The Rifles

Interview with The Rifles ahead of Tramlines 2014.

After ten years, four albums and a couple of line-up re-jigs and shuffles, indie alt rockers The Rifles are still going strong, smashing their way through the festival season and landing with a bang on the Main Stage this Sunday. Rachel Heward caught up with frontman Joel Stoker ahead of the gig and found him hinting about a potential live collaboration with a Sheffield band, fronted by a certain Reverend…

It’s been about a decade since your first ever gig so now you’re practically festy veterans. What are your thoughts on this festival season? And Tramlines in particular?
I’m looking forward to Tramlines especially yeah, but we’ve got quite a few this year, it’s great, a chance to get out a bit more. We don’t really get much radio play so it’s a good opportunity to get ourselves heard.

What can we expect from your Sunday Main Stage slot before The Cribs?
A lot of the time it just depends on what the crowd is like. With our gigs the crowd seems to make it and if they’re into it, then it can get pretty… enthusiastic, shall we say.

You’re back to the original line-up for your fourth album, has anything else changed? Are you going back to your roots?
We always kind of wrote in the same way and nothin’ really changed with the writing process. When Grant and Rob had to leave we carried on making music but it’s definitely been nice to have them back.

What have been your best and worst festival experiences?
I think the smaller ones tend to be really good, although one of the best experiences we had was in Russia. It was really strange. We got there and played in the daytime, which was great as the whole town opened up and got involved. Then at the end we were asked to do this jam thing, which we thought was like an after party of some sort. It turned out, because we were one of the only English bands there, they wanted us to close the whole show. It was like band aid or something, loads of people on stage, there were 17,000 people in the crowd. One of the worst festivals was probably the other week in Nuneaton. It was basically a summer fête.

If there was such a title, and you became the ‘King of Festivals’, what would you ban, and what would you make compulsory?
Recently I got hit quite badly with a pint of beer which isn’t nice. So I would ban throwing beer at the band, which should go without saying really. Compulsory? Free beer. Those answers are bit of a contradiction though aren’t they?

Festivals always seem to be the perfect time for collaborations. You’ve played with Paul Weller, who else would you want to perform with?
Obviously there are loads, you know anyone would be great really. I guess Reverend and the Makers, we’ve done stuff with them a few times.

Is this a festival exclusive? Can we expect The Rev as a special guest with you on Sunday?
Who knows! I’m not gonna say we will, but I’d be happy to…

Can you give Tramlines festival goers some words of wisdom – some festival do’s and don’ts…
Well, definitely go to the loo before the festival, and just do your best to hold it in throughout!
That’s another thing I’d do as Festival King; make better toilets compulsory.

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Love The Rifles? Then why not check out these too…
The Crookes: Sheffield Indie-pop heroes much loved by 6 Music and those with an ear for a stonking new band.
High Hazels: Late replacements for Catfish and The Bottlemen at Tramlines 2014, Sheffield’s High Hazels are certainly no poor stand ins.
The Hosts: One of the Steel City’s best bands – Give Your Love To Her is one of the tunes of the year.

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