eFestivals bumped into Danny from Embrace at a recent Flaming Lips gig and collared him for a quick interview:
So Embrace are really doing the rounds this year
We're doing Glastonbury,
we're on just before David Bowie, we're doing Reading
and Leeds, T In The Park as well. We're
doing all the English festivals and some of the European festivals as
well so somewhere there'll be gaps in between so we can start working
on the next album.
Is there something about festivals that you prefer to indoor gigs?
Well, they're different;
I like to play both. Sometimes you do a festival and you have thousands
and thousands of people and they're into what you're doing, and it's
a bit of a surprise. When you play a festival it's much more about the
crowd than it is about the band, and that's much more of a gamble because
the crowd might not be into it I like the risk of it.
Did you go to festivals much before you started playing them?
Not really. There
weren't many local festivals in Leeds where I lived. I went to the Heineken
festival a few times. We were a local band and we played there in 1986
before we got signed.
What has your favourite festival been so far over the years?
When we played Glastonbury
1997. It was raining and although you expected the crowd to be dampened
by the rain they weren't, they were really really into it and although
it was being televised and it was the first time we'd played in front
of a crowd anywhere near that size, I wasn't nervous. It was a weird,
surreal, magical feeling that I'll remember for the rest of my life
Do you think festivals have more of a homely atmosphere?
Yeh, a little bit.
Certainly with Glastonbury you get that feeling, and T In The Park as
well. Some of the others have a more corporate feeling to them. At the
end of the day it's down to the line up. If you've got a good line up
of bands then the atmosphere is usually good, and if you haven't then
it's going to die on its feet.
Who is your favourite band that you've seen live?
I saw PJ Harvey
in Copenhagen, and I don't know whether it was my frame of mind, but
I found that pretty moving, and quite astonishing. Super Furry Animals
last year at Brixton Academy and they were really good. I think what
makes a really good gig is what you take to it. If you're in a frame
of mind where you're going- go on then, impress me, then you probably
won't be impressed, but if you're going along not expecting anything,
then suddenly something hits you, then that's the most magical feeling.
At your recent gig I noticed that the crowd are really picking on songs that have an anthemic feel
I'm still sort of
getting to grips with the idea that we're successful and what we should
be saying to people, and I get the impression from letters and emails
we receive that people understand what we're about and there is an anthemic
element, a sing-a-long element to what we do.. I see that in the Flaming
Lips- it's naïve, child-like, wanting people to be involved and not
really caring whether that looks uncool or not. I think that's definitely
a similarity. Although, they've been together a lot longer and they're
more accomplished at it, it's about wanting to take risks and look foolish,
and not wanting to be a star, but just put the music out as openly and
honestly as possible and be as truthful as you dare. Although 90% of
the people that buy the records don't get that, they just sing along
to the tunes, it still makes me want to carry on what we're doing.
If you could play any song at a festival that wasn't one of your own- what would it be?
'3 Is A Magic Number'
by Bobby Darin - I just love the cheekiness of it, the way he says...
"Three is a magic number, Yes it is, it's a magic number". It's so cocky
but without being confrontational and self-righteous.
So, are you a tent or Winnebago kind of guy?
(laughs) I'm a go-back-home-if-I-live-nearby-kind-of-guy!!
I can't be bothered - it's not worth it, there's always a hotel just a
cab ride away. I can imagine if I went fishing in the middle of nowhere
I'd love to sleep in a tent with the rain on the outside, all warmly
wrapped up, but at a festival where everybody else is doing the same
thing, and there are hotels 5 minutes away I can't really see the point.
Come the revolution who would be first against the wall?
(that's me gone - Ed!)
And of all the festivals you're playing this year- which one are you most looking forward to?
Any good festival anecdotes?
The most amazing
experience was when we played this festival in Hultsfred, and straight
after us there was this band on called Dark Funeral who were a death
metal band with upside down crucifixes everywhere, and cling film over
the monitors where they were throwing pigs blood out at the crowd, but
backstage, they were all on their mobile phones talking to their Mums
and Dads and I thought that was pretty surreal. We were on before them
and the place was completely empty when we started sound-checking and
I thought, "Oh no, how embarrassing, this place holds 3,000 people and
there are only 30 people at the front!". I didn't realise that they
closed the doors through the sound-check and I went backstage to have
a drink of water and get myself together before going on stage, and
before we went back on stage I could hear them jumping up and down.
and when we went out there, there was 3,000 people jumping, it was completely
packed! We'd never played Sweden before, and although it was 11 o'clock
at night, it was still daytime, 'cause their summertime is 20 hours
of daylight of something. When we left we sat on the roof of the bus,
and people lined the streets and were cheering- I felt like the pope!
It was a real kind of, out of it experience I guess being in a band,
you have experiences that most people only dream about- and you think
you'll get used to it, but you don't, because each time it's subtly
different and it always takes you by surprise.