It’s finally time for this year’s Reading & Leeds: the last major event of summer, after which we’re straight ahead til Christmas (sorry, Scrooges).
With a bill packed to the brim with both longtime faves like The 1975 and Twenty One Pilots, and must-see newcomers like Billie Eilish and Clairo, the only hard part is not missing anything.
Ahead of their sets on the Festival Republic Stage – and their, erm, just-finished annual trip to Margate – Alex Rice from Sports Team offers up a few teasers for this year’s event.
Hello Alex! How are you doing?
Very well, thanks. We’re trying to slip in some album recording between festivals at the moment. The heads upstairs promised we’d be doing it on Santorini. We’re in Wood Green which has left me with a real sense of betrayal, but it’s alright. I like the Spouts Corner.
Have you enjoyed 2019 so far? What’ve been your highlights?
The first headline tour was special, you’ve always got that apprehension about whether anyone will turn up, but it all sold out. Those London shows too just take on a life of their own. We’ve done our first US tour, that was great. Really all of it though, literally everything about being in a band is good. Just go round the world with your mates, and people adore you for it. Well worth forming.
You guys have played a lot of festivals this summer already – any particular faves? Any disasters?
Yeah, everything in the Benelux, Best Kept Secret, Rock Werchter. We’re like gods to them there. ‘Steen goden’ is what they say.
Holland is starting to feel a bit like home though, we see a slightly ridiculous amount of Pip Blom now, and we’ve put out a special band we met in Amsterdam, Personal Trainer, on our label Holm Front. Oli is looking to rent a houseboat in Leiden I think.
What was the last festival you went to as a music fan, not because you were playing?
We go to a lot, quite quickly you realise the people you’ve spent your summer with are just other bands. You go and see your mates when they play.
I was at Citadel last weekend, hugged a lot of people watching England win the World Cup, really special. They’ve got to sort the sound at these London festivals though.
Al was at Manchester International watching Working Men’s Club, sounded loud. Lots better.
How would you rate your camping skills out of ten?
Pretty highly actually, we’ve camped at most of the ones we’ve played. Al brings down these big barrel drums of overnight oats, and Henry lets you use his tent to store kindling and stuff. Quite civil.
The most beautiful site was probably Best Kept Secret by the lake. Some of the stronger swimmers could cross the lake, crawl through reeds and emerge in a gated water park. Hours of fun and at a fair price.
Who are you most looking forward to seeing at Reading & Leeds this year?
Anderson Paak. He’s clashing with us, and is, by all accounts a staggering talent.
Which of the headliners is your fave?
1975 are brilliant. I love the ambition of that band.
Who would you like to see top the bill in 2020?
Black midi should’ve been doing it this year tbh. Maybe a challenging three-hour marathon in 2020 is the one though.
I also can’t believe AC/DC don’t get a look in at a few of these.
Do you have anything special planned for your set, like new material or a flashy stage set up? Do you have it all worked out yet?
We never want to get complacent about just standing on stage and playing guitars. We’ll always think about the staging, outfits, what else we can do for the crowd when it’s a big show.
Guitar music needs gigs to be big, lie to loved ones to be there, style events, if it’s going to be really relevant again. I think ours are.
What else have you got coming up this year?
We’ve just announced our second annual trip to Margate. We’ve got a double-decker return bus rented from London and are going to build guitar heaven on the beach there. Two secret headliners and DJs from Wolf Alice, Whenyoung, Ladybird and Ugly. Dork came along last year; it really will be quite troubling the whole thing.
That’s an odd highlight to pick out though; we’re recording the album, touring again, definitely abroad, have two really big shows to announce, we’re supporting Pale Waves soon, wow. Ben has a gold tooth before the year is out, I reckon.
Taken from the September issue of Dork. Reading & Leeds takes place from 23rd-25th August.