If you didn’t know already, the 2000 Trees Festival is a respected gathering of underground rock, hardcore and punk. Every year, the Cheltenham-based festival puts plenty of emphasis on giving opportunities to emerging British talent. Amongst the names playing this year’s festival was Bellevue Days.
Returning for the second year running, the Croydon quartet opened The Axiom stage on Thursday afternoon. Stepping up from the intimate Neu Stage previously, Bellevue Days found themselves playing to a busy tent. “To be honest, I was amazed by the turnout,” reflects drummer Jack Pavitt, as we caught up with the band the following day.
With just three independently released EP’s and sporadic support slots under their belt, the four-piece had low expectations before taking to the stage, yet vocalist/guitarist Alan Smith believes that’s the best mindset to have. “I think the best attitude to have is to go in with low expectations, so if there is a lot of people turn up, that’s a bonus,” Smith tells us. “It was probably one of my favourite gigs we’ve done to date.”
Having exceeded their own expectations with an impressive 2000 Trees set, talk turns towards their latest EP – ‘Rosehill’. Like the band’s previous work; 2015’s ‘The Sun Came Up When We Were Young’ and last year’s ‘Sad Boy’, ‘Rosehill’ continues the quiet/loud dynamic with tight intensity and effectiveness. Songs such as ‘Jack & I’ and ‘Black Sheep Baby’ thrive on light, hushed verses before giving way to blasts of explosive instrumentation and reflective emotion.
Overall, Bellevue Days have delivered three consistent, well-received EP’s in three years. However, they feel their next move is to make a record. “The impression is that next time round, it is going to have to be a debut album. We’ve got to crack on and get an 11-track out,” states Jack with guitarist/vocalist Dan Lukes adding “I don’t know if we could release another EP.”
As an unsigned, underground band, they find themselves in a difficult position, one where they know a regular outpouring of material is needed to stay relevant. Even with ‘Rosehill’ the band had concerns leaving it 12 months since their last release. “It’s nerve-wracking because we’ve not released anything for a year. We recorded it in November, and then we sat on it for eight months,” says Alan.
“It feels nicer to have done it yourself. It’s almost a rite of passage.”
Outside of the band, opinions are mixed of what the band should do next. Some think they should play what Jack calls ‘the Spotify game’. “It’s where you release a single, another single, another single and so on. I guess that’s the way to do it, but it’s quite a lot of pressure to get stuff out quickly.” Nevertheless, from speaking to the band you get the impression that an album is the preferred choice with Alan stating “there’s always more buzz around an album when you release it.”
While that is in their long-term future, their immediate plans consist of further festival spots (Citadel and The Summer Westival) and a short co-headline run with fellow up-and-comers Patrons before an October tour with Kent-based alternative-rockers The Young Hearts. More importantly, they’re embracing the trait of becoming a self-sufficient band. “Before we were supporting bigger bands but I guess now we’re kind of doing our own thing,” explains Dan. “It feels nicer to have done it yourself. It’s almost a rite of passage.”
Understandably, there is some trepidation as they look to spend more time out on the road, with bassist Joe Blackford stating “it’s a bit scary again, seeing the numbers that are going to turn out. Some [of those] shows we’re headlining, so it’s on us.” Despite making further DIY steps, like many bands, Bellevue Days aren’t going to turn down the opportunity of supporting a bigger band, if it ever comes along.
They carry the same mindset when it comes to discussing becoming a signed band. Although ‘Rosehill’ has seen them work distro label, Kobalt, they’re primarily looking for a suitable label to work with. “It’s difficult. If it’s right, it’s right,” explains Jack. “There are so many bands that I’ve seen get signed to various labels and things can go wrong because they become micro-managed. We’re just holding out.” Alan also shares his thoughts by saying “I think with labels, you have a bigger family with you. You know you’re going to have more people backing you. Their time is invested in you.”
As witnessed at 2000 Trees, it seems many are becoming more invested in what Bellevue Days have to offer.
‘Rosehill’ EP by Bellevue Days is out now.
Bellevue Days will be touring on the following dates:
03 Sunflower Lounge, Birmingham*
04 The Chameleon Café Bar, Nottingham*
05 The Old Blue Last, London*
04 The Brook, Southampton^
05 Retro Bar, Manchester^
06 Kasbah, Coventry^
07 The Cobblestones, Bridgwater^
08 The Old Blue Last, London^
* with Patrons
^ with The Young Hearts
View more of Already Heard’s coverage from 2000 Trees Festival 2017 here.
Words by Sêan Reid (@SeanReid86)