SXSW 2016 | 2015
| 2013 | 2012 | Live at Leeds 2016 | 2015 | 2014
Sound City 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | Great Escape 2015 | 2013 | 2012
Don't forget to like There Goes the Fear on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!
“A lot of people have preconceived ideas of who I am as a person and who I am a a performer, because of my history. I’m really enjoying wiping that slate clean. It’s been a lot of fun.” Frank Carter’s career started back in 2005 with Gallows, who released their debut album ‘Orchestra of Wolves’ to critical acclaim. After parting ways with Gallows due to creative differences, he then proceeded to form a band called Pure Love. It was when Pure Love went on an indefinite hiatus that he found himself in the unknown.
However, a third incarnation of his career, Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes, is where Carter firmly believes he has finally found his home. When talking to Frank Carter, you can tell he is a man who is determined to be the best at what he does and who is also going to have a great time doing it. “For us, it’s just all about going out and just having fun with it because ultimately, if we’re having fun, it doesn’t really matter what people think, as long as we’ve had a great show, because we’re the ones that have to do this every day. You’ve just got to go and have fun and play every show like you might not get to play the next one”.
This is the key aspect to anything Carter touches. It’s him doing what he needs to, and he’s finally found the band to back him up. “I just set out to write songs and play them the best I could. I’ve definitely resonated with people over the years. Now I’m in a position where I’ve got the right band to capture new fans and pay respect to my old fans so they don’t feel like I’ve abandoned them. They’ve watched me grow up and they’ve grown up along with me. They’re different people than what they were, like I am now. Now it’s a lot to do with respect. I know where I’ve come from, and I’m not trying to run away from that.”
Touching more upon his personal journey, Carter discusses his performance evolution, an always integral part to any artist’s craft. “I’ve always been quite a scrappy performer, I’m a professional scrappy performer. I’ve found a way now to manipulate all the best parts of that and embrace the parts that I was missing. I never ran songs through into other songs, I used to talk for way too long, which slows the flow of the show down. Now we have a few where it’s just bang bang bang, which gives people a big burst of music that they’re not really ready for. That means I can then talk for ages about some bullshit. I feel that’s what I’m learning, how to control the madness a bit better, more so than I have before. I’ve always been good at that, but it can run away with you, like really easily, and so now I’m trying to tighten the leash a little bit.”
Of course, it’s not all been smooth sailing for Carter throughout this process. He talks about his journey to this point with a deep reflectiveness. “I’ve had a troubled relationship with music and my career, but now I feel like I finally understand what I’m supposed to be doing, where I should be. I feel good as a performer for the first time in my life, which is not something to be scoffed at. I’ve found who I am.” Going further into this self-learning, he continues, “I’ve had a heavy couple of weeks of deconstructing the idea of me that people have. A lot of people have sort of been like, ‘Who are you?’ or ‘We don’t know you!’, and I’m now saying to them, ‘I am myself’. It feels good finally to be this and I feel like I’ve been looking for a long time. I’ve finally gotten there, so I’m in really good place.” The future is certainly going to be strong for Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes. With a UK tour coming up at the tail end of the year and a second album in January, they’re continuously working hard, as Carter puts it, “to try and show the world that we’re an important band”.
He also opens up into the current state of the music industry and what it means for newer bands to reinforce his previous point. “Genres and cliques have fallen away. Anybody can listen to anything, which is a great thing, but it also means you open your competition up to the entire spectrum of music. You have to form an act on a level that can compete with all those genres and bands and styles. So that’s kind of what we’re doing at the minute, trying to just find our place in music.”
Since we’re talking to Carter at LeeFest 2016, it would be rude not to discuss festivals in some format, and festivals are where The Rattlesnakes are apparently most at home. “Everyone wants to have a good time when they’re at a festival, it’s normally your chance to escape reality for a little bit. We being a band that want to kind of abuse that in people, we relish it. Festivals are kind of our thing, we just like having a good time. We’ve had a really good summer, so I’m excited about what this band can be in the future at festivals. For us, I’ll always take a festival over a small show because you just get to play to more people and have a great time.” The strength with The Rattlesnakes is Carter’s approach to every gig. “We don’t really try, we just do. We just go out and play the same sort of show be it 7,000 people or 10 people, we just keep doing our thing.”
To check out where you might catch Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes live next, visit their official Web site. nearly half of their UK tour dates in November are already sold out, so be quick to snap up tickets to the remaining dates if you’re keen on seeing them.
In case you missed last year’s launch of Beats 1 Radio, Zane Lowe’s new home after leaving BBC Radio 1, he had the choice of the entirety of recorded music to kick off these new airwaves. The track he chose, Spring King‘s ‘City’, was not only a surprise to us early listeners, but it was also an unregistered shock to Tarek Musa, Spring King’s drummer and vocalist (pictured second from right in the photo at top). “I was in my boxer shorts playing drums and a journalist from London texted me saying congratulations. I was like, ‘What for?’ I didn’t know what he was on about and he just went, ‘Go online’. I instantly got it, and I couldn’t believe it, it was fucking insane.” As Musa remembers this moment that will surely never be forgotten in the Spring King story, you can still see the amazement and disbelief in this face.
Speaking to TGTF at LeeFest 2016 where the band played a triumphant set, Musa continues recalling this joyous memory. “I guess the Beats 1 thing was like a massive booster. Just before it we went to SXSW  which was quite a big thing for us, and after that Courtney Barnett asked us to support her on her UK tour. The Beats 1 thing was the catalyst on top of the Courtney Barnett and SXSW pieces. It was so cool, that was one of the most crazy experiences of my life. It wasn’t like a PR thing or anything, we had no idea. I just got really drunk for 3 days to celebrate. It was fucking insane, those few days were filled with the idea of what could happen.”
The first change they found was probably the most obvious, as Musa explains. “I think what that did for us primarily was get us a bit of label attention. We had labels who were already interested but a lot of bigger labels sparked interest. More importantly, though, we had so many more people listening to ‘City’, and then listening to Spring King. So many young people commenting on YouTube being all ‘oh, I was brought here by Beats 1!’ etc., that was really insane. That was when our fanbase really began to grow, and that’s what it’s about, playing to loads of people.”
With all this newfound publicity and a fanbase that gained in numbers almost within the space of a 3 and a half minute track, the next obvious move was the debut album, though Musa says it wasn’t actually in the pipeline straight away. “We didn’t start writing the album ’til September because we just came off a tour and went straight into the studio but then went on tour with Slaves and Spector. We had 3 weeks to do the album in the month of September, it wasn’t really planned.”
Going further into this time period, Musa recalls enthusiastically, “I had all these demos and I was like, ‘We’re gonna record these in the studio’ and we had this massive plan of these songs, but when we got there, and we’d never been in a recording studio in our lives as Spring King, it was like, ‘Whoa, there’s a keyboard there and a couple of guitars there, let’s try them all out!’ and then all of a sudden we had all these new sounds. Then we started writing songs in the studio, so we went in with 15 songs we were adamant were going to be on the album and then we wrote 5 new ones while there. It was just such an inspiring place.”
The normal Spring King writing process had reached a bit of a impasse, which fortunately led to this studio time. “We write all our stuff normally in my house, an old lady used to live there in an annex, so we used to record everything there. We had this album planned and we had it planned in for like, late August, nearly set, and then my brother decided to move back in with his baby so we couldn’t record in the house. So we were like, ‘We need to get a studio but we can’t afford this’. Luckily at the same time, the PRS for Music Foundation emailed us and told us our application had been accepted for a grant. It was the perfect time.”
It can’t be denied that Spring King’s current success is a mixture of both hard work and sheer luck. From being the first broadcasted piece of music on a worldwide internet radio station to a funding grant for studio time, they always appear to land on their feet. Musa knows that they need to keep the traction going while it’s still here, over a year after the jettison into the mainstream. “I think the next steps for us is just touring more and thinking about album two. We’ll maybe drop that in about a year or so, but mainly just loads of touring. I think for us, people think ‘Oh, you are doing really well’, but when you’re in the van you don’t really feel that, you just go to shows and play. It might be to more and more people, but that’s all you think about.”
TGTF’s previous coverage of Spring King, including their aforementioned appearances at SXSW 2015 and a review of their debut album ‘Tell Me If You Like To’, is gathered right back here. Check out their new single ‘Detroit’ just below; they’ll be all over the place in the UK on tour in October.
Up-and-coming American songwriter Julien Baker is currently in the midst of an extensive North American tour, and I was disappointed that I had to miss her last week when she played here in Tucson. But I’ve been consoling myself with her lovely live cover of an old favourite track of mine, Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Badlands’. Performed backstage at the Newport Folk Festival for the Children’s Cancer Association charity program MyMusicRx, Baker’s solo acoustic version cuts right to the heart of the song, emphasising its message of hope and perseverance, even through the most difficult times. To see how you can get involved, visit the CCA’s JoyRX page through this link.
Baker’s debut LP ‘Sprained Ankle’ came out last year via 6131 Records, and the Memphis, Tennessee native has slowly but surely made a name for herself by playing it exhaustively on the live circuit. TGTF’s own writer Adam was quite impressed with Baker’s performance at This Must Be the Place in Leeds earlier this year; you can read his enthusiastic live review here.
Oscar Scheller, or just Oscar as he’s known professionally, is a fast upcoming pop darling, with tunes that consist of melody and a rough indie edge, whilst his baritone delivers a quaintly simplistic yet deeply emotive carry. Talking to Oscar about anything, you find the same kind of thoughtfulness that’s present in his music. Our interview at LeeFest 2016, which took place in a catering tent backstage, was no different.
“I think its nice playing smaller festivals because you do get the focus. People are genuinely there to enjoy everything, and they have the time to do that”, Oscar explains about the differences between the larger and smaller festivals that our country has on offer. “Like Glastonbury, it’s kind of hard to enjoy anything because you’re just worried about how long it’s going to take you to get from side to the other, it can feel like a whole day.”
It was a few weeks prior that Oscar had played Latitude Festival in Suffolk, which is where he felt his first real movement up the musical ladder. “Latitude was the first time that people stayed to like, meet me afterwards. There was at least like 40 people, we were doing selfies and selling t-shirts. Every show is going better and better. People are singing along to the words now and there’s real, sort of like, fan activity.”
His fondness for this moment is found in his description of the Suffolk getaway, “I really like small festivals, but I think Latitude is genuinely my favourite festival. For me, it’s like if I was still at school it’s one I would go to. It was amazing”. He appreciates that the difference between a festival and a gig can be quite a challenge, but it’s something he relishes. “The other thing about festivals is it’s different to a gig, because a gig people are coming to see you. They’re going to be into it. Whereas festivals, you have no idea who’s watching or what they’re into, so you really have to try and make that connection.”
Oscar’s fanbase has been steadily growing since the release of his debut album ‘Cut and Paste’, but he’s not one to sit back and hope things fall into place. He has ideas and wants to reach you all with them. “We’ve got headline tours in September and October in UK and the European festival circuit up until the end of the year, so the real emphasis is on that. I am writing and recording demos for the next record, I mean, I have so much left over.”
Oscar is somewhat of a creative factory, he explains. “I’m always making stuff, whether it’s album worthy or not. Which is good in a way, because it means I can just pick the best songs. I’m not in a rush.” This certainly means that he’ll have no issue with the follow up to ‘Cut and Paste’, though the second album is normally where people come unstuck (no pun intended). “I think half the problem with that is people can’t write on the road, or they don’t have the means to do it, [or] that’s not how they work, but I can actually write wherever. I could write in here, back of a bus, a melody could come at any time or anywhere. It’s just getting them down.”
With such a free-flowing process, he’s aware that he needs to remain focused upon the smaller goals, although he does have the larger ones in the back of his mind, “I do have massive ambitions. I guess one of them is to eventually cross over to commercial attention. That would be one of them, and write for other people, big people, do top lines for big artists, I’d love that. Yeah, just kind of keep building it”. This isn’t necessarily a modern way of thinking in this fast-paced society, as he fully well knows. “It is an old school method that I’m taking. It’s not hard or fast, it’s slow and steady. I think it will hopefully be a much richer and deeper pathway to wherever I want to go, rather than like just having it thrown at me.”
Speaking with brutal honesty, he continues into talking about the more traditional idea of success in music. “You know all these bands that get signed to major labels, they all get dropped within six months. About 90% of people who get signed to major labels don’t make it, you don’t even hear of them. That very rare 10%, those are the ones you hear about, so in a way I think it’s good that I am where I am now. If a major label wants to sign you and you haven’t got anything going, that’s really dangerous. They own you. I think it’s pretty scary. I think a lot of artists are quite naive about that.
“Signing to a label is the easiest part of the artistic process. Everything that comes after that, that’s the challenge. People say ‘I want to get signed!’ The only thing it changes is maybe you have a bit of money, and resources, just like going to university. You may have access to things you wouldn’t normally. Apart from that, your artistry doesn’t change, [and] hopefully your mentality doesn’t either. Other artists, if they meet me or whatever, or friends who aren’t signed, I say, ‘you don’t need a label’. I was lucky enough to have a really great label interested in me, they have love for it. It’s not just a business. Of course there is that aspect to it, because they have to survive, but it’s a labour of love.”
Even if such successes are sought after by the masses of budding artists and bands, they should all heed Oscar’s advice: “I think you have to hone your craft, and if that’s making things in your bedroom and breaking through that way and kind of getting natural attention like that, I mean, everyone has their own method of doing it and there’s no single way of getting through. You just have to do what’s true to you and try not to worry about it too much”.
TGTF’s full previous coverage of Oscar, including his appearance at SXSW 2016 earlier this year, is right back this way.
When you think of Neverland, you consider the following synonymous: timelessness, youthful vigour and a certain transcendence. In the middle of a forest in Kent, near Edenbridge, Neverland became a reality through the help of Lee and his homegrown festival Leefest 2016. Though the weather was not quite ideal upon first landing, it was far from an issue. The moment you wandered into the main arena, it was clear the only thing that would stop a good time being had would be those adult thoughts that should’ve been, at this point, relegated to the outside world. Neverland’s sole purpose over these 3 days was to be a vehicle for your removal from society and instead to provide you a good time.
Split into three main sections, The Neverwoods (main arena), Mermaids Lagoon (rave central) and Skull Ridge (rock city), you were never far from some form of entertainment. The introductory day, Thursday, saw the smallest of the lineup but definitely the strongest. With only Tootles Circus, your average festival tent, operating as a stage, all four acts were nice and accessible. Peluche and Loyle Carner eased the gaining crowd in, but it was the main attractions of Everything Everything and Ghostpoet (pictured at top) who garnered in the big numbers. With Everything Everything, they perfectly stoked the crowd’s fire and brought their unique blend of rapturous choruses and genre bending music. Conversely, Ghostpoet gave the tent a dark atmosphere with his blend of hip-hop-cum-rock-assault.
Friday brought forth the first full day affair, with Peluche once again kicking proceedings off, but this time on the main stage, aka the ‘Bangerang’ stage. The overall setup of the main arena was easily navigated but with the two stages being centrally located, sound spill was inevitable. Fortunately this didn’t happen frequently, though it’s a dangerous game to play. Highlights from the second day included Corey Fox-Fardell and his brand of songwriter electro melding, which was a particularly pleasant listen whilst grazing in front of the Bangerang stage. Little Simz proved why she is one to watch in the UK hip-hop game, leading the enthusiastic crowd through numerous chants as she dominated the beats surrounding her. In a similar fashion, Roots Manuva brought domineering and commanding beats that just reinforced the entire notion behind LeeFest: you can be who you want, and listen to what you want, as long as you have a good time. Rockers, hip-hoppers and the like were all moving and shaking to the sounds that flowed from the Bangerang stage.
Current London-based pop troubadour Oscar provided his blend of melodic darling instrumentation and baritone vocals. One thing’s for sure, you can’t not have a good time at an Oscar show, no matter the crowd size or venue. Dinosaur Pile-Up sat on top of the kingdom of chaos and noise after a headlining set at the Hook Rock stage in the Skull Ridge. It’s was a venue reminiscent of small clubs, where the noise cascades from all orifices and you’re able to lose yourself in the darkness amongst your other perspiring peers. Barrelling through their grunge/punk hybrid hits, the volume was overbearing at the front. We recommend you watch from a safe distance if you’re stupid enough to forget ear protection (a particular note to self).
The final day started off in stereotypical British style, with grey clouds and intermittent rain, but this didn’t affect the atmosphere. Hannah Lou Clark was a particular highlight: sans band, she used both her pure talents and an iPod to create a wonderfully relaxed and charming environment. Everybody’s favourite indie twosome We Are Scientists provided a particularly raucous set that included singer Keith Murray venturing deep into the crowd during ‘Textbook’, where he proceeded to enlist the help of a particularly fluorescent orange Poseidon who was amongst the crowd. Following these shenanigans was current electro-indie darling Shura, having released her debut album ‘Nothing’s Real’ in July. Delivering a captivating set that never failed to both strike you emotively and melodically, the biggest draw of Shura live is the fact she is clearly there because of the sheer love and devotion for her art. She knows what she likes to dance to and fortunately, we do too.
Originally announced to take place on the Thursday, after a mishap with the programs and the cat being let out of the bag early, the not-so-secret secret set from Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes Saturday evening was the perfect climax to this weekend of escapism and release. The pure fury that comes with any Frank Carter show is cathartic enough to make sure you leave with a weightlessness, one that can only be achieved by taking part in both a circle pit and storming the stage, two things this fortunate writer was seen doing.
After all is said and done, the aforementioned sole purpose of LeeFest was achieved. With pirates and lost boys running around shooting each other with water pistols and climbing aboard the decorative dens around the stages, it was impossible to not get lost in the affair. A festival that catered to both families and those of all ages looking to simply cut loose, the promise this event holds is even grander than its current fasthon. Considering this was Leefest’s largest year yet, the sky’s the limit. And with the lead lost boy at the helm, LeeFest could very well be a major player for years to come.
Go here to start at the beginning of Martin’s review of Deer Shed 2016.
I mentioned in my Deer Shed preview that this year there were a notable number of female performers, and Anna Calvi‘s set completed my Saturday triumvirate. Hers is an intense sound: led by dominating Telecaster work and architectural voice, Calvi is a true guitar hero to both girls and boys alike. Speaking of which, Richard Hawley can play a note or two as well. His was a proper headlining performance, bringing out one vintage guitar after another: Gibson ES-335, gold top Les Paul with Bigsby and a stunning, enormous green Gretsch. This was near enough the perfect headlining performance, reminiscent of Johnny Marr‘s similarly triumphant show a couple of years before. Hawley has meandered through a number of styles over his long solo career, including pastoral acoustica, but tonight he was doing what he’s best at: being a guitar hero. It’s easy to forget that before becoming a frontman Hawley was primarily a guitarist, and all his impressive chops were on display tonight. His songs are epic, powerful things, dominated by his sublime guitar work, and solos that take one on a journey into the cosmos. As the centrepiece of the festival, there couldn’t have been a better choice.
As for the kids, they had an absolute blast. The science tent was where it was at for the 4-and-a-half year old, making a flying buggy from some plastic Meccano, learning how to plant seeds, making his own pin badge, and – a better father-and-son activity it’s difficult to imagine – ripping apart the innards of a defunct laser printer with side-cutters and pliers. “This is a circuit board, those are capacitors… now destroy it with tools!” The theme this year was movies, so there were plenty of themed activities for the older ones to have a crack at, including making your own film set from a cardboard box and lolly sticks, and being tutored on how to make Gromit out of plasticine by Aardman Animations themselves. The activities are too numerous to list here, as the list of delights goes on and on. The mechanoid that filled its wader boots with air and let it out through a car horn was a particular hit. A new addition for 2016 was the sports field in front of Baldersby’s manor house: something for everyone, including proper football, a brilliant slacklining course, various yoga and keep-fit activities and a dedicated skate park. Yes, a dedicated skate park. Is there anything they haven’t thought of?
The beauty of Deer Shed is that, even though some of the kids activities are familiar year-on-year, as one’s kids grow up, they prefer to do different stuff every time. The festival grows up with the kids, an annual treat that they wouldn’t miss for the world. And Deer Shed did seem to grow up this year – there were more random sideshows and “happenings” than ever before. The Leeds Brass Band were a particular highlight, marching through the arena with gusto, occasionally stopping for a quick blast of ‘Sweet Dreams Are Made Of This’, as an impromptu, grooving crowd gathered underneath the sunny skies.
On Sunday, Beth Orton was unlucky enough to play the only rain-sodden set of the day, the damp conditions hampering what would otherwise have been a collection of wonderfully chilled-out songs, ranging from 20-year-old classics to new ones from her latest release ‘Kidsticks’. But really, Sunday belonged to the final performance of the entire festival from Holy Moly and the Crackers. As befits a closing set, theirs was a raucous, whisky-sodden blast through their sea shanty-inspired gypsy-folk tunes, frontman Conrad the perfect mischievous ringleader. The tent was jumping from the first moment to the last, their expanded band thrashing out a cacophony of off-beat rhythms and trombone blasts. Wherever there’s Holy Moly, a party can’t be far away. And that was it. Ears ringing, we set off to collapse a damp tent, with perhaps one or two tear-dampened eyes to go along with it.
Well done, Deer Shed. I was a bit harsh about 2015, but this year was the best yet, by a considerable margin. The music policy, always good, got the headliners right (big indie band Friday, a proper legend Saturday), and the undercard was a delight to behold. There’s loads I haven’t mentioned, including the eclectic Big Top lineup, as well as some excellent comedy, but, as they say, there’s not the space to tell it all. All I can add is, if you’ve got kids and you love music, come to Deer Shed and find out what goes on there – I challenge you not to be surprised and delighted. Or else I’ll come round to your house and do the washing up for a year. In 2016, Deer Shed Festival was back. With a capital bang.