Having recently resurrected seminal album Foxbase Alpha for a handful of live shows, St Etienne are getting ready for a short festival tour, including Latitude 2009. Here, singer Sarah Cracknell tells Uncut about the trials of bringing children to festivals, the memory flashbacks playing older material and what we can expect from their Uncut Arena show…
UNCUT: We’re very pleased to have you perform in the Uncut Arena at Latitude next week – Are you looking forward to it?
SC: Yeah, very much so. Suffolk is somewhere I haven’t been to particularly, but I’ve got a friend in Suffolk who keeps saying, “you must come, it’s very beautiful down here,” which reminds me, I should ring them and tell them I’m going to be in the area.
Will you be bringing the family with you?
SC: I’m not actually, that would be mean of me.
U:‘Cause it’s a very child-friendly place – sometimes it feels like there are more children there than adults.
SC: It’s just a little bit defeating when you have to search for lego or something fun before you go on.
U: They’ve got an entire kids arena – you could just leave them in there.
SC: Well, they’re a bit too young for that, that’s the problem. I dunno, I’d feel a bit mean, because they’ve been to local festivals where I live with them in Oxfordshire, like Truckfest, and they’re very child-friendly. But it’s near to get home. And so often we’re on late at night.
The last time they came to see us, we were on about 9, and my youngest one only managed about 2 songs before he conked out, ha ha. Obviously we were riveting.
UNCUT:So how do you prepare for your live shows?
SC: Ee did a festival in Spain recently, which was really good fun actually, that was great. And we’ve recently done a tour for our first album, so with that we’ve played lots of the old songs as well. So we’re really well organised at putting sets together quite quickly. We’ve got loads of visuals as well at the moment, which is really nice, although it’s not quite so great when it’s light, which it will be.
U: The tent’s covered at Latitude, so you’ll be in the dark…
SC: Oh, brilliant! That’s really great because it means the visuals won’t all be focused on me!
U: Do you get quite nervous then before going on stage?
SC: It creeps up on me sometimes when I’m least expecting it. Sometimes it’ll just overtake me and I’ll get really nervous and I won’t know why. When we did the little Fox Base tour recently I was really crapping myself, ‘cause it was just playing a set to a load of people who had played that album and treasured it since they were students, and it was very digital – lots of sequences and stuff like that, so if you make a mistake you look really stupid.
U: Does playing those songs bring back memories for you?
SC: Yeah, once we got over the first song and I’d calmed down a bit. It was really good fun, I really enjoyed it.
U: So what can we expect you to play at Latitude? Will you be sticking mainly to Fox Base songs or a bit of everything?
SC: There will be some Fox Base songs, but it’ll be mostly singles – an ‘all hits’ set, because we only get a relatively short time to play, and everyone will be in the festival mood. It’ll be more dancey more than anything.
U: Any chance of a Neil Young cover at the end?
SC: What, a different song?
U: Only Love Can Break Your Heart will do.
SC: That’s possible, quite likely.
Will you have any chance to check out any of the other bands that are playing?
Well hopefully, especially since we’re on at quite a good time. We’re likely to get there a few hours before.
U: Do you have any advice or tips for getting through living in a field for three days?
SC: I think for yourself, and this is really sad, but you know those little chairs on sticks? – brilliant if it’s muddy. If it’s muddy there’s nowhere to sit and everyone’s cramming into beer tents. So if you’ve got on of those chair stick things that you can buy at air-shows, it’s good.
U: Last year at Latitude I saw a rucksack which converted into a chair, which I thought was really cool.
SC: Well that’s what you need, ‘cause it’s awful when you can’t sit!
U: Do you have any essentials on you?
SC: Wet wipes (essential for sticky hands and muddy faces), a hat and water.
St Etienne perform in the Uncut Arena at Latitude 2009 on Sunday July 19.
Don’t forget: you can still get tickets for the four-day event; with music headliners including Pet Shop Boys, Grace Jones in addition to Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds here at www.latitudefestival.co.uk