Over the coming weeks, Already Heard will be highlighting a variety of bands set to play the Slam Dunk Festival later this month.
The Slam Dunk Festival covers a diverse mix of genres, alongside providing a platform for emerging bands and acts to be seen by new audiences. 12 months ago, Jack Bennett, aka Grumble Bee, marked his first appearance at the festival by playing his first acoustic set. Usually, Bennett is backed by a live band, yet the acoustic outing proved to be beneficial for the West Yorkshire singer-songwriter and producer; emphasising his soulful voice and lyrical rawness.
Now he’s back from a second time. In recent months, Jack has been releasing stand-alone singles. Songs such as ‘Bravest Soul’ and ‘Red’ sees him expanding his sound beyond the alt-rock pop approach that dominated last year’s ‘Disconnect’ EP. ‘Red’ is a brooding, dynamic and riff-laden slice of impassioned rock. While latest single, ‘Bravest Soul’, carries itself with a soaring anthemic quality.
We recently caught up with Jack to discuss Grumble Bee’s return to Slam Dunk, the new material, working out of his own studio, and more.
AH: Hi Jack. How are you feeling about returning to Slam Dunk just one year on?
I can’t wait, it’s such a good atmosphere to be around! I hadn’t released much of my acoustic versions of tracks before Slam Dunk at all, so it was really cool to see people singing along to stuff – presumably from listening to full band versions. I definitely wasn’t expecting the response I had last year, so this year should be special, since I’ve actually released a few more acoustic versions and plan to have more throughout the year too!
AH: In recent months you’ve released a few new singles. How does this new material compare to the ‘Disconnect’?
I tried to write these tracks as stand-alone singles and specifically didn’t want to write an EP and then pick the singles after that. All the tracks are going to be different and I don’t see that as a problem now-a-days, whilst people openly admit they’re into “all sorts of genres” – I’d just like to write what I hope are “good songs” in any type of structure/genre, and have that still come across as a stand alone track.
AH: I understand the new songs have been self-produced from your the studio you built. How have you found working out of Lapwing Studio?
I originally only set up the studio to be able to demo new songs and then take them to other studios/track elsewhere etc, but it got to a stage where the songs weren’t inhibited by the production and in some cases the songs benefitted from the production, and so I was happy to present that to people to hear thoughts on the new material!
It’s amazing have to have the freedom to record and not worry about paying hourly fees, whilst experimenting with sounds and layering, so I can’t to wait to release the rest of the songs and continue recording for my debut album, which I’m hoping to push next year at some point.
AH: Last year’s appearance at Slam Dunk was one of your first times playing acoustically. Do you feel more comfortable about playing acoustically this time round?
Yeah, I definitely think it’s helped having time for people to hear my acoustic side of things too, and therefore, they might have a better idea of what I sound like in this format too. I actually find the acoustic side of stuff a lot easier than full band, even though there’s people “helping” make the songs sound “better” in the full band scenario (and we can change things up too!) There’s this weird rawness that comes out acoustically, and I really wanted to make sure the songs actually sounded good to me on acoustic or piano (which I’ll be introducing this year too,) and not just swapped over from full band arrangement to the same parts on an acoustic guitar.
AH: Some might say acoustic acts at a festival mainly consisting of pop-punk, metalcore etc, might be ignored. As a solo artist, is it harder to attract festival-goers?
Well I was surprised people turned up last year to the acoustic sets, but it’s actually that exact reason (amongst others) why they do come there. At Hatfield specifically last year, loads of people came to the acoustic stages to “chill out” and not have to be running around in a “pit” all day – and the setting actually stands out because of that too. But also on the other side of things, people I spoke to, planned out who they were going to see anyway and just go to see those!
AH: Slam Dunk has a few festival newcomers playing this year. What tips would you give to them ahead of making their debut?
Not to forget to enjoy the setting! I found myself really wanting to come back to this festival this year, so I was thrilled when I got the offer to come back. I definitely think with stuff like this, you might get caught up in getting nervous to do a good job of your set or worry about clashing with other artists/bands. But it’s really about making sure the people who’ve come out to see your set, know they’re awesome for doing so – since there’s always so much choice of bands to watch on the day – it’s got to be the most important thing to speak to those people.
AH: After you’ve done your set, who do you plan on watching?
I’ll definitely be checking out Enter Shikari, as I’ve been following them for years. But people like Vukovi, The Gospel Youth, the break-out stage winners (who obviously put a lot of effort into getting there in the first place) and dotting around between stages. A lot of the sites are massive though, so I’ll just aim to see as many people as possible.
Grumble Bee will be playing at 3:10pm on the Uprawr Stage at Slam Dunk Festival on all three dates.
Slam Dunk Festival 2017 takes place on the following dates:
Sat 27 The NEC, Birmingham
Sun 28 City Centre, Leeds (SOLD OUT)
Mon 29 Forum, Hatfield (SOLD OUT)
Tickets can be purchased here.