Festival Q&A: The Darling Buds

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Late eighties alt.rockers The Darling Buds are making a special effort to get together for the Gigantic Indie All Dayer (28 May). They offer a brilliant solution to trekking between stages too.

Tell us what you’ve been up to since last summer?
Just the odd few gigs, as much as our other lives allow. Did a nice festival in Spain and played Hebden Bridge Trades Club, which was brilliant. We played Indietracks festival and an anti-austerity benefit at home in Newport as part of the We Shall Overcome weekend. Plus our 30th anniversary at Easter in London (100 Club). Quite a lot for us when you look at it.

How would you describe your sound?
Changeable! It’s what people who’ve some preconceived idea of what we sound like maybe don’t get. There are three albums out there which are all different and evolving musically, but because our profile in the UK fell off a cliff after the first album, a lot of people are stuck with that image. I like to think if we released something new it would continue the evolution. But I guess it’s always going to be rooted in guitar based indie pop-rock, but hopefully remaining age appropriate, for our advancing years.

What can we expect from you at the Gigantic Indie All-Dayer?
Since we started playing again we’ve got a good idea of what works best from the old material, so it’ll be the set that’s evolved from the last few years – all the crowd pleasers, basically. Luckily there’s nothing in the back catalogue we’re really iffy about. Well, maybe one or two. Hopefully we can work a couple of new ones into it this time as well.

Who else are you excited to see at Gigantic?
It’s great to see Bivouac playing again – they’re really good. BMX Bandits, Cud, Frank and Walters, Telescopes, who we played a lot of our early gigs with, Credit to the Nation. All the bands, it’s all good.

If you could curate your own festival what would the line-up look like with artists dead or alive?
A fantasy festival? Well, firstly I’d prefer it to be inside, as I don’t think electric guitars are meant to be taken outdoors as a rule. As for the line-up, a Buds-curated festival where we all had equal input would surprise a few people. We’d have everything from classic indie, 1960s girl groups and garage bands, punk/hardcore, reggae. We’d definitely have Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazelwood headline one night, XTC and Spacemen 3 on the others, then Cocteau Twins, Bob Marley, Minor Threat, Stooges, Roxy Music, UK Subs, Pere Ubu, The Ronettes, The Replacements, Napalm Death, Steely Dan. We’d probably ask The Beatles, even though we don’t all agree on them. It would be a superb festival, I have to say.

What’s your best festival memory?
Playing as a band, IndieDaze in London was great. It’s very well run and we loved meeting and getting to know other bands, and sharing war stories. Hopefully we’ll get to meet a few more at Gigantic. As punters, a few of us went to the first few Reading Festivals, after it stopped being Reading Rock Festival. They were pretty much as good as it gets for the likes of us, when you look at the line-ups. Lately though we’ve been regulars at Green Man, which is always fantastic, and very handily just up the road from us. Loads of great memories from there – Low were astonishing a few years ago.

What’s in your festival survival kit?
I guess you have to differentiate between indoor and outdoor, as indoor is just like a normal gig but longer, so you need to be aware that it starts really early and you’re going to be in the same building for the whole day. You need to get there early though, as some of the best and most interesting bands are sometimes the first few on. Outdoors is a different beast, and British weather plays a big part, so you need the right clothes, plus you’ll need some basic outdoor survival skills. If you haven’t the time or inclination to join the army and learn that there, just remember to make sure you know how to put your tent up, have some means of emptying your bladder in the middle of the night in your tent, and some earplugs to guard yourself from a sudden outbreak of nocturnal bongo playing. Basic advice really.

Apart from music, what should the ideal festival have?

Speciality one-dayers like Gigantic and IndieDaze and the smaller weekend outdoor festivals like Green Man have got it pretty spot on, I think, apart from some kind of yet to be invented climate control. Glastonbury needs sorting though. You spend more time walking between stages than actually watching music, so I’d introduce some form of transport infrastructure. A simple monorail network maybe?

Antonia Charlesworth

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