With Reading And Leeds Festival gearing up their traditional spot over the August Bank Holiday weekend (24- 26 August), we caught up with the event's organizer, Festival Republic MD Melvin Benn to find out what, alongside headliners The Cure, Kasabian and Foo Fighters, he's got in store for 2012. Plus download The Q Festival App now for the latest coverage including line-ups, news and a messenger system that lets you keep in touch on site.
How are the preparations for this year's festival currently going?
"Really well, actually. Exceptionally well. Reading is notoriously difficult if it's absolutely sodden, but interestingly the site's not been hit by some of the torrential rain that's hit places like Silverstone. So for some reason it skirted around us. In fact we've had very little rain at Leeds too, so we're in very good shape. The planning is good, the line-up's done, the tickets are selling well so it all fells very good."
What acts on the bill are you most proud of booking this year?
"I'm always delighted with everybody, I make no bones about it, I'm really pleased with the line-up. The Black Keys, I think, is massive for us. What was interesting - and it wouldn't be a surprise to Q readers - that it was a surprise to a lot of people that they existed before January of this year! A lot of people were coming to me saying, Have you heard that band Black Keys? They're amazing, we love them! And I'd have to say, I think I heard of them six or seven albums ago [laughs]. It's ridiculous to say a band with seven albums behind them can take a country by storm but that's what seems to have happened. It's an extraordinary story. I don't think they can believe what's happened to them here in the UK. Florence of course, she's just awesome. She knows how to take control of the stage. The Cure? What can you say about them? It's great to see Kasabian finally making that step up to headline, that's a great booking for us. And obviously having Dave Grohl back is brilliant. It almost feels like he's back on home ground. It's his space really isn't it? He's so synonymous with the festival. The Foo Fighters will be a massive highlight."
It must be rare for you to have an artist like Dave Grohl who has such a connection with Reading, via both Nirvana, Foo Fighters early UK gigs and his headline slots?
"It's the festival and the festival audience that have that relationship. The fantastic thing is they are festivals that can make a band. You can see how people like The Vaccines or Two Door Cinema have come through the ranks and that creates a relationship with the festival where they know how they'll be greeted, they know they'll have to work hard, but they also know if they work hard it will be a big step up for them."
Who else are you looking forward to this year?
"There's interesting things you can look at. Kasabian, every time they've played have headlined a stage. From the Festival Republic Stage upwards. Pulled Apart By Horses, every time they've played, they've opened and they've gone up in stages, starting with the BBC Introducing stage. Now they're the opening act on the main stage. So you can see them and bands like Bombay Bicycle Club travelling through the bill. You can see the progress of their careers through Reading and Leeds, so it's always good to watch where they go next."
Have you managed to 'sneak' any personal favourites on to the bill if so who?
"The Shins, of course! That's a little bit about who I am, but I'm also massively keen to see Azelia Banks. I saw her very briefly at the Hackney Weekend and she absolutely took it apart. She was brilliant. I'm also keen to see Sleigh Bells, The Subways, Less Than Jake and Justice. I love the noise they make and the intensity of their show, it's everything we should be. I'm hearing great things about The Hives too."
Can you recommend us one non-musical thing from this year's event?
"Good Wellies! For me Benjamin Zephaniah on the Alternative Stage is a stand out. He arrived a few years just after me in London and he seemed to pervade all aspects of my life. I was living in Brixton and he seemed to be around all the time. I think he's a genius. I guess it's when someone has been part of your culture for so long you can't miss him."
Any site changes we should note?
"Nothing of any note, actually."
What's the latest travel advice for this year's event?
"Everybody knows the routine for Reading, if you don't how to get a train out of Paddington, Cardiff, Manchester or Bristol then you've just landed from another planet I'm afraid. Leeds we've got great facilities, great campsites, cars parks but the shuttle bus service from Leeds train station is brilliant. So the advice is as normal, try and avoid the roads as much as possible."
What one act who you haven't booked yet are you still desperate to have on?
"No, no, no, absolutely not. There are acts you think, Wouldn't it be great... but the chances are it would be because the best acts for Reading and Leeds are the ones that want to play here. I don't think there's anyone ever who's been around thus far that we wanted to play the festival who hasn't.
For more, including the full line-up and latest ticket news, head to Readingfestival.co.uk and Leedsfestival.co.uk. Plus download The Q Festival App now for the latest coverage including line-ups, news and a messenger system that lets you keep in touch on site.
11:00 AM | 17/07/2012
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