Bearded Theory headliners Athlete talk exclusively to eFestivals

Athlete's Stephen Roberts talks festivals

published: Mon 21st Mar 2011


Friday 13th to Sunday 15th May 2011
Kedleston Hall Park, Derby, Derbyshire, DE22 5JH, England MAP
£70 for a weekend ticket / 12-16s £34 / 5-12 weekend £24 / under 5s free
daily capacity: 1500
last updated: Wed 25th May 2011

Stephen Roberts, drummer with Athlete who headline the Friday night at the family friendly Bearded Theory spoke to eFestivals about their headlining appearance.

You're headlining Bearded Theory have you been before?
No, and I don't know too much about it to be honest.

It's the festival where everyone wears beards, and it got hit by a tornado...
Oh really, at a festival, oh wow. It would be very unlucky to come to the festival and have that happen twice.

Have you got any other festival appearances on the cards?
I don't think we have at the moment. We did a few festivals last year and didn't have any plans to do any this year. We we're taking some time out, and from playing live, but this one came up at a time when we can all do it, so, this one is going to be a bit of a reunion for all of us really. That's despite the fact that we live around the corner from each other, and see each other quite a lot anyway. It will be nice to get out, do something, and blow the cobwebs out.

I first saw you at Glastonbury in 2003, do you remember that?
I do, yeah. That was the first time we played it. We've done Glastonbury a couple of times, and they've always been on the other stage during the afternoon, and it's always been amazing. Glastonbury is so legendary, and we've always had a really good time there.

You may have guessed this interview is going to be festival themed, what's your favourite festival memory?
My musical one, is I remember seeing Radiohead at Glastonbury, and I remember them doing 'No Surprises' and it was just complete silence around me, and another one is seeing Brian Wilson when he was touring the 'Pet Sounds' album, and that was a Glastonbury as well. It had been raining all weekend and the sun came out, kind of just as he stepped on stage, and there were quite a few people there who had bought surf boards, and they surfed over the whole crowd. There were 60,000 people passing these surfboards overhead. That was really special for me because I grew up listening to the Beach Boys, and that was great.

What was the first festival that you attended?
I'm not entirely sure, I didn't really go to many festivals when I was growing up. I went to a couple I suppose. I remember that one of the really exciting things about signing a record deal, and then starting to tour as a band, ten years ago, when our first singles were coming out, we were suddenly getting loads of guest passes to festivals, and playing festivals, and having not been to a huge amount of festivals growing up, suddenly spending the summer going to, what felt like, every festival in Europe, and seeing this whole crazy world, and it felt like a travelling circus. When you went backstage the bands that were touring at the time were quite often the same bands at the same festivals.

Athlete would be playing in, say, Scotland at T in the Park one day, and in the dressing room next to us would be Elbow, and then the next day we would make our way to Germany, and then we'd arrive there after a long journey on the tour bus, and we'd go the dressing room, and the guys from Elbow would be next door. So, it was realising the festival scene, and the musicians travelling between those festivals, and the whole community spirit. As you left you'd be saying see you in a couple of days, and then bump into certain bands, and carry on the conversation from the day before.

Do you enjoy festivals because there's some bands that don't particularly?
Yes, it's a completely different thing from doing your own gig, you just get thrown onto the stage without a sound check and you just have to make the most of it. I think there's nothing better, because you don't know what crowd you're going to be playing to, it depends on who else is on at that time. But, to suddenly get on stage and play in front of a crowd that has been waiting for you, and they know the words to the songs, and really don't know what to expect. That's brilliant.

When you're at a festival do you get a chance to get out and about, or do you remain backstage?
I always make a point of getting out and about, it's a great way to see lots of bands, and lots of new bands as well.

Have you ever been to one and camped for the whole weekend?
Yes, the times that we're dong Glastonbury we've always made a weekend of it, you get to see so much, and so much different stuff. We always take the tent, put it up on day one, and you may have to wait a day and a half before you've done you gig, and then you can let your hair down for the rest of the time.

Will you be making a weekend of it when you play Bearded Theory?
I think it's more in and out that time. We'll get over there, be there for that day, play, and then we'll be heading home the day after.

For those going to festivals to stay over for the first time what advice would you give to them?
Don't go too mental on day one, otherwise you'll wake up at 9 o'clock the next night and realise you've missed everything that was on during the day.

Has that happened to you?
I think it's happened to everyone, hasn't it? I went with a friend of mine once to Glastonbury, it was Friday night and her boyfriend had to carry her to her tent at about 5 o'clock in the evening and she didn't get up until about the same time the next day. She looked very sheepish for the rest of the weekend.

But, yeah... wet wipes are always an essential for the weekend. And don't think that willies aren't cool, because if you've got a foot of mud to walk through all day then you'll be dying for them. That's my tips.

If you were putting on a festival who would you want to play there?
I think I would probably go for a really mixed bill, and have Radiohead headlining because I think they're still one of the most exciting bands around. I'd have a Tribe Called Quest playing, only because they're probably my favourite group from growing up, and then I'd have... see I really like The Bees new album, and I saw them at a festival once and it was really, really brilliant, and it was really festival friendly, and summery, so I'd have them playing. I'd have Beck on because I've only seen him live a few times and I'd like to see him again, and then I'd probably have to bring Jimi Hendrix, back from the dead, for him to do one last set.

And the set you'll be playing at Bearded Theory, what can we expect?
We bought out a singles collection at the end of last year, and I think we'll probably do a set where it's based around the singles of all the four records. We did a tour doing that towards the end of last year and that was really good fun, just playing all the singles that we've ever had, and I reckon we'll do that.

Any new material on the cards?
There's not really no. We were going to start working on a new record, but we've decided to take a break really. We've been touring and them making records in a cycle for the last ten years, and we feel that it's time to step back from it and have some time to do some other things. We're all getting stuck into all sorts of new things. This year is having a chance to scratch some itches that we've had for ages. Everyone has wanted to do different projects.

So, what has been your itch?
I'm just working with a band doing some production, getting a chance to do some of that. Me and a friend have also been talking about doing some music, but I've actually just had a kid, so I haven't really thought about music, I've just been thinking about baby stuff.

Have you been getting much sleep?
Yes, it's not been too bad to be honest.

The chart topping and platinum selling band complete the Main Stage Friday bill with The Whip, Sonic Boom 6, The Skints, Last Republic and James Warner Prophesies already being announced. For the line-up details as available please click here.

The festival will see over one hundred bands and DJs perform over seven stages in 2011. The site will have improved the new Magical Sounds Chill Out Dome, site artwork, showers, craft village, huge children village, real ale/cider bars, world foods and much more. The gates open for Thursday night ticket holders at 2pm on Thursday 12th May 2011. The gates will open to standard ticket holders at 9am on Friday 13th 2011.

Bearded Theory will be taking place within 850 beautiful acres of parkland at Kedleston Hall. Kedleston Hall is only a couple of miles from the old the festival site and organisers hope that this will be the festival's final move.

Tickets are now on sale with a weekend ticket priced at £70, 12-16 weekend tickets are priced at £34, 5-12 weekend tickets are priced at £24, children under 5 are free and Family Tickets are priced at £180 (2 x adult & 2 x children). All children must be accompanied by a responsible adult.

There will a charge for car parking of £7. Please note you will be charged £10 at the gate if you do not have a ticket. A campervan ticket is priced at £22.

To buy tickets click here.
interview by: Scott Williams

Friday 13th to Sunday 15th May 2011
Kedleston Hall Park, Derby, Derbyshire, DE22 5JH, England MAP
£70 for a weekend ticket / 12-16s £34 / 5-12 weekend £24 / under 5s free
daily capacity: 1500
last updated: Wed 25th May 2011

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