Throughout the British summer, there is an endless amount of festivals taking place up and down the country. From those with legendary acts all the way down to independently run all-dayers, there’s an abundance of festivals on offer.
Scene Better Days is one of the latter. Taking place at Wharf Chambers in Leeds this weekend, SBD is a celebration of DIY punk and independent creative outlets as it plays host to The Spook School, Doe, Happy Accidents and more. 2016 marks the festivals third year and sees it expanding with an accompanying Friday night leading into the main event on Saturday.
As he puts the final touches to this weekends festival, Already Heard spoke to Scene Better Days Promoter Andrew Cream to discuss the festivals origins, its expansion and this years line-up.
AH: For those who don’t know, can you explain what the Scene Better Days festival is?
Andrew: It’s a yearly music festival held at Wharf Chambers in Leeds. This year will be the third year, and the first time we’ve expanded to Friday night alongside the usual Saturday all-dayer. There are lots of arts/crafts stalls and hot/cold veggie/vegan food on sale, too.
AH: Like you said, this is the third Scene Better Days festival. How did the idea for the festival first come about?
Andrew: When I lived in Manchester, I organised a couple of all dayers with a friend, and really enjoyed setting them up. I was also involved in organising festivals in my hometown of Peterborough. So when I moved to Leeds, I wanted to see if I could do it in a new city. We (me and my partner) started putting on gigs soon after we moved up and then the first summer we decided to take a punt and set up the first SBD Fest.
AH: With Leeds being somewhat of a hot bed for independent music, did it make it easier or harder to organise the fest?
Andrew: A bit of both I guess. There’s always a lot going on so there can be a lot to compete with. But on the other hand there are plenty of local bands to call upon. Although unintentionally this year we’ve gone for more out of town bands.
AH: How vital was having experience as a promoter towards developing SBD Fest? Did it serve as a learning curve?
Andrew: I think when I moved to Leeds I pretty much had to learn everything again from scratch. It’s a bit different putting on gigs now than it was a few years ago, and I’ve learnt how important it was that I knew so many people in other cities I lived in. Now we’ve been here a few years I feel like I’ve got a much better ‘understanding’ of the local scene and I know a lot more people. Every gig and festival is still a learning curve though. But learning is part of the fun of it!
AH: What lessons have you learned from past mistakes, if any?
Andrew: Well, I’ve learnt that just because you love a band, it doesn’t mean everyone else shares your passion for that band! I’ve also learnt that there’s a fine line between aiming for a bit of a diverse line up, and putting on certain bands that just don’t really fit with the general theme of the day.
AH: What was your mindset when you began putting this years line-up together?
Andrew: I guess I always want to better the last year, but last year’s festival was so much fun it will always be hard to top it! Getting The Spook School on though I think has helped with that. As has going to 2 days. I always start by thinking that I want to put on an event that excites lots and lots of people, not just me.
AH: In regards to the festival expanding to two days. Do you think that expansion represents the strength of current UK DIY scene?
Andrew: I’d say so yeah. At the moment I’m as excited by UK bands now as I was when I was in my teens listening to bands on Household Name Records. There are so many great bands across the UK – it wasn’t hard coming up with potential names when putting together the line-up.
Well, with regards to people coming out to gigs, I guess I’ll be in a better place to answer that after this year’s festival, hah. But it does look like there are some great pockets of activity for local DIY gigs right now across the country.
AH: The festival also hosts a variety of stalls, is that all part of celebrating creative DIY/independent outlets?
Andrew: That’s one aspect, but it’s also just about creating more of a festival atmosphere/experience in a small space. I think it’s really important to support local artists – and the festival also benefits from them being there so it’s kind of a win-win.
AH: It all adds to the communtiy feel of the festival?
Andrew: Yeah, that’s right.
AH: Going back to the festival being two days, how has the reaction been?
Andrew: I think people are excited. It gives people some options, too. I’ve heard that some are just going to make it down on the Friday night, while others are going to make a weekend of it.
AH: That’s reassuring and gives you confidence to branch out a little.
Andrew: Yeah, although any ideas for future years will be put on hold until we see what actually happens on the weekend.
AH: So let’s talk about this years line-up, How did it all come together? You mentioned earlier it happened unintentional.
Andrew: Yeah, I guess it goes back to the amount of exciting bands about at the moment. So I had a list of bands that I wanted to be involved, and they happened to be spread out across the UK. There’s quite a few bands playing this year that I think are on the cusp of big things – Doe, Happy Accidents and Austeros especially.
This may sound a bit of cliché but it’s also about bringing friends together though. I’ve made a lot of friends through putting on gigs and playing them, so it’s always great to meet up with people that you don’t get to see often.
AH: You mentioned Doe, Happy Accidents and Austeros but what other less-familiar bands should festival-goers watch at SBD?
Andrew: A Great Notion are brilliant and definitely worth watching. Last time they played Leeds there weren’t many people there but they really impressed the small crowd, so I can’t wait to see them play in front of more people. And The No Marks too – everyone who has seen or listened to that band only has good words to say about them. I have to also mention The Kimberly Steaks – they’re probably one of my favourite UK bands right now, although most people know how good they are already!
AH: It sounds like it’s going to be a great two days. What message would you say to people who are undecided about coming to SBD?
Andrew: I guess, take a chance – I know I’m going to say this but I really think we’ve got some of the best bands in the UK playing across the two days. So if you only know a couple of the bands and are wondering if it’s worth it – it will be!
Scene Better Days Fest 2016 takes place Wharf Chambers, Leeds on Friday, August 12th and Saturday, August 13th.
Further details about Scene Better Days Fest 201 can be found on Facebook.
Advanced weekend tickets are £10 and can be purchased here.
Words by Sêan Reid (@SeanReid86)