The Tunbridge Wells Forum about seven years ago was full of emerging bands and musicians. Some made it a bit, some didn’t, and some gave up on music all together to find a way to make money. But there was one group that always stood out from the others.

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[Slaves at the Tunbridge Wells Forum]

A group of my mates lead by frontman Isaac Holman started off a grime punk band called Bareface. Their solid riffs and poetic lyrics attracted the widest audiences from the fresh-faced teens to the ageing punks and they began to sell out the venue every night they played. The most groundbreaking part of their performance was a girl we knew called Lucy Barnes who stood at the back of the stage topless and wearing only a bear mask adding a sense of intrigue that would later be repeated with Slaves.

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[The Bareface single cover]

Bareface’s ‘Heart shaped lies’

‘Young lads scumbags’

When I went to uni Bareface split up. I can’t remember why but looking back its better that they did to make way for something much bigger. Isaac teamed up with bassist and guitarist Laurie and created a duo called Slaves. They quickly picked up pace and made an appearance on Jools Holland where Isaac encountered Bono backstage and had a short chat that would end up in NME magazine.

Bono: ‘That was a great set mate!’

Isaac: ‘Cheers mate you too.’

Isaac suddenly burst out laughing realising that he had just said U2 but Bono didn’t look impressed.

Slaves progressed to get bigger and bigger selling out every venue on a UK tour. They went on to the Radio 1 Live lounge and covered Skepta’s track Shutdown which resulted in Skepta joining them onstage at Radio 1’s big weekend to sing the track with them.


[Slaves on Radio 1’s live lounge]


Last night was the night of their album launch, which was a bit like a reunion of everyone we knew from Tunbridge Wells. It began with a set from Slaves followed by a collection of DJ’s we know from back home who are also becoming well known. Tim Hinson, Jethro Holman (Isaacs brother) and Jacob Plant. It was great to see that Isaac & Laurie had not changed and acted like we’ve always known them instead of becoming full of their fame.


Buy their new album – ‘Are you satisfied?’ on iTunes right here

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