Wickerman 2012: A Little Solus
The Solus Tent looks like a familiar festival platform on paper – get new bands in, stick them on a stage – but the thinking behind it is very different. “It’s a showcase stage,” explains curator Chay Woodman of the Wickerman staple. “But we’re not connected to an industry body.” Instead Solus simply wants everyone, bands and punters alike, to enjoy a weekend of quality bands.
Friday night headliners United Fruit were booked last August, one of the easier tasks Woodman faced in making this particular bill a reality. “It takes a huge amount of work to put together," he admits. "But if I get pissed off, I just throw on some Beta Band and make myself another coffee.”
Part of the pay-off, Woodman says, is that he is personally looking forward to seeing each of the 20 acts. “Although I will say this: it disturbs me that a band like There Will Be Fireworks are not playing other new band stages. Some people are clearly not doing their homework.”
Here, we talk to the artists who will be taking the long road to Dumfriesshire later this month.
Anderson, McGinty, Webster, Ward & Fisher
The musicians that comprise AMWWF are no strangers to Wickerman, having played there with various other bands over the years: “When we were asked to come down this year and perform together it was a no-brainer," they say. "It’s a long drive but its certainly worth it.” The
Peter Kelly – as Beerjacket calls himself when he lays down his acoustic guitar – was name-checked by several of the Solus line-up when asked which fellow artists they were most looking forward to seeing. You get the impression that a man often compared to Elliot Smith would take this in his stride. “It’s been a fantastic year,” he said. “I thought playing The Review Show on BBC 2 last year would probably be the end of the excitement, but very fortunately, I’m finding things are only getting busier and better.”
The skills of champion beatboxer Bigg Taj have impressed bloggers for several years, but he says he’s still learning – and is always on the look-out for ways to improve his style. Solus will provide him with the perfect opportunity. “I learn from watching other people perform,” he says. “I look at their stage presence, how they conduct a crowd and how they create the vibe. “I’m just looking forward to the whole experience.”
The Birthday Suit
The power punk band from long-time Idlewild guitarist Rod Jones, The Birthday Suit released their debut album The Eleventh Hour to healthy acclaim late last year. Idlewild have a substantial presence at this year’s Solus, with guitarist Allan Stewart appearing on bass duties with
Chris Devotion and The Expectations
High octane rock n’ roller Chris Devotion is sure to work up a sweat when he brings his band The Expectations to Solus. They were “blown away” by the response to their debut album Amalgamation and Capital, which hit the stands in January. Chris says they plan to spend the weekend at Wickerman, even if the main stage headliners leave him cold. “
The Cosmic Dead
Bringing a welcome dash of electro to proceedings will be
Grant Me Revenge
This Glasgow-based progressive metal act pride themselves on playing especially loud and heavy music. "By the looks of the line-up, we are definitely throwing something very different into the mix," says lead guitarist Scott Weild. "The tent is looking great this year and we're excited to be part of it! We are looking forward to seeing Bigg Taj; he's awesome at what he does."
Fresh from supporting heavyweights such as EPMD and The GZA, hip-hop duo Louie and Audrey are excited about bringing their live drums n’ rap sound to Solus. “It has a genuine feel to it in terms of promoting new and interesting performances,” says MC Louie. “It’s nice to share the bill with such talented people.” He’ll also keep an eye on
Hey Enemy are already thinking about their second album, having released debut The Wrong Songs To Right Wrongs in February. Given that it took seven years to reach that stage, 2012 must class as a burst of activity for the experimental hardcore outfit. Whilst they enjoyed playing the GoNorth stage at RockNess at The Skinny's invitation a few years back, the family-friendly vibe of Wickerman is a bonus, says Chet Harbinger: “As it turns out, you can only be in a band so long before your drummer gets someone pregnant.”
Described by fellow Idlewild guitarist Rod Jones as “pretty full on,” Allan Stewart’s other band
Human Don’t Be Angry
Malcolm Middleton says 2012 has “been a riot” so far, having moved to rural
Julia and the The Doogans
Solus curator Chay says he's especially looking forward to seeing this Glasgow-based folk-pop collective, who are centred around the mercurial talent of Julia Doogan. Wickerman promises to be a busy weekend for her: “I am a really big fan of Beerjacket. I would have been there front row but now, as luck would have it, I will be playing on stage with him as I stand in on backing vocals.”
A band likely to draw a sizeable crowd to the Solus, The LaFontaines' relentless touring has built the kind of loyal fanbase many acts would give an eye for. Blending hip-hop, pop, rock and electro, the Motherwell outfit are newcomers to Wickerman, but not to the area: “Oddly enough we played a gig in
The Machine Room
Many of this year’s Solus acts rate Dumfriesshire as one of the more out-of-the-way places they’ve played. But when it comes to quirky bookings, Auld Reekie’s Machine Room must have a winner. “We’ve got a gig in the Scottish Parliament during the Edinburgh Festival. I’m quite intrigued to see what that’ll be like,” says John Bryden. Formed from the ashes of several other bands, The Machine Room play the kind of shimmering pop that’s likely to win over many new fans. And possibly a few politicians.
Martin John Henry
2012 has been a big year for the De Rosa frontman. When not promoting his solo album, The Other Half of Everything, Martin has found the time to contribute to Malcolm Middleton’s Human Don’t Be Angry. He’s also hard at work on a new De Rosa LP. “I’m over the moon about it,” he says. This will be his third Wickerman. “I like to watch the big man burn on the last night, but other than that, I don’t really wander far from the Solus.”
This time last year, Salò were not just unknown – they hadn’t even played a gig. Now the technically gifted
There Will Be Fireworks
Festivals are meant to be about enjoyment, but for TWBF guitarist Gibran Farrah, their last Wickerman appearance was more about endurance, having broken his collarbone the evening before “during some amicable rough-housing”. Their anticipated appearance at Solus is likely to include much material from their forthcoming second LP, which they’ve been working on for most of the year. “We’d hoped to have it out in time for Wickerman," they offer, "but real life got in the way.”
Friday night headliners United Fruit are in no doubt about what gives Wickerman its edge. “Smaller festival are always much more relaxed and fun to play,” says bassist Marco. “What’s particularly impressive is the tiny origins that this one grew from.” The post-hardcore quartet (who claimed our July cover in 2011) have a rare fire about them, which they plan to document again with the release of album number two early next year.
“We have played in some strange places before,” says drummer Jon. “Such as in an abandoned factory full of skateboarders. But this will be our first ‘off-road’ gig together.” Named after the hard-as-nails, machine-gun wielding Marine from Aliens, Vasquez are a three-man assault on the senses. Expect to be impressed.