T Break: United Fruit and Hector Bizerk look back
As T Break opens for submissions from Scotland's up-and-coming bands, United Fruit's Marco Panagopoulos and Hector Bizerk's Louie tell us what playing the showcase stage at T in the Park did for their careers
Each year, Scotland's biggest music festival, T in the Park, endeavours to present the best-of-the-best from Scotland's emerging bands and musicians, showcasing them on the T Break stage, right at the heart of the festival's sprawling Balado site. Last year's T-Break bill provided some of the highlights in our 2013 coverage of T in the Park, with sets from Hector Bizerk, Machines In Heaven and Pronto Mama among others –- see the links below for our round-up of each day's highlights. All three of those bands went on to gain recognition in the nominations for this year's Scottish Alternative Music Awards.
This year, T Break's panel of journalists, DJs, promoters and industry lecturers will be selecting 16 bands from the slew of demos submitted – that pool will go on to make up the bill for the long-running stage at the festival, which runs from 11-13 July. Bands are invited to submit their applications now, with the process open to any unsigned band or artist aged over 18, and working in Scotland. The deadline for submissions is midnight on 31 March. To apply, visit the T Break site here.
“I think T Break exemplifies everything that is great about T in the Park," says rapper Louie, front-man of Hector Bizerk. "We were completely shocked to get the nod in 2013. We had played BBC Introducing in 2012 so it was a surprise to be invited back for the double dunt." Louie says he and drummer Audrey Tait were "completely ecstatic" to hear they had been selected for T Break. "To think that several thousand artists entered that competition and we were actually selected is quite a special feeling. I would advise anyone playing T Break to make sure you fully appreciate the magnitude of your achievement and enjoy the show. Playing at Scotland's largest festival is a privilege."
Asked how the show went from his perspective, Louie is enthusiastic: "I felt that we played tremendously at T Break. Several reviews had listed our set as one of the highlights of the festival and I feel we merited that praise. We played on the Friday evening to a fair-sized and pretty raucous audience... we were pleased with the crowd we pulled. The year before, when we were at the BBC Introducing stage, we had only been a band a matter of months. We were much more accomplished the second time around." He's also full of praise for the boost that T Break gave the band, in terms of press coverage, articles and radio interviews. He describes being offered the chance to play at his beloved Celtic Park during a premier league match, and being commissioned to write a song for BT Sports TV – all of which, he believes, their T Break appearance helped make happen.
"Being involved with T Break gave us a great springboard to launch our second album, Nobody Seen Nothing at the inaugural Hectember Weekend," says Louie. He learned a lot from the experience of working with T Break promoters DF concerts, using that knowledge to take the band to Ireland and England on tour. "We played in excess of 100 shows that year and gained a real momentum," he says. Now, the band have booked their first US gigs, and are planning a mini European tour. With a new EP in the works as well, Louie reassures us: "The Hectember Weekend will return to Glasgow and Edinburgh, as well as another city," later in the year.
Marco Panagopoulos of Glasgow post-hardcore band United Fruit is also positive about the benefits his band saw from playing T Break in 2011. "Being selected was incredibly exciting for us as we had just started out and to have that kind of acknowledgment was incredibly uplifting," he says. "It drove us to step up our game and make sure the live outfit was button tight. My advice would be to practice harder than you ever have... and take a 4x4 when you're driving there!" Panagopoulos was happy with his band's performance on the day, although he offers some advice: "Believe me, you don't want to have a bad set at a festival... It will result in a very long night."
United Fruit's Iskandar Stewart at T in the Park
Asked what United Fruit are up to now, three years on from their T Break debut, Panagopoulos comments: "We have recently just finished recording our second full-length album and are currently in talks with a few labels about release plans. We have a week long UK tour starting at the end of March with a couple more much longer tours planned for later in the year." He credits T Break with "maybe reigniting our drive to get seen and heard by as many people as possible, and giving us a taste of the experiences to be had out there."
This year, the selected bands will get some extra exposure from Tenement TV, who will be filming their performances and broadcasting the highlights. The channel's CEO Chae Houston is looking forward to it: "We remain enthusiastic and supportive of the grassroots music scene here at Tenement TV and have always been proud of T Break’s integral part in providing a platform for Scottish bands. Our partnership will continue to support the music scene of Scotland and we can’t wait!"
From the archive
T in the Park 2013 - Friday: with Deer Lake, Hector Bizerk and Hacktivist
T in the Park 2013 - Saturday: with Seams, Fake Major, and Roman Nose
T in the Park 2013 - Sunday: with Pronto Mama, Vasa and Machines In Heaven