If you’ve ever dreamed of playing Reading Festival and bringing your music to its legendary crowd, this could be your moment. This year, Relentless presents Here To Be Heard are offering your band the chance to join the line-up. To win, you’ll have to impress Everything Everything, who play the festival themselves on the NME/Radio 1 Stage on Saturday 29 August. The Manchester-based Mercury-nominees will be scouring all the entries to pick out five finalists to mentor. They’ll ensure you’re in top shape before a public vote decides which band gets the chance to appear on the big stage.
On Tuesday, NME’s Al Horner spoke to the band at Relentless’ No.5 Denmark Street in London. Here’s what they had to say about their own rise to fame and what they will be looking for:
Why did you want to get involved in Here To Be Heard?
Jeremy Pritchard: “Lots of different things, but one was that because we formed our band eight years ago we can’t really picture what it’d be like to be in a new band now. I think we’ll learn a few things ourselves from listening to these bands, as well as hopefully passing on whatever wisdom we may have or may not have. There wasn’t really anything like this when we were starting out, so its nice to think that maybe we can be a bit of a springboard and help people jump over some of the fences.”
Michael Spearman: “The music industry is changing all the time so it’s really hard for anyone to keep up, ourselves included. When we were coming through there was still MySpace and things like that. Nowadays on the internet there’s room for everyone, but that makes it harder to be heard and seen. Things like this really help people to come through as opposed to being lost on the internet somewhere – it’s a big place!”
What will you be looking for from the bands who enter?
Alex Robertshaw: “We’re looking for bands who are exciting and interesting, it’s as simple as that really. It’s easy to find 100s and 100s of bands who all sound exactly the same, so if there’s one band who sound different to the other 100 they’ll probably win it!”
Jonathan Higgs: “Well, actually there’s more to being good than just being unique. You can be unique and be absolutely awful – as we’ve proved! There’s stagecraft, there’s songwriting, there’s performance, there’s attitude, there’s look – there’s a million things and it’s difficult to say exactly what we’ll be looking for. I think it we had an answer to that question already it would be awful.”
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Are there any major ‘don’ts’ that you think bands should avoid?
Jeremy Pritchard: “I don’t think there are any. We don’t have any preconceived ideas about what we don’t like.”
Jonathan Higgs: “I do! I absolutely hate affected accents. I hate when people pretend to be from somewhere they’re not. Generally, I think being false in any way is what we’ll see through straight away and not want to go anywhere near. I think in any sort of art, if something isn’t real then people won’t like it. It’s about honesty.”
You’re known for the complexity and depth of your lyrics. Will you be looking for bands who have something to say?
Jeremy Pritchard: “It’s a positive attribute, but it’s not an essential one. I think you’ve got to remember that music is about escapism and fun and frivolity as much as anything else. If you can combine that stuff with some sort of social message then you can do the Trojan Horse thing: it sounds like something pretty, but at its heart its something ugly.”
Did you ever enter a competition like this one when you were starting out?
Jeremy Pritchard: “There was a competition on MTV when we were a really new band. We’d only made one or two videos in our own garage at that point. We spent a whole night voting for ourselves on the MTV website to try and get our video played – and it worked!”
Jonathan Higgs: “I imagine we’d crap ourselves if we had to enter something like this. It’s a very strange thing, because you don’t know what people like about you. Even now we don’t know what people like about us, really. Early on, when you haven’t had any exposure at all, it’s difficult to know whether or not people think what you’re doing is good or bad, and whether you should care either way.”
The winning Here To Be Heard band will play Reading Festival this year. What memories do you have of performing there?
Jeremy Pritchard: “We played the BBC Introducing Stage which was our first festival show ever. We’d never played any festival before, let alone a major one. We were really nervous. I remember spotting Zane Lowe watching us during the show. When we came off we felt like we’d done something good. It was definitely a turning point for us as a live band. When we went back in 2010, only a year later, we had a much bigger slot. We’ve always had amazing crowds there.”
Alex Robertshaw: “We used to go as teenagers, so we’ve always put it on a pedestal. It means a lot to play Reading.”
Here To Be Heard is dedicated to providing a platform for the best new and upcoming acts in the country. If you think you’ve got what it takes to win over Everything Everything, snare the prize and rock Reading, enter before June 12 at RelentlessHTBH.com