“They’re sesh monkeys!” – the best things bands have told NME at Reading & Leeds

Ahead of this weekend’s double-header, we trawled through the archives for some absolute classic quotes from festivals past

We’re returning to Reading & Leeds this weekend for the gloriously messy festival season curtain closer. After a long summer of hanging about in fields, bands are experts in all things festivals by the time it gets to August bank holiday weekend. They’re also most likely drunk. These things together mean that they often come out with wonderfully outlandish and somewhat nonsensical ramblings which are thoroughly entertaining for all.

From learning languages to starting supergroups and discussing, uh, naked walks, here are some of the best lines bands have said to NME across the years at Reading & Leeds.

“You can always tell by the burger vans”


“It was a massive crowd,” Kasabian’s Serge Pizzorno told NME after the band’s set at Reading 2017, and before they headlined Leeds that same weekend, before revealing his unique way of telling whether a festival set was a success or not. “You can always tell by the burger vans – if it stretches out to there then it’s like ‘shit, that was big’. It was huge.

“The set was just like nuclear warfare which was great,” he continued, wonderful comparisons continuing. “If you’ve been there all day, then it’s not the time to drop a nice little acoustic number in there. It was like ‘let’s just go full throttle’ – and it worked.”

“French boys need to watch”

It was just after Reading & Leeds 2013 that Haim and Phoenix headed out on tour together. We did the sensible thing at the festivals, then, and brought the two bands together to make friends as well as trying to work around the language barrier.

Among other things, Phoenix told the three sisters how to paraphrase Kanye West’s legendary “hurry up with my damn croissants” line from ‘Yeezus’, and how to ask where the best steak-frites in Paris are. Alana Haim also revealed that she’s already got some French in her locker, revealing her favourite French phrase to Phoenix singer Thomas Mars: “French boys need to watch.”

“I ended up just swallowing all the blood”


“We thought it’d be a great idea to have a grand ending,” Bombay Bicycle Club frontman Jack Steadman told NME of their formative 2008 set at Reading on the NME/Radio 1 Stage.

“We bought loads of fake blood capsules and me and Ed [Nash, bassist] thought it’d be hilarious to pretend to falloff the stage and then start coughing up blood.

“It all went wrong,” he went on to reveal. “I ended up just swallowing all the blood and felt really ill and Ed actually did end up hurting himself because he fell really badly.”

“They’re sesh monkeys!”

There are certain bands who, after a few pints or disgustingly mixed spirit-and-something in a 2L plastic bottle, are certain to bring the perfect soundtrack to your messy evening. Fickle Friends know this all too well.

Asked by NME how their pop bangers have gone down in the crowd across festival season at Reading 2018, their answer was pretty simple. “They’re sesh monkeys, they love it!”

“Everyone here doesn’t care, they just love great music. They love the sesh! That’s the point. We’re just there to facilitate the sesh.”

“This man asked us if we would autograph his genitals”

We’re sure bands get some pretty strange autograph requests, but one of the weirdest was presented to Deap Vally, as their vocalist/guitarist Lindsey Troy explains.

Speaking to NME at Reading 2013, she said: “This man asked us if we would autograph his genitals. He said they were dangly and old,” she clarified, before revealing the official Deap Vally stance on autographing scrotum: “We only sign tight new ones.”

“It could be worse, I could be dead”

One of the most infamous moments in R&L history came in 2006 when, at the height of eom-bashing, Panic! At The Disco’s Brendon Urie was literally bashed by a bottle thrown from the crowd.

“I’m doing alright now, I could be way worse,” he told NME following the set. “I could be dead. I’ve got a bruise but it looks good, it makes me look rugged and tough.

“When I got back up we just got on with it. I guess we were sending a message to whoever threw the bottle – you can’t stop us!” For anyone who watched Brendon headline the double-header last year, you’ve gotta say he was right.

“It was Ron Swanson’s idea to pee on everything”

FIDLAR had a pretty interesting time on set for their ‘Cocaine’ video, which features a certain Nick Offerman.

“The ‘Cocaine’ video has Ron Swanson in it,” the band’s Zac Carper told us at Leeds 2013, referring to Offerman’s character in Parks & Recreation.

“He was in a dentist’s office and saw a magazine with us in it. He came up with the idea of him peeing on everything, so we spent all our budget on the fake penis.”

Reading “‘He sings like a man shouting in a bucket’” gave me a lot of strength

“When the sun’s shining at a festival it’s beautiful, innit?” Ian Brown told NME at Reading 2009. “It reminds me of the last ever [Stone] Roses show in ’96.

“The strongest memory I’ve got is leaving the stage with 60,000 people with their arms in the air, clapping…” he remembers, before being brought down to earth after reading a review of the set. “Reading ‘He sings like a man shouting into a bucket’ gave me a lot of strength and to be like ‘I’ll show you!’” he continued, before saying: “That gig made me realise it was the end of The Stone Roses.