The Enemy's lead singer Tom Clarke talks about the Sex Pistols at the Isle Of Wight Festival

the inspiration for a new song, plus the band's appearances at Glastonbury and Reading this year

published: Mon 29th Sep 2008

The Enemy

Friday 13th to Sunday 15th June 2008
Seaclose Park, Newport, Isle of Wight, PO30 2DN, England MAP
£130 w/e (under-13 £65) with camping, £110 without (under-13 £55), campervans £250 - SOLD OUT
daily capacity: 50000
last updated: Tue 10th Jun 2008

eFestivals spoke to the Coventry trio The Enemy's lead singer Tom Clarke about the band's festival appearances this year, which have provided the inspiration for one of the new songs on the new album. The Enemy are set to play London Freeze Festival and The Big reunion Festivals. The band have announced their biggest tour to date next spring that concludes with a night at London's Brixton Academy.

The Enemy
What are you up to at the moment?
Just having a bit of time, well it's meant to be time off, but I've actually found myself running up and down to London more often than not. Just sorting out the next tour and stuff going on next year. We're about to go back in the studio. We've spent a bit of time demoing the new songs. We're in a really good position with new songs. We're excited to get the new songs recorded and be able to listen to the new songs back. It's always a big buzz when you sit down and listen to them for the first time.

You played 'Don't Break The Red Tape' at Reading Festival is that going to be on the new album?
Yeah, I think it probably will be, that song we wrote just after we played the Isle Of Wight. I watched the Sex Pistols, I don't think it was the most inspiring Sex Pistols gig that's ever happened I Have to say I think the crowd were a bit subdued, and that was mainly down to over zealous security. It really pissed us off to be honest.

We tried getting out the front and security pretty much locked the place down. There was no chance of getting side stage for the Pistols although me and Liam (The Enemy's drummer) did stand on the stage until we got chucked off.

Sex Pistols
There was a guy in the crowd, and we were watching from the crappy VIP area which is probably the worst place to watch it from. There was a bloke behind us, and me and Liam are singing our heads off to 'God Save The Queen' and this bloke behind us tells us to shush. I just thought this is ridiculous, he was of an age where he'd lived through the sixties and through the seventies, he'd seen punk, he'd seen probably some of the best music where musicians had tried to change the world through music. He'd missed the point. I'd have given anything to live through seeing Neil Young come about, and seeing The Pistols, and The Clash, and Joni Mitchell, and be there right in the day. And he'd missed the point of all that music, and telling someone to shush at a Sex Pistols gig, it just made us a bit furious. Then watching the security as well, who were doing a very good job and I'm sure their bosses gave them a big pat on the back, but they were stopping people from dancing, and dancing's not dangerous. There's far worse things you can do than just have a little dance, it seemed absolutely ridiculous they just seemed like jobs worths, you know.

The only reason we ended up in the crappy backstage bit was because we were determined, despite the fact the no one has stood side stage and watched the Sex Pistols for thirty years that we were going to watch from side stage. So we hid side stage, and eventually their massive security geezer just came and politely asked us for the last time to leave the stage and in the end we were escorted from the stage in a perfectly reasonable way but we knew it would happen but we had to try our luck because it was the Sex Pistols.

I was there at the festival and really enjoyed it what did you think of the Sex Pistols show?
I think Rotten seemed a bit frustrated, because when you're coming back from playing punk gigs in the seventies to playing gigs nowadays. There is so much red tape surrounding gigs now, in a way it's health and safety gone mad. We live in a marshmallow cushioned really weird world, which is why all our kids get so ill, because they don't go out and play in mud anymore.

I've seen that at our gigs before and we always stop and make sure that security understand, I've seen when people start having a good time security don't like it. There's some great security firms and there's some that just don't like people.

But at Isle Of Wight it was also case of a lot of young scenesters trying to be too cool to dance, who just stood there...
I know, I know and it was going over a lot of people's heads, it really frustrated me that people didn't recognise the importance of the gig. I think, you're right there were a large number of young people there, who had almost definitely never seen the Sex Pistols, and probably don't know why they were one of the most important bands.

You also did a few other festivals this summer, what was you favourite one?
I really enjoyed Glastonbury Festival, which I didn't think I'd say because, let's have Glastonbury, right? It's over priced, and it's really muddy, and if you're camping f**kin' hell. I've got so much respect for people ho camp at Glastonbury, they do it because they love music.

It's quite a pain in the arse festival, if I'm completely honest, the weather's always shit, the site's a bit of a nightmare. Everything about that festival shouldn't work, and yet for some reason it does. When you step out on stage, it's just f**kin' electric, the atmosphere is so charged, absolutely brilliant and that was one of my favourite performances I've ever done. The crowd were absolutely fantastic and I loved every second of it, I don't think I've ever been that excited on stage.

Had you been to Glastonbury Festival before that?
When we played it last year that was the first time we'd ever been, and the mud was a lot worst last year. We turned up, having never been before, we step off our tour bus, and you're in a sea of brown. It's just like entering another planet. This year, just the crowd made it so good, it's one of my favourite gigs, and it's a moment that in twenty or thirty years I'll look back on and still get that buzz.

The Enemy
Do you get a chance to explore festivals when you play them?
I do, the first thing I did when I got to Glastonbury this year was went out, we got there quite late. I went out and found one of the only places that was open, was this place serving burgers and wine, and playing Oasis and The Beatles really loud and there were people just dancing. There was a typical beautiful cliched Glastonbury moment where when the music finished the last song they played was 'Hey Jude' and they shut this burger van up that was serving rotten burgers and rubbish wine but it was the best place in the world. Everyone dispersed and you could just hear 'Hey Jude' echoing around the place. It was brilliant, you know everyone there was probably freezing cold, knackered, probably wrecked and you know that you're amongst people who appreciate good music, it's brilliant.

And who is the best band you've seen at a festival?
I was really surprised, that day, MGMT, I saw them in Reading, and I thought it was absolutely f**kin' brilliant, I really liked it. I couldn't get very near the front, we came off stage and I had to dry the sweat off me and then go over to the tent, so I was only about a third of the way back, but they were f**kin' brilliant. What I love about MGMT, in a similar sort of way to Dark Side Of The Moon by Pink Floyd, it's just great music for the sake of great music, and it's just brilliant to watch people really enjoying playing music, I really enjoyed their set it was great.

Reading was the probably the only real chance at a festival, where I got a chance to go and see bands, because I'm usually so busy when I'm, playing a festival. I also try and go and see bands that I never would usually go and see, because it's easy when you're at festivals to be more open minded and go and watch people that you'd probably never go and watch.

I went and watched a band called Florence And The Machine who were different. I think it is important to take the time and broaden your horizons at festivals. It's easy to just listen to the stuff that you're used to, everyone does it, everyone gets into the habit. I think it's important that you listen to bands you've never heard. And it's so easy to see bands you'd never usually watch at festivals.

When I get home I always put 'Abbey Road' road on, it's just the thing I always do, but it's quite nice every now and again to just crack out an album you haven't listened to in ages. Or go and buy an album of a band you've never heard of and listen to that.

So what's your top three albums?
'Dark Side Of The Moon' is getting played every night at the minute.' Abbey Road' will always be my favourite album, and for a third, I've been listening to a bit of The Eagles recently 'Hotel California' you forget what a good album that is and just how many mint tunes there are on there.

The Enemy
You're also headlining London Freeze festival this year?
Are we? I don't know if we are or not yet. We've always said yes to so much stuff. If there's a gig going we'll always say yes anyway.

It's a snow sports based festival, have you ever done any snow sports?
We did a snow festival in Austria, a while ago, and I've never been skiing in my life because I could never afford to go when I was a kid. I really want to go, we got to Austria, went up in a ski lift and got to the top, and just looked at the most beautiful mountains covered in snow. We were doing this at the point when we weren't really making money off gigging, and we looked at it and thought we'd love to ski down here, but it's cost a fortune to get out here, we're pretty much just going to cover costs by doing the gig, if we ski down there and break our leg there's going to be no gig and no money, and we've just spent a fortune getting out here. We decided it would be better when we wrap up touring, and go back out there on holiday, when we haven't got a gig so it's all right to break a leg. I would like to do it, anything that gives you a massive adrenalin buzz, I reckon hurtling yourself down a mountain on a couple of sticks gives you a bit of a buzz.

Your latest tour is lots of small venues, what's the reasoning for that?
Yeah, we're doing smaller venues, I think at this stage everyone's expecting us to go on and try and make a big statement by playing much bigger venues. We've done two nights at the Ricoh Arena we can do big venues, but I can just about see the people on the front row, let alone the people at the back. The thing I buzz off more than anything is being stood on the stage, playing songs, just making sounds and singing my heart out and looking at the people at the front singing every word, see the whites of their hours, and that's what it's about. I never want to get away from that.

It's all right every now and again to do a massive gig, to show people that you've got the minerals and can sell out huge stadiums and I think that is important, but the reason I'm in a band is because I enjoy doing it. The way I enjoy it most is when I'm right on top of the crowd, the stage isn't a million miles away, and you haven't got a ten foot drum riser. It's not about that for me, the crowd should be as involved as the band, and me and my two best mates have a good night wherever we play, thrashing out some tunes, or course it's fun, but it's so much more fun when you can see people a few metres away doing the same thing. That's what I buzz off and I never want to lose that.

The Enemy
So what was the first gig you went to like that?
No idea, I remember always being jealous of Liam (band's drummer) telling me that he'd been to see Oasis, years ago. He was saying it was really horrible, getting drenched in piss, I remember him coming back and complaining, and me just thinking I'd f**kin' love to have gone. I never had the expendable income to go gigs.

Every now and then I do like to go and see bands in tiny venues like pubs. There's a band called Exit Calm and I went and saw them in a room the size of my lounge playing ridiculously loud music. They sound like the early Verve stuff, like Storming Heaven, the lead singer has got a stare going on that makes him look really fierce, he look scary. The band are just immense, one of best guitar players that I've ever seen, and just watching musicians that close, where there's no stage and they're on the same level as you, you're standing next to them, just listening to them making amazing music, that's what it's al about.

Do you get recognised when you're at those sort of things?
Yeah people see you, and I never mind saying hello to people, if people want a photo then that's fine, I don't know why I'm just a scally from Coventry. I saw, I'm not going to say who, I saw someone from a well known band at Leeds festival, a little girl asked him for a photo and he said no and the little girl looked really hurt, all she was asking was for him to stand still for four seconds, it's not a lot to ask. I always like it when I meet our fans, because they're normally proper down to earth people who are into exactly the same music as me and I can usually have a pint with them and a good chat and what's better than that.

I'd also like to say a huge thank you to all our fans that have bought tickets online. The online ticket sales on the last three days, I never expected them to see sales like this, they have been absolutely ridiculous, I don't know what percentage of the tour has sold out already but I know that we never expected anything like it and especially with people not having heard a not of the new record. It's humbling to see so many people buying tickets straight away. As always a massive thanks to the fans.

Thanks for your time.
Cheers, quality, take care, bye.

The tour commences in March 2009 ahead of the April 2009 release of their second album. To buy tickets for their tour click here.

The Enemy
interview by: Scott Williams

Friday 13th to Sunday 15th June 2008
Seaclose Park, Newport, Isle of Wight, PO30 2DN, England MAP
£130 w/e (under-13 £65) with camping, £110 without (under-13 £55), campervans £250 - SOLD OUT
daily capacity: 50000
last updated: Tue 10th Jun 2008


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