Field Day vs Underage: Tom Baker discusses

United Kingdom United Kingdom | | 06 August 2008

Virtual Festivals: How did your promotions company Eat Your Own Ears come about?
Tom Baker: "I started Eat Your Owns Ears six years ago putting on nights in London's east end, before working with a number of independent labels, like Domino and Rough Trade, to showcase new acts alongside established artists. We’ve since promoted and programmed stages at TDK Cross Central, Somerset House and Trip Tych, as well as starting our own festival called Homefires."
VF: Where did the idea of Field Day come from?
TB: "Me and my girlfriend Natalie put together a free event a few years back outside the Griffin pub in Old Street for around 1,000 people a day called Return Of The Rural; a village fete with live acoustic acts James Yorkston and Beth Orton alongside acts like Clinic and Four Tet. Marcus, who ran the Griffin, was really involved in making the event happen, so after the success of this we all thought we should do something bigger and on a grander scale. A year later Marcus confirmed the use of Victoria Park and I drew up a list of people I thought should be involved - promoters like Adventures In The Beetroot Field, Bugged Out, Bloggers Delight and Homefires - so we have a strong net work to promote the event through. I then started drawing up all the bands I wanted to play, started talking to agents and Field Day was announced.”
VF: You're also involved in Underage, which takes place this Friday, the day before Field Day. Which has been the most fun programming? 
TB: “Both have been a challenge and great fun to put together. The pressure was on to put together a line up that was as exciting as last year's for Field Day, which I hope and feel I have done. Underage is good as I can book some bands that I would not usually book under the Eat Your Own Ears banner.“

VF: Who would be your top five band picks from each festival?
TB: “For Underage I’d probably say Gallows, who always get a great reception from the Underage crowd, Dizzee Rascal always goes down well too, and then newer acts like Scum, Glasvegas and Florence and the Machine. At Field Day my top picks would be Fionn Regan, Of Montreal, The Notwist, Foals, Richie Hawtin and Mystery Jets.”

VF: Underage or overage? Who behave the worst?
TB: “This is of course a generalisation but the Underage crowd really love their music and, as such, are really well behaved. They’re so enthusiastic, into every band and every song, and they sing all the words. They’re probably the loudest and could probably teach the over 18s a thing or two. Saying that, the Field Day audience are very much into their music and very attentive to the bands, and who plays when and where. They’re a great music loving crowd.”
VF: The Underage line up includes a lot of lesser know names. Are under 18s more savvy on their new music than us oldies?
TB: “Not if you look right across the line up. Dizzee Rascal’s been at number one for 4 weeks, Foals have a top 10 selling album and Gallows are a Brixton Academy selling band. But yes the audience are music savvy and know loads about new bands. They’re always buzzing about the next new act and know all the cool new bands on the Underage Club Myspace.”

VF: Do you find it hard to keep up being a bit older? Does Sam help you out there?
TB: “Sam is well on it and is always telling me about new bands and suggestions of acts to book. He is always so ambitious about the bigger bands that I try and book but they’re always on tour or in the studio - next year maybe.”

VF: There were a few problems last year at Field Day, in terms of sound, production, queues etc. How can you put fans’ minds at rest that these issues have been sorted?
TB: “This year we have brought in specialist events agency Ear To The Ground to ensure the line up is matched with full event management.  They have a wealth of experience in running a variety of events in England and was recently responsible for launching this year's Liverpool European Capital of Culture.  We're going to make sure that the number of toilets is more than adequate this year. We have also employed a specialist noise consultancy, Vanguardia, to redesign the site and calculate what sound levels we need to put on a great show. Vanguardia have worked across live music from Wembley Stadium gigs to the Download festival and are very well regarded within the business. In terms of eating and drinking we have over 100 metres of bars this year provided by Peppermint, who are behind the bars at some of the UK's most exciting festivals including Bestival, Glade and The Secret Garden Party to name a few. There will also be more taps, more lanes to get on site and more windows for guest list collection.”

VF: As well as improvements, are there any new things planned for this year at either festival?
TB: “New to Field Day will be a dedicated village green area inspired by summer sports days and country fetes called Village Mentality. It will host side-stalls and activities throughout the daytime, ranging from sack-racing to splat-the-rat to the 'eat as many carrots as you can' contest and the Tug O' War.” 

VF: How’s your festival season been so far?
“Brilliant. I went to ATP in May which had a great line up and saw band after band. Battles, Animal Collective and Four Tet were all really mind blowing. The Battles show was on another level, easily the best I’ve seen them. Latitude was also amazing. There was so much attention to detail and it was such a beautiful site. Joanna Newsom was totally spellbinding, so much so that I had to leave after seeing her as nothing could ever match how magically it was.”

VF: Which one relatively unheard of band on one of your bills will be making big waves at the major festivals next year?
TB: “Bon Iver and Santogold will be big next year at festivals, I’m sure of it, and also Apes And Androids.”

Underage Festival and Field Day take place at Victoria Park, London, on Friday and Saturday this weekend respectively (8-9 August).

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