Over the coming weeks, Already Heard will be highlighting a variety of bands set to play the Slam Dunk Festival later this month.
While Slam Dunk Festival is known to feature a host of names from rock, pop-punk, punk, metal and hardcore, it all has a tendency to host a variety of acoustic performances. In years gone by, The Rocket Summer, Rob Lynch and Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly have graced the sparodic acoustic stage. However, for Tom George aka The Lion & The Wolf, he’s slowly becoming a SDF regular with this being his third appearance.
George’s latest record, ‘The Cardiac Hotel’, is soothing, emotionally-charged record full of delicate, sombre moments that are truly compelling. When he’s not writing stunningly beautiful songs, Tom is on a train, bus or a plane regularly playing shows throughout the UK, Europe, and more recently, Japan.
Now back on home soil and preparing to make his Slam Dunk return, we reached out to Tom to seek advice for those playing making their SDF debut, the response to ‘The Cardiac Hotel’, and more.
AH: Hi Tom. So this is going to be your third time playing Slam Dunk. What advice would you give to those who are playing the festival for the first time?
Basically just have a great time, but know when to call it a night is probably the piece of advice I would give. Slam Dunk is known for its afterparties, which can go on well into the following morning but with a 3-4 hour drive to get to the next date, it may be worth calling a rain check when it gets to 1/2am or when you know you may be about to go “over the edge”. To be honest, I sound like a Dad when I talk like that but it’s just something that comes with age and experience of partying when away touring – which I don’t really do anymore. Myself, my friend Dom, and Dan from Creeper are all rolling around in the same car and have renamed ‘lads on tour’ to ‘dads on tour’ which seems quite apt!
Other tips would be to not go over your allotted set time, arrive ON time and if you see JD or Ben (Slam Dunk organisers) make sure you show your appreciation for being able to play such a good string of dates.
AH: With the festival being heavily focused on rock, hardcore, pop-punk etc. As a solo acoustic act, how have you stepped up to the challenge of drawing in a crowd in the past?
If I’m honest, it’s a scenario that I am well versed and feel comfortable in. I used to play in bands similar to many on the bill, so I don’t feel too far removed from being an appropriate act. Also I think that the “solo acoustic act” is refreshing for people who may want to listen to something a little softer for a while – and when you have acts like Vinnie Caruana playing a solo set, I feel it can bridge together people’s preconceptions surrounding genre.
AH: How do you approach a festival like Slam Dunk differently compared to your own shows and other festivals?
I approach every single show in the same way. No matter how big, small, busy or quiet. I play my songs and I tell the stories behind them. That is how I connect with people and how I get my message across, it’s also how I feel comfortable and grounded when I perform. When I was younger all I could think about was trying to play songs that would get people pumped, into it, excited for it. I’m at an age now, though, where I much prefer to play the songs that mean something to me and if people will stand there and listen quietly then I find that just as rewarding.
AH: ‘The Cardiac Hotel’ has been out for six months now. With the record deeply focusing on personal grief and loss, how has the response been to the record? Have any fans used the record as a way of catharsis for their own losses?
The response has been great! I’ve had a lot of people coming up to me after shows to talk about the content of the songs from ‘TCH’. This is what I have learned over the past year or so playing lots of those songs, EVERYBODY goes through something like that – or close to it. You would be amazed at how many people at shows have spoken up about a loved one having a heart attack, about their confidence issues and about their anxiety. For me, it’s the most rewarding thing when somebody can say “yes, I feel that way sometimes too” or “that song helped me out during a tough time”.
AH: After you’ve finished your set, who can we expect to see you watching at Slam Dunk?
I basically just want to watch Turnover for three straight days. ‘Peripheral Vision ‘is such a banging record, it really is. I’ll be attempting to see Boston Manor, The Ataris, my boys in The Gospel Youth and Fenix TX for the nostalgia side of things. It’s going to be good to have lots of pals under one or three roofs for three days straight.
AH: You’ve played a variety of festivals throughout the UK, Europe and even in America (The Fest). What makes Slam Dunk unique?
It’s just a REALLY good time. I don’t think I’ve ever seen any trouble at all over the weekend. It’s a relatively small festival but has always had a great atmosphere and JD who is a co-booker is absolutely a top boy. He basically revolves his whole year around SD, every single year and that kind of commitment is highly admirable.
’The Cardiac Hotel’ by The Lion And The Wolf is out now on Xtra Mile Recordings and Grand Hotel Van Cleef. Purchase ‘The Cardiac Hotel’ here.
The Lion And The Wolf will be playing at 2:10pm 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.