INTERVIEW: Rob Lynch – Slam Dunk Festival 2014

Before his set at this years Slam Dunk Festival, I sat down to have a quick chat with Rob Lynch to talk about the history of Slam Dunk Festival, Vans Warped Tour in America (where Rob will be spending his summer), German crowds,Charlie Simpson, Groezrock, his upcoming album release on Xtra Mile Records and his plans for the rest of 2014.

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Have you ever been to Slam Dunk Festival before?

Yeah I played like 3 times before I think? Once as Rob Lynch and twice as Lost On Campus, so yeah I’ve been a few times before! I used to go to uni in Leeds so I went to the first ever one in 2006, which was outside and one stage. It was Fall Out Boy and Thursday and those are the only two bands I remember but yeah I’ve been a few times.

I didn’t realise the Festival was that old.

Yeah, 2006! Who else played? Erm, The Academy Is…, Capdown, Hellogoodbye and The Hush Sound. Do you remember The Hush Sounds? They were on Fueled By Ramen back in the day, when Fueled By Ramen was cool.

So do you think the festival still has a similar vibe now, as it did back then?

Yeah, but because it was just one stage, it’s weird, because it was outdoors and windy and the one stage was for 8,000 people. It was cool but then the next year they moved it inside and I think it was two stages, then the year after I think it was five stages and then it’s just grown since. Back then, it was only one city. So there’s your brief history of Slam Dunk Festival for you! I used to go to Slam Dunk club night when I was here at uni as well. Before Slam Dunk was a festival, it was a club night every Tuesday at the Cockpit. That was my hangout when I was at uni.

You’re a big fan of Slam Dunk Festival then?

I love it! It’s cool because I know the people who run it and I know how much they’ve worked on it and built it every year, so yeah it’s wicked, it’s really good.

Excluding Slam Dunk Festival, what would be your dream festival to play at?

Excluding Slam Dunk, I’d love to do Reading & Leeds and I’d love to do Glastonbury because I’ve never even been and you hear so much about it. I’m away for Glasto this year but here’s another answer, I’m doing Warped Tour in the summer, well in like two weeks in America! I’ve never even been to Warped Tour so I’m on it for two months but I miss Glastonbury and that so, that can wait ‘til next year.

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© Andreas Hornoff 

How are you feeling about Vans Warped Tour?

This is what everyone tells me: “Oh cool, you’re doing Warped Tour! Stay hydrated and take lots of sunscreen because you’re gonna burn”… thanks guys! It’ll be great, it’s one of those things that when I was 18, if someone told me I was gonna go on Warped Tour… like c’mon that’s wild! I think it’s just like a childhood dream for everyone who plays music, so yeah I’m under no illusions that it’s gonna be a complete easy ride. I know it’s gonna be hot, it’s gonna be difficult, it’s gonna rain loads and whatever but I’ve got it kind of easy because I’m on the acoustic stage so all I need is my guitar, my box of merch and my suitcase and I’ve got a bunk on a bus so it’s not like I’m in a van or something driving about, I’ve got it pretty easy in the long run.

So you’re more excited than worried?

Oh, definitely! Anything with a little trepidation but yeah, I am massively excited! I’ll be more excited when I get there, once I’ve got my flights sorted and I arrive.

Have you been to America before?

Yeah, I’ve been on holiday a bunch of times and I’ve played one show over there, but to spend that kind of prolonged amount of time… yeah, I’m pretty excited!

You recently played at the Pirate Satellite Festival in Germany. How did that go?

Great! It’s cool, the German crowds are amazing. I do better in Germany than I do over here right now, so I can do headline tours over there and the turnouts are really great. I’ve got a label in Germany, they’re really respected and do really well over there so I’ve had a push from them and I got a really good tour support slot with one of their artists in November at the end of last year and that guy had a number 2 record so he was doing 1,000/1,500 capacity each night for a three week tour and I was the only support so we were getting this crowd every night that were into it.

Would you say German crowds give off a better response than in other countries?

I don’t know what it is! I’m not ragging on any other crowds like the UK’s wicked but Germany are really polite, like during the song they’ll just be watching you and then they’ll clap for ages afterwards, they clap for like twice as long! You get treated really well out there by the promoters too and again, not ragging on anyone else but they kind of go above and beyond. It’s like if you run out of beer, they’ll refill your beer and there’s food waiting for you when you get to the venue. We’re getting fed and we’re getting given loads of beers!

Going back to your question about Pirate Satellite, it was wicked! It was a bunch of the bands that played Groezrock but in one venue with one stage; it’s 8 bands a day on the Saturday and Sunday. It’s just one venue in Stuttgart, it’s like 1,500 capacity, 8 bands per day. So we played on the Saturday with Lucero and Chris Wollard and Larry And His Flask and Tim Barry, kinda that folk-punk side of things. We stuck around on the Sunday as well because I didn’t wanna travel that far and then not enjoy myself, but obviously I enjoyed myself on the Saturday but on the Sunday it was Brand New, La Dispute, The Menzingers, Touché Amoré, Red City Radio, the best line-up I’ve seen for ages and I Am The Avalanche.

Have you been to Groezrock Festival?

I played Groezrock last year and that was awesome, it was great. Last year they had an acoustic stage which was in a big tent and had a big stage and a chandelier and stuff hanging down, it was a really cool stage but they got rid of it for this year, they got more metalcore instead.

You went on tour with Charlie Simpson. What was that like?

Great! I knew Charlie a little bit beforehand but I got to know him well on this tour and he’s a really good dude. His crowds are lovely, everyone who goes to his shows are there for him and you know that, it’s not like a tour line-up where people go “I’m only going for the support bands, I’m not bothered about the headliners”. Everyone is there for Charlie but all of those crowds were really respectful and wanna enjoy everyone who plays that night and yeah, it was a great tour! It was only a week long so it wasn’t a super long one but it was getting me out there to a different audience.

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© Martina Worz

What’s been the highlight of your musical career so far?

The last year has been amazing. Everything in the last year has been great, it’s so busy I couldn’t really pinpoint one thing because everything that’s great is great in that moment in time and then you do something else and you’re like “This is the best thing ever” but then you’re like that thing was great too! So doing Groezrock, doing the German tour, doing the Charlie tour, all the stuff that’s coming up as well like Warped Tour. It’s all just like a combination of things coming together, this last year has just been a wild experience so hopefully the next year is as exciting or even better!

Do you have any releases coming up?

I’ve got an album coming out towards the second half of the year once I get back from Warped Tour. It’s coming out on Xtra Mile Records. It’s all done and ready to go but there was no point releasing it before I go on Warped Tour and not being around for two months to promote it, so we’ve kind of pushed it back a little bit.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

Don’t give up, believe in yourself. That’s it. That’s why they’re clichés and the usual advice you get because someone’s gotta do it, someone somewhere has gotta play music as their thing so yeah, believe in yourself and don’t give up. Don’t listen to other people if they’re being derogatory, if they’re being very nice about you listen to them to an extent, but not too much!

Describe your music using just three words.

I won’t put the word acoustic in but pop… oh no alright, uplifting, acoustic, pop! Does that work?

What bought on the transition from performing under ‘Lost on Campus’ to performing under your own name?

I only started playing guitar at 18, I never had my first band. You know people in bands are like “Oh we were in this band when we were 13 and we sucked and we sounded like a Green Day covers band” or whatever, I had never had any of that so when I started writing songs it was never my intention to do music as a career or anything like that, I just wanted to write songs and play guitar as a hobby.

Then after a year or two of just starting to write songs, a friend was like “Do you wanna play a gig?” and I was like “Oh fuck, a gig?! Are you kidding me?” and I played a gig in my hometown at this nightclub called ‘Quayhole Kates’, got kicked out of there on my 18th birthday but I played a gig there. I was like I need a name and I went by the name ‘Lost on Campus’ because I remember being at uni in Leeds and walking around campus in first or second year going “Oh I’m lost and I’m on campus” and thinking that’s a great band name and if I ever start a band then that’s the name I’ll use for it and it kind of stuck for a few years but it was never a band, it was just me.

So it was still just an acoustic set but I went by the name ‘Lost on Campus’ and then I released a couple of EP’s under that name and then I wrote a new EP and the songs were a lot better and I wanted to move away from the ‘Lost on Campus’ thing because it sounded a bit juvenile, so I was like right, I’ll go by my own name now and since I did that things have gone way better, so it was a great decision! My point of the first band things, I feel like Lost on Campus was my first band so I did that section and now I’ve got this new band which is still the same, it was like finding my feet.

What are your plans for the rest of the year?

Release a record toward the end of the year and I’ll be touring it until the end of the year and then probably well into the next year as well, I’m just busy!

Interview by Jess Pearson.

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—LIVE DATES—

13th June – 3rd August – Vans Warped Tour (USA)