This tour was to be all of our first times in India - and in Asia. It’s difficult to describe how diverse India is, especially in comparison to Britain as it was a huge culture shock for us all. The country is full of tradition, with a lot of family run businesses upholding generations of skills and practices. We met one family in Agra who were descendants of the family that carved out the Marble for the Taj Mahal which was completed over 350 years ago. Stepping into a taxi for the first time out there was terrifying; all the cars a sea of perfect chaos, lanes were painted on the roads but nobody followed them. A country full of contrasts, with big, modern 4x4s were next to motorbikes with a family of 4 on them; stunning 5 star hotels were up the road from streets of make shift shacks for homes. It’s clear to see the country is developing closer to the ways of the westernised world but the divide between rich and poor was very evident.
The hospitality of the Indian people was quite humbling as nothing was ever too much for them to do, particularly on the festival sites which were some of the best teams we've ever worked with. Between the sound teams, stage managers, catering and more, they really looked after the artists and made the gigs even better for us. Some of the taxi drivers may have been a bit ‘creative’ with their sense of direction but they always got us to the destinations eventually!
Although we’d seen videos of big, wild crowds from prior NH7 festivals before our trip, we had no idea if the punters at NH7 would get fully involved with our sets as we play with so much energy onstage. The people of India reciprocated in the bucket load. We've played a lot of gigs where it can be a challenge to just get people to move a foot closer to the stage, but at the weekenders they all danced and sang long into the nights with us, they were ready for the rampage that you only get at festivals. Although I loved playing the main stages, some of my favourite moments from Pune and Bengaluru were playing the Stray Dog ‘Jam Rooms’. Anyone could play these little wooden shacks and so we decided to keep playing for the people out there after our shows! They were a like sweaty, DIY house party in a packed out uni dorm. A really intimate connection between us and the crowd swarming around these little rooms that contrasted heavily to the big NH7 main stages, making the festivals all the more special for us. They’re known as the happiest festivals in the world and there’s no doubting that.
We’d like to express how thankful we are to Wales Arts International for giving us this chance in the first place to travel around India and play our first international gigs. We also need to thank in particular Grant Tilbury for keeping us alive, Julie Weir, all at Horizons and everyone back home who helped us make the trip possible.
If I were to offer advice to an artist or band playing NH7 for the first time, I'd recommend getting involved as much as possible with the crowds before and after your shows. Make sure to let them know when and where you're playing as we found a lot of people at the Weekenders were very open to new music. Give out plenty of flyers with the info for your website, twitter, Facebook, etc because it just makes it easier for people to follow you after the festivals.