Falls Festival: behind the line-up
The Falls Festival has just announced one of its biggest line-ups to date and, as FL discovered when chatting to the festival’s founder Simon Daly last year, securing such a diverse bill is no mean feat.
Along with the other logistics that come with running one of Australia’s largest camping festivals, creating a program that is equal parts interesting and exciting is a year long project.
Nearly 12 months since we last spoke (and since he first started plotting which bands would grace the Falls Festival stage in 2010) I interrupt Daly’s well earned holiday to get his take on this year’s line-up.
HOW HARD WAS IT TO BOOK INTERPOL?
They’ve done a couple of festivals before and I think they just wanted to do something really different this time. The festival has come a long way, especially in the last four or five years, and where we used to host five or six international acts we do around twenty-four now. And I think that, that word of mouth about that experience that acts do have on the Falls Festival has been really strong in the wider international community and as a result of that I think we just found that acts more than ever before come to us and say ‘What is happening with Falls, is there a chance we can be a part of the program?’
IS HE NERVOUS ABOUT PUBLIC ENEMY?
[Laughing] No, I think everyone from patrons to all my staff will be requesting time off to see that performance and I think that has the potential to be what Iggy [Pop, who played the festival in 1997] was in terms of a performance. That is going to be a good one
I am so excited by this one and it arches back to something we were doing a decade ago, in an era when we had consecutive years of Blondie and Iggy Pop. Joan Jett feels like we are going back to that punk era of amazing acts. For some reason over the years we have diverged away from that, but this year with the movie coming out and everything it felt like a really great thing to do. And she still has a really great live show and I think that will be something that a lot of people will get a lot out of at the festival.
The National is an act that are growing so fast, and I think that they are such a significant act and one that will probably define the Falls Festival this year. And as such they are playing a later spot and we earmarked that spot for them months ago.
WHY IS PEACHES PLAYING A DJ SET?’
That is what she wanted to do! She approached us and said I really really want to come out for these festivals and I’ve got this really quirky show I want to do and I think it will be a lot of fun,. And we thought well, we can schedule that into a time of night where that can work into what you are describing to us, so we’ll give it a whirl.And she is such a charismatic persona and I think that it will be really interested. Its one of those gambles that you take but I think it will be really fun.
CAN THEY BOOK PAUL KELLY FOREVER, PLEASE?
He was three or four years ago and even more so today such an icon in music and he embodies the great Australian landscape. You know I remember when I was really, really young just loving Paul Kelly and just to think he has continued to grow through so many generations, he is just such a special performer. I would book him every second year in a heartbeat!
WITH SO MANY BANDS HOW DO YOU DECIDE WHEN EVERYONE PLAYS?
It’s definitely a real juggling act and one you have to consider. The big things are, 1) their fame, 2) the weather and 3) their style and then yeah and it comes together.
KEEPING IT LOCAL
Some of the local Australian stuff that I’m really forward to is Cloud Control and Boy & Bear I think both will do really well. Those two acts in particular are two albums that I really, really enjoyed and everything I’ve heard about their live shows has been good. It is definitely only early days for those acts but they are some of my most played albums at the moment.
FUNK AND SOUL NIGHT PRE-FALLS PARTY
It happens in the grand theatre. We put together this theatre like experience, like an amphitheatre within the tent on the first night. [Last year] there was about 2000 people who ventured for the first night of the festival and I’m sure it will grow this year as it was an addition we had put on after the festival had sold out last year. And it was such a great night and all of our staff and volunteers don’t have too much to do, so they get to experience the Falls Festival for the night, which is a great thing for them but also all the early arrivals had a great time with it. We will probably cap it at about 6000 people to give it an intimate feel and I think that night will go do really well.
WHY DO BANDS LOVE PLAYING FALLS?
I think it that experience where it is always a really incredible program that has a lot of depth and there is always a lot of interesting acts that often haven’t been to Australia before.
I think this year we’ve put a great selection together in that sense. And most particularly it’s a program that befits a much bigger crowd than that what we allow to be at the festival, in the sense that the capacity is capped at 16,000 and that these programs could play to a significantly more number of patrons. I think the bands really like that intimacy of the festival, and again its kept to two stages and the environment that they are held in where the band feels like they have the crowd in the cusp of their hands.It is just so rare that an act would go away not thinking that was a real highlight of a show.
I think those sort of things have really spread and it is such a great time to be in Australia where you can do a handful of club shows and have a holiday as well and I think all those things combined have really helped the festival to pull together the kind of program we are able to pull together each year now.