Interview by David McKenna on the 25th October 2005

David Saw's biography describes him as something of a wandering soul, but it turns out that there is more than a little poetic license in this - he's been based in Buckinghamshire for most of his life. As it turns out, though, his story requires little embellishment -some of those plain facts of his career to date are remarkable enough. Take, for example, the fact that Carly Simon is set to record a song that he wrote when he was still a teenager. (When he met her at her house and she made the suggestion, he replied "Put the kettle on and I'll think about it". Was he playing it cool? "No. I was just dying for a cup of tea".) Or that Simon's husband and another hero, James Taylor played David's guitar in front of him.

Saw has been writing songs and playing since the age of 16, but it wasn't until four years ago that he decided to put his all into songwriting. He describes what he does as being "like my diary. It's about putting what happens to me, experiences I have, honestly into a song. I'll be sitting on the toilet or having a bath when the ideas just come." And although he has enormous respect for James Taylor and, inevitably, Bob Dylan, he doesn't allow those influences to overshadow his work. "I take little bits of people I like, but then I do it in my own style."

For the music event, he was the first act to take to the stage, armed with a guitar and a clutch of songs written largely over the previous two weeks, accompanied only by bassist and old school friend Richard. Just a few simple ingredients, but they went a long way.


In terms of sheer exuberance, The Deadbeats were the undoubted highlight of the music event – it quickly became clear what had swung them the accolade of best unsigned band at this year's Glastonbury Festival. It is especially surprising, then, to learn that until that pivotal moment in the summer, The Deadbeats was nothing more than a side project for its members. "Music was a career, but it wasn't until Glastonbury that Deadbeats was the band we wanted to do it in." The victory, they say, "gave us a kick up the bum."

On stage, they're the ultimate country-rocking, good-time band, their spirit embodied by Jo Dudderidge's head-and-body-shaking keyboard manner. "We do write more reflective material," he says but, according to lead singer Sam Hammond, "live, people understand the good-time stuff more easily. The audience enjoy themselves, se we enjoy ourselves. "The 'reflective' material will appear on an album at some point, but they seem in no hurry to record it until they feel 100% ready. The next phase of the plan is to "head to Wales and write loads of tunes.

They're equally laid back about the all-important record contract. "The easiest thing in the world would have been to jump into bed with a record company straight away," they say, but for now they're still looking to capture the energy of their live shows on tape.

The Deadbeats' charm lies somewhere in the fact that, both musically and as people, they seem simultaneously driven and reflective. Perhaps it's something to do with the fact that, although the band gelled rather suddenly, they've all already paid their dues in various bands around Manchester, while both Dudderidge and drummer 'Animal' Hudson (seriously) studied music at school. They both accept that the academic approach had its uses, but Dudderidge maintains that "You do the real study in your own time, really, in your bedroom, listening to records and playing." The band as a whole are students of The Band, particularly for the way they drew on a variety of influences and musical backgrounds. And, like The Band, they want to take their time so that the music they write can be timeless.

"We'd like to write songs that people will be singing in 30 years time," says Hammond.
It'll be a while before we see if that ambition can be realised, but anyone in the audience at the music event will have had at least one Deadbeats tune buzzing around their head for the rest of the night.


Just after finishing their sound check for the music event, The Storys learn from their manager that they had scored a Bob Harris session. "We love him," they beam. "And more importantly, he loves us!" It's been a long haul for the four members of The Storys to reach this level of recognition - they've all played in different bands over the years or been signed as solo artists, but it's with The Storys that they've all finally found what they were looking for. And, fortunately, having four songwriters doesn't lead to any conflict or unhealthy competition. "We try to leave our egos at the door - the song is king"' maintains Steve Balsamo who, when he isn't contributing lead vocals, studies throat-singing with a shaman, writes for other artists (including Meatloaf!) and hones his martial arts skills ("I see martial arts as a metaphor for life - you've got to get in there quick and pin your opponent to the mat!") This 'anything goes' approach extends to the band as a whole, and they've played gigs in all manner of unusual places, from the Buckingham Palace (for the Olympic Torch ceremony) to Rock of Gibraltar, where they were the first non-Gibraltan to perform.

For their new album, they "went up a mountain and made a record" which they describe as being "lovely and rounded and full of tunes." Harmony-based groups like Crosby, Stills and Nash and Fleetwood Mac are natural antecedents, but more unexpected names like Scott Walker, The Divine Comedy and Rufus Wainwright are also mentioned approvingly.

The more mature age of the band's members is frequently brought up as an issue, perhaps as an obstacle to greater recognition, but Steve points out that "to write the songs we write you can't be 18." The best storys, it seems, are those informed my experience.


As they gear up for their sound check ahead of their headline slot, guitarist Seton Daunt is fiddling about, playing a few practice pieces, when suddenly a familiar tune emerges - it takes a few moments to realise that it's an impressively rendered take on the theme tune from the TV series Airwolf. It's a deceptively frivolous opening - once the band gets going, it becomes clear that Fiction Plane aren’t messing about. They refer to Nirvana as a major inspiration, but they've also picked up a few tricks from the eighties school of expansive, gloomy rock, exemplified by early U2 and Echo and the Bunnymen. 'It's not deliberate,' maintains loquacious bassist Dan Brown, "but inevitably things we heard and liked when we were growing up find their way into the music." But why so sad? All the band members admit to be drawn to melancholy music, and finding it ultimately uplifting.

"When we're writing something, Seton will always throw a minor chord in there, something that makes it sound...tragic!" But for American drummer Pete Wilhoit, their music is also about catharsis, and escape. "That's what Fiction Plane means to me, it's about losing yourself in an alternate reality." For now, says Daunt, they're thinking about "texture", and getting the producer who can take their recordings to the next level. Someone like Nigel Godrich, they say, would be ideal. Wilhoit is full of dmiration for Godrich's work with Radiohead. "The Bends and Ok Computer haven't dated at all, they still sound fantastic - that's what we're aiming for."