I’d like to focus on one topic this week. This Saturday 29th July at The Underworld, Camden, ten bands will come together to play at the Freedom Festival, an all day event organised by the front-man of independent alternative punk/metal band, Djevara.
Bass was the instigator behind the well known Scumfest events of 2002/03 which developed from Kerrang!’s “Scumscene” and got coverage from the magazine, also becoming a major source of inspiration for musicians and wannabe promoters in the underground scene.
I’ve always thought that shockingly few gigs are organised and promoted by bands. It makes sense to me that if you’re playing somewhere you should have some input in to how the event is run, how it’s promoted and how you are presented as a band. That tends not to be how it usually works, yet I’ve heard lots of musicians gripe and complain after playing to one man and his dog (no exaggeration) without the thought crossing their mind that they could (and should) have helped themselves by getting more involved.
I have a couple of selfish reasons for mentioning this gig in particular, namely that I’m opening the day with an acoustic set as She Makes War and playing bass and singing with Miss Black America further up the bill. As well as that I connect very strongly with the ethos behind the event – not only the DIY bands-doing-things-for-themselves-and-each-other aspect but the underlying principles of personal freedom that have inspired Bass to put on another all day event.
I caught up with him at The Orange & Blue Room in Catford, a recording studio and once-yearly festival venue run by Malcolm Gayner, who also drums for Kvetch, Big Girl’s Blouse and various other bands (typical drummer behaviour).
As I sipped white wine and surveyed the rubbley beginnings of this September’s MalcFest (previously known as the garden), I learned the following:
What prompted you to organise this event?
"Well, initially I was simply organising Djevara’s annual Underworld show – as a DIY act we usually sort the bills and set the agenda for our shows. Djevara has always campaigned for civil liberties and human rights but in the current climate I’ve found that the media and government have been ever more willing to sacrifice or ignore them, and talking with Joe from No Hope Astronaut and Seymour from Miss Black America I realised friends in the underground shared these concerns and the idea developed in to something bigger and eventually it was this thing."
What human rights/civil liberties issues do you feel most strongly about at the moment and what do you think bands can do about them?
"I don’t feel a short, snappy answer to this question would do any of the issues justice – from the Orwellian dangers of ID cards/National Identity Register to “extraordinary rendition” and extra-judicial orders to outrageous anomalies like Guantanamo Bay. People can read a lot about these on Liberty’s site and Amnesty’s. As for what bands (or any artists) can do? Well, I think music/art can act as a great means of bringing people together and encouraging and inspiring each other, even if nothing overtly ‘political’ is contained in the music/art itself. I don’t pretend we can change the world with one show, but we are doing something we believe in, making people – importantly, young people – think about serious issues, and hopefully having a great time in the process."
Why did you pick these ten acts?
"The event – like most of them actually – developed organically, and basically I brought artists on board who I knew and respected, were sympathetic to the cause, and would make for a quality, eclectic event. I think there’s something for everyone who likes alternative rock."
Tickets for the Freedom Festival can be pre-ordered through Ticketweb here, otherwise they’re available on the door for £5.00 before 4pm and £7.50 afterwards. Bands start at 2pm and continue through to 10.15pm.
Full line-up details and a flyer can be viewed here.
In other news, I had a surreal weekend performing at pop roadshows up North. It’s hard to pick the finest moment – was it when I was accosted by Chico, who kissed me on both cheeks, proudly announcing “Hi, I’m Chico” (I had to text my sister to find out what that meant) or when some obnoxious teen threw a dirty trainer at me when I was on stage?
Freedom Festival Ten Songs
1. Human – Immune – link
2. Autism – Djevara – link
3. Automatic – Miss Black America – link
4. Watch The Fall – The Super Nashwan Kids – link
5. Twax – Keiko – link
6. Hope Is Important – Missiles of Uncertain Destinations – link
7. Fire At The Door – Kvetch – link
8. Four Is Five – No Hope Astronaut – link
9. Hanger Lane – They Died Too Young – link
10. Like Liars – She Makes War – link ;)