festival band Subgiant talk summer plans, music,

a new album, festival appearances, playing live, and more

published: Mon 3rd Mar 2008


Friday 4th to Sunday 6th July 2008
The Bowl, Matterley Estate, nr. Winchester, Hants., England MAP
adult £60 for weekend with camping; aged 8-16 £40 w/e with camping; campervans £15
last updated: Sun 22nd Jun 2008

Subgiant are a trio consisting of Olly Maw, Dan Hayes and Tushar Joshi. They have been slowly building a festival following and getting a reputation as a must see festival dance act. eFestivals managed to speak to them before they started their summer festival season and found out more about their relationship with festivals.

How did you get together?
Tushar: It was at a fetish party we were at, and you were wearing…..
Olly: For a couple of years it was me and Dan who did Subgiant on our own, and I met Dan at a boring company where we both worked. Tushar had played for a long time in a band called 'Strange Mutant Virus'.
Tushar: I've played for sixteen, seventeen years with 'Strange Mutant Virus' and I've always wanted to play dance music.
Olly: A drummer who likes dance that's quite rare.
Tushar: I had an electronic drum kit for years, so I was playing lots of dance stuff, and I was going to do lots of solo stuff in clubs and then I saw these playing this great music at a festival, Blissfields.
Olly: We were both booked to play the same festival, one of the early Blissfields. Me and Dan were playing and Tushar was playing in another band and we just got together there really. But it took a long time… before we phoned you up.
Tushar: Six months, it was January.
Olly: We phoned you up, and you came down for a rehearsal and we went from there and it's been the same, it's been the three of us ever since. Before that me and Dan, and Subgiant existed with two other members and we were a reggae act, very traditional - drums, bass, and guitar. But I've got a 303, an MC 303 very classic dance instrument and so we went all electronic.

So no truth in the rumour Glastonbury was why you started?
Dan: Yeah that is true, that was why we originally started.
Olly: Because I'd been going for Glastonbury for years and never bought a ticket, but when the put the fence up and really clamped down on the touts and all that sort of thing. Well, I couldn't afford the tickets, they got stupidly expensive. So there was a few years of not going to Glastonbury and I was thinking, well how can you get into Glastonbury now? One guy hand glided in most famously. Well, another way to get in is to get booked to play there. So all my thinking all along was always whatever band I'm going to be in has got to be a festival act, and it's starting to work finally now.

So how did you feel when you finally got to play Glastonbury for the first time?
Dan: We were well excited.
Olly: First time and the second time because there was a three year gap between the two, so we kind of forgotten about the feeling a bit. But it was amazing. I remember I phoned my mum up and my mum has been waiting for the call of news of a grandchild. So I phoned her up one day and said "I've got this great news, you're going to love it. We're playing Glastonbury!" And she said, "Oh I thought you were going to tell me I had a grandchild." She has now though because we had a kid last year.

So what festivals can we see you at this year?
Olly: Bestival, Endorse-It, Glade, possibly Solfest, Blissfields, Nozstock – it looks like we're headlining. It's a really good little festival actually I love it. A proper hoe down on a farm I love it. We've got festivals all of August, there will be more it's early days yet.

So do you do live gigs as well or just festivals?
Dan: Yeah we a do quite a lot now.
Olly: More clubs, we tend to do club night we've done 'Slinky'.
Tushar: We've done 'The Hidden' as well in London.

So which do you prefer club or festivals?
Olly: Festivals
Dan: Festivals
Tushar: I prefer clubs.
Olly: Cos, Tushar lives in London and he doesn't understand green country fields and the joy of mud.
Tushar: I've lived in the country most of my life. It's only I've been in the city the last two years.
Olly: What country?
Tushar: West London.
Olly: West London! Acton is not what I call the country.
Tushar: Well it's quite country-sidey.
Olly: It's not Devon though is it.

What's the favourite festival that you've all been to, is it Glastonbury?
Olly: It's not for Tushar though is it, he doesn't like it.
Tushar: I like Endorse-It and Blissfields, because we started playing it when it was 30 people and we've watched it grow.
Dan: We do feel like it's home though Actually I quite like Bestival, it's brilliant.
Olly: It's our home turf, we've also helped organise a lot of it. The website and ticketing system and it's good to see it going. My favourite is Beautiful Days because I've been to every one and the first three on the other side of the fence, and so being booked to play it was amazing. The first time I went, the band was just starting out, we were only playing pubs and stuff and then in three year's time we were playing on the main stage that was a bit of a dream come true. Certainly it was one of the things to tick off my list. I've only got a few things left to tick off now. One of them was to play Beautiful Days main stage, one of the was to play Glastonbury, proper which we did last year, and the next one is to play Brixton Academy as it's the best venue in the country.

So how would you describe Subgiant's music to someone who has never heard it?
Dan: Wicked!
Olly: We get asked this all the time, when we phone up someone they ask us well what do you sound like?


So what do you say then?
Tushar: We say everything. Electro, breakbeat, techno, trance.
Olly: No I don't like saying all that sort of thing.
Dan: Live digital dance music.
Olly: There's a lot of thought about getting people up on their feet, not what's this going to soundlike on someone's ipod.
Dan: What's it going to sound like loud.
Olly: Whenever we're writing we're imagining being on a big stage and it coming out of an immense soundsystem.

Your music makes people get up dance how does it make you feel playing it?
Olly: The best thing is when people are getting up dancing.
Dan: Yeah it is, it makes all the hard work worth it.
Olly: You hear bands say all the time we feed off the audience.
Dan: It's totally true.
Olly: If an audience is enjoying themselves…
Dan: Then you enjoy it. It can be a real shit gig, shit venue but if people are enjoying it...
Olly: Then it can make a huge difference.

What is that portable drum you use?
Tushar: The Zen drum, it's like a portable midi drum guitar, I've used it once at Endorse-It.
Olly: It's very difficult to use, we're trying to find the right sort of track to use it on. There's not many of them around.
Dan: You really need extra fingers, you could do with three hands.
Tushar: It's custom made in America. Then customs and excise slap on a big bill.

So who has influenced you to this point in your music?
Olly: I always seem to say the same act, Chemical Brothers.
Dan: Chemical Brothers, The Prodigy.
Tushar: Nirvana, Pixies, Carl Cox people like that.
Olly: Muse, especially as they're a three piece as well and when we saw them at Glastonbury 2004, that absolutely blew me away, I thought they were incredible. Before Subgiant I was in grunge bands, for a long time, I was in a band called 'Spire' for about six years, I'd never done anything electronic it was proper grunge stuff like Rage Against The Machine – people like that.
Dan: We're all into different music as well, I started of as a bit of a drum and bass DJ mixing pretty intense dance music, and obviously Olly was in a grunge band.
Tushar: I used to do heavy metal, thrash metal like Slayer, Sepultura. That's where we get the aggression from, make sure the beats are hard, makes sure you think of traffic wardens when you're playing the drums.
Olly: Someone said to us in a gig in Portsmouth that what they liked about us was that we weren't fixed to one genre, we throw in elements of all sorts of things, I like to throw in those crunchy basslines on the bass.
Dan: Also keep it quite intelligent and keep it interesting, rather than doing what people expect.

Is it right you've never sent a demo tape out to a radio station, how does it feel to suddenly turn up on the BBC Introducing stage for Bestival?
Olly: No, we haven't. Yeah, we've never sent something, it's about time we sent a CD to the BBC, isn't it?
Tushar: A bag maybe with a load of other rubbish.
Olly: We are first and foremost a live act and that's all we've ever cared about.
Tushar: We have given a CD to someone, Radio 5? Or something, I can't remember, it was the BBC Asian Network at a festival.
Olly: It was Wychwood.
Tushar: No, it was Glastonbury.
Olly: I've always thought, cos I love festivals, if you make a name for yourself on the festival circuit then they'll come to you, and (laughs) we're waiting for that to happen.

Tushar: Well, we've got a single coming out soon.
Olly: When we've written it.
Dan: It's top secret.

Is there any of the new songs you play live and if so what are the new tracks called?
Olly: They're on our myspace, Tiger Tiger, Foxes, Reggae-stration, do you like that name?
Tushar: It always reminds me of menstruation.
Olly: Maybe we should call it that. There's another one as well, but that's an intro type thing, that's not on myspace.

So four new tracks, does that mean there's a new album on the way?
Olly: There is a new album on the way, yeah.
Dan: We're working on one now. We're trying to get them finished and work out their names.
Olly: We've got loads of new material but it's getting it to the finished thing which takes so much time. It comes out of playing live, really.
Tushar: Everytime we play it live it changes depending on the audience's reaction.

So how do you go about creating is it formed on stage or when you're away from it?
Olly: Yeah it's created away from the stage, I write most of the bones of the material and surprisingly a lot of it is written on and acoustic guitar and it evolves from there into an electronic form that you hear now.

So have you been trained?
Olly: I've not been trained in nuffink. I can read music play piano and guitar and bass.
Tushar: And tambourine as well.
Olly: Oh yeah Tambourine, I'm brilliant at tambourine, yeah definitely into playing real instruments, I would like to play more real instruments but we are a dance act now so. It would be too much of a change.


So you don't see yourself changing into a different musical direction?
Dan: You just never know do you really.
Olly: I've always wanted to do a track where I pull out an acoustic guitar and say, look actually I can play a guitar as well.
Tushar: You do that with some of the tracks anyway.
Olly: What with the bass? Yeah sort of we do throw the crowd a lot because I'm playing the bass but I tend to shift it up an octave using effects so it sounds like a guitar or shift it down an octave to get that sub dub sounds.

We've had pirates and fairies at festivals at festivals what should we have next?
Olly: You don't mean the pirate fairies? No? Ok, I think we should have cyborgs. Or just do them naked.
Tushar: Dressing up as school girls.
Dan: I'll go with that actually.
Tushar: What you'll dress up as a school girl?
Dan: Yeah.

Who would be your ultimate festival headliner and have you seen them?
Tushar: Pixies at Brixton Academy. No that's not a festival, I don't like people from London, who say that, who go to Hyde Park for the day and think that's a festival. Where as leaving London and the M25 is a no go.
Dan: I'm a bit of a Prodigy fan and I saw them at the Vic in Bournemouth and that was wicked.
Olly: I love New Model Army but they're not a festival act really. Faithless it would have to be cos I think they do that outdoor big stage thing really good. I have seen them at festivals but not for a long time it would be good to them at a festival again. I'd love to have seen Jimi Hendrix, and Nirvana and Rage Against The Machine. If only Michael Eavis would get his act together to book them or Metallica or The Cure. Couldn't The Cure do Beautiful Days? They would be perfect there.

Who would you like to a camp with at a festival and why?
Olly: We did camp next to Hawkwind last year at Beautiful Days.
Tushar: Camp, we have a bus (points to large mobile home with Subgiant's name on the side of it), Pixies.
Olly: All the same people we've just said.
Dan: The Prodigy would be quite cool cos you could just stay up all night and get dancy with them.
Tushar: I wouldn't trust them, they'd probably pull our tent down.
Olly: I'd like to camp next to someone I could have a good conversation with so I'd say Tony Benn. I saw him last year at Glastonbury, I was on the railway and a car was trying to squeeze through the crowds and I looked through the window and it was Tony Benn. He must have just been doing his talk. He was just sat there looking out the window, bored out of his brains and I could have just said hello. A previous year the same thing happened with John Peel.

Who would you like to collaborate with?
Olly: It would have to be someone who could play an instrument incredibly well.
Tushar: From a different genre, because there's no point doing the same genre.
Dan: It would be nice if it was Muse wouldn't it?
Olly: That would be amazing, wouldn't it, an electronica version.
Dan Really interesting really, orchestral sound made really phat and really beef it up.
Tushar: The piano player from Smashing Pumpkins.

Dan, as you are a DJ what's the best tune to play at a party?
Dan: Depends what sort of party.
Olly: Jump Around, House of Pain.
Dan: To be honest that is one of my favourite tunes in a way, you put it on at a party and everyone does jumps around.
Olly: They do.
Dan: And it's good for a scratch up as well.

Valley of The Sith a Star Wars reference…
Olly: It's not, it comes from a big Dutch dance festival Dance Valley and I heard a tune on their website which was a bit like a tune I was writing at the time which became Valley of the Sith and I was looking for a name for it. I'm big into peace and activism and stuff and I'd heard that Sith means peace in French. But, no, I'm not a big Star Wars fan really.

Thanks for your time Subgiant.

You can see Subgiant at many festivals this summer. They have two albums out 'Global Control' and 'Advances in Twig Technology'.
interview by: Scott Williams

Friday 4th to Sunday 6th July 2008
The Bowl, Matterley Estate, nr. Winchester, Hants., England MAP
adult £60 for weekend with camping; aged 8-16 £40 w/e with camping; campervans £15
last updated: Sun 22nd Jun 2008

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