Fantasy Festival: Cassels plan their perfect fest

We first came across Cassels when they responded to a last minute call for help when a band had dropped out of the 2014 edition of Joyfest at The Windmill. We were immediately taken by the teen duo’s angular, spiky post-punk sound and their dynamic shifts from sparse minimalism through intricate spidery guitars to massive walls of noise, and in the seven and a half years that have passed, their sound has developed further with their second album, 2019’s A Perfect Ending making our end of year favourites list.

Cassels have just released its follow-up, A Gut Feeling, via God Unknown Records, and heading off on a February UK tour before heading to ten European nations in May and June, and a performance at Cheltenham’s 2000Trees Festival in July (details and tickets for all shows here). We caught up with drummer Loz to find out about his perfect festival.

Tell us about the first festival you ever attended as a fan?
​We’re very fortunate in that where we’re originally from (the Oxfordshire countryside) there’s a fair few quite big festivals, so I used to go to quite a few locally as a youngster. The first one though, shamefully, was Cornbury which was literally like 10 mins from where we lived. I probably would’ve been around 15 at the time, and saw Pixie Lott, James Morrisson & Aloe Blacc (all of the living legends of this Century basically). 

And how about the first that you played?
I guess technically our first was Music at the Crossroads when I was about 12 & Jim 16, which is a tiny village music festival in Hook Norton that everyone from our school used to go to. Jim got paraletic on free wine & we had to go home early. In terms of a proper, legit, festival though it would’ve been Truck Festival in 2015 – which the lovely people at BBC Introducing Oxford chose us to play. 

Do you have a favourite festival? What is special about it?
Wilderness, another local one, was always one me & my mates would look forward to all year round. I remember the first year it was hosted it was 40 quid a ticket for locals, and I remember seeing Tribes, Ghostpoet & Toots & The Maytals (looking back at the lineup online, Daniel Johnston played too but I wouldn’t have had a clue who he was then!). But it got bigger & bigger & more & more spenny as the years went on, so me & my mates would then sneak in which was always an experience/absolute mission. 
Nowadays it’s just full of posh twats from London (the whole Made in Chelsea cast) & Tories (literally saw David Cameron off his nut there once), and costs 10 grand a ticket. 

What elements make a perfect festival experience for you?
​Just a big juicy, varied lineup, zero dickheads in the crowd, and being able to bring your own booze into the main arena is always a winner. End of the Road have got all of that nailed to a tee, Jim & I went for the first time last year & had an incredible time. If it wasn’t for the nostalgia of Wilderness I’d deffo make that my fave festival.

Now onto your fantasy festival…

Festival Name: LOZFEST (or WONKFEST, I’m undecided).

Does it have a theme?
The lineup contains wonky af sounding-bands & DJ’s I love, so a general theme of wonkiness really. 

Where will it take place (and why)?
LOZFEST was an idea me & my mates had a school, which I was planning on hosting in my Dad’s garden while he was away on Holiday (he didn’t end up going in the end so alas, it never happened). So it would have to be there. He’s actually moved now, so would need him to buy the house back in order to host it. The idea at the time was to host a couple of local bands & me & a friend were going to do a sick DJ set to end the night. For the purpose of this interview, I’m going to upscale it to have actual artist’s play. 

Who are the headliners and why have you picked them?
Gilla Band (formerly Girl Band) on the Friday, Iceage on the Saturday and Aphex Twin to close it on the Sunday.

Gilla Band are thee wonky sounding band of today that everyone else who plays in a band wants to sound like. Absolutely incredible live too.

Iceage are on their 5th album (I think) now but are still releasing scatty music that somehow sounds so fresh & exciting – Seek Shelter was in my top 5 albums of last year.

Aphex Twin makes noises I’ve never heard before, and is probably as experimental & wonky as it gets from a DJ/Electronic perspective. I’ve never had the chance to see him, so to conclude the festival with him and prang everyone out after a weekend of wonkiness would be the perfect ending. 

Who’ll be playing the ‘Legends’ slot and why?
Television (playing all of Marquee Moon). They’re such an influential band & without them there’d be far less interesting guitar music out there today. Themselves, and Talking Heads, did something truly unique in the 70’s & weren’t afraid to stand out from the crowd. In my dream scenario they would have to play ‘Marquee Moon’ (the track) last, to which I would go absolutely apeshit. 

Which up and coming new acts are going to open the main stage and why should people drag themselves out of their tents early to see them?
Mandy, Indiana & Kyoto Kyoto – both one-of-a-kind bands I was privileged to see last year who certainly fall within the wonky category. Both are insanely loud too so will wake people up/grab people’s attention. 

You can re-form / resurrect one band/artist, living or dead for a one-off performance – who’s it going to be and why?
Gang of Four (preferably playing all of Entertainment!). In the same ilk as Television, Gang of Four with Andy Gill (RIP) & Jon King would be unreal. I actually saw them at Truck a few years ago, and sadly they were far past their prime which sort of tarnished the performance – so if you could extract them from the late 70’s/early 80’s so I could see them in their prime, that would be great. Ta. 

As is the promoter’s perogative, you have of course booked yourself to play – you can invite one special guest to join you onstage, who are you going for and what will you perform together?
Mr Tumble, singing ‘Hating is Easy’. 

These days festivals aren’t just about the music – what other surprises do you have instore for the revellers?
I’d deffo have a comedy tent full of my faves – so James Acaster, Peter Kay, David O’Dougherty etc etc. And for our set, I reckon Jim & I would arrive full-on Oasis at Knebworth style; helicopter in & kick a load of giant inflatable football’s into the crowd. 

Find out more on Cassels official website

Interview by Paul Maps
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