If you’re familiar with this site, you might have noticed that I’m quite the advocate of ArcTanGent. The three day festival is a huge highlight of my social calendar each year – An event one must always attend.
With the festival holding such a special place in my heart, I thought it would be fitting to have an interview with the organisers as the last bit of coverage on ArcTanGent 2015.
Friday afternoon was quite a busy day on Fernhill Farm. As well as interviewing some of the best bands in the country and beyond, I also had to regularly consume booze and keep my stomach lined with pizza and pie all day. Tough work, make no mistake. But my workload was nothing compared to that of Goc, Simon and James – the trio behind ArcTanGent. Ensuring the festival ran smoothly whilst putting out fires all over the site (figuratively…but possibly literally too), they also found time to sit down in the press area to chat with all manner of folk – after a heavy opening night.
“…I basically overcooked it a bit last night, so I was Saturday night drunk on the Thursday” laughs Simon.
It was good to hear that Thursday night had panned out for them much in the same way that it had for me. As I slightly struggled to put together questions, they too were feeling the effects of the night before as they pieced together answers.
Sat with the trio in the cool confines of the giant wooden barn just off site, the mood among them was quite calm considering what was unfolding on site.
“Each year is like 20-30% bigger than the year before, so it’s definitely going in the right direction – we’re really happy.” Smiles James “Stages are packed out there. I watched a band at 11am this morning and it was packed.”
“To give you some idea of the scale – the marquee that is actually the Bixler stage this year, in year one was actually the Yohkai. So it gives you some idea of the growth we’ve had.” Comments Goc “We made the last minute decision to extend the Yohkai and make it bigger this year.”
It seems like decades have passed since that first ArcTanGent. Whilst there are elements of it that still feel similar, so much has changed in its three years. On the subject of their first outing, Simon comments “We thought it was gonna be a success, but we didn’t really…Until we did it, we didn’t really know it was going to have such a following. The people here are so into it, it’s unbelievable – they’re massive, massive music fans. It’s a big difference. I’ve been to a couple of festivals this year, and you can tell they’re not really music fans. They’re just there for the piss up and getting mashed up in a field, but here everyone is proper serious music fans and it’s just amazing to see. They don’t sit around on the grass waiting, just enjoying the sunshine; they’re actually watching every band and running between stages. It’s amazing”
“All the bands seem to know each other as well.” Adds Goc, echoing comments many other people have made about the festival. “The music fans that come are really quite geeky about the music and know so much about it”
“We keep saying it – it’s like a little secret club that only those people that are here know about it.” Notes James “The bands know about it, we know about it, the audience knows about it. There’s something great about everyone else not getting it. We organise 2000trees, and if you show someone the 2000trees line-up poster, most people have heard of some of the bands. ArcTanGent – everyone’s like, who’s that? I love the fact that you don’t know who Cult Of Luna are, that suits me down to the ground. I think it’s great”
“The secret club doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s small, ‘cus we have people flying in from all over the world.” Goc nods in agreement “It’s so niche that either you get it or you don’t, and if you’re in it, this is ideal for post-rock and math-rock fans”
Each announcement in the lead up to the festival saw the line-up go from strength to strength. Returning fan favourites such as Cleft, Alpha Male Tea Party, Maybeshewill, Poly-Math and Axes sat alongside major names like Cult of Luna, Deafheaven and Dillinger Escape Plan, with the rest of the bill packed out with all sorts, from Deerhoof, Young Legionnaire and The Fall Of Troy to Vasa, IEPI and USA Nails.
It’s worth remembering that those in charge are just as excited about some of the bands playing as much as the punters are. With this in mind, I was keen to find out what names the trio were most excited about.
Whilst Simon favours post-rock from the mountains of Spain (Toundra) and the streets of Glasgow (Vasa), Goc is looking elsewhere.
“I think The Algorithm’s gonna be interesting tomorrow as well,” she says, continuing “really dirty, heavy electronica stuff, which is quite different to a lot of the stuff that’s on today.”
James has a slightly frustrated outlook on the line-up, with only himself to blame. “Blanck Mass clash with Vennart, which is also pretty much my pick.” He laments, continuing “Something really annoying – I designed the Clash Finder – in terms of who clashes with who. I’m looking at it today going – what the fuck? CHON and Helms Alee are on at the same time, that’s fucking idiotic”
“There’s so many bands that have played that I absolutely love. Just looking at this year’s line-up – Helms Alee, Deafheaven and Cult Of Luna. The three latest albums by those bands are three of my favourite albums ever, pretty much. They’re amazing. I’m basically booking my favourite bands, without being able to book Metallica or The Mars Volta” says James with a laugh.
“Mars Volta – next year. Reunion” grins Simon.
“You go and see the bands that you want to see, but you never quite know what the atmosphere’s gonna be in the tent when you’re in there, or how big the crowd’s gonna be. I think one of my favourite performances was Lite last year.” Comments Goc “They were great yesterday, but the show last year just had a really huge buzz around it – that was really good. Not unexpected, but it kind of escalated to one of my favourite things that have happened here”
I was surprised not to see And So I Watch You From Afar on this year’s bill, though it’s understandable with them making an appearance at 2000trees earlier in the summer. But following the release of their fourth album earlier this year, I thought they would have been a shoe-in.
“I saw them again recently in Sheffield, and I just think they’re one of the best live bands ever, they’re absolutely stunning.” Comments Simon “One of the 2000trees organisers was crowd surfing [laughs] for it in year one. I just think those guys were amazing. We’ll get them back for sure”
“I imagine they’ll be back in the future.” Agrees James “They’re just so good live; it’s ridiculous how good they are. There’s something about their music, which has got the right amount of tempo but also bounce to it, which makes the crowd go crazy. It’s perfect jumping around music”
Ideas have been floating about as to the future of ArcTanGent. With the festival getting better and better each year, options are being put on the table amongst the trio, with some more favourable than others. The pitching of a weeklong festival is one that fills them with dread, as James laughs “I would actually die. Not enough sleep”
“Three days can feel like a week with the lack of sleep. But it’s worth it” adds Goc.
“ArcTanGent Australia.” Smiles Simon, alluding to ArcTanGent possibly hitting the road in the near future “Over Christmas time, in their summer. I think taking it on tour is an easy way to lose millions and millions of pounds [laughs]”
“I think we can make it happen – I think we should.” Adds a more hopeful Goc.
“It’s about time to ask me, ‘cus i’m literally broken to the extent that I’m ready to…” trails James, the tiredness setting in “I’m looking forward to the next day and a half, but when it’s over, it’ll be nice to relax a bit… I dunno, we’ll see. Maybe ATG Europe, maybe ATG Australia, America – who knows.”