Published on July 31st, 2013 | Jonny Abrams
“Pyro-circus dub rave massive” Slamboree are fresh from doing their explosive thing at Kendal Calling over the weekend, and their new, Beans on Toast-featuring single “Death of a Festival” comes as a compelling reminder of just how vital and life-affirming these occasions can be.
If, like us, you struggle to face the rest of the year with a smile on your face without a ruddy good spot of festivalling to set you on your way, then this is the song for you. No wonder Slamboree have earned the tag “festival favourites”; if you walk away from one of their performances without a great big dozy grin etched across your chops, then you should have a long, hard (fnar!) look at yourself in the mirror and/or self-flagellate.
We stapled some questions to the back of a pigeon* and sent the wee flapping bugger off in search of Slamboree ringleader Mike Freear…
(* Disclaimer: no pigeons had anything stapled to them in the making of this Showcase feature. Please don’t do that.)
How would you describe your music?
Underground bass-heavy electronic music with orchestral joy, booming brass, soulful lyrics and lightning-fast raps.
Where are you based, and what do you use to record with?
I’m based in Bristol. I use Acid 7 and Ableton to sketch out my tracks and hardware such as the Roland Gaia and NI Maschine to mess around with sounds and samples.
Can you tell us a bit more about the band? There’s a lot of you!
The core of it is a collection of mates who’ve been living in Leeds and Manchester over the last few years. Many of us were supporting each others’ bands and events and had a really cool collective emerging so I just wanted to find a way of gluing it all together and taking it all on the road.
Are you signed to a label? If so, how did you come to their attention?
No mate, all independent and reliant on word-of-mouth. We wouldn’t get away with half of this sh*t if we were signed up. A lot of the appeal of it to us is that we can get away with so much randomness this way and we are free to keep changing the rules without getting pigeonholed.
What has been happening recently?
Relentless festival gigging. Glastonbury in particular a massive highlight for us. Four gigs over three days, and I played another two DJ sets. We managed to capture loads of it on film and that’s what “Death of a Festival”, featuring Beans on Toast, is showcasing. We led a procession up to the Stone Circle overlooking Glastonbury and picked up more and more people as we went rampaging around the festival shooting the vid in the sun, epic times.
Can you tell us a bit more about “Death of a Festival”?
To answer that question, here’s a little story from Beans on Toast himself:
I first saw Slamboree at the beginning of festival season last summer. They were absolutely amazing and I was immediately hooked. The following weekend I travelled up to Eden Festival in Scotland (for the record an amazing festival). I was playing in the morning and Slamboree that night. During my show I recommended to the crowd that they go check out Slamboree that night and did my best to explain what the live show is like, a difficult task.
That night I sat down for dinner next to Mike, who I found out was Slambo Head Honcho. He’d woken up to me bigging up his band during my set and came to say hi and nice one.
We got on very well.
Our paths crossed again and again over the course of the summer, where a mutual love for each other’s music and similar ideals became quite clear. In many ways Beans on Toast and Slamboree are completely different and at opposite ends of the musical spectrum and in many ways they are exactly the same.
One thing that drew me to Slamboree was the collectiveness of it; it didn’t feel like a band but more a clan that anyone could join if they wanted to. I wanted to and kept badgering the band…asking if I could join.
At Secret Garden Party last year I was granted a mic and bashed out some freestyle nonsense over a track, it was a lot of fun. This naturally turned into us wanting to write / make a tune together. The tune was obviously going to be about festivals.
There was alot of talk about the future of festivals last year, with terrible weather, low ticket sales and a kind of overall feeling that there were too many festivals, too much corporate sponsorship at the festivals and that the events were being run for all the wrong reasons, rather than all the right ones.
To me this is bullshit, if you don’t like the shitty ones then go to the good ones. If you want to go but can’t afford it, then work at the festival itself to get a ticket/food. Festivals are fucking wicked, an important part of UK culture. In an age when ceremony, nature, community and large gatherings is being exchanged for status updates and supermarkets I think festivals help people feel like people again. There’s no two ways about it, at festivals people are just nicer to each other and I like that.
Or maybe I just like getting wasted with my friends in a field.
I don’t know, but I guess that’s what I was trying to cover in the song.
“Death of a Festival” is available for download here.
Festivals seem to be the most likely place to find you. How did you earn the recent title of “festival favourites Slamboree”?
I guess the band has become a whole festival in itself. Organised chaos. At some shows it goes so crazy on stage it could be difficult to tell which side of the stage we’re on. We like to get massively involved with the crowd and make everyone a part of the madness.
Which have been your most exciting gigs and/or overall moments so far?
At Beat-herder Festival recently there was a part of the show where our golden-clad dancers the ‘Booty Skool Dropouts’ were dancing seductively around a giant life-size puppet made and controlled by our friend Reb, just after our trombone player was revived from a very strange seizure and then rescued by Brex wearing fire wings who pulled a flaming ball from inside him. Or on the Glade Stage at Glastonbury, Pete the Temp was reciting his poem about the Rat Race on stage one minute, and the next was aboard his giant turtle in the crowd.
Got any more coming up? (Gigs, that is)
We’ve just done Kendal Calling, and next up we’ve got Boomtown Fair (Arcadia & Main stage shows), Bimble Bandada in Brighton and 2 Slamboree Soundsystem (DJ/MC) shows at the Jailhouse in Hereford and Waveform in Somerset.
Where can we hear your music online?
And any releases in the pipeline? Is there a full album in the works? If so, what can you tell us about it? (Feel free to be as abstract as you like…)
DJ Deekline has made a huge remix of our forthcoming track “Cheeky Peepers” which he’s going to be unleashing soon. The debut album is very much in the works and has been for some time. Lots of wicked special guests in the bag and we’re about to launch a Pledgemusic campaign which is a way of fans to help fund it’s recording.
Are there any obscure and/or up-and-coming acts that you’d like to recommend or give a shout-out to?
La La & the Boo Ya, The Mouse Outfit and Dutty Moonshine have been getting our motors boating recently. Also if it’s obscure you’re after, check out Happy Slap Boutique and Civilised Mess, next level madness and we’ve been working with them closely on some warped, immersive stage shows.
Finally, if you were forced to spend the rest of your days in solitary confinement, but were allowed to bring the entire works of five different artists along to tide you over, whose would you choose?
1) Brian Eno
2) Chemical Brothers
3) Jon Hopkins
4) Godspeed You! Black Emperor
5) Alan Watts
Mike Freear, thank you.
Slamboree are: Mike Freear (Tunes, Synths, Guitar, DJ), Kathika Rabbit (Vocals, Teddies, Bassface), Angela Chan (Violin, FX, Sequins), Joe ($nagglepup$) Rogers (Trombone, Striptease,
Aviation, Mentalist), Robinson Boone (Bass, FX, Funky Astronaut), Orde Metherell (Saxophone, SCUBA), Phi Unciano (Trumpet, Bandanas), Luke Howell (Drums, Percussion, Wigs), Matt Clarke (Technical Wizard, FX, Cake Maker), Flo Fawcett (Cello, Sugarplum fairy), Oli Clarkson (Clarinet, The spirit of jazz)
Performers: Dexter Dextrous, Aurora Starr, Bella Tricks, Jake England-Johns, Natti Lunatrick, Wolfie Razzmatazz, Adelina Le Shay, Brex Board, Lizzie West, Cam Stradeski, Cherry Tyler, Delia Muir, Ashley Ferrari, Becca Mcgovern, Ron Bot
Plus members of: Sure-Fire Circus, Happy Slap Boutique, PyroCeltica, The Invisible Circus, Zirkus der Grotesken
Lighting: Elixir Lights (James Rio Dickson)
Make up: Grace McComisky, Victoria Stansfield