Entertainment & Arts

Rudimental: Festival band of the summer?

Image caption Rudimental are playing more than 40 festival dates in 2013

Glastonbury 2013. Thousands of people are crammed into a sweaty tent, a mass of mud and glitter and body paint.

As one, they raise their arms to the sky and make heart signs with their hands - all for London dance collective Rudimental, who are fast becoming the festival band of the summer.

It's hard to keep count, but there are somewhere in the region of 14 people on the congested stage, all bouncing like Tiggers on trampolines.

Their music is played live - a heady mix of trumpets, guitars and even spoons.

The band's obvious joy at playing together is invigorating and frequently compels reviewers to use phrases like "irresistible" and "celebratory" - but it turns out Rudimental have only been a live concern for a year.

"Radio One's Hackney Weekend was actually our second gig," says writer and producer Amir Amor, recalling their first major booking in June 2012.

"We were in the middle of writing the album," adds bandmate Piers Agget, "so we had to throw things together. There were a few half-finished songs."

Image caption Becky Hill, a former contestant on The Voice, is part of the band's touring line-up

"But we got all of our friends and musicians and singers together and it was like, if you surround yourself with good people, everything else seems to fall in place."

Determined to play electronic music with live instruments, the band studied YouTube footage of 70s soul acts like James Brown, Parliament / Funkadelic and Sly and the Family Stone - mimicking their skin-tight grooves and positive energy.

"We like to take you to church," says Amor.

"That kind of vibe where it's like a big family," adds Agget. "Because it is - everyone in the band from the singers to the trumpet player, we're all best mates. We went to primary school together."

The bandmates are based in Hackney, in east London and got their start working in community studios around the borough.

Several members still act as mentors at local schools, and the group got their name from keyboard player Kesi Dryden's piano teacher, who tutored him using the Rudiments book of piano exercises.

Agget says Hackney's multicultural background influenced their tombola of musical styles.

"On my mum's street, I lived next to an Irish family but across the road was an African family and a few doors down, an Indian family and a Jamaican family. That is the kind of vibe you get."

No wonder they called their debut album Home. Even though, ironically, it was mostly recorded in hotel rooms.

Image caption The band aim to use live instruments as much as possible, in the studio and on stage

"When we had a number one last year with Feel The Love, we got launched into the deep end," says Agget. "We had to write the album on the road."

"Waiting All Night, we actually finished while we were on tour with Plan B," says Amor. "We went into the hotel afterwards, recorded some vocals. We got inspiration from the crowd. We want people to feel at home when they listen to Rudimental and the stage is our home."

"Doing all these gigs influence how you write music," Agget adds. "You start thinking 'we need some anthemic songs.'"

Capturing the energy of a live show on tape is notoriously difficult - but the steamy, euphoric Waiting All Night did just that, and provided the band with a second number one in April.

"To have one single that goes to number one, we were really ecstatic," says Agget. "Two singles, it was like 'ok, people are really hearing us now.' Then when the album went to number one, that really set us in stone.

"We don't even feel like we have to write hits. We had Waiting All Night waiting for months before it came out. So this is really what we've been doing all along, and now people are listening."

They're booked for more than 40 festivals over the summer, zipping between Lovebox and Latitude, then heading to Europe for Benicassim and Exit, via the US, where they'll play a string of outdoor shows.

Energetic and rambunctious, their sets are drilled to perfection - navigating the stylistic twists of summer anthem Feel The Love as if it were the most straightforward three-chord pop song Status Quo never wrote.

Image caption The band's four core members are (L-R) Amir Amor, Kesi Dryden, DJ Locksmith and Piers Agget

"We're loving every moment of it," adds Amor.

"We're like a bunch of kids on a school trip who've shaken off the teacher."

The aforementioned teacher is Jarvi, the band's long-suffering tour manager, who ensures the party stops long enough for Rudimental to meet their commitments.

"He has a lot to deal with," laughs Agget. "Getting us on the bus is like herding sheep - though he says herding sheep would be easier."

Jarvi is also the spoon wrangler, ensuring that there's cutlery available for the nightly kitchen utensil solo.

That comes in the introduction to a song called, naturally, Spoons, which is the perfect illustration of the band's everything-and-the-kitchen-sink [natch] approach to making music.

"It was Amir's idea" says Agget. "We were in a writing session and he was eating lunch. He started tapping his spoon on this metal plug in the floor. It sounded wicked, so we put a mic to it.

"Amir's like a crazy scientist. He's in the studio and he comes up with these wacky ideas that just work."

The band won't have much time in the studio before the end of the year, though. As soon as festival season ends, they go into pre-production for their own tour, kicking off in Australia and Europe before a victory lap around the UK in October.

Does that mean that new music is a long way off? Not necessarily.

"The last album was written in the studio and on the road," says Amor. "The next one we'll write in space."

And when next year's festival season comes around, they're hoping to graduate from the tents to the main stages.

Says Agget: "I think it'd be great, touch wood, to deliver a big song each year - and that's our plan."

"When we first got together we said we wanted to headline Glastonbury in five years," adds Amor.

"However long it takes, that's our dream."

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