Over the coming days, Already Heard will be previewing this years Slam Dunk Festival in detail through a range of interviews and features.
The Slam Dunk Festival has a long history of showcasing emerging talent, and this year is no different. Throughout the bill there is an array of new acts that are worth checking out. None more so than Jack Bennett aka Grumble Bee.
Having delivered an extraordinary EP in the form of ‘Disconnect’ this past February, Bennett has gradually been winning over fans and critics with his soulful brand of alt-rock pop. Although some may have seen Jack with his live band in March supporting The Dear Hunter, his Slam Dunk debut sees him on the solo/acoustic stage showcasing both his songwriting prowess and superb vocal capability.
Already Heard caught up with Jack to discuss this years Slam Dunk Festival; who he’ll be watching, it’s importance to new artists and more.
AH: Hi Jack. How are things since we last spoke just before the release of ‘Disconnect’?
Jack: Great thanks! Things just keep picking up and I’ve confirmed a lot of good shows since that point for the rest of the year. So I’m looking to build on that, working on plans to release my second EP/record later this year.
AH: This month you’re making your Slam Dunk debut. How are you feeling about it? Excited? Nervous?
Jack: I’m really excited to get going to be honest! I’m playing a couple of acoustic warm up shows before that point to see how it goes. I’m just really putting a lot of effort into making sure these versions of the songs are at least equally matched to the full band versions, in their own right – not just hoping they sound “good on an acoustic guitar” – without changing any of the chords/riffs etc.
AH: As this is the 10th anniversary of the festival and with you hailing from the North West, do you have any memories of past festivals?
Jack: I’ve only been once before, but it was great. I went with the bassist of the last band I was in, and met a lot of familiar faces – which was ace too. I remember checking out Pierce the Veil side stage in a tent which was mad and it was boiling hot, so there was lots of happy northern faces.
I remember that year, because I’d bought a Harry Potter “robe” from Hogwarts as a present for a friend of mine who was working there on some things. She wore it the whole day whilst liasing with artists/bands.
AH: What advice would you give to newcomers to Slam Dunk?
Jack: Definitely to go and check out as many different stages/bands as possible, and go see someone you weren’t planning on going to check out too. You might find your new favourite band, as usually a lot of the upcoming bands will be at much bigger stages/venues later that year or the following year, so see them while you can.
AH: This year’s lineup is a mix of established and emerging acts. Who are you looking forward to seeing across the three days?
Jack: I’ve never seen Northlane live, and I got into their latest album quite a bit, even for the production value as well, so I’m keen to check those guys out. There’s quite a few people I’m keen to see on the acoustic stage funnily enough, and I’m not even biased, because I’m not an acoustic artist myself. It’s just sometimes a much more challenging environment to capture people’s attention in an intimate setting where everyone can see and hear everything in such close detail. So I’m looking forward to checking out people like Lianne Kaye and Greywind there too. There’s more of course, I’ll just be dotting about as much as I can.
AH: Slam Dunk is just one of many festival appearances you’re making this summer. As a new artist, how important are festivals to showcasing your music?
Jack: Yeah I think they’re some of the most important shows anyone can ever play, because it’s usually at least a majority of the people there who haven’t bought a ticket just to see you playing (the smaller artists/bands I mean) so it’s a good showcase to pitch your music to them and win over new fans/friends on that sort of level.
AH: Finally how would you define the Slam Dunk Festival?
Jack: A home-grown success. From it starting out in Leeds, it’s the closest thing to me really. Even Leeds Festival isn’t really in Leeds, it’s like on the outskirts to fit all the people in I guess. It seems like a very grounded operation and it’s always successful, or at least appears that way. I’m thrilled to be a part of it, and chuffed to one of the coolest independents out there.
‘Disconnect’ EP by Grumble Bee is out now.
Grumble Bee will be playing on the Acoustic / Solo stage:
Slam Dunk North (Leeds) – 6:30 – 7:00pm
Slam Dunk Midlands (Birmingham) – 5:50 – 6:15pm
Slam Dunk South (Hertfordshire) – 4:50 – 5:20pm
View more of Already Heard’s coverage from Slam Dunk Festival 2016 here.
Words by Sêan Reid (@SeanReid86)