Slow


Thomas Anselmi of Slow singing Have Not Been The Same, circa 1985


Slow at UBC’s Thunderbird Stadium, dressed in bloody nurse’s outfits, circa 1986

Slow was a legendary 80s Vancouver band sometimes credited with spawning grunge. That is pretty impossible to prove (or disprove), but no one seems to dispute that they had an influence on Nirvana, Pearl Jam and the whole Pacific NW thing. They may be the best band to ever come out of this city. I saw them live but sadly missed Slow’s fateful, band-ending show at Vancouver’s Expo ’86. I missed it because at the time I was boycotting Expo, that fateful glitzy mega-event which served as an alibi for the handover of great swaths of Vancouver to developers. To tell the truth I was pretty surprised Slow were playing Expo at all, but I suspect they were too, and probably anyone could have predicted how that gig would turn out. I remember one of my friends, who then looked like a punk Ziggy Stardust crossover, complaining about the “Socred stink” down at the site (a political reference only western Canadians will understand). Anyway that day we did something else and missed everything. Slow apparently put on a fairly mental show. The electricity to their equipment was shut off following complaints that it was inappropriate at a family venue, and they responded by getting partially naked onstage. This provoked the cancellation of Expo’s entire local music programme and eventually the dissolution of the band.

At some point somebody stole my Slow album, an EP called Against the Glass. I want a replacement (and this post is going to make that project more difficult). If anyone has a copy I can buy, name a price. [Update: I found some copies. Thanks for the tips.]

I have heard that Zulu Records and Mint Records tried to convince the band to re-issue Against the Glass, as well as the © Circle C album that came later (see below), but apparently the bands resisted. Nothing is available on iTunes either. You can’t even find a single Slow torrent, lyrics listings, nothing.

Anselmi and Christian Thorvaldson went on to form a band called © (sometimes known as Circle C) whose poppier but excellent eponymous album you can download here, for as long as that lasts. It was a critical hit and a commercial flop and Geffen, who didn’t like them and didn’t promote the album, fired them. The band later became known as Copyright and put out two albums with BMG but most feel these didn’t live up to that first © album. Anselmi then moved to Berlin and L.A. though is now back in Vancouver running music and event venue The Waldorf Hotel. In 2009 he produced a music/multimedia project called MIRROR.

Stephen Hamm went on to form Tankhog and later Canned Hamm with Robert Dayton.

There’s more about Slow and its members’ subsequent bands at ilxor and unherdmusic and musicruinedmylife. And there’s a good 2010 interview with lead singer Thomas Anselmi here:

Punk Globe: Tom, thanks for doing this interview. Let’s go back a few years… Your earliest band SLOW is known as the ‘Band That Killed Expo’ with their infamous performance at the World Fair in 1986. With the Olympics coming to Vancouver in less than a year, any thoughts of reforming and seeing what kind of trouble you can cause?
T.A.: No, I just want to see some figure skating.

If you saw Slow or © or Tankhog perform, can you leave a comment below?

Thanks to my friend Tony for making me think about Slow again.


©, the eponymous album by the band “©” aka Circle C

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10 Responses to “Slow”

  1. Andy Says:

    I agree that Slow was maybe the best band to ever come out of Vancouver. I’ve got the record, but I’m not willing to part with it.

    To clarify, Slow’s performance at Expo didn’t kill the entire musical aspect of the fair, only the showcase for local bands. Many other Vancouver bands lost a chance to play for a wider audience because Slow’s performance led organizers to pull the plug. (I should add here that I don’t disapprove of Slow’s actions at all.)

    My understanding is that the “nudity,” (which consisted of mooning the audience) was less objectionable to Expo than the “Sieg Heil” chants they led for then-premier Bill Bennett.

    As to Circle-C, legend has it that they objected to being called Circle-C or even Copyright, but defiantly insisted that their name was ©, which is allegedly (and ironically) an un-copyrightable symbol, pissing off Geffen Records no end. I’m sure they had other disputes with the record label, but this one seems the most apt.

  2. LB Says:

    @Andy Thanks for this! Sigh, no one is willing to part with Against the Glass. Thanks for the corrections, and here are mine in turn: it was Premier Bill Vander Zalm during Expo. I remember, with painful clarity, Lillian Vander Zalm in her headband nightly singing some sort of Expo song alongside a laser light show. The chorus actually featured Bill’s full name, repeated, and unfortunately you could hear it all the way across False Creek.

    I heard © allowed itself to be called “Circle C” for radio purposes? But by all account they did wage constant wars against Geffen. I’m listening to the © album right now and it’s pretty great. Should be reissued. Lastly, from what I’ve heard the nudity at Expo was intermittently full frontal – I can’t remember which link, but one of the articles above describes it in detail!

  3. Andy Says:

    I’ve always described the © album as Grateful Dead-meets-Exile on Main Street, which is pretty great in my opinion.

    Are you sure it was BVZ who was premier for Expo? I actually looked it up on Wikipedia before posting, and it said that Expo was Bill Bennett’s last gasp.

    Either way, thanks for the blast from the past!

  4. LB Says:

    Hey Andy we’re both right! Bennett shepherded Expo to Vancouver, and then retired/handed reins over to Bill Vander Zalm during. I think the latter presided over most of the span of the fair. My main impression was always Lillian as the fair’s first lady in that headband. But you’re right – there’s a big conversation on Twitter right now and @eastvanhalen says “I was at their warehouse space before the gig. They were not in a good mood about playing it… Wearing those “Thank You, Bill Bennett, for a Super Expo” buttons and getting angry drunk. I stuck with boycotting.” https://twitter.com/eastvanhalen/statuses/247580481976164352

    That description of of © made me laugh. I hear…Pixies? Definitely a mix of things.

  5. LB Says:

    OK so I’ve finally replaced my stolen Slow album. Had to get an old copy sent from record shop in the UK.

  6. bob Says:

    I was just gonna tell you a friend has quite a few copies of ATG, but if you’ve got one already… amazing album and copyright live a few times (once in particular at the station street arts centre, which is long gone) were just about the best band i ever saw…

  7. Torgy Says:

    Hey I remember SLOW. Christian was my girlfriend at the time’s neighbour. Also remember seeing Tankhog at the Cheese Factory at UBC. I still have a copy of the Against the Glass EP – heard they are worth something now…..

  8. johannes vankesteren jr Says:

    one of the best bands ever. bought a cassette tape when it came out when i lived in bellingham, wa. never dreamed the damn thing would be next to impossible to replace when i wore the thing out play after play……why does it seem that the best bands always seem to go with so little notoriety anyhow…..one day i will pony up the hundred bucks it seems a replacement copy will cost….one day. thanks for the blog its good to finally get to hear at least a piece of such a talented band so ahead of their time…..i thoroughly enjoyed this and have it booked so i can return…peace

  9. lee munday Says:

    i got to jamm with terry a year after the expo incident in whiterock, terry showed up wearing rubber boots and me being a total venom slayer celticfrost freak thought what the f? this guy has got to be kidding he gets on our drummer chris whatts set and totaly thrashed the shit out of whiterock… i became a total slow addict after that. the song badman still makes all the hair on my plot stand edge wize when i hear it slow r by far my fav band in the whole world i miss the old daze and the van scene with doa subhumans teenagehead ect ect against the glass is the beginning of grunge and the begining of the end of the van scene 4 ever i miss it ill pay 5000 4 slow 2 play my bday party if tom is reading this .. u changed alot of peoples lives 4 ever with your music u owe it to us to reform slow lee munday over and out

  10. art bergmann Says:

    ahem,my aficionados…it was bill bennett, but jimmy pattison saw the venomous sieg-heiling and pulled the plug…you are missing the point, losing all yr marbles on slow…tom, christian,peter and eric transformed into one of the most amazing musical collectives ever heard in the world…no one could play the magic they came up with…tom’s vocal palette expanded into a thing only comparable to Ray Davies/thom York.in love story he swoops through a falsetto better than robert smith; his poetry alone;how many words can you rhyme with squalor/dollar…kristian’s amazing voicings on his jaguar are inimitable,and underneath it all,the strangest time from peter and eric…they made three masterpieces….art bergmann is envious

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