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31st Aug 2018

4 bands we fell in love with at this year’s Reading Festival

Will Lavin

Don’t you just love festivals?

Sure, buying one ticket to see a bunch of huge artists in one place is incredible, even convenient, but that’s not what I’m talking about.

What about those lower down on the bill? Those bands you’ve never heard of but stumble upon randomly on your way to grab a beer and end up staying to watch instead of seeing Post Malone for the millionth time.

Reading Festival had plenty of that.

There was a big hoo-ha this year made about the festival’s lineup not incorporating enough “rock” bands in exchange for more Hip Hop, grime and pop. Firstly, get over yourselves, it’s 2018 and popular music, like it does every year, has taken on a new form. Secondly, I saw plenty so I have no idea what the fuck you’re talking about.

In fact those same people complaining from the comfort of their high horse didn’t actually go to Reading and therefore didn’t get to see that there was a plethora of rock bands, indie bands and metal bands on display.

So stop focusing on Dua Lipa, Kendrick Lamar and Travis Scott – by the way two of the three headliners were rock bands – and discover some new bands, or bands that have been at it for a while but are now starting to get some real recognition, like the four below that we fell in love with, so much so that we had to grab some time with them all for a quick chat.


STAGE: Festival Republic Stage

Who are they?

Manchester garage-rockers who always promise “sweaty, chaotic and above all, loud” performances and whose drummer doubles as the lead vocalist.


Tarek Musa (Vocals/Drums), Pete Darlington (Guitar), Andy Morton (Guitar) and James Green (Bass).

Why Spring King?

Tarek: “Spring King was a name I used to get called. I was the Spring King. Spring is like a type of reverb – spring reverb – you get it in amplifiers, and I used to use that type of reverb on everything at uni, on all of my productions, in a my mixes, so all my mates just started calling me Spring King. So they were taking the piss out of me for using reverb on everything.”

How do they describe their sound?

Tarek: “I had a really good one the other week. It’s high energy garage rock with pop sentiments, although it’s probably more than that now.”

Andy: “An old one was a mixture between the Ramones and The Beach Boys.”

Pete: “We all love The Beach Boys, especially what they do with their vocal harmonies and stuff. We try – to the best of our abilities at least – to write harmonies together and perform them, and so they’re a big influence. Also the way they arranged their songs and the lyrics.”

Their influences?

Tarek: “We all like really different things but we also agree on certain things, like there’s a lot of jazz love in the band. We all love jazz, a lot of jazz. Old, bebop, smooth jazz, we like it all.”

Andy: “Chet Baker. We all adore Chet Baker.”

Tarek: “Andy used to love metal. When I met Andy he was in a phase where he was obsessed with DragonForce and Slipknot and he’d skip school to go and watch Slipknot play at the MEN Arena.”

Andy: “I’m re-finding that right now, if I’m honest, because I thought I’d grown out of it in a way but every time I listen to metal it’s always the music I’m looking for. So I go back to metal over and over again. I’m not sure sure if there will be any heavy metal influences in the band…”

Tarek: “He’ll be kicked out of the band shortly if there is.”

Pete: “I think sometimes when you’re trying to write riffs, and you want some inspiration, it’s kinda cool to listen to metal and stuff – not that we have metal riffs – but just to see what they’re doing with their riffs and take some inspiration from it.

“Like, I was listening to a lot of Pantera when we were making this new record because they do some crazy guitar stuff. I felt like because we’d been touring the same music for so long you get into a system with the way that you play so I wanted to challenge myself and learn to play some Pantera stuff to see if it has an influence on what we do. Not that we sound like them but I think that there are a few guitary bits that I lend to that world.”

Essential things needed on tour?

Berocca, meditation, headphones, earplugs and a good winge.

The band’s new album, A Better Life, is out now.


STAGE: BBC Music Introducing Stage

Who are they?

Los Angeles-based foursome with an aggressive pop sound that Harpers Bizarre dubbed “equal parts electric and gritty.”


Cailin Russo (Lead vocals), Tyler McCarthy (Guitar), Hayley Brownell (Drums) and Sean Ritchie (Bass).

Their influences?

Cailin: “A heavy influence for me is No Doubt. I’ve always been a fan as a southern California girl.”

Hayley: “Pink Floyd. But on the other end of the spectrum I grew up listening to a lot of jazz and that’s super left field from what I’m doing but that definitely influenced how I play in this project. It’s not just smashing, you know? It’s very well thought out and calculated.”

One song of theirs you should listen to?

Cailin: “‘Bad Things’!”

Tyler: “‘Loudmouth’ maybe?”

Hayley: “I’d say ‘Loudmouth’ but that’s just my personal taste.”

Tyler: “They’re all just a different slice of the cake so it’s hard to be like, ‘That’s the one! That’s the best slice of the cake.’ You know?”

What’s next?

Hayley: “We’re on tour right now and in a couple of weeks we go on two more tours for like a month.”

Cailin: “And then end of the year I want to start gearing up the next project, which could so easily be an album or an EP, I don’t know right now. I have a concept I want to talk to everybody about. I’ve been waiting to have a lot of energy to talk about it but now is not that time.”

Essential things needed on tour?

Journal, baby guitar, support, comfortable pair of trousers, tequila and coffee.

The band’s new EP, House With A Pool, is out now and they tour with Black Honey this coming October.


STAGE: The Pit / The Lock Up

Who are they?

Alternative rock band formed in Aberdeen that pen singalong modern pop anthems infused with a thick layer of 80s heartland rock.


Murray Macleod (Lead vocals/Guitar), Tom Heron (Drums) and Jordan Smith (Bass).

How do they describe their sound?

Murray: “We say it’s romantic rock and roll. It’s emotional, it’s got swagger. Some people may call it emo but there’s pop sensibilities, it’s a bit more rock than emo, it’s a bit more joyous. With our latest record I wanted to stop making people upset and I started wanting to make people dance. I still wanted it to have an emotional impact but I wanted people to think they could say yes to life.”

Their influences?

Murray: “Offspring were kinda one of the first modern bands – when I was 14 they were modern – that I fell in love with. So I fell in love with Offspring, AFI and Marilyn Manson around the same time. Then I got into Blink-182 and all that stuff. But as far as the band’s influences go we adore Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, Don Henley and Rick Springfield, kinda a lot of 80s stuff, even though Springsteen was kinda the 70s.

“We love The Cure and more modern bands like Biffy Clyro, who are a massive influence on us – they were kinda the unsung heroes when we were growing up. The first time I ever saw them they were playing to a crowd of 50 people and I remember thinking that they were the most mind altering band I’d ever seen in my life.”

One song of theirs you should listen to?

Murray: “I’d probably say ‘Feels Like Falling In Love’ because it kinda sums up our band perfectly in terms of that romantic rock and roll I was talking about and the idea that it’s heartfelt and wears its heart on its sleeve and it’s emotional but also joyous. There’s a beautiful drop into the chorus that we worked really hard on and we achieved it. It’s our biggest song and I’m well aware why it’s our biggest song because it’s probably our best written song. It’s tasteful pop.”

Favourite album?

Bruce Springsteen – Born To Run (as chosen by Murray).

The band’s new acoustic EP, Late One Night, is out Oct 5th and they tour with You Me At Six this coming Nov/Dec.


STAGE: BBC Radio 1 Dance Stage

Who are they?

New York trio of brothers who produce sticky pop hooks, cinematic electronic beats, live instrumentation, theatrical panache, nineties nerd rock energy, and cleverly colloquial lyrics.


Adam (Vocals/Bass), Jack (Vocals/Guitar) and Ryan (Ukulele/Piano/Vocals).

Their influences?

Ryan: “We very much come from that electronic space. We’re very proud of genre-bending and we want to keep surprising people. So it’s funny to think that if the first song you’ve ever heard of ours is ‘Sober Up’ then you’re going to think we’re in a certain lane and I think every one of our songs borrows from a selection of different genres and so we’re trying to create something that hasn’t been done yet.”

Jack: “We’re huge fans of Hip Hop, we’re huge fans of Kanye West, Chance the Rapper, Childish Gambino. We’re fans of all genres so even in the show we try and bring that vibe into it.”

How do they settle disagreements?

Jack: “We get that question a lot and I think everyone expects us to say we fight all the time and that there’s so much bad blood between us but it’s just really not true because we shared a tiny room in a tiny apartment in New York City for 15 years so it forced us to remain close. So we all developed the same vision for the music and so when a problem does arise it’s super simple, we just have to talk about it and there’s no real ego involved. Our main goal is to make the best possible music. So if someone throws out an idea that’s not great we’ll say it to them, realise it and then move on and find the best idea.”

One song of theirs you should listen to?

Ryan: “I would say ‘Weak’. It’s right in the middle of two genres, so this EDM space and pop. But I also think the concept of the song is pretty unique, it’s very AJR in that it’s honest and self deprecating and we’re trying to say things that haven’t really been said yet.”

Jack: “I’d probably go with the first song on our album, ‘Overture’ and it’s literally just an overture but a modern techno version and it really is just this amalgamation of little snippets of all of the songs on the album all put together in a cohesive three minute song. And it shows our more theatrical and risky strange side to kinda start the album with an overture, which is something you don’t really do in pop or alternative music.”

Adam: “I’d probably say our song ‘Come Hang Out’ because it tells our story. So if you want to listen to one song and get to know who we are as a band, how we grew up while in a band, and the sacrifices we had to make but also the positive things that song will give you a well rounded introduction.”

Essential things needed on tour?

Water, infinity pillow and a foam roller.

AJR’s album, The Click, is out now as is their new video “Burn the House Down”.