Over the course of the fifth annual Lymelight Festival 2017, E Major caught up with a small sample of acts who’d performed across the weekend. Here are those conversations, transcribed and typed for your reading pleasure.
In conversation with… John Dhali
Hello John! How are you today? Feeling good about performing?
Hello! I’m good thank you. Very happy. I’m feeling really good. And the sun’s out this year – it was raining quite a bit last year!
When you performed last year, it chucked down didn’t it?!
It did yeah, absolutely hammered it down. It was an eventful gig actually…
Yeah memorable… everything that could’ve gone wrong, went wrong! It was still fun though.
What have you been up to recently? Obviously you released your new single ‘Here’ a few weeks ago…
We released the single and I’ve been working with a new band (bass and drums) which is going really well. We’ve been rehearsing and I’m always just gigging as much as I can. We’re in the studio at the minute, looking to release an EP late summer/autumn time, with another music video and that kind of thing. Lots of exciting stuff going on! A lot planned.
Speaking of music videos, you released ‘Only One’ at the beginning of this year which has been hugely popular!
Yeah it’s been awesome! I think because it’s of a really happy nature, it’s just a bit infectious. People have really gotten behind it and are really feeling it, so I’m really happy.
Did you ever imagine that it would be that popular?
To be honest, I hoped it would be. I hoped that a lot of people would see what I intended to be seen, just me being free and happy. So I did hope it would be.
It definitely sums up your music pretty well! Your new single ‘Here’ is completely different to that, it’s a bit darker. Is that the way the EP is going to go or is it going to be a mix of both styles?
Yeah ‘Here’ is much darker. The EP is the direction I want to be heading in as an artist and it’s really soulful actually. There’s a lot of soul influence in there. One of the tracks is of a kind of similar vibe to ‘Only One’ and then another one of the tracks is full of motown sounding. ‘Here’ is quite serious song I suppose and there’s not as much of that in the EP. A lot of it is uplifting.
In conversation with… The Taskers
Did you enjoy your set at Lymelight Festival this year?
SBT: It was sick. It was amazing.
JT: It was good. Rob said it was his favourite of the whole weekend, of all of the gigs we’ve been doing.
RH: It was. It’s really nice to be able to play six songs and not have to worry about the ones I don’t know so well. I’m speaking from my perspective here…
SBT: And to be able to smash out a tight set.
RH: A greatest hits!
SBT: Yeah, it was wicked.
You’ve been pretty busy though, because you’ve performed with Don’t Call Me Ishmael, Attack Of The Vapours for Jack, plus you were gigging last night at The Cellar Bar in Stafford!
SBT: It was about 01:30am when we got off stage, because we didn’t go on until half 12.
RH: And we recorded a single at 9am this morning
SBT: And band practice later!
JT: So yeah we have been busy but it’s been really good. This is the first year we’ve done Lymelight, we’ve never done it before, so it was quite nice to get stuck in and in my case play three sets, two sets for everyone else.
What do you think of Lymelight Festival? Have you ever been before?
SBT: No never been.
JT: No I’ve never been to it before. It’s really good. SBT was saying earlier that she just wants to do it everyday.
SBT: Yeah just like come here, have a whole pizza, have some drinks, chill…
RH: That’s Sophie’s retirement plan!
JT: It’s a good vibe for all of the bands out there as well. Like everyone seems to actually really get stuck in and listen, which is pretty cool.
RH: People have a wander but they come back and they watch, which is good.
SBT: There’s a lot of people just stopping and watching. I love it.
What’s going on with you guys at the moment? What’s in the pipeline?
JT: So the single we recorded this morning is called ‘Heart That Bleeds’ and we’re aiming to put that out on an EP, with a couple of other new things that we’ve recorded. Probably by the end of July, we’re saying. We’re playing at the Middle Of Nowhere Festival in July and it’d be quite nice to tie it in with that. We did our Five Years Of Fuzz EP at the beginning of the year and that was just digital, so I think we’re going to try and do maybe a small run of CD’s for this. The thing is, we feel like we’ve really changed since Wolf Party and that was the last physical thing we did. It’d be nice to put something in people’s hands and say “this is the new us”.
RH: We’ve got new badges as well…
JT: We’re now Taskrz – a ‘z’ as a pose to an ’s’
Why that change?
SBT: We’re a new band
JT: Yeah it’s a new lineup, it’s a new vibe. Obviously it’s all of the same songs but we just wanted to slightly tweak it a bit to make people realise that there has been that slight change. There’s four of us now and it’s just a bit different.
It definitely works. After Jack and Sarah left, I was concerned as to where you were going as a band, but I’d say that your performance here earlier was one of the strongest sets I’ve ever seen you guys play.
SBT: Yeah, there was definitely a time where I was thinking “where could this go now?”. It almost felt like the whole band was falling apart really, for a short period of time. There was such a change. It’s just gone so much better and this is the best it’s ever been. We just sound the best we’ve ever sounded.
JT: You can’t really walk away from what you’ve done for five years and the fact that it’s all pretty much the same people, same songs, it’d be daft to just suddenly change the name to something completely different. In this day and age it’s like you’ve got to start a new Facebook page and get everyone back on board. It’d just be so counterproductive. It’s still the same thing, just slightly different. That’s why we’ve done it.
What gigs have you got coming up?
JT: So Middle Of Nowhere is in July. We’ve got the usual kind of Market Vaults and Glebe gigs throughout the year and a lot of stuff with Don’t Call Me Ishmael which we’re obviously all in. But I think we’re probably going to look at getting a few more gigs in around autumn/winter time maybe. It’s just whatever comes up really and what you’re touring. You can always find the gigs online.
Your other musical project DROMA has been taking off too!
JT: We’ve had lots of different people come to us to do stuff. We’ve been approached by Merrym’n and I think we’re going to do something with him, it’s just finding what format that takes. The King’s Pistol want to do something with us in the summer. That went from one song to now they want to do like a seven track album/EP thing, in-between their second and third albums. We’ll see how it pans out! But that’s quite interesting because they want to do everything live and so that’s going to be an interesting challenge to capture everything; main vocal, guitar, drums, bass – all live, so that’ll be quite cool.
SBT: We’ve got another TMC recording coming up too.
JT: Yeah we’ve got that in summer as well
RH: We’ve got a currently untitled, and we don’t know how long it’s going to be, series of singles. It’s until we blow out I think. The next single is canned and ready to go in June
JT: 8th June, for the election
RH: It’s coming out on the morning of the election
Oh wow! Does this mean that you might actually get a Facebook page for TMC?
RH: Naah! I’ll find a way to put it out there. There’ll be a hotline for you to contact me.
In conversation with… Megan Dixon-Hood
Hello! How are you doing Megan Dixon-Hood?
I’m good thank you, how are you Emily Jones?
Yes I’m very good thank you! You’ve just played your set at Lymelight Festival 2017. How did it go?
It was brilliant. It was really good. We’ve been lucky because the weather’s been dry unlike last year, when it was a bit wet. I’ve been doing a lot of solo gigs so it was really really nice to have the band back! It felt like there was a lot of energy on stage and I think we had a nice crowd actually. Some people were dancing at the front as well which is cool, because no-one ever dances to my songs! I was like “if you want to dance, then this is the one song you can dance to!”
The festival is slightly different this year, as they’ve moved the stage. What did you think about that?
Yeah they have moved it. There seems to be more room doesn’t there? It seems to have worked really well. People were stood in the actual bit where the stage is and at the sides as well, which was nice. When people were walking past, it was like the perfect place to stop and catch their attention.
Was that the first gig you’ve done with the band for a while?
It’s the first time this year! Can you believe that?! I’ve done quite a bit in Stoke but on my own. I think the last time I played in Stoke with the band was at The Exchange, for the Musician’s Against Homelessness gig. I think that was back in October. We’ve done bits and bobs in Manchester and London but this is the first one this year with the band. I was really excited, I love having them there!
Where are the band from? Are you all local?
They mostly live in Manchester which isn’t too far because I’m in Congleton and I still go to and from Manchester, so at the minute it’s the perfect set up. Two of them are finishing off at uni anyway but they’ll still be sticking around, so we’ve got the best of both worlds at the minute.
You’ve finished uni yourself now haven’t you?
I’ve finished yes… nearly a year ago! I was writing my dissertation this time last year! I can’t believe it. Where’s the time gone?! It’s mad.
Have you just been focussing on your music since leaving?
Pretty much. I’ve got a part time job but other than that, everything is music music music. I really want to be recording some stuff this summer. The next step, hopefully, will be to record an EP. Possibly a couple of new ones and some of the stuff we’ve played today, that isn’t recorded anywhere other than on live video. That’s the plan for this summer. We’ve got festivals and bits and pieces lined up, but the EP is the next big step – the next big project.
‘Abigail’ is one of my favourites at the moment, along with ‘With Time’ which you know gives me chills every time you perform it! Are we going to have any cheery songs on your next EP?
No! That’s why I said to dance to ‘A Year From Now’ because that’s the only fun one we have! I’d quite like to write a happy song but I don’t know if it’s in me. I don’t know. I might find the chords!
It’s easier to write when we’re sad or angry. I think it’s harder to write when we’re happy!
Exactly! Even when I do covers, I automatically go straight to something sad. When you play major snappy chords, it sounds too cheesy on the piano. It’s not quite right! The EP is going to stay mournful for the most part. That’s kind of our thing. I’d like to put something a little bit more upbeat out though.
When do you think the EP will be released?
I’m not sure when the release will be. I think it will be this year but probably towards the end, so we can get it all sorted this summer with the artwork and everything!
Of course! I’ve seen the photos of you in different fields and things…
That’s my sister! She’s my personal photographer! She’s studying art. If I hadn’t have done music, I think I’d have done art – something creative. I can’t not be creative. I really enjoy that side, not more than the music, but as much as the music.
What gigs have you got coming up?
We’re playing Rock And Bowl at the end of the month, which I’m really excited for as I’ve not played their before. We’re playing at Audlem Festival and we’re headlining down in London at a place called The Half Moon in Putney, so that’ll be really good. Middlewich Folk & Boat Festival, we’re doing a set there on the main stage. That was really good last year. It tipped down for the whole day but everyone stuck around and it was great. We’re on in the evening. I hope the weather will be like today and it’ll be dry.
Are you going to carry on doing solo stuff as well or is the majority of what’s coming up with the band?
It’ll all be band stuff. Everything I write, I try to write so I can do both. Some venues aren’t suited to a whole band and if they’re busy and stuff, I’d still like to play to an audience so I’d perform on my own. Depending on where the venue is really. Something like today, it wouldn’t suit me playing on my own. I supported Josienne Clarke and Ben Walker at Biddulph and I played on my own there. That was the perfect setting because everyone just listened.
You have to hear the lyrics to fully appreciate your music – you can’t be background music!
You definitely have to give it a few listens because I don’t think there’s any proper hooks. I try, but it doesn’t quite work! With the band though, they certainly want to be on board and I want them on board so we’ll go as far as we can with it.
In conversation with… John MacLeod of Attack Of The Vapours
Hello John! How are you? A bit windswept?
Hello! I’m not too bad but I am windswept.
Are you entertained?
Yes, very entertained!
You performed yesterday twice, how did that go?
The acoustic set was very slapdash because I had made a list of songs I was going to play and I think I played most of the ones on that list, but as I got to the stage, I couldn’t remember anything. I hadn’t written it down, I hadn’t put them in any order, so it was internally, for me, chaotic. I started playing a song that I only played a fortnight ago and got two chords into, couldn’t remember the third one so just segwayed into a Crowded House cover instead.
Oh no! I’m sure no-one noticed… what about your performance on the main stage with the band? You seem to have interchangeable members…
It was banging. That’s what I kind of wanted Attack Of The Vapours to be. It’s a conglomeration of people who, if they’re free to join for any particular event, whether it’s recording or a gig, then that’s what Attack Of The Vapours is for that particular thing. It’s nice to have a core group of people who are like the mainstay of AOTV. Jack Tasker (The Taskers/Don’t Call Me Ishmael/DROMA) seems to be a constant – not necessarily gig wise, but he’s a member of the outfit. Considering it’s supposed to be mainly a recording project, Jack’s pretty solid in there. Duncan Wilcox (The Jake Leg Jug Band) has said that he’s up for recording the EP with us, so that’s good. And Craig Flackett is so eager to record. Some of the songs we played yesterday will be on that EP.
Is that what the next step is for AOTV, to record another EP?
Yeah. My plan is to record ‘Sierra Bravo’ and release that on its own as a single, whilst we put the finishing touches to the EP. I’ve started to think about an album too. I was going to call it ‘The Ghost Of Hope’ but a band called The Residence have just released an album called ‘The Ghost Of Hope’. I’d gone for a walk one evening and thought of the phrase ‘find a penny, pick it up’ and instead of it carrying on to its optimistic anticlimax, I decided to end it with something a bit bleaker. I just thought of ‘find a penny, pick it up and day long you’ll be haunted by the ghost of hope’, which was kind of how I was feeling when I went for the walk. So I wandered off, came home and started writing a song and I finished it in about two or three days. The bones of the song actually came into my head when I was sitting at work, which is really frustrating because you can’t do anything with it. You’ve just got to keep humming and humming and humming until you can get home and actually get down to the hard work of it.
Sounds exciting! Your set yesterday was pretty loud, which seems to be the case for anything that Jack Tasker (of DROMA Records) touches.
Yeah. There was a nice crowd too. Lots of good people in that crowd! It was a very cheerful set and it’s really nice to have all four of us on stage. When Gary Abbott was playing with us, we did a gig in Leek and there was three of us. ATOV works with three of us and it’s fun, but it’s just nice to have that extra bit of chemistry. It’s nice because every now and again, Jack and I were just sharing a look and there’s that bit of eye contact where we were getting up to certain bits. He’s a great guy and he’s added so much to the music already. It’s an honour to be sharing the stage with him.
You’ve been here for three of the four days of Lymelight Festival, so you’ve seen a lot of different acts. What have been your Lymelight highlights?
Hmm… *lots of debating* …highlights of Lymelight so far… well Don’t Call Me Ishmael, they were superb. Their timing of who was around to kind of gather around and watch, their timing was spot on. King Kula blew my tiny mind. King Kula and Thieves Asylum were two bands that really took me by surprise. This is the first time that I’ve actually been free for the whole of Lymelight, to watch the whole thing. When King Kula and Thieves Asylum were playing, they were both doing these really good fake endings to songs and some really bonkers instrumental parts, where they were really hammering some great repetitive riffs. The more they did it, the more they changed things and stopped and started again. I was just giggling! You forget that people around this area can be that good at what they do, which in some respects, sounds terrible. The Taskers, Umbrellabird, Megan Dion-Hood. This scene is a lot more diverse than I think most people might give it credit for. Every now and again, it’s going to things like Lymelight or finding yourself at the music awards, or Your City Festival two weeks ago, that make you think that actually, this is a pretty decent scene to be in the middle of. I’m really glad that I’ve been able to be a lot more involved this year, than I have in recent years. It’s absolutely mind blowing.
The main stage looks very full tomorrow (Monday), with Kez Liddle opening at 11am. Are you going to be sticking around for the final day?
As much as I can. It’d be unfortunate if I didn’t see the whole thing. In some years where I haven’t been playing all that much, Lymelight was something that I caught blasts of whilst I was running errands or passing through the town. In the last few months I’ve actually found myself involved in a lot more things that are going on, than I have been and that’s been really energising. It’s probably been one of the things that’s helped keep me a bit more focused with AOTV. There is something out there for me to actually give AOTV to, as a pose to me doing it at home and hoping somebody listens. There are things going on around the town and around the district, that I can give AOTV recordings to or turn up to play things for. It just helps to give it a little more purpose. It’s great fun.
In conversation with… The Runawayz
You’ve just performed at Lymelight. Did you enjoy your set?
JN: Yeah it was great. Good reception.
I’ve heard that organiser Richard Buxton has been trying to get you guys on for years now and he finally managed it!
JN: Yeah, he tried to get in touch with us a few years ago but we’ve been that busy. Finally, we’ve gotten to come here!
Have you guys ever been to Lymelight before?
JN: I’ve attended on a Friday night a few years back, but this is the first time I’ve been here properly.
CJ: There’s a good turn out for it!
There really is! What have you guys been up to recently?
CJ: We’ve been really busy gigging
JN: Yeah we’re really busy with gigs. We play pretty much every weekend, sometimes up to three times a weekend.
CJ: Four times this weekend!
JN: Yeah four times! We got back from Germany two weeks ago, we did a gig over there at a rockabilly festival.
Wow! Is that the first time you’ve been abroad?
JN: No, the first gig we did abroad was in Finland in November.
SF: It was brilliant.
What’s the rockabilly scene like out of the UK?
SF: It’s quite strong still. We had a good crowd.
JN: Yeah, a mixed age group; from our age, early to mid-teens, up to all ages really.
What’s the scene like over here in the UK and locally?
JN: It’s not so much in Stoke, but when you travel out to Birmingham and down south, it’s really really strong.
SF: A lot of people tend to travel together and meet up at different gigs or weekenders and all sorts. Obviously now with Facebook and stuff there’s quite a good community.
How did The Runawayz form? Were you friends before?
JN: We’ve always been into the scene. We met up at the same gigs as each other, got talking and became friends.
SF: We met through Facebook really didn’t we?
JN: Yeah we met Sam properly at The Shakedown and then we spoke to him on social media and he joined up with us. We had a bass player before but, due to work commitments, he had to stop and slow down a bit. So Sam joined us and then the rest is history.
So are you happy with how everything’s going?
JN: Yeah really happy.
CJ: Yeah we are.
SF: Yeah. We were a bit worried at first with the distance, because we live so far away from each other, but it seems to be working.
JN: Yeah it’s working well.
You guys went down really well today because you’re so different to everyone else, locally. It seems like there could be a revival on the horizon…
CJ: Yeah that’s what we want to do.
JN: Yeah that would be perfect for us that would, a revival!
What about putting a record out – are you looking at recording anything soon?
JN: Yeah we’ve been planning to record for a while, but we’ve finally got round to it and planned a date. Hopefully, within the next two or three months, we’ll have an album out. Our first CD.
Is it going to be originals or a mix of covers as well?
JN: Yeah a good mix. We’ve got enough originals, but we are going to throw one or two covers in on the album as well, just as a crowd pleaser really.
What have you got coming up for the rest of the year gig-wise?
SF: We’ve got Ireland in August.
JN: Yeah we’re playing a big festival in Ireland in August. basically we’ve got lots of sub-culture weekends and that sort of thing.
CJ: We’ve got some rockabilly gigs that are quite big on the scene.
SF: I think in the next year or so, we definitely want to play some more mainstream venues. We played at The Underground once and that was really good.
JN: We’re actually talking to the guy at The Underground about going back on within the next month or two, so that’d be great. We really want to attract a different audience like the indie scene, to see if we can get on that sort of bandwagon. If they appreciate us then that’s even better.
And finally, what’s the plan for the band going forward?
SF: Stick to our style I think.
JN: Stick to the style but we’d like to drive it up a lot more. Make it more attractive to the younger audiences.
SF: Be a bit more energetic than the classic fifties stuff.
JN: Yeah not the lightweight sound. We like to drive it up a bit.
In conversation with… Nixon Tate (without his Honey Club)
Are you alright Nick? Did you enjoy your set at Lymelight?
Yeah I’m fine, I’m good. It was good, really good.
I know you’re not a massive fan of headlining but I thought that was a really good slot for you guys.
Well no, but this is a bit different because it’s 5 o’clock in the afternoon. Normally when you’re headlining you’re on at 11pm and it’s hard to keep people that late, so yeah it was good.
Have you caught much of Lymelight over the weekend?
Yeah I came up and saw The Taskers yesterday and heard a little bit of Umbrellabird. They were very good. The Taskers were great as well.
I noticed that The Taskers edited their set list just for you…
Yeah I got a mention! It’s always really embarrassing when that happens. I thought what Jack was going to say was, because I’ve sung ‘All Along The Watchtower’ with them before, I thought he was just going to drop it on me. I was like “do not say that” and he didn’t luckily. Otherwise I’d have been like “I’m off, see ya!”
Haha! I was slightly concerned for you too! What do you think of Lymelight this year?
Yeah it’s great. This is probably the most well attended year but I think it’s always dependent on weather, as menial as that is. This is the third year, third or fourth year we’ve played. This is the best slot we’ve had. We’ve played before where it’s kind of a bit drab and it’s raining and you get a few people, but it’s hard to keep people out if it’s cold. But when the sun shines and it’s not raining, it’s much easier to keep people involved and about. So yeah it’s been really good. It’s really well organised. The sound on stage for us was great.
It was a great conclusion to the weekend. What have you been up to as a band recently?
Not much really. Obviously the EP came out in January and then we were due to record this month, but with the drummer’s other half expecting, that’s on hold for probably another month. And then we’re going to try and do either a double a-side or two singles. Get them out quick with a quicker turn over. We took way too long with the EP, so we want to do it quicker this time.
Do you think there’ll ever be a Nixon Tate & The Honey Club album?
I think so. It’s just the way we work, we’re not one of those bands who practice twice a week or write twice a week. It’s kind of like we book gigs in and we’ll do two or three practices in advance of that. I just keep coming a long with songs and if it works and we can knock it out quite quickly then we’ll keep it. If it’s rubbish and it’s not working then we’ll drop it. I’ve never sat down and thought about writing a full body of work, but we will do eventually I think. It might be next year. It’s just trying to get the name out a bit. People want a quick turn over of new stuff to hear, so it’s better to do it that way in my opinion.
Am I right in thinking that you were playing some new stuff in today’s set?
Yeah, ‘The Wait’ is the most recent song we’ve written. We’re still piecing it together to be honest. We spent one practice on it, worked it out and then we’ve gigged it. We like to do that. Once it’s kind of standard where you can play it live, we just get it out there and then work on it as we play it live really. It’s good to do that.
You had Peter Richards standing in on drums today too!
He’s depped for us before, last year. He’s great, he’s really good. He’s just a pro basically. We’ve had one practice with him, gave him a CD, he watched the footage at the FatPigeon Live set that we did the week before, then he turns up on the day and just smashes it out. He’s good to have around as well and he sings. It’s kind of a seamless fit.
Have you threatened current drummer Bash with Pete then?
No we couldn’t ever get rid of Bash. I’ve got to get that in there. If you ever get the chance to play with him… all three of them really. Tom on bass and Joe on guitar, they play every gig like it’s their last. I really like that about them, because it keeps you on your toes and keeps you enthused about it. I’ve never turned up to a gig and thought “pfft, we’ll go through the motions”. Everyone’s always excited to play and that’s really good.
I know Joe’s mentioned that playing in NTHC is the most fun he’s ever had in a band…
There’s no fractions at all. We’re all just really good mates. We talked recently about possibly getting some additions, maybe keys or brass or something, but we’re quite conscious of upsetting the dynamic, so I don’t know if we’re going to do that. We might just mess with the idea a little bit. I guess whoever we had, we could always fall back as a four piece because that’s where it started.
What gigs have you got coming up for the rest of the year?
22nd May we’re playing at Eleven Club in Tunstall, Sandyford supporting Honey Ryder. That’ll be a nice gig. We all know Honey Ryder. It’s Bash’s brother who plays guitar for them so we’re keeping it in the family. Then we’ve got a gig in Austria I think in July.
Really? Is that the first time that NTHC will be performing overseas?
Yeah but it’s for a wedding! We’ve just been asked to do it. Playing our original stuff too, we don’t play covers so we wouldn’t do that. We’re just trying to organise that at the moment which’ll be a good few days away. And then there’s Rock And Bowl that we’re really looking forward to. We’re playing on the 28th May, which is the Sunday. We’re playing there at 6pm and then we’ll jump in the van and go to Audlem Festival and play at 9pm on the same night, which is good. We like a couple of gigs in the day. It keeps us on our toes! We’re playing in Stone in July and in August we’re playing in Newport, Shropshire. We’ve got gigs coming in all of the time which is good. We aren’t having to ask people for gigs which I always like.
Aren’t you playing Alsager Music Festival as well?
Oh yeah, Alsager on the 16th July as well. We’ve got two gigs that weekend; we’re playing in Stone on the Saturday and Alsager on the Sunday. So that’ll be good.
So a busy few months gigging, recording and releasing new music then?
Yeah hopefully. People were asking me that question all the time when we were doing the EP and I was like “yeah, it’ll be released in July” and then August comes and then we’ll say September and then January comes… hopefully in the next month or so, we’ll get in the studio and at least make a start on it.