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Interview: Peter Broadhead and Daniel Spedding of Dutch Uncles at Underage Festival

 
By on Friday, 19th August 2011 at 12:00 pm
 

Before Dutch Uncles’ set at Underage Festival (during which I mildly sprained my left foot), I separated the two guitarists (Pete and Sped) from the rest of the band and did an interview with them under the scorching sun, on the grass of Victoria Park. We talked about the past and the future, their third album and also their upcoming tour with Wild Beasts. Read on and be ready for the new Dutch Uncles sound…and some discussion on how hot London was the day of the festival…

Hello! I know it’s the first time you’ve ever played Underage Festival. What do you think of the concept of playing to youngsters?
Sped: It’s been something we’ve suggested for a while, I think since we went on tour with Bombay Bicycle Club, when we toured with them, they played a lot of 14+ shows, and the crowds were great. Cause a lot of young people who are fans of the band never get to see them play and you don’t get to see your true crowd, people like you (points to me) yeah. Because they don’t get to go to the venues where they’re over 18 cause of the policies. So to play this way, you can get to the younger crowd, you can see that you do appeal to all ages and your music’s going round. Underage’s something we wanted to play last year and the year before, and to be here this year is good. It’s nice to see that we’ve got a youthful following as well as an older following, given our influences in music.
Pete: And also playing to younger crowds is better. Music is not just to one age group, and a lot of the young crowds actually talk music better than older people do, because they are more friendly with each other and are more current. They actually enjoy it better. (Someone passed by and waved) Like that! It’s lovely!
Sped: How friendly is that!
Pete: People talk about music better when they’re younger and are more confident. If you make a good impression when they are younger, it lasts a life time. So it’s very good.

To clear some mysteries that float around, I wonder which album would you consider as your ‘first proper album’? ‘Cadenza’ (Mary’s review here) or ‘Dutch Uncles’ (the German album)?
Sped: Our first album is our self-titled album, ‘Dutch Uncles’. It was recorded and released on a German label. It was kind of imported into the UK and we didn’t tour that much. We toured more in Germany than we did in the UK, obviously, with it be released over there. But that is our first album, we have no shame in it and we could probably listen to it, and we do listen to it and think of it as a good album! We had those songs at the time, we were proud enough of them at the time to record them, the same as any other band would have been. It was a stepping stone in the right direction to record and release ‘Cadenza’, which we’re also very proud of. But yeah, our first English album is ‘Cadenza’. We’re on our third album now, so our first album is ‘Dutch Uncles’, self-titled.
Pete: We worked too hard on it not to be an album, you know.
Sped: It was our first release.
Pete: We don’t want to sweep it under the carpet, that’s our first album. And our second album, ‘Cadenza’. Third album, no title, as of yet.

Okay. If you had to choose a ‘Dutch Uncles anthem’, would you pick ‘Cadenza’ or ‘Face In’? They are quite different to one another, but yet very significant in their own rights!
Pete: They’re each to their own really, those songs. ‘Face In’ is catchier in a more pop sense, but the groove is not there, which ‘Cadenza’ has. ‘Cadenza’ is an f-ed up Talking Heads type thing. It sounds a bit like Happy Mondays, which has a Manchester vibe to it. Whereas ‘Face In’ has a big chorus, which is meant it stays as long in our set that has been a pinnacle of our set for a long time, and that song’s not gonna go anywhere, anytime soon.
Sped: ‘Face In’ was the first single which we constructed our own video and recorded it, put it out on YouTube, and it was very well-received given where we were at the time. Often when we play live, if we play to a crowd of people that they were there to see us, when we cut into ‘Face In’, it gets a big big cheer. People know it straight away, it’s instant. I think it is, and probably will remain to be, a sort of classic within our content of songs. But ‘Cadenza’ has more of the groove with the percussion and everything. I’d say ‘Face In’ is our anthem. It’s not much of an anthem, but it’s our anthem.
Pete: It’s on the same par as ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’.
Sped: It’s our ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’.

Fair enough. I’ve seen pictures of you being in the studio, recording. Can you give us a sneak peak of what’s the new material like?
Sped: [sings] La la la la…. The new material is , I thought, given the fact that we released this album, ‘Cadenza’, in April /May. This new album would sound more similar to ‘Cadenza’ than ‘Cadenza’ sounding like ‘Dutch Uncles’, the first album. However, already (we have) sort of six to eight demos in, just basic basic demos. It sounds fresh again. I’m proud of that, I think we’re the type of band that can keep progressing in the right areas and make our songs ‘you know it’s Dutch Uncles!’, but they don’t sound the same. It’s inventive, we like to be creative. And already there’s a lot of fresh stuff in there which sounds like nothing we’ve done before. Even though we’re sort of touching on like 25 songs now the public have heard, I don’t think there will be a song on the third album that will sound like a song on the first or the second album.
Pete: New songs are coming along well. We’re experimenting with different actual instruments. We’re gonna get more involved with percussion instruments, like xylophones and vibraphones. Duncan, especially, he really enjoys playing the mallet instruments.
Sped: He’s very good at it!
Pete: The true percussion (instruments), because he’s a drummer at heart.
Oh!
Pete: And he can play drums on a piano! That basically is what a true percussion is! So it has the flow of a drummer, but on a marimba. He enjoys it, which is really really good. The songs are taking a different form, we get bored easily with our sound, therefore we have to step into new territories. And we are stepping into a new territory. Custom made pedals and all that. Same producer as ‘Cadenza’, but he’s got more to work with this time. He’s here from day one and the songs are sounding good. Brendan Williams and Phil Bulleyment, producers of ‘Cadenza’, they’re there from the start, from the gun. They get to work with the songs more intimately than the last time round. So they can mould the songs and everything. Which has an impact straight away. My lord, that sun is hot! (all laugh)
Pete: It’s hot in here! Sadly we’re not playing any new songs today. (We’re) still a while off, so lots more tweaking and stuff. Expect new ones within the coming months, and they’re gonna be f-r-e-s-h! H-o-t!
Pete and Sped: H-o-t, h-o-t! They’re too hot! Too hot!

(laugh) Well okay, after summer, you’re all going on tour with Wild Beasts! Congrats. I wonder how did that come by?
Pete and Sped: (Still going on about the weather) It’s too hot!
Sped: When ‘Smother’ came out, we all got it on the first day, coincidentally, and said ‘it’s f-king really good’ and tweeted about it. I looked at the trends of Wild Beasts on Twitter and our tweet was the top tweet, it was the most well-received. We went on tour with a band called Sky Larkin, and Katie, their singer, is a Wild Beasts session player. Our booking agent submitted us and they gave us two English dates with them – Cambridge and Brighton. And also the European tour. That’s going to be f-king mint. I hear that Wild Beasts’ Tom is a fan of ‘Cadenza’. I hope the rest of them are. We’re big fans of theirs, we have been for a while. So I think that tour’s perfect for us, very fitting for them and should be really good to get out and play into cities in Europe and places we’ve never been before, and get our music out there as well. It’s gonna be good!
Pete: It’s a good tour to get on. And I’m a geographer, I want to go around these places I’ve never been. So go on another tour with an amazing band, with friends, you can’t really get much better than that!

Many thanks to Dan and Paul for helping us set this interview up.

 

Interview: Sebastian Pringle and Graham Dickson of Crystal Fighters at Underage Festival

 
By on Wednesday, 17th August 2011 at 12:00 pm
 

Not long after Crystal Fighters’ set at Underage Festival, I was able to speak briefly with Sebastian and Graham from the band. Graham was munching on a cheeseburger at the time we spoke, hence the little amount of speech he made. We focused on the ‘cover up’ concept, and read on to find out about their new material and Spanish relations.

Hi! Welcome to Underage Festival! How did you like the underage crowd?
Sebastian: It was incredible actually, it was very nice to play to this age group of people in this kind of scenario. It was wicked, they really went for it, enjoyed the show we hope. Well, they seemed to.
Graham: It was fun, haha.

One thing I find really confusing is that – two of you are actually English, why the Spanish ‘cover up’?

Sebastian: That’s true, we use the art and the general vibe from Spain because the band kinda started by a girl whose grandfather was Spanish. Because it’s part of the sub-artistic idea behind the band, we think it’s interesting, we think it looks good. It’s not ‘cover up’ per say, but I like the word. Identity is a big issue in rock music throughout time and the people thought the Rolling Stones were American and the Blue Skies couldn’t work out why they were singing blues in this way. It’s been going on in pop and rock music throughout time. We feel we’re just expanding on that idea.

I must say your Spanish accent’s really good.
Sebastian: Hahah thanks!

As a foreign traveller in London, I must admit I really enjoy listening to ‘I Love London’ while in London. My local friends have told me that there’s not much fun around Watford Junction, are you begging to differ the general views?
Sebastian: I think there’s a lot of fun in that song but it’s so ironic as well. We do love London, definitely and it feels like that in the song. But then we reference strange places, strange ideas like ‘friends’ party’, kind of nonsensical love of London. You know, maybe that’s how some foreigners see London when they come here, they’re like “I love it!” I don’t know why sometimes cause there are a lot of annoying stuff, and it takes ages to get everywhere, whatever. But there’s lots of love. So we try to sum that spirit up when we wrote that song.

I really liked the Spanish take of ‘Xtatic Truth’, are you planning to do that with your other songs in the future?
Sebastian: I think we probably won’t record different versions of the old songs, but we’re writing our second album at the moment, there might be some Spanish things on it, but we wouldn’t like to tell you exactly what they’re gonna be.
Ha, okay, so what’s the direction or sound of the new material then?
Graham: It’s difficult to put your finger exactly on it, but I think like any band, we learnt a lot from the first album, and it will be a natural progression plus some sort of spin of that you’re not aware of.
Sebastian: So another ‘cover up’ maybe!

 

Interview: Gary Barber of Is Tropical at Underage Festival

 
By on Thursday, 11th August 2011 at 12:00 pm
 

Just after Is Tropical’s amazing and dance-inspiring set at this year’s Underage Festival, I sat down with Gary Barber of the band and asked him a few questions. We talked about the story behind their debut album’s name and also the possibility of the band going naked on stage in the future. Read on to find out more about the band.

Hello! You played Field Day last year, how does it feel like to play Underage Festival this year?
It’s always cool to play to young kids cause they don’t get the chance to get to clubs and many things like that, so I think it’s important to play to people who can’t easily access to your music other than online. And seeing a band live is a completely different experience to watching them on the Internet. So yeah, it feels great. It’s a shame we didn’t play a bigger stage. Next year we’ll play a bigger stage.

I look forward to that! Let’s talk about the video for ‘The Greeks’. It has gone viral and there’s many bi-polar responses! Some say that it is poisoning the youth and inflicting violence while some say it’s the best music video ever made. How do you guys react to all these diverse responses?
(Watch the video here.)
We try not to read them. If you believe the good ones, then you’ll have to believe the bad ones as well. I say the most important thing is to do something that’s artistic and that you’re interested in, otherwise if you listen to too many people you’ll end up compromising and then you’ll be a worn down version that no one wants to listen to or see or get into your band. I think if you do stuff that is true to yourself and the band, then it’s gonna come across well. Even if it turns people off, it’s a good thing; you don’t want those people anyway, it’s fine.

Moving on to’ Native To’, regarding its title, I wonder to what one’s native?
The thing is, we wear masks and stuff and are inspired by lots of different cultures. If you look at photos from Brazil and Africa, you know, you can just access absolutely everything and communicate with loads of different people from all over the world through the Internet. I don’t know why anyone would like to be so homegrown. It’s important that you go elsewhere. That’s what we’re trying to do, the title is just a representation of being native to everywhere. The songs jump around stylistically, our intention spans grow and just shoot one thing to another. That’s it! ‘Native To’ just sums up the whole attitude we have.

That’s quite a story behind the name! The album seems to have a lot to do with the sea! ‘Seasick Mutiny’ and ‘South Pacific’ are obviously sea-related. What is all about the sea relations?
We’re brought up in a coastal town, a 100 miles south of London. Everyday I’d spend the day down the beach. It wasn’t intentional, we didn’t sit down and think “oh okay, we’ll write about the sea!: But these things are inherent in maybe our childhood and subconscious? If we write about things that interest us, I guess that’s becoming important in our lives.

Did you intentionally do that to contrast the gloomy weather in London?
The name was an escape from the way we’re living, and the songs are an escape as well. But at the same time, there are some dark subject matters on them as well as some drug references and stories about dark times. We tried to put them across in a positive way, so it doesn’t sound like a melancholy song that no one wants to listen to.

Out of the 12 tracks on ‘Native To’ (Coco’s review here), which one is your personal favourite and why?
I don’t like any of them anymore. I’ve heard them too many times. [laughs] Errm, I’d say, maybe… it’s not even on there, the B-side to ‘South Pacific’, ‘Tan Man’. It’s one of my favourites, it’s the funnest to play live.

Oh! That’s the first song I’ve heard by you guys.
Yeah, with the album we did so many mixes of it to try and get it right, you kind of become sick of it. It’s nice to give it a rest. I haven’t listened to it for ages. But with ‘Tan Man’, it’s something that we did at home, done, and then we put it out there. You forgot about it, but when we play it live, it’s got good energy and it’s kind of dirty. It’s the sort of direction I personally want to head. Quite a dirty sound. [laughs]

Just out of curiosity, why isn’t ‘When O’ When’ included in the album? It’s one of my favourite tracks of yours!
It’s nice to have a hidden gem somewhere else, isn’t it? It’s on the Japanese version, and ‘Tan Man’!

Unfair!
They have to pay money to import records, lots of money. So they always have to have an extra couple of tracks so that it’s worthwhile. It’s just fair enough. But I think it’s one of the first songs we wrote as a band, which is cool. We really like it, but that’s stood for a certain time and then we made a pop record, we really didn’t think of it suiting the pop aesthetic. We wanted to make a record where melody was key. All the songs on ‘Native To’, even if it’s an instrumental, they’re melodic. That’s like the key in front of our minds. ‘When O’ When’ just didn’t seem to fit anywhere in between them. Even if it would go on there, but for us, as a package, it wouldn’t fit. You always get this other thing we did before, which people can go ‘I really like that!’, so it’s like a little, hidden bonus.

So they have to know you guys enough to find the song!
Yeah, certainly! When I get into a band, I get into their album, and then I search and see if I can find their obscure track. You know the Coral?

Nope.
They’re a band from Liverpool. They’re amazing. They’ve got 4 amazing albums. Then you go online and you find their rare B-sides, you go “Wow! This is amazing!” They’re just as good as any album tracks you’ve heard. You’re able to explore yourself, which makes it special, as opposed to you being given it. If someone puts it in your face, you’re being obliged to like it. Whereas if you go off and search for it, it’s like your own discovery, it feels more special in a way.

I agree. I really enjoy the process of searching for different bands.
Yeah! It’s cool! I think the Libertines did that as well. They always had lots of session stuff and acoustic versions that are really badly recorded, but in this half-hour session of random noise-making, you’d hear an amazing song and go ‘Wow what’s that?’. You’ll have to search the album yourself, I think it’s interesting. We’ve got so many songs at the moment, our old songs that we’ve never recorded, which we only played on an acoustic guitar or piano. We have a dozen songs that we’ve never even got to the point of even trying to put it down. I’ve got songs that I haven’t told the others about, and they’ve got songs that they haven’t told me about. Maybe there’ll be songs in the future that, if we put it down, it’ll be someone’s favourite song. I think it’s nice.

We’re done with ‘Native To’. I bet you must be pretty sick and tired of people asking about the masks.
But if you wear them you have to expect people to ask about them, so we don’t really mind.

Ha! Can you tell us some anecdotes that have to do with the masks?
Eh, the reason why we wear them is to separate ourselves as performers. They’re a proper pain in the arse, honestly. You get really hot. On a day like today, you put a mask on, it’s just sweaty. You get little bits of material in your mouth. One time I breathed in, and the material went down my throat and I was nearly sick.

Aww.
It’s horrible.

Have you ever had any suffocations on stage then?
Nearly! One show in Brighton, we were supporting Mystery Jets, and it was really hot. I was at the point like I thought I was going to pass out. I’d been really drunk the night before so it just wasn’t good. But we had to keep it up, cause it’s cool, right?

Yeah!
Masks are cool. They’ve always been cool. They got a certain romance about them.

I do think so, they’re kind of mysterious and stuff.
They’re even older than clothes!

Really?
Yeah, like tribes back in the day, you see old drawings of tribes, they’ve got a huge wooden mask and no clothes on, but they’ve got a mask.

Do you want to try that on stage sometime?
Naked? Yeah, I’m not sure. But not at an underage gig (like this festival). We’d be arrested. [laughs]

 

Underage Festival 2011 Roundup

 
By on Wednesday, 10th August 2011 at 2:00 pm
 

Editor’s note: The press restrictions at Underage Festival disallowed anyone over the age of 17 to enter the festival grounds. Even members of the press. So it’s a good twist of fate that TGTF just happens to have a writer young enough who could cover the event for us. Take it away, Coco!

Held exclusively for youth, Underage Festival took place at Victoria Park this year like it has since it began in 2007. The day before the festival, it was raining in London. I was really worried about the weather for Underage: really, I suppose no one really wants a festival with rain? Luckily, the rain had stopped and it was sunny all day long.

I arrived at the venue 2 hours prior to the event because I signed up for some volunteer work. After that was done, the gates were open and the excited swarm of young people dashed into Victoria Park. The act that I first saw were Ghost Eyes, they played an early session, at around noon. Having listened to their tracks on their Soundcloud before seeing them, I anticipated ‘They Left’, my favourite track by them. They did play this and a couple more of songs, including their latest single ‘Phantom Mountain’. As a whole, the performance was all right, but the vocals were too soft, to the point that I could hardly hear any!

A while later, I saw Crystal Fighters at 3 PM. I couldn’t stay until the end of the set because Dutch Uncles were playing at quarter past 3 and I wanted to catch them as well. Crystal Fighters were mental. They drove everyone crazy (in a good way). Everybody in the crowd danced like as if it were three in the morning instead of 3 in the afternoon. The sun was bright but that didn’t affect the disco-like atmosphere that filled the air in the main stage. I was really glad that they played ‘I Love London’ within the time I stayed. How cool is it to listen to ‘I Love London’ being played live in London?

I then ran frantically across Victoria Park and arrived at the Artrocker stage for Dutch Uncles’ performance (pictured at top). They mainly played songs from ‘Cadenza’, their new album (Mary’s review here), and only 2 songs (‘Face In’ and ‘Doppleganger’) from their previous releases. My personal high point of their set had to be ‘The Ink’. I was really hoping that the track would get played and my wish came true! Duncan, the vocalist/pianist ended their set by saying “they’d stay around the tent” and the audience could ask them questions if they had any. How sweet!

The next band I saw played at Artrocker stage as well, so that saved me from a lot of leg movement. They were Is Tropical. I previously expressed my love for them in the review of their debut album, ‘Native To’ (read it here). So to me, seeing them live was a big, big bonus. They began their set with ‘Tan Man’, and the crowd grew bigger and bigger as they played on. I was dancing in the crowd with a lady from New York City. However, we were outdanced by two young girls who were in front of us. They went literally crazy and shook their heads as if they were on MDMA or something. I think everyone had a real good time watching Is Tropical, and the performance from the band was breathtaking. (Because we were too busy dancing? That might be the reason!)

Lastly, I saw Bombay Bicycle Club at the main stage. They headlined the festival and played the very last slot. Sad to say, I was somewhat disappointed by them. They weren’t as good as I expected them to be. The crowd enjoyed it nevertheless, and a poor girl blacked out during their set and had to be sent to hospital. I truly hope she was fine afterwards. Bombay Bicycle Club played some songs from their upcoming album as well as some good ol’ favourites.

This was my first festival experience and I loved every single millisecond of it. My thanks go to Jamie and Paul at Zeitgeist Agency who made it possible, Eat Your Own Ears and the Orange Dot for organising it and last but not least, all my friends I met up with who really made the whole day worthwhile.

Coco also chatted with Crystal Fighters, Dutch Uncles and Is Tropical at the festival…so stay tuned for those interviews coming soon on TGTF.

 

Preview: Underage Festival 2011

 
By on Thursday, 23rd June 2011 at 11:00 am
 

A festival tailor made for teenagers (more specifically, adolescents aged between 13-17), Underage Festival *is* the event of the year. With amazing line-ups year after year, 2011’s is of course once again filled with acts that I love. Firstly, there are some big names like Bombay Bicycle Club (pictured above), Brother, Crystal Fighters, Johnny Flynn, Wolf Gang and many more. Bombay Bicycle Club have announced a new album coming soon, ‘A Different Kind of Fix’; hopefully some songs off the album will be played during their set.

That’s not all: some of TGTF’s favourites are also part of the line-up, including Dutch Uncles, Frankie & The Heartstrings and Is Tropical. All the three bands have released albums this year (‘Cadenza’ [review here], ‘Hunger’ and ‘Native To’ [review here], respectively). It definitely will be an exciting experience to finally listen to the album tracks played live, if you haven’t already. There are also some relatively young acts in the line-up, ranging from girly pop (Spark) to hip-hop mixed in with electro (Ghost Eyes).. With such a diverse line-up and a vibrant audience, you can bet that this year’s Underage Festival is going to be a blast.

Note: the festival only admits festival goers that are between 13-17 years of age. Anyone outside of that age range will NOT be admitted. Tickets are £31.50 and can be purchased online from SeeTickets, Gigantic, HMV Tickets and Rough Trade Old Truman Brewery (in person). For more information visit the the official Web site.

Full line-up for Underage 2011 as of 23 June 2011 is after the cut.
Continue reading Preview: Underage Festival 2011

 

Preview: Underage Festival 2010

 
By on Thursday, 8th April 2010 at 12:00 pm
 

Remember when you were sixteen, and the super coolest indie troupe were playing at the super coolest local venue, but hey, you weren’t allowed in, no Sirey, as you, little one, were under the age of 18. Argh, the mass of frustration which followed. Why must tiny digits disallow someone from seeing brilliant music live? Well that’s exactly what Underage Festival thought. And alas, they have flicked their finger to the whole ‘Over 18 only’ cliché, and started an event which is for young ones, and young ones only!

Yes, you are only permitted through the gate of Underage Festival, which takes place in Victoria Park, London, if you are 18 and under. The festival aims to provide an awesome event for those who might not have access to the general gig laden with age restrictions. No alcohol is permitted on the site, and the website even has a section devoted to parents, but despite it’s clean cut ways, each year proves to be a completely and utterly rad party with a fantastic line up to boot.

2010 is no different. Already confirmed to be playing the gig on Sunday 1st August include M.I.A, Ellie Goulding (pcitured right), Daisy Dares You, Chapel Club, Egyptian Hip Hop, New Young Pony Club, Los Campesinos!, Lightspeed Champion, Hadouken!, General Fiasco, Stornoway and Tinchy Stryder.

Kinda cooler than the er, school concert huh?

Tickets for the event are a mere £29.50, so if you’re 18 and under and dig the sound of Underage, why not grab one now? I won’t deny it, I am quite jealous. Damn youngsters!

 
 
 

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF was edited by Mary Chang, based in Washington, DC.

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