Long Division // First festival announcements and interview!
LONG DIVISION - June 7-9 2013
WAKEFIELD, WEST YORKSHIRE
Exciting times are ahead for festival-goers as announcements start to come thick and fast for the summer ahead. We can confirm exclusively that Long Division have announced an awesome selection of bands to whet your appetite for the June festival in West Yorshire that last year boasted Art Brut as a headline. There'll be 65 bands in total with more announcements due very soon.
The first confirmed acts for Long Division are (for June 8th):
Nine Black Alps
Ed Tudor Pole
Skint & Demoralised
Post War Glamour Girls
The Michael Ainsley Band
We also caught up with promoter Dean Freeman to find out more about the story behind Long Division.
Tell us, what is the idea behind Long Division Festival?
Well, Long Division is organised by the fanzine I write and edit called Rhubarb Bomb. It is kind of an extension of those ideals we try and celebrate; people doing their own thing, purely for the love of it. Because Wakefield is such an odd (yet brilliant) place it quite easily found its own character and style. We just built it and they came.
Now we have got to our third year, exactly what we are trying to do has become a little clearer. On the one had, it is about giving the people and artists of Wakefield a little inspiration, to bring the city to life in a way that can seem unlikely the rest of the year.
But it's also to show off Wakefield to people who've never been before. It's not just some backward northern town. It's got such an intense community of DIY minded local musicians, performers, record labels, promoters etc. We lack the sheen of the coolness of larger cities, but just as it is with our lack of large-scale music venues, we turn it into a positive. Long Division makes something of Wakefield's underdog status. It's the kind of off the radar event that a small
number of people in the know really enjoy.
There's been a lot of investment in Wakefield's arts and culture in recent years, do you think Wakefield will be able to shake off its chavvy image and rival Leeds as a creative centre?
I think it has already done that, certainly the first part. That rank weekend city centre culture exists in every town. I think in a place like Leeds, that thing has its own pocket, its own area. There are other ideas of a good time in equal pockets elsewhere in the city. In contrast, Wakefield sadly has that bad stuff in the centre, in large neon letters. The alternate stuff, be it Pavement-indebted indie bands or community art studios sit on the periphery, or at least they used to.
But in the last three or so years, those people have started to work together. So there is this dark side to the city, but elsewhere it really is quite exciting. Genuinely national attractions like The Hepworth and Yorkshire Sculpture Park are
great at giving people a different, more positive thing to associate with us. But, as a zine, we are interested in supporting the smaller elements, these amazing bands that are routinely ignored by the larger press. We figure, getting people like The Fall to play here will draw people in, but hopefully they'll soak in some local culture whilst they are here. Wakefield will never be Leeds; we're trying to show people that that isn't a bad thing.
What venues will you be using this year?
We like to mix it up with the venues; The Hop is Wakefield's key venue. It regularly books touring bands that wouldn't otherwise touch Wakefield with a bargepole. It's barely 200 capacity, but we had Los Campesinos! in there in 2011 which was crazy. We've got Wakefield Theatre Royal, which is just beautiful. I think it's nice to have a change of pace at an all day festival; a plush velvet seat and a grand stage.
The best thing, as anyone who has been will tell you, is that they are all a literal stones through from one another. Step off the train and you can be watching your first band within five minutes.
How will this year's Long Division differ from 2012's?
The Saturday will still be the ridiculously good value for money, all day affair that we've had in previous years - with added Mark E Smith! The Sunday is where we've put a lot more though into things. After 12 hours of 60-odd bands on the Saturday, our feeling is that people might need to give their ears arrest. And after 12 hours of drinking (or more), we reckon more traipsing round venues might be a bit much.
So we will be putting on a selection of one-off events that people can pick and choose from. We're still in the planning stage, but Robin Ince & Josie Long will be recording one of their Utter Shambles podcasts at the Theatre Royal with a special guest. There will be a pop-up indie cinema showing short films and documentaries. I'm really excited about an idea to get our friends at Greenmount Studios to set up a studio for the day in one of our venues, with a band then recording a live album.
And then there will be a load of discussion panels about various topics that are important in the indie world. Which with stuff like the HMV closure in the news right now should be very interesting. But we've got some real characters lined up, so it won't be a dry, academic event, it will be lively and exciting and hopefully get people thinking and talking.
What was your festival highlight last year?
My highlight of Long Division 2012 was filling the theatre with nearly 500 people for Aidan Moffat & Bill Wells. I've loved Aidan since the Arab Strap days - and most of my friends certainly didn't! - so it felt great to give him such a warm welcome in Wakefield.
Other than Long Division, I think my highlight was Beacons. I guess I see these things more from a organiser's perspective now, but I just thought it was put together with such care, the passion of it shone through. It was the only time I got out to the countryside for a festival too, and it's so beautiful up in North Yorkshire.
What bands are you keeping your eye on at the moment?
Locally I think it is going to be a really exciting year for some of our Wakefield bands. We gave Runaround Kids our 'Tru DIY' award for a really smart series of T-shirt / CD / Vinyl / Cassette release and it'll be interesting to see where they go next. Equally for St Gregory Orange, who claimed our album of the year.
I am genuinely excited to hear the new albums by The Fall, and Ghostpoet too. I especially enjoyed Your Future, Our Clutter and you'd hope that The Fall's thirtieth album proper would be something special. Of course, you can never tell, but that's part of the fun. I first saw Ghostpoet supporting Metronomy at The Hop (another awesome booking) and thought his first album was great, so very excited to hear what he comes up with next.
And then I've just been working my way through Avalanche Records top 30 selling records of 2012. Long Division has a massive love of Scottish bands, so I'm hoping to find a couple more gems to invite down.
Could 2013 be the year of the 'city festival'?
I think they can only grow in popularity. With the high street dying and venues struggling, they are an amazingly effective way to boost a city's confidence and stature. The big businesses have taken the uniqueness of our cities away from us - at least on the surface. But that only brings the interesting stuff into contrast. I love the idea of going to a new city for the day and seeing what it has to offer. It reminds me of my university days when I would visit all my friends around the country. National Express or a cheap train, and you are there.
I'm not knocking the outdoor festivals at all, though the appeal for a whole summer of them wanes a little as you get older. But it's the cost too. I can maybe afford to do one or two decent sized outdoor festivals, but city-based ones are just so easy and affordable - and much easier for people like ourselves, with few resources, to make something really interesting happen. It's an exciting time.