We follow the unsigned bands headed for Leeds & Reading!

Blog by Louise Dodgson under Live

With this year’s Leeds & Reading festival fast approaching, we decided to catch up with a selection of the unsigned bands who will be gracing the BBC Introducing stage on the Leeds and Reading sites at the weekend. The BBC Introducing stage is all about showcasing emerging talent and is without doubt a great opportunity for the chosen lucky bands. Bands are selected through BBC Introducing regional radio shows, as well as Leeds promoters Futuresound, and the festival organisers Festival Republic.

So here is Part One of our blog instalments featuring the bands you should be keeping an eye on...starting out with Bear Driver, A Plastic Rose and Sixty Watt Bayonets.

Bear Driver
Only formed in the past few months, Bear Driver have released a track on a compilation album via Leeds label Dance To The Radio, but other than that are a DIY enterprise.

So is Leeds/Reading Festival  your first major festival performance?

Yes, Leeds and Reading will be our festival debut.

Obviously exciting stuff, what does this slot at Leeds/Reading mean to your band?
It feels like a validation of the work we've put in.  As we've got this great festival slot early on in the band's lifetime it also feels like maybe a really good sign for the future and what we could go on to do.  Plus for all of us it's just very exciting.  It's the kind of thing you want to say you did in your lifetime.

What do you hope to achieve from this festival slot?
It's exciting that our set will potentially be broadcast.  It will definitely be filmed.  So hopefully some new people, those at the festival and watching online, will like what they see.  Hopefully some industry person will be watching too and give us some money to record our first album, which is our aim for next year.

Is there one particular highlight of your career as a band so far you can share with us?
Winning the competition to play this year's End of the Road festival against such high odds was amazing.  It was the first time anyone, apart from small online zines, had got in touch with us about our music and we couldn't believe it.  It also came to us at a low point when we'd spent several consecutive days searching for 'the right tree' to use in our band photoshoot and had just about decided we'd gone crazy.  We went from growling at each other to getting the voicemail and jumping up and down shrieking in the middle of a park.  Good times.

Do you have any words of advice for bands/artists hoping to get a major festival slot?

Try to get your stuff heard by the BBC Introducing team by sending BBC radio DJs nicely presented demos with a short, friendly press release.  It worked for us.

And any general festival survival tips?!
Well as Leeds/Reading is the first festival we'll be playing I'd feel a bit of a charlatan giving tips on how to get by as an artist but as a general punter and veteran I recommend Wellington boots and a £20 pair of earplugs.  Your future self will thank you.

A Plastic Rose

Belfast-based A Plastic Rose have been together for 3 years now. Currently unsigned and managerless, they handle day-to-day running of the band themselves. Release their debut single  ‘All You Know ' & ‘Love Will Die' under their own steam this September. 

Have you played any other major festival slots before, or will this be your first?

We are major festival virgins so can't wait to pop our cherries. Dave our drummer has never even been to a major festival and is now getting to play the same day as Radiohead! Hopefully it won't be our last major so fingers crossed.

What does this slot at Leeds/Reading mean to your band?
It means we get our names on the same poster as Radiohead, Bloc Party, Arctic Monkeys and loads more world class acts. That's a pretty nice feeling. Reading & Leeds festival is known all over the world so it's something to tell the grandkids. Plus we get backstage so I'll be on a Fearne Cotton hunt!

Are there any doors in particular you hope your festival appearance will open for you?

The simple things really. We'd love management and a record deal so we can record our album and get it on the shelves. It's a small step in the right direction. The BBC have taken a likening to us and now Jo Whiley (Aug 21st), Edith Bowman (Aug 22nd) and Nihal (Aug 22nd) will be playing us on their shows so hopefully some record company boss will be listening in and like what they hear!

Career highlights for your band so far?

So many really. Leeds/Reading is an obvious one and hearing our song on Jo Whiley’s show will be surreal. Other than that playing headline shows in Belfast to a packed venue is amazing. On the same stage as the local bands that inspired us to be in a band. The local bands here are unreal so playing the same stage as them on a regular basis is another highlight. Also we can't wait to release our debut single. Exciting times. 

Any hints & tips for bands/artists hoping to get a major festival slot?
Never give up. We were in exactly the same place as you a few months ago and now we're playing one. You never know when you’re going to get that phone call. Get on the BBC Introducing playlist because the people who pick the bands for major festivals listen to it. Think to yourself 'this time next year I'll be playing that festival' and just do it!

And any general festival survival tips?!

Go see A Plastic Rose at Leeds 7:15pm and Reading 8:00pm. That will make the whole camping in the mud thing seem better. 

Sixty Watt Bayonets
Sixty Watt Bayonets have been going for a little over 18 months. Their debut EP, 'Pounding Hearts, Fighting Words' was released in July with Broken Tail Records and Velocity Recordings and received good reviews from RockSound and Kerrang!

So is Leeds/Reading your first major festival performance?
Yep it is our first festival slot ever, it all seems very surreal!

And what does this slot mean to your band?

It just seems bizarre to think that we will be playing at Reading and Leeds Festival. It's a strange mixture of being really excited and unbelievably nervous! It's an amazing opportunity to play in front of a new crowd who wouldn't have heard of us but will be interested in new music. But we are tiny bit scared that we may end up being the most unpopular band at the festival!

It's particularly special to be playing at Reading because it was the first festival that any of us went to, so that feels a bit crazy. Especially when I think about all the bands the festival has introduced us to. It is also really cool to think we will be playing in Leeds, because no one would know us there so that'll be a great opportunity.

The BBC Introducing Stage has also broken so many of our favourite new bands. For example, The Joy Formidable and Pulled Apart By Horses both played it last year and they are both starting to get really popular. Playing the festival is just a great opportunity to create momentum for the band.

What goals do you hope to achieve from this festival slot?
To create a bit of momentum for the band, get a bit more support and have some good fun!

What would you say has been the peak of your career as a band so far?
The press we received for our EP was great, but I think our highlight so far was our EP release party in July. It was a really good night, a great atmosphere and we got to play with all of our favourite bands!

Do you have any words of advice for bands wanting to play at a major festival in the future?

I would probably say write and record songs as much as possible, and just hope you get lucky.

Finally, any general festival survival tips?!

Bread and toilet roll!


bbc introducing, leeds festival, reading festival, leeds and reading, unsigned bands, emerging bands, unsigned stage, unsigned festival stage


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