Ever since reuniting in 2010, the sight of The Starting Line on UK soil has been few and far between. It’s been five years since the Pennsylvania quintet visited us and having played only three shows since their appearance at Groezrock in 2013, makes their appearance at Slam Dunk this month even more special.
Having recently released an EP titled ‘Anyways’ this past February. Their first new material in eight years picks up where ‘Direction’ left off, serving as reminder of TSL’s punchy and reflective brand of maturing pop punk. Whilst their back catalogue contains a variety of classic mid-2000s pop punk including “that ‘Best of Me’ song”.
Before they head over the Atlantic, we spoke with guitarist Matt Watts to discuss his expectations for this years Slam Dunk Festival, his memories of their first appearance, the ‘Anyways’ EP and more.
AH: It’s been five years since you played Slam Dunk. What do you remember by those shows in 2011?
Matt: I remember great, nostalgic vibes and the “Front Army.”
AH: As one of the “older” bands appearing at the festival, what advice would you give to new bands making their festival debut?
Matt: My advice would be to enjoy it and be open to how great the experience can be – there’s such a community aspect associated with this festival and I would get out there and make some friends. That’s the one of the best parts about festivals and I have some life long friends that I’ve made from festivals like Slam Dunk.
AH: In terms of your set, what can we expect?
Matt: Well we’re all much better players now, but we only play about five shows a year instead of about 150 shows a year, so I’m anticipating it to sound exactly the same as it did in 2011. Oh, and we’ll probably play that ‘Best of Me’ song. We’ll definitely be playing the songs off of our new 7” too.
AH: Do you take a different approach to festivals compared to regular shows?
Matt: At festivals, it’s important to keep the crowd engaged, which often requires some attention when it comes to the set list – we usually try to stay away from too many “deep cuts” – and we usually try to play that ‘Best of Me’ song.
AH: We’re a few weeks removed from the release of ‘Anyways,’ which is your first release in eight years. How has the reaction been so far?
Matt: It’s actually been pretty overwhelming, people seem genuinely excited about how the track feels true to form and contemporary at the same time. I would chalk that up to Kenny’s ability to stay incredibly relevant as a writer/performer and for all of the great new music that we’re listening to – it’s such a great time for music. We’ve also been able to land a few cool syncs, which hasn’t happened in a long time!
AH: How would you describe the EP to people who haven’t heard it yet?
Classic Starting Line (but) drawing inspiration from Joyce Manor, the Pixies, and Desaparecidos. We use a capo on one song and Kenny sounds like a grown man with a ridiculous set of pipes.
AH: What is the bands current plans for further new material? Are you going to make us wait eight years again?
Matt: In all honesty, we haven’t really gotten into it – I can say that it felt great being in the studio with everyone again, and I think it was very inspiring for all of us. We’re all at different places in life with work, school, bands – but The Starting Line is really “home” to all of us. I’m sure we’ll be talking about it more when we all see each other at Slam Dunk.
The Starting Line will be playing on The Key Club stage:
Slam Dunk North (Leeds) – 7:10 – 7:55pm
Slam Dunk Midlands (Birmingham) – 8:35 – 9:20pm
Slam Dunk South (Hertfordshire) – 6:00 – 6:45pm
View more of Already Heard’s coverage from Slam Dunk Festival 2016 here.
‘Anyways’ EP by The Starting Line is out now on Downtown Records.
Words by Sêan Reid (@SeanReid86)