For the first installment of today’s ArcTanGent takeover, John from Maybeshewill had a chat with Goc and James from the ATG Crew.
ArcTanGent takes place from 20th-23rd August 2015 at Fernhill Farm.
John: You should always lead with a compliment, right? You’ve curated the best “small” festival line-up of the summer three years running – How long can you keep this up?
Goc: Why, thank you very much! As the three of us organisers are massively into our music we always have our ear to the ground to find the best new up and coming music out there. As long as there are new and exciting bands making music, we’ll be able to continue to book top-draw line-ups. There are still several bigger bands on our wish list that will make for stonking headliners when we can get them confirmed. Also, we actively listen to our fans-base who are all musos and are constantly recommending bands that would fit our bill. Thankfully these recommendations come from all over the world so we are not limited to just UK bands.
John: When are you starting your third (or is it fourth?) festival, and what would that theoretically look like?
Goc: Funny you should mention it; I’m working on one at the moment with a couple of other festival-esque projects bubbling along in the background too. But I would say that if the three of us were to start a third festival, it’d have a similar vibe to ArcTanGent and 2000trees in the sense that it would be independently run, small and would focus on good music, good food and good beer. Musically I’m not sure where it would take us as we’d have to find something that didn’t compete with ArcTanGent or 2000trees. There has been discussion about ArcTanGent USA so maybe that would be the third one, which would solve the music problem but would be totally different due to location, set up and a whole bunch of production factors. Watch this space people!
John: Were there any other events that you drew influence from when you were putting the first year of ArcTanGent together, or was it just a case of taking a certain ‘scene’ of bands from trees and spinning that off in to an event in it’s own right?
Goc: Undoubtedly we all have our own influences in terms of what we love about events and festivals, however we were all on the same page about not wanting to create a soulless ‘Reading-style- festival. There are a number of high-creative free-parties that I went to that really inspired me long before I even got into the event industry: there was something about the authenticity of it that stuck with me. All of us regularly attend gigs and other festivals that we’re drawing inspiration and learnings from even now. The music we book and the location (only a stones-throw from Bristol) have definitely influenced the design of the event for example, the look and feel of Stokes Croft in Bristol with it’s abundance of graffiti is prominent on site. The ideas we have are currently far exceeding what we are able to implement due to a number of restrictions so there will be some interesting growth for ArcTanGent over the coming years.
John: What do all three of you do for the rest of the year when you’re not scooting about on quad bikes pandering to the demands of muddy musicians and music fans?
Goc: Running a festival(s) is a full time job. Once we get off site from ArcTanGent, there is about a week to chill out and catch up on some much needed sleep before all of the planning kicks off again. However if you’re doing something you love every day, it doesn’t feel like work!
John: It’s acutely obvious that you devote a substantial portion of the bill to younger, developing artists – Do you think that’s important for the continued relevance of an event like ATG, and what’s your criteria for picking those bands that people looking at the line-up probably don’t already know?
James: Obviously ATG is in somewhat of a niche of math-rock, post-rock etc and I feel it’s therefore very important that we support the scene at its most underground level. It’s not necessarily about our continued relevance, but as far as I’m concerned, bands like Cleft and Memory of Elephants can (will) be the next Mogwai or Maybeshewill and if in some way we can help move them up the ladder then that’s awesome. I absolutely hate it when some of the larger festivals like Glastonbury book megastars like Metallica or Kanye West but have no interest in helping to support the up and coming bands from those scenes – whether it be metal, hip-hop or whatever. It’s just hypocritical as far as I’m concerned.
In terms of my criteria for picking up and coming bands, it’s two fold really… Firstly, the band has to fit ATG musically – as soon as I hear a band it’s usually pretty obvious whether they would work with our audience. And secondly, I need to think they are an amazing band – hopefully I’ll see them live before I book them but obviously that’s not always possible.
John: Are there bands (or indeed any aspects of the festival) that you disagree on the booking of between you, or is it organised through mutual agreement?
James: There are three of us (me, Si and Goc) and we are all responsible for own areas of the festival – the list is never-ending really… water, power, security, sound & light, health & safety etc. We do support each other a lot but ultimately band booking is not something that can’t be organised through committee – we tried that at 2000trees nine years ago and it didn’t go well. What can you say when someone says they don’t like Reuben? Haha. Basically, I think Si and Goc trust me to book a line-up that our audience will love and it feels like three years in it’s going pretty well.
Goc: We are all strong-minded people but thankfully there’s not a situation that has become heated or irresolvable. Ultimately we are all pulling the same direction, wanting to achieve the same goal: to put on the best independent festival possible. There can be healthy debate about various aspects of the event planning and logistics but normally once each one of us has explained our reasoning behind our opinion there is an obvious solution. So in response to your question; through mutual agreement and of a bigger understanding of the end goal.
John: Finally, are we the biggest pain in the arse band you’ve had at the festival, and is the challenge of dealing with our various rock star shenanigans why you keep asking us back?
James: Ha – no comment! To be honest, 99% of the band’s we’ve had at ATG are lovely. We give them quality sound and light production so there are usually no complaints or issues. Although every year there is one band on the main stage that causes us some headaches in the run up, but it all tends to work out well in the end and everyone goes home happy. I could tell you an incredible story about one well known band last year but I’d get in a lot of trouble…