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Punk frontman Laurie Vincent talks Palace and starring on FIFA's soundtrack

11 November 2020

There are a lot of similarities between a rocking Selhurst Park and a punk gig in full-flow; frantic energy, unfiltered emotion, bodies clambering over each other.

In both settings, they’re scenes familiar to Laurie Vincent - guitarist for rock-duo Slaves, lead singer-songwriter for Larry Pink the Human, and Palace fan through-and-through.

While mosh pits might seem a distant memory in a COVID world - whether in the mayhem of a celebrating Holmesdale or the ecstasy of a Slaves show - their therapeutic value is not lost on Vincent, who, like every Palace fan, is missing the electricity of a sold-out Selhurst.

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“I’ve got this quite spiritual view of football,” he admits. “It’s the one place where men can really express all their emotions - Selhurst Park especially. You go to a game and it feels like church. It feels like people are allowed to completely lose themselves and it’s safe to do so.”

Coming from a profession where venues themselves can make or break a show, the magic of SE25 is especially important in that sense: “Most of the great stadiums have been lost and they’re being replaced by stadiums that are almost too big.

“Selhurst Park is one of the last of the ‘old guard’ and it’s such a special place to be. Last season I saw Palace v Brighton there, the 1-1 draw, and the atmosphere in that crowd was just unbelievable.”

Given that the guitarist is well-practised in crafting atmospheres - Slaves boast sell-out shows at Alexandra Palace and prime slots at Glastonbury, Reading and gigs all over the world - there’s no question Vincent knows what he’s talking about.

“When you’re watching [football] you’ve got to be completely present; you can’t be checking your phone because you might miss something. It’s quite rare that anything requires us to be fully present. I think football is something really real.

“It means so much to so many people.” He repeats: “It’s almost become spiritual to me.” 

Vicent's Palace connection is an emotional one that, in his case, is only strengthened by family ties: “My cousin-in-law is Palace’s kit manager… my father-in-law was a Season Ticket holder, my grandad is a fan, [Slaves bandmate] Isaac [Holman]’s family are Palace fans; so all my connections are Palace.”

And now a father of two, he finds himself passing Palace down the generations: “When I first really started getting into Palace I was actually living in Brighton. I used to take my son to Little Kickers dressed in a full Palace kit. It turned out that the coach was a Palace fan and one of the other dads was, too. It was like this secret Palace club in Brighton.

“I always like doing something to wind people up like that.”

Vincent’s latest opportunity to proudly show his Palace colours came at FIFA 21’s World Premiere. Featured on the game’s soundtrack, he was invited to perform Larry Pink the Human’s Might Delete Later at a live session. Naturally, he took the opportunity to rock up in a vintage TDK home shirt.

 
 
 
 
 
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“They said we were going to do a live session [for the FIFA 21 soundtrack] and I asked if they’d care if I wore a Palace shirt. They actually encouraged it! I started this project in January, so it’s nearly a year old now… it just felt like it was time to step outside my comfort zone.

“I’ve wanted to be on FIFA forever. I always thought Slaves would do it but I think over the years FIFA got less and less heavy and a bit more urban. There was guitar music but it was softer. We started putting Larry Pink the Human stuff out and got interest from them. They picked Might Delete Later and it all just started rolling from there…

“I wanted to challenge myself to see if I could make music that could really soundtrack people’s lives.”

You’ll struggle to find soundtracks more formative than FIFA's; and like all of us, Vincent still has classic tracks etched into his memory from hours on the game.

FIFA 06 is the one that’s seared into my brain. The one with Nine Black Alps, Bloc Party and Doves on it. You spend hours in those menus between the games, picking your teams or looking at your stats. It’s crazy to think that it will be my music playing for someone else.”

It’s a prospect that would excite any football-loving musician, and, turning back to Palace, it’s clear Vincent is similarly excited about the club’s future: “When you look at the team - the steps it’s taking with the Academy and the young players, and even players like Vicente Guaita - we seem to sign these amazing players.

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“When we signed Gary Cahill last season, that was unbelievable. I’m a bit obsessed with him strangely,” he jokes. “I just see the players we have, they’re so good, and now we’ve switched back to 4-4-2, it feels properly exciting to watch.”

And for now, while mosh pits are strictly off the cards - and neither the music nor football industry can rely on the irreplaceable frenzy that a live crowd brings - finding new ways to bring excitement into people’s lives is more important than ever.

“You have to keep adapting. Punk music especially lives in a live space. You want to go and see it live; so the challenge was creating music where you don’t have to tour as much… There’s definitely a parallel [with football]. You have to keep thinking of ways to make it exciting for people.”

At the core though, the important - even "spiritual" - principles remain the same.

“That sense of unity with the people around you and coming together for a joint purpose: it’s something that’s not common in our culture and I think football gets a bad rap when people don’t understand that. If you haven’t been to a game and haven’t experienced it - that communal sense of happiness or sadness or excitement.

“It’s important for our connection as human beings, in this day and age, where we are quite isolated and don’t interact as much.”

READ NEXT: The Kooks' Luke Pritchard: "What I love about Palace is there's so much heart"

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