Suggs talks to eFestivals

Madness at Minehead Butlins Weekender

published: Fri 23rd Sep 2011


Friday 25th to Sunday 27th November 2011
Butlins Resort, Minehead, Somerset, TA24 5SH, England MAP
from £149 per person (based on four people sharing)
daily capacity: 6500
last updated: Thu 10th Nov 2011

Suggs from Madness spoke exclusively to eFestivals about their forthcoming indoor festival - The House of Fun Weekender which will be held from Friday 25th until Sunday 27th November 2011 at Butlins Resort, Minehead, in Somerset.

Camden's own Nutty Boys are taking over Butlins Minehead this November, curating a line-up of bands, DJs and comedians handpicked by the magnificent seven themselves. The House of Fun Weekender will showcase the hottest up-and-coming acts, alongside old favourites across three-days of festival fun by the sea.

With their tenth album currently in the works, Madness will be playing a career-spanning extravaganza over the weekend, with a few extra-special surprises up their sleeves. eFestivals got the chance to speak to lead singer Suggs about the event.

Hi Suggs how are you?
I'm very well thank you.

You're curating the inaugural House Of Fun Weekender, how did that come about?
We are indeed! We've always loved Butlins and the whole notion of Butlins, and they've always loved us. So, we thought we would do something as a celebration of British eccentricity. We’ve had a few festivals in the past like Madstock. But, there were so many festivals this summer, that we thought we need to do something indoors, and then the whole Butlins Madness collaboration just fell into place.

Have you played Butlins before then?
We haven't played a Butlins before, I've been there a couple of times, and I went to a Soul Weekender once at Camber Sands (Pontins), and an Eclipse Weekender, I can't remember where, it was another Butlins.

We've been talking to them for a while, and it just seems like the right time, the right people, and the right place to be doing something at the juncture.

I suppose Madness and Butlins are both quintessentially British, which is what you're all about...

It is indeed, the best of British exhilarating eccentricity.

Will the Weekender be as loud as Madstock?
I don't think there will be any earthquakes, no. I don't think they would an earthquake going through their hotel, but that was 35,000 people jumping up and down. There won't be quite that many over the weekend.

Is Madstock ever likely to make a return?
It may do, yeah, we talked about doing it this summer, but we were already booked to play Reading, and Leeds, and a couple of other festivals, and there are so many festivals now. When we first did Madstock festivals were on a lower ebb. That was in '92 nearly twenty years ago, and there's so many now out there, that you have to be more careful. It was like a bit of an anomaly when we did the festival with a lot of bands all on the same day, as a Madness thing. Now, there's so many similar festivals that have a similar theme. That was for us a specific time and place, but there may be more.

The seven of you have selected the line-up, how did you go about doing it?
We wanted a mixture of people that we'd liked in the past, people that we like in the present, and that's it really.

So we've got Beardyman who I really like, and this Maverick Sabre who I've been checking out who's a very nice mixture, does a bit of reggae, a bit of rapping, and a bit of singing he's very good. And Paul Heaton and now we've got Baxter Dury, which is rather nice. Plus lots of great DJs that will mix up the music from the past, present, and future. It's not that we’re suddenly going to plunge ourselves into the dark corners of every bit of the modern world. We're trying to hover somewhere in the middle of the living room, and I hope we’ve got that balance right.

There’s so much going on over the weekend and so many DJs, I'd like to see Andrew Weatherall, he's a big favourite of mine. Rob Da Bank is very good, so is Norman Jay, there'll be so many really great tunes.

What can Madness fans expect from your set?
I don't know if this is definite yet, but the plan is that we might play the whole of our new album on Friday night, if get it together (finished), in a smaller venue. Then, we'll play a slightly more mixed and mingled set on the Sunday night. There will be two Madness shows, one will be the more intimate thing which we think might be our new album. It would be great if it was, obviously for all the Madness fans who will be there, and then more flat out poptastic show on the Saturday.

What's been your most memorable festival experience over the years?
Gosh, there's been so many great festivals. I wasn't so mad about festivals when I was a kid, but in the last five or six years I've been to loads. Bestival was the one I really enjoyed playing at, because we were the surprise guests, and they had a big fancy dress party which was really quite a fabulous afternoon. But really, there is so many. I DJed with my daughters at Glastonbury this year as a 'Soundclash' which was good fun. I was playing old scratchy ska records and they were playing modern dance music. It was quite an eclectic set, except I kept pulling my records off and accidentally snapping them because it was too wide. I saw Screamedlica this year by Primal Scream at Glastonbury, and that was pretty fantastic.

Are you a fan of them, didn't you invade the stage at Bestival a few years ago?
(laughs) Yes I did, I did, I did. Yes, I did get that drunk, and 'off my face'. It was just a moment in time, Howard Marks had given me an aspirin, and that sent me right over. But I do love just wandering around in the middle of the night, finding silent movies, and people doing weird theatre. I don't know, it's all good, I love festivals.

Do you make a weekend of it then, do you camp over when you're at festivals?
Yes I do, yeah. For my birthday my brother in law bought me an Airstream when I went to Port Eliot this year, and that was a really great festival, really fantastic, really good fun. Normally though we do camp, we got a tipi at Glastonbury at that glam thing, and the year before that we all had tents. I don't mind tents, it's the lying down that's all right, it's the getting up again, the rolling around on the floor trying to get up, I hate.

How long do you think Madness can keep going for?
Well, we've always kept the rolling Stones in sight, and waited for them to fall off their perch, but they keep rolling along, and just ahead of them are the Buena Vista Social Club. Any signs of those two shaking and we’ll start thinking about it. But, at the moment, there’s no end in sight.

If you ran a stall at a festival what would you sell?
Oh my god! Ummm, I've had all those bright ideas, but they've unfortunately all left my mind.... self inflating bouncy castles.

Have you ever read eFestivals?
No I haven't, is it all about festivals? I'll definitely give it a look, yeah!

Have you any festival appearances booked yet for next year?
There's no Glastonbury, my daughter is thinking of having her own one, and Secret Garden apparently. She's going to have one, her name is Scarlet and she's thinking of calling it Scarsbury. But I'm not sure it's very early days, and Port Eliot I might go to again, I'm not sure yet.

I've got to go, they're calling me... bye.


The line-up for House Of Fun includes Madness, Beardyman, Paul Heaton, Dan le sac v Scroobius pip, The Cuban Brothers, The Whip, The Correspondents, Man Like Me, Missing Andy, The Milk, Barry Peters, Brass Roots, Wagon Tales, Jerry Dammers DJ set with Dennis Alcapone, Roger Beaujolais, Harry Brown & Damian Hand, Rob da Bank, Mr Scruff, Norman Jay, Jaguar Skills, Andrew Weatherall, Craig Charles funk and soul show, Greg Wilson, Don Letts, Toddla T & MC Serocee, Doorly, Justin Robertson, Marc Roberts, Squeaky Hill, Bob Mills, Ben Norris, Nick Wilty, Marcus Birdman, Al Barrie, Gordon Southern, Kevin McCarthy, Michael Smiley, Junior Simpson, and Abandoman. There's also the Bowling Disco, a special Madness Pool Competition, and darts with darts players Wayne Mardle & Peter Manley.

Event curators Madness will perform a one-off gig at Butlins in a standing indoor arena that holds 6,500 for music lovers.

Room Only accommodation offers either double, single or bunk beds with private bathroom and TV, but no kitchen facilities or lounge, more like a hotel room. Self Catering accommodation offers private bathroom, full kitchen facilities and separate lounge area with TV. Tickets are selling fast, and Room Only accommodation is available in 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 berth rooms, and Self Catering accommodation is also available in 4, 6, and 7 berths.

Butlins Minehead looks out across a sandy beach. The site is equipped with a supermarket, newsagent, cash points and restaurants. Onsite facilities include a cinema, Splash Water World - a sub-tropical environment that has a wave pool, a swimming pool, 3 flumes and also a flume based raft ride - Ten-pin bowling and amusement arcade.

Tickets are priced from £149 per person (based on 4 people sharing a silver self-catering apartment) for the full 3 night break, including accommodation, ticket to the main event, and access to all the venues for the entire weekend. To buy tickets, click here.
interview by: Scott Williams

Friday 25th to Sunday 27th November 2011
Butlins Resort, Minehead, Somerset, TA24 5SH, England MAP
from £149 per person (based on four people sharing)
daily capacity: 6500
last updated: Thu 10th Nov 2011

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