Strong views on festivals!
Strong Asian Mothers look ahead to their debut appearance at Standon Calling and reveal why they were 'built for festivals'
12 May, 2017 — By Dan Carrier
STRONG Asian Mothers – made up of Londoners Amer, Khushi and Josh – have been part of London’s underground music scene for a while, and their mix of influences means when they take their sound from studio to the stage, the place gets jumping.
They are appearing at this year’s Standon Calling festival at the end of the July – and here they share their top tips and festival insights as they get ready for a summer spreading the message.
What was your first festival as a punter/and first as an artist?
Our first festival as punters was T in the Park 2003, we travelled to the top of England to see The White Stripes headline and when we got there we found out from our mate’s sister that Jack White had broken his finger and they weren’t playing. We were peeved. Don’t remember too much about the rest of it apart from a lot of Super T and Pringles being eaten. As the Mothers, our first festival appearance was at a tiny boutique French Festival called Pete The Monkey about three years ago – it still goes down as live music lore because we convinced a horn section to join us on stage and one of the festival promoters got so excited that he cracked two blue smoke grenades which scared the crap out of us.
Have you been to Standon before? If so, what makes it special? If not, what are you looking forward to?
This will be our first Standon appearance, so we’re looking forward to a totally fresh wave of experiences to wash over us. We’ve heard that there are cedar wood hot tubs overlooking the festival which sounds utterly banging. So we’re gonna play a HYPE set, smash a hot tub, then glitter the shit out of ourselves and go do the robot down the front at Grace Jones.
What makes a festival a special experience for you, how does it differ from playing at say a concert hall or theatre, does your approach to your set change in any way? Do you have to crank up the performance to fill the stage space/connect with the people at the back of the field a bit more, for example?
As a band, we were built for festivals, it’s where we come to life best. We aim to put on a show of intense joy, bounce and danceability and that works best to a crowd prepped and ready to let themselves go. The great thing about music festivals is that as soon as you pass through that gateway so much pressure or that need to hide your true, free self are lifted. No matter what time of the day it is, people are full of beans and ready to have fun.
Tour buses – dos and don’ts! Who in the tour entourage is the happiest traveller, and who has the strangest festival habits?
We haven’t quite reached tour bus levels of comfort because we spent all the earnings from our first EP on an island, and the money from the second EP on a yacht so we could get to the island. But we’ve got a pretty solid dynamic sussed for Josh’s car. Josh drives, Amer DJs and Khushi power naps. We generally quite enjoy being on the road and don’t really have any strange habits, unless you count Amer’s contracted requirement of always having Bruno Mars on the stereo at any time of his choosing. Do’s: Have snacks. Donts: Break wind.
What personal item do you never ever leave behind when on tour/playing festivals?
None of us would dream of doing a festival without a pack of wet wipes, a bottle of dark rum, Chilli Heatwave Doritos and a professional grade 175g competition frisbee. But nah, nothing specific.
If you were in charge of booking a festival, which act from the past would you most like to support, or simply see?
Oooh, that’s a tough one. Might go for Queen for sheer epicness and fun. Jumping around intoxicated in a field to a selection of their greatest hits would be a joyous occasion. Also you can’t beat Freddie for a frontman who knew how to get a big crowd going.
Standon Calling famously started as a birthday party in a back garden. If you could throw a birthday party, and had to choose any venue in the whole world, where would it be?
Mar-a-lago. It’s probably pretty pimpin and you could trash the place in the knowledge that Trump would have the mess on his hands afterwards.
Are you a happy camper?
We’re happy campers for a very limited amount of time. After the first night or two we start to miss the home comforts of warm beds, hot baths and sweet cocoa at bedtime.
Best ever festival experiences? Worst?
Seeing Radiohead when we were in our teens was a bit of a highlight. Worst was probably at the end of one very long weekend when one of us found himself in his tent at 4am, unable, for some unknown reason, to sleep or to stop dancing around in his sleeping bag. He looked out and saw what he thought was a crowd of people dancing to a pumping beat under some solid late-night light show in the distance. After a very long walk that took him to outer perimeters of the festival, he discovered that what he had seen was some floodlights and what he had heard was in fact just a large generator chugging away underneath them. He returned to his tent damp, disheartened and dispirited.
Free rave in the countryside or organised sponsored gig in Hyde Park – which one would you most like to go to as a fan?
That’s easy. Organised sponsored gig in Hyde Park. We love organised fun. And we’re all about sponsorship. Plus the countryside is dangerous, full of wolves and Orcs.
If you had to offer the first-time festival-goer one crucial piece of advice on how to make the most of their weekend, what would it be?
Leave your dignity and self-respect at home, and bring your own toilet paper.
Who else on the bill will you make sure you catch?
We’re really excited to see Grace Jones and Laura M’Vula, and Kate Tempest will be bringing all the best diction to proceedings, so we’re hyped for that too. There’s going to be some amazing DJ sets at the Dig It Sound System too!
Favourite places to play – the biggies like Glastonbury, or boutique-style like Standon?
The big ones are always fun, though we tend to lose Khushi very easily at festivals with a lot of acreage. We’ll probably put a tracker on him this time in case he wanders off. Our favourites are the smaller, more intimate festivals, though, like Standon and In The Woods. The atmosphere at those festivals is always so warm and intimate.
Festival food – what’s the nicest thing you’ve ever eaten and the most minging?
Josh once managed to wangle a free hog roast at a festival by doing a magic trick for the owner of the food stand. Free food always tastes better, so that probably takes the trophy. We don’t reckon there’s any such thing as bad food at a festival though, once enough alcohol has been consumed, it’s all good.