The Leylines drew such a crowd last year that the Russshuntel stage could barely hold them, so we’re bringing them back this year to see if they’re a match for our famous rotating stage. We caught up with vocalist Steve Mitchell…
FPF: Congratulations on the recent release of your album ‘Along the Old Straight Track’. You assembled quite an A-list team to help you, didn’t you? You must be pleased with the results?
SM: Thank you. I don’t think we actually knew what to expect when we recorded this album, after all it’s our debut, but I think I can speak for the whole band when I say that we didn’t expect it to be as good as it is! We took a while to decide on who we wanted to produce, engineer, mix and master the album and then of course we had to get them to agree. Sean (Lakeman) is obviously a very busy man so when he agreed we were blown away. He was great to work with, as was Jake Rousham the engineer who also has a great track record. Being able to record at Metway for our debut album was the icing on the cake, especially for me as it’s owned by my favourite band. Also, the amount of great reviews we are receiving for the album is testament to the team and the work that went into it… we managed to pull it off in seven days. So yes, we are very pleased with it.
FPF: Can we assume you’ll be showcasing a fair amount of new material for us at Farmer Phil’s Festival this year?
SM: To be honest, no (laughs)… we’ve done the whole releasing and touring thing a bit backwards in that usually a band will record an album and then go out and play the songs…well we have been playing the songs for a while before releasing the album, and I think there are lots of people out there who are yet to hear the songs we play…also, it always blows us away when people sing along. That said…we will be playing a new song called “Long Way From Home” which is already getting some good feedback.
FPF: We loved your single ‘Sat In A Field’, which you released for charity didn’t you?
SM: This song has become our anthem, it has become our friends and fans’ biggest sing along and goes down well everywhere, especially at festivals (as you’d imagine). I wrote the song about the festival of the same name, which is a lovely little festival in Somerset just down the road from our hometown of Weston-super-Mare so that they could raise some money for their chosen charities for that year. I wanted to conjure up the feeling of being at a festival even when you aren’t there, so that people are able to reminisce on past great times or look forward to the next time they hit a field with their friends for music and drinking fun. It’s everything I love about festivals and the whole festival experience… I can’t wait to blast this out at Farmer Phil’s Festival – it’s going to be awesome!
FPF: There’s a lot of light and shade in your songs – the brooding and poignant ‘Save Your Soul’, for example, contrasts quite starkly with the up tempo anthem of ‘Let It Go’. Where do you draw inspiration for your songs, and what do you most like to play live?
SM: I think the inspiration for all the songs so far have simply come from my life and the lives of those around me. I can’t actually nail down my songwriting to a set process, it tends to just happen when I see, hear or feel something about myself or someone I know. I like to let people make their own minds up about the songs too – sometimes when you give the actual story behind a song it can take away the personal feel for someone who may have made it personal to them and their own lives.
As for a favourite song to play live, that is a very difficult question to answer because I love how when we play ‘Save Your Soul’ people seem to hang from every word – we often see people in tears while we play the song, it can be very intense. On the flip side, seeing the happiness and enthusiasm of people singing their hearts out to ‘Sat In A Field’ is just amazing! As a band, I love the passion and energy that we always put into ‘My Own Worst Enemy’ it feels totally amazing when we are smashing through that song, especially the ending. And, of course, the feeling that we get when we hear the roar and applause at the end of ‘For Queen And Country’ (which is very poignant for a lot of our fans who are ex-services) is indescribable!
FPF: We’ve seen you described elsewhere as a band who “get under your skin in the best way possible” – what do you make of that, and how would you describe yourselves?
SM: Well that is a lovely thing to hear, it makes me proud to know that we are able to achieve that with our music. Describing ourselves is always difficult – I’d like to say that as people, as a band, we are friendly, sociable, great drinking buddies and very loyal to our friends/fans. We are very humbled by the amazing support that we have received so far and we cannot thank everyone enough, with due appreciation in the direction of Laura Clements, Ella Woods and Simon Warren who have actually had tattoos relating to our band – this just simply blows us away!
As musicians, I think we can describe ourselves as extremely passionate about what we do, we put 150% into every single performance that we play. I like to think that we truly make people happy with what we do, but in equal measure I think that we are able to stir peoples’ emotions and for the duration of our performances we can take people on an emotional, physical and aural journey.
FPF: Obviously you played for us at Farmer Phil’s Festival last year – what do you like most about playing for us at Near Gatten Farm?
SM: Getting to headline on the second stage last year was absolutely awesome, we were totally blown away by the amount of people who came to watch us – especially considering who was on the main stage at the time. I seem to remember that people were having to walk up and around the top as they just couldn’t get down the track in front of our stage, and to see so many of our festival friends – including members of other bands who we hold in very high regard – dancing and singing along to our songs in such a beautiful setting was immense. Farmer Phil’s Festival has that old school feel – it’s brilliant, just the right size, just the right amount (and type) of people, fantastic line ups and awesome surroundings. We can’t wait to explode onto the main stage on Sunday night.
FPF: With the new album under your belts, you must be gigging with a vengeance – what’s next for you after Farmer Phil’s Festival?
SM: We have a fantastic rest of the year lined up with lots and lots of gigs – our next festival is Watchet Festival (after I get back from a week in Las Vegas!) where we are headlining the Udder Stage. If the crowd reaction we received last year is anything to go by, this will be incendiary! We have some great gigs coming up with our good friends Mad Dog Macrea in London and Bristol, and we’re also looking forward to headlining the Bostin Days 2 event in October. All this, along with writing new songs for the next album, means it’s exciting times for The Leylines. Needless to say, we’re always looking to play more shows, so if anyone who reads this wants to see us in their home town, come and tell us at Farmer Phil’s Festival. In fact, come and say hello anyway, but bring cider… or Jaegermeister… oh who am I kidding? Bring both – let’s drink!
The Leylines take to the main stage at 19:15 on Sunday 14 August. Can’t wait a couple of days? Feast your eyes and ears on ‘Sat In A Field’: