Stendhal hail return of first ever headliners Turin Brakes

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Turin Brakes guitarist and lead singer Olly Knights has fondly recalled headlining the first ever Stendhal Festival 2011 in advance of a triumphant return next month.

The band played the acclaimed Limavady festival in its first edition in 2011. He recalls that first Stendhal well.

“We’ve done lots of shows that for one reason or another have been really unique over our 25-year career,” he admits, “but for a few reasons that Stendhal show has always stayed in the band’s mind over the years.

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“I remember being aware at the time that this was the first ever edition of the festival and that there was a risk factor for the organisers and to be honest we did feel a little bit of pressure with that because obviously we wanted it to go well and succeed.

"Now coming back and hearing that is has been a success and that it has lasted for 13 years and won a load of awards is really pleasing for us, it’s a happy story and we are really looking forward to coming back.”

Olly continued: “The one specific thing that stands out in our memory was the green room – it was one of the organisers’ brother’s garage man-cave, just beside that organiser’s parent’s house.

"That was a new one for us but in a great way. I remember that there was just such a great chemistry about it all. It was clear that there wasn’t a huge budget but what they lacked in money they made up for in enthusiasm and fair play to them for getting to the level they are at today.”

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Since 2011 Turin Brakes have continued crafting beautiful folk, rock albums and touring the world. Their latest record Wide-Eyed Nowhere is an amalgamation of a glorious quarter of a century in the industry.

They brought the new album to gig in Belfast this in January and Olly says NI was once again a highlight for them on that particular tour.

“We first started coming to Belfast way back in 2000/2001” he said. “Of course, back then before we had been there, there was an obvious edge to things, us being from London and hearing all the stories from the years before, so there were nerves about coming to NI at the very start. Now though, we adore the place, there is nowhere quite like it.

“Every time we came back you could see it growing and maturing as a place or destination right before your eyes. There are loads of great places for us, as essentially tourists, which have popped up just to hang out in, everything just seems so much more mature and relaxed and modern, its somewhere we always want to keep coming back to.”

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Turin Brakes Olly Knights, Gale Paridjanian, Rob Allum and Eddie Myer, return to Stendhal this summer 13 years after headlining the very first festival in 2011. Credit J HayesTurin Brakes Olly Knights, Gale Paridjanian, Rob Allum and Eddie Myer, return to Stendhal this summer 13 years after headlining the very first festival in 2011. Credit J Hayes
Turin Brakes Olly Knights, Gale Paridjanian, Rob Allum and Eddie Myer, return to Stendhal this summer 13 years after headlining the very first festival in 2011. Credit J Hayes

Olly added: “It has changed so much for the better in 25 years but one thing that was obvious from the very start was that the people there are warm and welcoming and that our audiences there have always had an amazing energy and synergy with the band and that connection has always made for some mad gigs, gigs that we will absolutely never forget.”

The band have seen and done it all when it comes to festivals, from the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury to The Isle of Wight Festival and right the way around to Stendhal.

“Playing Glastonbury is obviously amazing but when we played the Acoustic tent in 2010, we came off stage and heard rumours that Thom Yorke was going to be doing a secret gig in an off the beaten track location, somewhere on the festival site.

“We went to where this was rumoured to be taking place and incredibly, in front of a really small and intimate crowd, out came Thom Yorke who proceeded to play a load of Radiohead classics, was joined onstage for some of them by Johnny Greenwood and there we were, in the sun, drinking rosé wine and thinking life just doesn’t get any better than this.”

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Olly says that the band will often revisit some of their older tracks, give them a new musical lick of paint and release them to a live audience.

“We love going back and reworking some of our old songs, “ he said “we aren’t precious about ideas about how any of our songs should sound or should be played, we see older songs as a blueprint and that they should be expressed by the band we are now as opposed to the band we were when the song was first written.

"Sometimes doing that will bring a real buzz to a song that maybe hadn’t been in the set list for a while.”

As well as updating older songs, adding in new songs and selecting the big crowd pleasers for set lists at festival gigs, Olly also pointed out that as festival season comes around, the band have to get ‘Festival Fit’.

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“When you move from indoor venue gigs in the winter and spring to mainly outdoor shows in the summer, there are loads of things we have to do as a band, “ he said.

“When we are doing the more intimate indoor shows you can be a lot more relaxed because you know the crowd are there to see you and only you.

"You can follow their energy and it’s just physically easier to perform in that situation. Then the summer rolls around and even though we experience it every year, you sort of can’t really prepare yourself for that culture shock of moving from indoors to potentially huge outdoor spaces, where maybe not all of the people there are there specifically to see you.

“When you switch to that, the band have to bring a different energy, we have to be absolutely on it from the very beginning and bring peak energy from the off, right the way through the set.”

Turin Brakes return to Stendhal on Friday, July 7. For tickets: