Yes, this weekend we're off to sunny (we'd hope) Steventon for Truck Nine, the festival described as indie's own garden fete, eclectic as you like and fully independent and in tune with its potential punters, as those who tarried just a few too many weeks into March before watching it sell out will be aware. Preview material is coming this week - do let us know if you'll be there, not that we'll keep in touch but we'll feel morally correct - and reviews next week, but first we grabbed a few words about this most home-grown of festivals with Truck Records/Festival's supremo...
How would you describe Truck to someone who's never been?
A ginormous village fete with lots of bands and faintly inebriated punters relaxing in the sunshine.
What do you look for in a headliner?
Obviously we have to like them musically, but they also need to be able to get into the spirit of the whole thing; there aren't any dressing rooms, full length mirrors or ice buckets. What we do have is a great, music savvy audience and bucketloads of fun.
What kind of competition is there for acts filling out the bill?
There are so many bands that want to play! There are so many bands that I want to play too - but booking them isn't as easy as it looks. We have a slot which is for an unsolicited demo and we did the demo listening yesterday. I think there were 400 or so in there. The band that came first are amazing. 80s synth rock. Like Van Halen a bit.
With 6 Music being on board this year and the media becoming more interested every year, can Truck's community ethos still be as strong?
Nothing has changed in that respect. The farmer built them a road with some local navvies for their broadcast truck just the other week. So that is a physical change I guess, but our ethos remains the same. It is still run by a rather diverse mix of people; a shop assistant from the local co-op, a latin teacher, a thatcher, an antiquarian book-seller, a guy who runs a power station and of course the farmer. We have a couple of industry professionals too, but they're definitely in the minority. This means though, that the event isn't run just like every other festival - many bigger events all seem to look the same - every aspect is looked at from the ground up.
How much bigger can Truck become?
No idea. Sky's the limit. We have no plans to currently expand the capacity. I don't want Truck to end up being one of those events where you spend more time looking for the people you came with than actually watching bands. Where we can get bigger is in terms of the acts we're able to attract. I'm planning that when we book Nine Inch Nails for the Saturday and the Flaming Lips for the Sunday, but still on a £40 ticket and your kid sister's country band that no one has ever heard of as main support, it will be time for me to retire.
Are there too many festivals or is it just reflective of the health of the live scene?
I think there are too many, and the bigger promoters seem to be trying to introduce new ones left, right and centre! But I reckon that it is pretty difficult to just start a new event, book a whole bunch of current bands and still have a great atmosphere. That, I think, is half of it and I don't think you can just buy that. That being said, I think Latitude looks like an interesting proposition. The timing and the style indicates to me that the promoters are trying to compete with events like Truck and Greenman on our level. They've booked a line-up which features many of the acts that we've got this year and many that I'd like to have. I've quite a few friends going so I'm intrigued to find out how it all pans out. They're definitely investing for the long term here, as the popularity of the bigger festivals does seem to have peaks and troughs. Whatever happened to Phoenix?
Name three standout Truck performances of the last couple of years.
The Black Madonnas two years ago has been a personal favorite. They were the only band I got to watch all of their set, over the entire weekend. Me and the Schla La Las had a good mosh pit. KTB did a duet with Chris T-T a couple of years back too. That was a great moment on the main stage on the Sunday evening. Best of all though was when Luke Smith did his alternative national anthem a couple of years back. Not a dry eye in the house.
Finally, give us a couple of acts early on that we need to check out.
Well the demo band first on on the main stage should be pretty good. Mai Mayo Mai who are third on in the Lounge on Saturday are great, as are Shimura Curves, who are fourth on there on Sunday. The guy opening the Market Stage on Saturday is also AMAZING. He's called Y, completely nuts and works with Joseph Arthur. I might also add The Early Years who are on first on the Sunday in the Lounge, they're an excellent late addition.
Many thanks to P-C Rae and all at Truck. Truck Nine sold out ages ago, and you'd only be denying charities money if you touted for one now. Round Oxford on Thursday? There's an official warm-up at The Cellar, a fiver to see Goldrush, The September Gurls and others.