Music / Feature

We chat to the stars of Reading and Leeds Festival

Find out what Fatboy Slim, While She Sleeps, PVRIS, Declan McKenna, and more have to say.

Having grown into one of the biggest festivals in the world, Reading and Leeds Festival brings some of the biggest artists from across the globe to the UK for a bank holiday weekend of eclectic music brilliance. This year headlined by Kasabian, Eminem and Muse, the full line-up boasts huge names with a huge range of styles, spread across the festival’s now iconic stages.

We caught up with some of the festival’s biggest stars, and some of the rapidly rising upstarts, to find out just what Reading and Leeds Festival means to them, and to find out a little more about what goes into their live performances.


What are you most looking forward to about playing Reading and Leeds?

VANT: Main stage baby! I can’t quite believe we’re treading those boards. We’re planning a really special show for the occasion, a celebration, a carnival of sorts, we want people to be as excited about watching our set as we are about playing it! I wonder how much pyro and giant balloons are…

Declan McKenna: Probably the fact that so many of my friends are gonna be there, I’ve been twice before, the Reading and Leeds demographic is relatively young and rowdy normally, so to be playing there this year is really exciting.

While She Sleeps: Sav and I (Aaran McKenzie) used to work the main stage bar back in 2008, then got Loz working the bar in 2009. Little did we know that 8 years later we would be headlining The Pit stage. We have played Leeds and Reading a few times before but to reach headline status at The Pit stage really feels like one of those things where our band has reached a milestone in our career. It’s going to be an extremely special couple of shows, that’s for sure.

Arcane Roots: We’ve been itching to take our new record to the stage and show everyone what we’ve been working on for the past year. The chance to do so at such a prestigious festival, alongside some amazing bands, is definitly exciting for us.

PVRIS: Performing! The UK Is one of my favorite places to play and is like a second home to us, so it’s going to be a great time!


What is your favourite festival performance to have witnessed?

VANT: The first festival I ever went to was Leeds. On the first night the NME / BBC Radio 1 stage culminated in CSS followed by LCD Soundsystem followed by Klaxons! It was nu-rave, day-glo heaven, I think I’m still picking the glow-stick reminiscences out of my psyche now.

The Hunna: Last year at Reading & Leeds Festival we went to see You Me At Six perform a secret set on the NME stage just before we had to go on. We luckily got to watch side of stage and it was a shutdown! So many people were there and the vibe was so dope. Loved every minute of it. Later that night we ended up on their bus, it was lit.

Oh Wonder: The Radiohead performance in 2009 at Reading was absolutely astounding and I remember them playing In Rainbows from start to finish. My 19 year-old self was freaking out.

Mallory Knox: I (Mikey Chapman) remember watching Foo Fighters set a few years ago in awe. They sounded great, the weather was perfect and the crowd were on top form, it was like the perfect show. I remember looking at them doing their thing to such a huge crowd and taking a lot and inspiration from that.

You Me At Six: Watching Rage against the Machine make their come back to Reading a few years ago. They are a band I have always wanted to see and they were incredible.

Arcane Roots: Muse at Leeds festival 2011 when they played Origin Of Symmetry in full. Not only my (Jack Wrench) first time seeing the band live, but also a back-to-back of my favourite Muse album. An absolutely incredible performance and one that will stick with me!


What is the best thing about festivals?

Fatboy Slim: Complete abandonment. Surrendering your senses. Losing yourself in music away from your everyday life surrounded by likewise new friends.

While She Sleeps: Unlike club shows, festivals are a great opportunity to catch new bands you’ve never seen before without committing to attending one of their shows. You have everyone under one roof sharing their love for music.

Oh Wonder: From our perspective, the best thing for us is looking out at happy, carefree faces in the crowd. People seem to really lose themselves when they’re at festivals, especially Reading & Leeds and it’s so beautiful to watch.

You Me At Six: You could be watching a dance act one minute and in the out of a rock gig the next. You never quite know what is going to happen once the beer starts flowing.

Arcane Roots: Festivals are so diverse these days and not just in terms of the bands they put on, but also the accommodation of comedy, poetry, art etc. There is so much to explore on a festival site and I hope that we continue to integrate more and more art forms into the ‘festival experience’. Oh and the VIP toilets…


What is your Reading and Leeds memory?

Loyle Carner: I watched a kid drink a cup of mud for £5 after our show last year.

Fatboy Slim: I am completely excited and baffled that in 30 years in the business I have never been to these festivals. It will be like losing my cherry all over again!

You Me at Six: We had no idea what to expect and we turned up at the Festival Republic Stage to a completely overflowing tent. No one could get in or out it was pure madness. That crowd stuck with me (Chris Miller) for a long time and still does. One of the best shows we have ever played.

Mallory Knox: The sound of the main stage crowd just before we went on the first time we played Reading and Leeds is something I’ll (Mikey Chapman) never forget. You get somewhat used to the sound of a crowd cheering, but with a festival audience that size the sound is a whole different thing. It’s terrifying and exhilarating at the same time.

PVRIS: When we walked onto stage the energy from the crowd hit me and it turned out to be one of my (Brian MacDonald) favorite festival shows I’ve ever played. Very excited to be coming back for round two.

Declan McKenna: Last year at Reading I was watching BBK and in one of the mosh pits my sunglasses fell off. To keep a long story short, I found my sunglasses a little bit after that. I was ecstatic.


Here’s where and when to catch all of the artist we chatted to above:

You Me At Six: NME/Radio 1 Stage (headliner) | Reading: Friday 25 August | Leeds: Saturday 26 August
Fatboy Slim: BBC Radio 1 Dance Stage (headliner) | Reading: Friday 25 August | Leeds: Saturday 26 August
While She Sleeps: The Pit (headliner) | Reading: Saturday 26 August | Leeds: Sunday 26 August
The Hunna: Festival Republic Stage (headliner) | Reading: Sunday 27 August | Leeds: Friday 25 August
VANT: Main Stage | Reading: Sunday 27 August | Leeds: Friday 25 August
Mallory Knox: Main Stage | Reading: Friday 25 August | Leeds: Saturday 26 August
PVRIS: Main Stage | Reading: Saturday 26 August | Leeds: Sunday 27 August
Declan McKenna: NME/Radio 1 Stage | Reading: Friday 25 August | Leeds: Saturday 26 August
Oh Wonder: NME/Radio 1 Stage | Reading: Friday 25 August | Leeds: Saturday 26 August
Arcane Roots: The Pit | Reading: Friday 25 August | Leeds: Saturday 26 August


Remaining Reading and Leeds Festival day and weekend tickets are available now through Ticketmaster.co.uk.

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