Slaves respond to criticism over their band name – watch

"A slave is a person who is owned by another person and forced to work for free", says guitarist Laurie Vincent

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Slaves have responded to criticism of their band name, telling NME that the word is not a racist term.

Since the release of their debut EP in 2012 the group have been faced with allegations that their name, given the historical context of the term and their own white backgrounds, is racially insensitive. In March The Fader published an article titled “Why Would A Band Of White Dudes Name Themselves Slaves?” while Twitter users have been vocal in their disapproval of the name.

Now, on the verge of releasing their first album, ‘Are You Satisfied?’, the band have spoken for the first time about the criticism and tackled the issue head on.

Speaking in a video interview you can watch above, guitarist Laurie Vincent says: “If you pick up an Oxford dictionary and look up the word “slaves”, there is no mention of any racial context. A slave is a person who is owned by another person and forced to work for free. In that manner, people who deem you a racist are being incredibly small minded because slavery has happened to every single creed, race and religion and it’s not a racist term.”

Vincent goes on to admit to moments of doubt about the name, saying: “There are days when we think, ‘Oh man, why did we pick this name?’ But now I look at it, it’s important. It says a lot about the time we live in that freedom of speech is so over analysed that you can’t even use words.”

The band have also addressed the controversy around their name in a statement on Facebook. Backing up a number of their claims in the NME video, the pair state that “Our band name relates to people not being in control of their day to day lives. Slaves was our way of getting off the paths we didn’t want to walk down anymore. The music we make is motivational and aimed at people personally as well as collectively.”

The duo, who release ‘Are You Satisfied?’ on June 1, kick off their UK tour in Portsmouth tonight (May 5). See the dates in full below. Slaves were recently one of four bands on the NME Awards Tour 2015 with Austin, Texas, alongside headliners Palma Violets, Fat White Family and The Wytches.

Slaves will play:

Portsmouth Wedgewood Rooms (May 5)
London Scala (6)
Manchester Gorilla (9)
Glasgow King Tut’s (10)
Newcastle The Cluny (11)
Bristol Thekla (13)
Nottingham Rescue Rooms (14)
Birmingham Library At The Institute (18)
Sheffield Leadmill (19)

To check the availability of Slaves tickets and get all the latest listings, head to NME.COM/tickets.