Levellers' Mark Chadwick interview

Beautiful Days, a potential Glastonbury appearance, and a lost gig

published: Mon 9th Nov 2009


Friday 20th to Sunday 22nd August 2010
Escot Park, near Fairmile, Devon, EX11 1LU, England MAP
£100 for adult weekend, 10-16 years £60, 9-5 years £30, under 5s £5 - SOLD OUT
daily capacity: 12000
last updated: Thu 19th Aug 2010

eFestivals got the chance to speak with Mark Chadwick, guitarist and lead singer of the Levellers, who with his band put on Beautiful Days festival.

With your own festival Beautiful Days selling out every year, what do you think makes it so popular?
I think it's that people are up for it, it's different to every other festival, because it really is about the people who come to it, rather than the people who organise it. I think that's what it is.

How would you sum up this year's Beautiful Days?
I thought it was the best yet to be honest, the weather was kind which helped a lot and everything worked.

Has having to put the festival on every year changed you in any way?
Not really, it's just like having another Christmas, basically for us, just in the middle of the summer. Something to look forward to.

Any plans for next year yet?
What to change things? Yup, we meddle with it constantly. But, yeah, we've got plans but what they are I can't say.

What part of the festival are you personally involved with?
Generally speaking, what's on at the festival, the infrastructure is pretty solid now we got that licked in the first year, so we don't have to worry about that so much anymore. So it's just being concerned about what kind of acts we put on, who they are.

So have you got anywhere with booking those yet?
I don't quite know yet, we've written our fantasy wish list, and we seem to be getting them all, gradually, as time goes on.

A fantasy wish list? Is that bands you really want to see?
Yeah, we all have who we really want to put on. It really is hard to get some of them, and some of them are really expensive, to be honest, and some of them aren't. But, we're getting there, we've definitely got quite a lot added to the list over seven or eight years. We've had some really good, quality stuff on.

Who would you most like to book?
Probably The Clash, but we can't because one of them is dead.

Will having the festival on around the same time as the festival effect it at all?
I doubt it, very, very much. The thing with Beautiful Days we don't advertise it, and it sells out every year before we even open the doors. People go there regularly no matter what. We might put something up for people showing the Olympics though I suppose if people are up for it. How bothered are you about the Olympics?

I'm not really, it's too far away to think about, and I don't think I'm going to be competing in it.

Changing the subject, it was nice to see you and Simon duet through some of the performance of 'Weapon Called The Word' at the festival this year. Any plans to tour the album or is that just a one off?
No, it's pretty much a one off really.

Talking of tours you also have one starting later this month, and you're in the studio working on the new album, any chance of new material getting a play?
That's right, we are yeah, there will be some new songs. We are rehearsing some tracks, just a couple of them. Just a couple we'll see how we get on, we might do more.

Have you not played them at all live yet?
I've played one of them acoustically on my own, a couple of times, that's about it. They're really good, for new songs I think they'll be well received.

You played in Exeter at the Manson's Guitar Show how did you enjoy that?
(Laughs) that was all right, I was only there for 15 minutes, I walked in and sang. It was good to help them out, I own a few of their guitars.

You've also got 'Live At The Albert Hall' coming out as a download, and on CD for 'On The Fiddle' members, and chance of a full release in its entirety?
Ummm, eventually I'm sure, it's not really my department to be honest. There's a few tracks missing. But I don't think they are going to be added to it.

That's a shame, it's a normal length album, but listening to it, it sounds too short.
It took a tremendous amount of work, because the whole thing got digitally smashed to pieces, and we had to retrieve it all. Really. Jon has done a miracle, an absolute miracle, even companies couldn't manage to sort it out, and he managed to find the original code in there somewhere, I don't know how he did it, but he did.

Blimey, so the whole gig had been lost had it?
The whole gig had been totally lost, yes. It was all down to Jon that we were able to retrieve those tracks. That's it, that's the only ones that survived.

You've had a few well documented vocal views on Glastonbury Festival over the years, how are your views on it these days?
Well, we're hoping to play it next year, I believe, because it's part of the 40th Anniversary they want to bring back bands who have headlined it over the decades. I'd obviously like to play it. Hopefully, we're going to be on the Pyramid Stage but we'll see, we have no idea, it's in discussions.

You've also got a headline appearance at Wychwood Festival, any other festival appearances planned for next year?
Yes, we're playing a few, but I'm not sure which ones. But we are doing a few, but I don't know what they are. Glastonbury is in discussions, some of them have been booked. But, I can't remember which ones they are to be honest. I haven't got the piece of paper in front of me.

You're just about to do a Drunk In Public benefit gig in Salcombe for for Harry (S. Fulcher) from The Fabulous Good Time Party Boys and The Motor Neurone Disease Association. Any plans for any more?
I think we're planning some for the end of January. I'm doing an acoustic tour first in the North,Halifax, and Sheffield around there.

Lastly, you're one of the biggest grass roots bands in Europe, do you think you get the recognition you deserve in the music press?
No (laughs), well I did read something about us in The Guardian today, not much but it was a passing mention. But, we get as much as we deserve really, I'm not that bothered about it. More would be nice, and radio play would be better, but that's just the way it is out there, a lot of people scrumming for the same amount of space. It doesn't matter though, we're old. We're not really interesting, and not really news any more, and I quite like that. We are an underground band, and that's the way it is.

The 'Live At The Royal Albert Hall' album is avail for download from today and the Levellers play the following tour dates this month:
Tue 24 November O2 Academy (formerly The Opera House), Bournemouth
Wed 25 November O2 Academy, Bristol
Thu 26 November O2 Academy, Leeds
Fri 27 November O2 Shepherds Bush Empire, Shepherds Bush
Sat 28 November O2 Academy, Birmingham

To buy tickets, click here.

interview by: Scott Williams

Friday 20th to Sunday 22nd August 2010
Escot Park, near Fairmile, Devon, EX11 1LU, England MAP
£100 for adult weekend, 10-16 years £60, 9-5 years £30, under 5s £5 - SOLD OUT
daily capacity: 12000
last updated: Thu 19th Aug 2010

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