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Down at the End Of The Road
It seems as though we can't get enough of music festivals in this country. From the first outbursts of sunshine in April to the long summer evenings in September, we are determined to make sure every last hour of sunlight is utilised to the full. Across this period the whole gamut of line-ups and installations are represented, from the basic stage-beer tent-field set up, to the inetrestingly programmed boutique festivals that offer slightly leftfield artists, sustenance and settings. Whatever you want from your festival experience it seems as though there's something for everyone now, from the first time families to the hardened welly wearer.
Since its announcement earlier this year we've been counting the days to END OF THE ROAD FESTIVAL (31st August-2nd Spetember). Not just because of the gorgeous setting at Larmer Tree gardens in Dorset, or the amazing line-up (although the porspect of GRIZZLY BEAR, THE LOW ANTHEM, GRANDADDY and BEACH HOUSE is pretty mouth-watering): our constant feelings of excitement for End Of The Road stem from the regular reports filtering back to us of the many and varied good experiences had by previous year's attendees. Now in its seventh year, EOTR has built a reputation for being a laidback, family-friendly festival with a focus on alternative, folk and Americana music. Due to the nature of the idyllic garden site it's not unusual to happen upon peacocks wandering about the grounds, and macaws calling from the trees. And with full programmes of comedy and cinema sitting neatly alongside the children's workshops, Forest Dancefloor and Healing Retreat, it's easy to see why the festival is a regular sellout and has thousands of returning revellers each year.
But it's the strength of the music programme that is the biggest pull, and beneath the headliners there is a wealth of great music on offer at EOTR this year. GRAHAM COXON, MIDLAKE and PATTI SMITH share this year's top-billing status, and rightly so, but that is but the tip of the iceberg. WILLIS EARL BEAL, TOY and ALT-J all turned in stunning performances at Liverpool Sound City back in May and are definitely worth catching to see how the bigger stages will suit them. ANNA CALVI, VILLAGERS and ISLET will all provide a different atmosphere to the Garden and Big Top Stages, from dark and dramatic Spaghetti Western-like soundscapes to intricately-moving folk ballads, with a dash of euphoric percussive-rave ups thrown in for good measure. And if you want a soundtrack to this year's EOTR? PORCELAIN RAFT's Drifting In And Out, SAVAGES' Husbands and YETI LANE's Analog Wheel won't be far from the final list.
From a local perspective OUTFIT are yet again carrying the torch for Liverpool music on the festival circuit, and it's something they're getting comfortably accustomed to. While they represent the vibrancy of the here and now, another pair of performers at EOTR this year - THE LOST BROTHERS - will be showing what the Liverpool of the past has contributed to 2012's programme. Irishmen Mark McCausland and Oisin Leech met in Liverpool around 2006 when they were both already in bands: McCausland's The Basement released their album Illicit Hugs And Playground Thugs on Zealous Records that year, while Leech's The 747s capitalised on touring dates with The Strokes and The Raconteurs with their own LP Zampano, both to great critical acclaim. When, eventually, both of these projects fell by the wayside, they joined forces to form The Lost Brothers, and the duo haven't looked back since. From appearances at SXSW, Glastonbury and Electric Picnic, to performing alongside Richard Hawley, Brendan Benson and Van Morrison amongst others.
Bido Lito!'s Christopher Torpey caught up with Oisin from The Lost Brothers to ask how the duo are looking forward to playing End Of The Road this year, and to discover how recent work with Brendan Benson has been progressing.
Bido Lito!: Hello Oisin, what are The Lost Brothers up to at the moment? Haven’t you been working with Brendan Benson in Nashville on the follow up to So Long John Fante?
Oisin Leech: So Long John Fante was actually made in Sheffield with Colin Elliot. You’re right though, we have worked with Brendan and he produced the third album that’s coming in September - The Passing Of The Night. I've been pals with Brendan a long time now. The record came about because we were passing through Nashville for a week and Brendan was in town and up for recording.
BL!: Working in Nashville, did you find the spirit and history of the place seeping in to the record when you made it?
OL: 1979 studios (where we recorded) is in the suburbs of Nashville. I really enjoyed meeting the people who live and play there, young and old. Any city you record in will find its way on to the album whether you plan it or not. Some of the Old Crow Medicine Show and The Cardinals band members came and played so we were lucky to have great musicians who were up for a song or two.
BL!: You met and formed The Lost Brothers in Liverpool after you’d both left your previous bands: has the city or area left any lasting imprint on you as musicians, or the band in terms of outlook/style?
OL: Liverpool for me will always be the city of song. In every song we play there's always a line in there that’s for Liverpool, visually or emotionally. I miss the city very much and I think it’s a magical place.
BL!: They’ve always said Liverpool is a melting pot of ideas and cultures, did you think that when you were living and working here? Is that what attracted you to the place, or was it simply geography and logistics that meant you both wound up here?
OL: Carl Jung used to say that a creative energy line runs through Liverpool: when you listen to the likes of The Beatles and The Coral you have to agree to say Carl was right.
Liverpool was just where we ended up, there were no plans really. Mark lived near Arnold Grove where George Harrison grew up. I came to visit one night and stayed a few years. I stayed in the spare room a while and then had my own place. We started writing songs just for fun to fill the evenings. We found that we had a lot of the same records and we would gather around a rusted gas heater at night and listen to Delmore Brothers or Hank Williams records - then the next morning we'd write some songs.
BL!: You’re off to play at End Of The Road Festival in Dorset soon, where they’ve got a pretty stellar line-up booked. Are you going to be off catching the other performers or do you fancy trying your hand at some stand up on the comedy stage?
OL: Ha ha ha! I enjoy comedy. There's usually enough comedy in how bad our stage banter is though...! End Of The Road is the best festival around I think. It’s not too big and the line-up is great. I seriously can’t wait to see Justin Townes Earle play, his show is worth seeing and he has good songs as you know.
I enjoy playing festivals more and more because I'm learning how to approach the set a bit more. A festival can be like a mad lion or a faithful dog, depends how you wake up that morning!
BL!: Richard Hawley headlined EOTR’s sister festival No Direction Home earlier in the year, and you’ve toured with him AND recorded with his band before. Any plans for any further collaborations in the future?
OL: I am a huge fan of Richard's music and it’s always great to see him. His band Colin, Dean, Shez and Jon are top fellas too. Solin Elliot is a wonderful producer and we're lucky to have worked with him.
BL!: Thanks Oisin, enjoy the festival and we’re looking forward to hearing some new stuff from you!
OL: Cheers Chris, good to chat with you and see you soon.
End Of The Road Festival takes place at Larmer Tree Gardens, Dorset over the weekend of 31st August - 2nd September. Weekend, camping and day tickets are available now from endoftheroadfestival.com. Full details on this year's line-up, as well as a host of other attractions can also be found on the EOTR website.