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Keith interview

17 August 2006

Runners-up in the Road To V competition, Keith opened the Channel 4 Stage at Staffs and Chelmsford with crowds flocking to see them - and helping to cheer on guitarist Mark's sister getting married...

Virtual Festivals: You’ve just played V Festival. How was it?
Mark: "It’s certainly been the biggest festival we’ve done in the UK, it’s a mammoth occasion and it’s been an amazing experience. It’s definitely the biggest stage we’ve ever played on and we actually got quite a good crowd for a wet and windy Sunday morning. The weather here was better than at Staffs, but even there the rain seemed to stop when we came out, so that must be a good thing!"

VF: Is there much difference between playing Chelmsford and Staffs?
Mark: "I think it’s more spread out here. I think there are probably the same amount of people, but the Channel 4 Stage stretches right to the back so I suppose there’s more  room. There were a lot of people stretched out at the back, which fair play is what I’d be doing, but in Staffs they were all up front, which was great for us."

VF: We hear you haven’t had much time to chill out and enjoy the festival?
Mark: "No, I had to head off early yesterday because my sister was getting married at the exact same time we were playing. It was cool though, because I gave her and her husband a shout out at Staffs and the crowd gave a massive cheer, but yeah I couldn’t really stick around and I rushed down to London to get to the party. We’re now off to play Adventures In The Beetroot Field in Camden. I’d have liked to have seen Gomez, they’re a great festival band, and Rufus Wainwright. But we’re seeing Radiohead and Beck up in Scotland next week so we haven’t missed out there."

VF: What other festivals have you done?
Mark: "We did a festival in Japan called SuperSonic just last week. It’s such a different place compared to here that there’s a bit of a culture shock coming back. I think it would’ve been difficult to come back here and play V Festival is we hadn’t done well there, but fortunately we did. It was good to have something else to look forward to. Things are going pretty well at the moment."

VF: What’s the main difference with Japanese fans?
Mark: "Everyone’s more polite. Brits in general are a bit more cynical, which we are of course, but the Japanese are very happy and they’ll do anything for you. They know what they’re doing, they know their music very well and we even had lots of political questions in our interviews, which was different."

VF: Is it more important to you doing well over here?
Mark: "I’m not sure whether it’s more important but obviously, being a British band it helps to go down well in your own country. A fan is a fan wherever they are from and the more the better. But we’ve gone down very well in Japan and I think our success in the Road To V competition has really boosted our profile and reputation over here. We’ve been working hard, putting in the hours and doing lots of touring, so hopefully that’s starting to bare fruit."

VF: How did your Road To V journey start?
Mark: "We didn’t know about it originally, I think our management put us in for it. For our ego’s sakes, probably, they didn’t tell us. The first we heard of it was when we were down to the last 14, which was amazing in itself. Then we played the gig in Islington Academy, which went really well. There was a great crowd reaction and I think maybe that’s what got us through as finalists. Having the judges saying such nice things about us, including Tim Burgess, was great."

VF: Was it satisfying knowing that both fans and experts helped decide which bands won?
Mark: "Yeah it was great because they looked right across the board. The first thing was how good your recorded work, so our album was sent out and they obviously liked that. Then your music is posted online for people to listen to and then you play the live show in front of fans. So it’s great, you’re having to impress upon lots of people, not just industry guys. It’s not a case of one person liking you so you’re in, you have to please everyone – and I think that’s a good side for the future. If we’re liked by fans, as well as industry people we respect, then we should be in good stead."

VF: Have you ever had grief about the name ‘Keith’?
Mark: "We’ve had a lot of grief about the name, yeah. We’ve never actually been asked to change it as some people have said, and we probably wouldn’t. It’s almost proved our point to be honest. We’re all a bit fed up with the music industry and about how much of it is about image. One of our criteria was to not be called ‘The’ anything. Unfortunately we came up with loads of great ideas for ‘The’ something but we’d already said we wouldn’t do it. It started as a bit of a joke because we’re confident in our musical ability and decided that a fancy name shouldn’t really get you ahead. It’s a bit hard to google, although saying that we’re now apparently number one on Google, apparently because of the Road To V competition, so we’re loving it at the moment."

Keith's single 'Mona Lisa’s Child' comes out on 4 September. Their debut album is out now.

- Click here to discuss this on the Festival Forums!
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