FRIARS Court seemed to have a magic touch on the music scene about five years ago.

Catfish and The Bottlemen cut their teeth at the Warrington venue, playing there a number of times before their massive breakthrough. Now a band that shared a stage with them at Friars are poised to do the same.

After building a huge army of fans on a grassroots level, The Slow Readers Club jumped into the mainstream when their album, Build A Tower, went into the top 20 on the album chart earlier this year.

The four-piece are also playing their biggest headline show at a sold-out Manchester Apollo on December 14 and have just been announced for Warrington’s Neighbourhood Weekender in May 2019. They are in the top half of the line-up for the second day of the festival in Victoria Park.

Frontman Aaron Starkie said: “It’s really exciting to see the names up there. Heroes of ours like Richard Ashcroft and The Vaccines. It’s a really good line-up I think. It feels good to be playing alongside them but I think we’re ready for it.

“Certainly in the north west we’ve been building up a decent reputation. We’ve sold out a show at Manchester Apollo which we’ll be playing at the end of the year.

“Neighbourhood is a great festival for the area. We’ve spent so long where we haven’t had anything nearby and now suddenly there are so many big gigs and festivals going on. It’s a good time for live music.”

Manchester’s Slow Readers Club have come a long way since their Friars Court days but Aaron still remembers them fondly.

He added: “They were good gigs for us. Si Pugsley from Friars was top. We did one in the courtyard and another inside as well.

“There was another band around at the same time called Mutineers and Charlie from Blossoms was the bass player for them back in the day. We’ve not played Warrington for a while, so it’ll be good to come back.”

The Slow Readers Club are a band that many other artists look up to because they managed to build a following without a record label or much radio support.

Using the likes of TuneCore and Disc Wizards to self-release their music and with a little help from indie promoter Scruff of the Neck for their live shows, they went from tiny Manchester venues to the Albert Hall.

Now their celebrity fans include the likes of Shaun Ryder, Mani from The Stone Roses, Mike Joyce from The Smiths and Clint Boon.

Aaron said: “We figured out a lot of it for ourselves like design stuff, how to release records and putting tours together. We worked with a promoter in Manchester called Scruff of the Neck and they helped us put our first UK tour on.

“I think people start taking you more seriously when you go and do a tour. Back in the day we’d just do eight gigs a year in Manchester and overdid it in small venues.

“The first decent sized event we did was Manchester Academy 3 and we just built from there and went to Gorilla and then to The Ritz and then Albert Hall and that was all as a DIY band.

“We signed a record deal with Modern Sky last year and then released a record properly. That made a difference in terms of it charting – we got into the top 20 with Build A Tower. The label definitely helped with that but it shows you can go out and make a name for yourself.”

Another turning point was when Jim Glennie from James became a fan.

Aaron added: “We didn’t have an agent or a manager when the James thing happened. They tweeted about a track of ours – we did an acoustic version of one of our songs called I Saw A Ghost at Central Library in Manchester.

“Off the back of that we managed to get a CD to them as we knew a guy who wrote sleeve notes for them. That led to us being offered a 13-date tour with them.

“So we went from playing to 30 people to thousands of people around the country.

“We spent a long time doing the circuit and waiting for a break like that and eventually it came along.”

Currently the band split their time between work and rock and roll though – they all have nine to fives and Aaron works as a designer at One marketing agency in Sale.

The 38-year-old said: “We take annual leave to do tours and gig at weekends. It’s a creative job so I’m fortunate I get some satisfaction out of what I do. My employer is really supportive to be fair and I think it’s the same for the others. Everyone can see what we’re doing and understands why we’d want to carry that on. We’re particularly buzzing about the Apollo. You dream of playing there as a Manchester band.

“It will be in front of 3,500 people so that’ll be amazing. I’m really grateful to the fans. We’ve not had loads of radio support so we really depend on people on telling their mates and spreading the word.

“I’ll bob in and out of the fan page online and have a chat with people.

“They’re all buzzing and we organise meet ups before gigs. We also sit on the merch desk afterwards and sign records and do after shows. We just want to show our appreciation. We’ve got a nice little community around us.”

Slow Readers Club will be at Neighbourhood Weekender in Victoria Park on May 26. Visit