Back in December 2022, the duo comprising Laurie Vincent and Isaac Holman – who were formerly known as Slaves – confirmed their long-awaited return to music and announced their new name.
‘Punk’s Dead’ sees the pair addressing the discourse around the decision to update their name as they channel faux-outrage on the rambunctious new track.
It also features a cast of family and friends in the bridge along with an unlikely guest feature from Robbie Williams, who sings: “I love you but I disagree / this is bullshit / and I just wanted you to know / snowflake, snowflake / cherries on the woke cake / but I’ll still see you at your show.”
Speaking to Jack Saunders on BBC Radio 1, Soft Play said that Williams was a fan of the band and wanted to collaborate in some way.
Listen to ‘Punk’s Dead’ below.
Alongside the new single announcement, Soft Play have confirmed that they will also be joining the bill at Reading & Leeds festival this year, following their recent return to the live circuit with a show at Tunbridge Wells Forum and headline slot at 2000 Trees Festival.
The duo will be performing on the Festival Republic Stage at Reading on August 26 and Leeds on August 27. They will also be supporting The Prodigy on tour this autumn.
Around the release of their debut album ‘Are You Satisfied?’ in 2015, the band drew criticism for its name as some described it as racially insensitive. The pair previously defended the moniker to NME, with Vincent saying: “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.”
However, last year the duo said they no longer felt aligned with their previous name. “When we called our band Slaves, it was intended solely as a reference to the grind of day to day life,” they wrote in an Instagram post.
“As younger men, we responded to criticism of the name from a place of fear and defensiveness. Feeling backed into a corner, our own pride caused us to fight for a name we weren’t even sure we wanted anymore. It felt at times as if our band name had defined us and we were scared of what might happen if we changed it.”
They continued that they recognised their “original intent doesn’t change the fact that the name Slaves is an issue”.
“In this day and age we believe it is very important that people change and make improvements no matter how far down the line they are. The name doesn’t represent who we are as people or what our music stands for any longer. We want to sincerely apologise to anyone we’ve offended.”
Find Soft Play’s full schedule of 2023 live dates below.
Soft Play’s 2023 dates are:
25 – Forest Row, Sussex, Hop Yard
26 – Reading, UK, Reading Festival
27 – Leeds, UK, Leeds Festival
16 – Glasgow, OVO Hydro*
17 – Manchester, AO Arena*
18 – Leeds, First Direct Arena*
20 – November, Brighton, Brighton Centre*
21 – November, Cardiff, Motorpoint Arena*
23 – November, Birmingham, Utilita Arena*
24 – November, London, Alexandra Palace*
25 – November, London, Alexandra Palace*
*with The Prodigy
“This is what mental illness can look like,” Holman wrote alongside a picture of him smiling during a live gig. “At this point in my life I was so unwell I couldn’t be without my parents. I used to get taken to gigs by them and cry in the car and say I couldn’t do it.
“Then I’d get on stage and smash it and no one would have a clue. You never know what’s going on in someone’s head.” He concluded it: “Approach with kindness always.”