Levellers' Mark Chadwick interview

Beautiful Days, festival appearances, the new album, and more

published: Tue 1st May 2012

Mark Chadwick (interviewed by John Robb)

Friday 17th to Sunday 19th August 2012
Escot Park, near Fairmile, Devon, EX11 1LU, England MAP
£120 for adult weekend tickets - SOLD OUT
daily capacity: 13500
last updated: Mon 24th Mar 2014

eFestivals spoke to Levellers frontman Mark Chadwick who, each year, with his band hosts the Beautiful Days festival, tickets for which have just sold out.

Beautiful Days has sold out, what do you think makes it so popular?
We don''t take the piss, to be honest. It's not a financial venture, it's to organise a really successful festival. At the end of the day that''s all we care about, we're in it for the event.

Can you tell our readers what's planned for this year that's new?
Yes, we've got a new theatre tent for the first time for this the 10th year. It will be seated and will be having children's theatre in the morning and afternoons, and adult stuff in the late afternoon with comedy in the evening.

What like the Freeborn John event?
It''s that kind of idea yes, but there will be a lot more stuff happening on it.

Where will it be sited?
It''s in what was family camping, but it's gradually been taken over. It''s a new area of the festival completely really, The Redwoods.

Beautiful Days clashes with the anniversary Joe Strummer event on the same weekend, what do you think of them picking the same weekend?
(Laughs) It's fine, it doesn't really effect us, I would have liked to gone to that, but there you go.

You've had to pull out of headlining Bearded Theory due to injury, which made me realise that you've missed very few dates over the years.
Yes, unfortunately very, very few. It has to be for pretty grievous reasons. This particular time it's Jon's tendon. We've been pretty lucky, but we're getting older now. He's had the operation to repair it, he had the injury when he was a kid, a tendon in his hand, and later in life it just snapped again. When he first had it, it was revolutionary surgery, it's obviously a bit more standard practice now. He had it repaired within hours, we're hoping for the best really. He has eleven weeks to get better which is quite a long time really.

We've re-scheduled all the festivals so we are all right really, we will be at Bearded Theory next year.

From what I''ve heard of the new album, ''Static On The Airwaves'', you've put together another good album. What are the main themes?
Yes, it is a good one. The main theme is one of hope I think. There isn't a sick track on it, and we're really proud of it. We really like it, we've listened to it quite a lot. There''s been quite a long time between the recording of it and the releasing of it. It won''t be out until June and we''ve been living with it for a long time. (The single, ''Truth Is'', is out this week).

So, you''ll be dropping tracks from it straight into your live set?
Yes, well we won''t do overkill because that forces it on people who don''t actually know it. So we''ll probably play only around five tracks off it.

I hear it''s the first time you've recorded an album live is that right?
Yes, it''s all live in a studio in the Czech Republic, there's no overdubs on it. It's very pure, there''s no digital correction it''s as it is. We've never done an album like that before. It''s the way that records used to be made in the Sixties and Seventies, and that''s how we decided to do it.

Some festivals have decided to take a year off, have you noticed any changes in the festival scene in the last few years?
Just, that there''s too many of them really, well an awful lot. They''re there for various different reasons, some people are setting up festivals for the right reasons, and some people clearly for the wrong reasons.

You're also playing Latitude as part of their celebration of protest, do you know what''s planned for that?
It''s quite vague at the moment, I know they want us to play on an exposed open air stage outside with no covering, so it's going to be quite weather dependent but if the sun''s shining we''ll be fine.

The folk music scene has made quite large in roads into the mainstream these days, have you notice the Levellers benefiting from this?
(Laughs) not really! We''re as uncool as ever which is fine by us.

You always get a mention by Tim Lovejoy about students.
That joke''s so thin, but I quite like it, it''s quite funny. He got us to do something on it once, so it''s all fine.

Has there ever been a festival where the Levellers haven''t gone down well when they played?
Yes, there was one in Denmark which was very folk festival orientated, and we can generally tailor our sets to the event. On this particular occasion because we were touring clubs at the time we were doing quite a punk rocky set, and they left in their droves they couldn''t stand. It was quite amusing and we carried on regardless, the organiser thought we were amazing and that''s all that matters.

Have you ever been asked to play an event and turned it down?
Oh yes, many, not anything suits what we do, generally the main reason we don''t do anything is because it''s been really bad organised. We''ve not had any like that recently, we tend to have a good radar, and we know whether it''s going to work or not.

The band are often at festivals all through the summer, do you ever get much chance to go and visit other festivals, not playing with the band?
Yes, they tend to be smaller events local to me that I go to.

What''s been the most memorable one you''ve been to?
I went to Larmer Tree as a punter, and really enjoyed that. It was really good weather, and no stress, and I didn''t have to do a gig.

Do you get to watch any good acts?
Well if it''s good we tend to get them on at our festival. That''s how it works.

Do you have to a lot of new stuff to find the acts?
No, not really. It becomes quite obvious what''s good and what''s not. You don''t have to do a tremendous lot of research. We get recommendations from people that i trust out there and then I go and see them.

There aren''t many bands that have been around for 24 years without splitting up, what''s the secret to the Levellers longevity?
I have no idea, we tend not to look on that too closely. We don''t live in each others pockets, and we''re very individual as people, and we meet on the road, we meet in the studio, and we meet wherever we''re meeting and that''s it. We have our independence and respect each other.

Are there any big plans to celebrate your 25th anniversary?
There are, they''re supposed to be releasing a best of, inevitably, and there will be a tour, and so far that''s all I''m aware of. We haven''t really thought about it to be honest (laughs).

Thanks for your time.
My pleasure.

The dates for the tenth Beautiful Days are confirmed as from Friday 17th to Sunday 19th August 2012 at Escot Park, near Fairmile, Devon, with gates opening on the Thursday afternoon.

Tickets have sold out. Frank Turner and his support band The Sleeping Souls headline on Friday night, Public Image Limited on Saturday, and festival founders Levellers will close the celebrations on the Sunday night, as is traditional followed by a firework spectacular. Headlining The Big Top is Jethro Tull''s Ian Anderson plays ''Thick as a Brick'' in its entirety, plus Midlake and Richard Thompson.

Also announced are The Waterboys, New Model Army, Bellowhead, Inspiral Carpets, Alabama 3, Reel Big Fish, Dreadzone, Billy Bragg, Simon and Oscar (Ocean Colour Scene), Chris Wood, The Skints, 3 Daft Monkeys, Emily Barker and the Red Clay Halo, Larkin Poe, Peatbog Faeries, and The Travelling Band. With more acts to be announced. There will be a new seated theatre venue added this year, making six stages in all. For the line-up details as available please click here.

interview by: Scott Williams

Friday 17th to Sunday 19th August 2012
Escot Park, near Fairmile, Devon, EX11 1LU, England MAP
£120 for adult weekend tickets - SOLD OUT
daily capacity: 13500
last updated: Mon 24th Mar 2014

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