“Boris Johnson was once refused entry (momentarily) by our security because he was wearing a suit"
Tell us a little about the history of the bar and how long have you had involvement.
Seanan (General Manager): The bar was opened in 2008 by two brothers from Ireland, Patrick and Niall Donnelly, who both lived in London at the time and had worked together on a couple of other bar projects in and around Islington before that. I guess they saw an opportunity for a rock’n’roll bar in the area, and designed the concept with ideas of New York style irish bars and LA dive bars in mind. I myself have been involved for about a decade now, on and off, having spent some time working at a couple of other venues about 5, 6 years ago. Rock’n’roll has always been to the forefront of what we do here, from our classic jukebox on the wall, to regular vinyl DJ nights, and of course our live music on weekends. In recent years, London has seen lots of rock bars and grassroots music venues fall by the wayside, including places such as Big Red in Holloway, Intrepid Fox, and more recently, The Crobar in Soho, so apart from ourselves and a few other places such as The Black Heart and The Dev in Camden, we’re a bit of dying breed.
Mortal (Events and Promotions manager): I joined the team about 7 years ago, originally as Assistant Manager, also doing a bit of DJ'ing here and there. But soon after I moved more into promotions, events etc. and since then myself and Seanan have been very focussed on making Slim Jims one of the best small music venues in London.
What's the craziest thing you've seen in the bar?
Seanan: I’m not sure how much of it we can say without getting in trouble.
Mortal: Most of it’s probably illegal.
Seanan: I mean, a lot of ladies have mysteriously lost their undergarments at the bar over the years, which of course, we’ve looked after carefully for them and hung them from the ceiling, just to keep them safe!
Mortal: There was one night we had the power go down, the tills wouldn't work, the bar was busy and the staff were very stressed. People were still ordering drinks, shots, beers, whatever, and we couldn't use the tills to take payments. A customer at the bar recognised that we were all stressed, and offered to buy a round of shots for everyone at the bar. So we told him he might as well just buy a couple of bottles of Jack Daniels, he said fine, but with one condition, someone had to get on the bar and shout that the shots were a gift from a member of the Norwegian Royal family! But he didn’t want to be identified himself.
Seanan: There was that time we caught a couple having s*x by the back door. They were only behind a pane of glass, so most people in the bar could see these two dark silhouettes, clearly going at it. We had to interrupt them eventually, and then we christened that space the “S*x Booth” from then on.
Have you had anybody famous perform or visit the bar?
Seanan: Boris Johnson was once refused entry (momentarily) by our security because he was wearing a suit. I think he was Mayor of London at the time. That was pretty funny tbh. We used to be quite strict with our no suits/no office wear policy, but less so these days.
We’ve also had plenty of musicians and actors in, over the years, I think half the cast of Games of Thrones have been in at one time or another, and I know Rupert Grint is a fan.
Who would be your dream act to have performed at Slim Jim's?
Mortal: I once actually dreamt that David Gilmour played at Slims, but I guess if I had to choose right now, it would have to be Black Rebel Motorcycle Club or Metallica
Seanan: We could never fit Lars’ drum kit on our wee stage!
Mortal: Ok then, BRMC it is!
Seanan: I reckon I would have to go with Faith No More, they’ve been one of my favourite bands since I was a kid, and having seen them live a few times, they always put on an amazing show. They would leave this place in absolute ruins.
What are your visions for Slim Jim's going forward?
Seanan: Getting back to where we were before the pandemic, is first and foremost. Thats going to be challenging in itself.
Mortal: I hope that some of the local bands and artists that we've put on here over the years become successful, playing in large venues and arenas, and invite us back to the VIP areas backstage, finally get the payback we deserve. Rubbing shoulders with other important people. Haha.
Seanan: Maybe, one day, we’ll see a Slim Jim’s in every major city in world!
Tell us something about your personal or professional life that will blow our minds.
Seanan: My life was very different before I got in to bars and venues, tbh. I worked as an Aerodynamics Engineer for the best part of a decade, brielfy working for the Red Bull Formula One team. That was fairly different to running a rock’n’roll bar and putting on live gigs.
Mortal: Well, Courtney Love came once to the bar and fell in love with me so bad she even proposed.
Seanan: Yeah, right,
Mortal: Haha, yeah, that's a big lie. Well, I remember my first arena gig, Guns N Roses, when I was 14. Everything that day blew my mind, like the massive stage, the sound system, the lights, the big crowd, and of course the killer show. Imagine being that age and being in a place like that. I remember I was shocked for weeks.
More images below from Danny Woodstock Photographer