and then how that relates to the song and all that other stuff that goes with it which I’m loving.”
Vincent then passionately expands on his bandmate’s point: “It’s got to be the whole, the whole thing. Even the fact that when you like play the songs, or the sounds and the beats, they feel like they’re in our little world that sound quite like any other musician, and that’s something that feels really great.”
Larry Pink The Human isn’t just a band name but also a character they have personified through a sad lonely balloon which encapsulates the project and helps form their world. Similarly to how the use of art has helped Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett form a mad universe around Gorillaz, Larry Pink The Human is set to create a new world for the fans to step into.
The project has given both Vincent and Thomas a platform to create something unique. The music they’ve created is so unlike anybody else but that idiosyncrasy of sound transcends into everything they do. Everything about Larry Pink The Human is unique and by operating with no boundaries in sight, they have thrived within every step of the creative process.
Although their creation isn’t a Laurie Vincent solo-project, it does feel like it is a reactionary statement to the limitations of being in a band and is the sonic embodiment of him finally lifting the lid on who he really is. Larry Pink The Human has seen Vincent leave himself open emotionally and, by being 100% honest about his own fragility, he has created spectacular results which connect on a more profound level than anything he has been a part of on his career to date.