Our Top 5 Glastonbury Festival Memories

25 June 2013

Glastonbury Festival MemoriesIt’s Glasto week, children, but I’m not going. Boo-hoo.

I couldn’t get tickets, and Mr Eavis’ invitation for The Lightyears to bump the Stones off their headline slot must have got lost in the post, because we’re not playing this year either.

However, to mark the occasion I thought I’d run down my list of The Lightyears’ Top Five Glastonbury Festival Memories. And if you’re going this year, can I recommend the warm cider? It’s ruddy brilliant.

Blagging our first Glasto gig on the festival bandstand

Back in 2005 we were desperate to play the world’s greatest festival, but didn’t have any leads. So we squeezed a busking drum, acoustic guitar and battery-powered keyboard into our luggage and wandered around the site sporadically busking until someone gave us a gig – on the Glastonbury Festival bandstand.

Glastonbury Festival MemoriesHeadlining the Green Fuse Stage after 400 gin and tonics

Soon graduating from the bandstand, we were booked for a Saturday night set on the Green Fuse Stage that started at around half past twelve. Assuming nobody would be there we drank steadily all day, neglecting to realise that since we were coming on after Coldplay finished on the main stage, 150,000 people would be stumbling about pissed, looking for entertainment. We arrived at Green Fuse somewhat worse-for-wear to find the marquee absolutely rammed full of people, which was a bit of a shock. After desperately sobering up, however, we proceeded to deliver a rambunctious set of enthusiastic acoustic ditties that seemed to go down rather well. (Something really gross happened at this gig, but Tony would kill me if I published it on the web. I will happily tell anyone in person though, because it’s really bloody funny.)

Driving overnight from the studio to the stage

In 2007 we drove to Glastonbury at 3am in the morning after finishing in the studio with Sting’s producer, Hugh Padgham. Hugh simply couldn’t understand why anyone would do this, which I think is fair enough. We smashed up the underside of our car on the way down, and had to sleep in the boot that night – only for 45 minutes though, because we didn’t arrive until 7am and were opening the bill at the Small World Stage just a couple of hours later. Whisky was involved.

Glastonbury Festival MemoriesWatching the sunset to the sound of Leonard Cohen

Glastonbury 2008 was a truly wonderful weekend in which we played two gigs and saw some absolutely belting performances (Crowded House and John Mayer deserve special mention). The weekend ended with the sun setting over the Stone Circle while the strains of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah floated across Worthy Farm. Absolutely magical. Read the full story here.

Disguising a festival hangover live on BBC Radio

We got home from Glasto at around 4.30am on Monday morning, and took immediately to our beds. Just a few hours later I was woken by my phone, and when I answered I was told I was live on BBC Radio Berkshire – who had apparently called to ask how our weekend had been. I was a little dazed, but managed to shift effortlessly into anecdote mode: “Well,” I replied, as enigmatically as possible. “It goes a little something like this…”.

Enjoy the festival, folks!

Only In Philadelphia (15 July 2010)

8 March 2013

“British Invasion: UK’s The Lightyears performing in Philly”
15 July 2010
Erica Brooke Fajge, Only In Philadelphia, USA

First, it was the Beatles – then later Oasis and Coldplay. Britain’s latest find, The Lightyears, is coming to Philadelphia this Saturday, July 17th, for a show in University City…

The Lightyears, the “hottest band in London” right now according to the London Times, is coming to Philly this weekend as part of their current American tour. They will play at the new Blockley Pourhouse venue, 38th and Chestnut Street, at 8:30 p.m.

The band won “Best Pop/Rock Act” at the Indy Awards last year. They’ve played sold out stadiums all over Europe, including a crowd of 46,000 at Wembley Stadium; they’ve been compared to Queen, Coldplay, and Keane, have appeared in (as well as writing) a TV ad for T-Mobile and were even the musical guests at Queen Elizabeth’s recent Birthday Ball.

Yet, the band is anxious to make its presence known in the states. Their latest release, “London, England,” co-produced by the renowned Hugh Padgham, who produced Genesis, Paul McCartney, and Sting, just hit the U.S. July 13th. You may have even heard tracks played on 88.5 WXPN and 103.3 WPRB.

And making themselves a household name in America won’t be hard to do, what with the band being made up of three cute guys with English accents, including a heartthrob for a lead singer, George Owens, who has already been inundated with a wealth of female fans…

In addition to the Philly concert, the trio is set to play two shows in New Jersey: Mount Holly on Friday, July 16th at 7 p.m. for an outdoor show and Asbury Park on Sunday, July 18th at 8 p.m.

Brand-new free track unlocked at Project LYs

10 August 2012

Look at those hands. Majestic hands. Strong, sinewy hands, hands that could steer a ship to -... Okay, fine. They're my hands.That’s right – you thought only Our Lord God could unlock Paradise, but you could not be more wrong.

Thanks to your 30,000+ views at, we’ve now reached our third target and have unlocked our acoustic cover of Coldplay’s “Paradise” from the album Mylo Xyloto.

Click here to claim your free copy.

And once again, thanks so much for your part in helping to spread the word. As I mentioned in my recent blog, the band’s now getting lots of new traffic from places like Turkey, Albania and Mexico, which is rather exciting. And we’ve booked in a session later this month to knock out some early previews of songs for the new album… so watch this space!

Always stay one step of Coldplay…

12 July 2012

The Lightyears in comic form. Aren't we handsome? [Disclaimer: Any similarity to persons living or dead is purely coincidental.]When it comes to Coldplay and The Lightyears, it turns out that dodgy early band names (us: “4ever”; them: “Pectoralz”), a piano-playing Chris and a hardline policy of firing any members who use hard drugs aren’t the only things we have in common.

Yesterday it was announced on MTV that the world-conquering four-piece will be releasing a comic book series to accompany their recent album Mylo Xyloto. The story will be based on the eponymous, Manga-inspired character that the band created ahead of releasing the album last year, and follows the young warrior Mylo as he fights on the front line of a war in the mysterious world of Silencia.

Thing is, chaps-out-of-Coldplay, I don’t want to start one of those Detroit rap-battle feuds by slinging mud at you (imagine that: “My degree’s better than yours, Buckland” / “Pipe down Russell, you can’t even pull off a basic home-made hummus” etc), but we nailed the comic thing years back. Anyone who’s been following us for a while will remember The Lightyears Comic Strip, a classic three-box affair in which we went all Charlie Brown Peanuts on your asses. As a special treat, here’s a wee reminder of some of our cartoon adventures:

The Lightyears meet Guns 'N' Roses.

The Lightyears oh-so-nearly bag a record deal.

With a comic strip in the bag, it was only inevitable that at some point we would go the whole hog and write a novel. I’m working on getting the thing published as we speak; in the meantime, check out my brand-new readings at

New track unlocked at Project LYs

1 July 2012

Project LYs - hitting more targets than Robin Hood on speed.Thanks to you folks, we’ve now reached over 22,000 views at Project Lightyears – which means the first free gift has been unlocked. Hoorah!

Click here to visit Project LYs and download your free copy of “This House Will Burn”. We first recorded THWB for our 2009 album London, England and it’s been a favourite in our set for a while. This is a previously unreleased, slowed-down acoustic version we recently recorded at the Ritz Studios in Putney.

Whilst you’re there, don’t forget to check out our brand-new cover of Coldplay’s “Paradise” and the trilogy of readings from my upcoming Lightyears novel, Mockstars. If you like ’em, leave us a comment on YouTube or give us a shout-out on Twitter. If you do, I promise good fortune shalt be rained down upon you for evermore, and stuff.

Project Lightyears has arrived…

1 July 2012

Project LYs - it's not really this small. In fact it's massive.People of the world… Project Lightyears is upon us.

No, not a NASA space initiative, but a social-media storm aimed at spreading the word of The Lightyears to all corners of this good green Earth.

It’s all go here at LYs HQ. Work is moving on apace on our new album, which we hope to release later this year along with my Lightyears novel, Mockstars. We need your support to make this happen, and that’s what Project Lightyears is about.

Click here to visit the Project LYs mini-site and you’ll find a host of video content including live acoustic performances and brand-new novel readings.

Our message is simple – we’d like you to share these videos with as many people as you can. The more our fanbase grows, the closer we will come to making this release a reality.

Our ultimate aim is to reach 10 million views, and as the counter climbs we’ll be unlocking delicious free downloads for your listening pleasure.

To kick things off, we need just over 500 more views to unlock an unheard acoustic version of “This House Will Burn”. Click here to pay your first visit to Project Lightyears.

Thank you, as ever, for your support.

Just as glorious as I remember…

7 March 2010

The Lightyears boys chilling with The Golden Seal.Wednesday 3 February, 11.30am (Table Bay Hotel, Cape Town, South Africa):
We landed in South Africa this morning to embark on our 2010 Cape Town tour and the place is just as glorious as I remember. Ten minutes ago we checked into our hotel rooms at the Table Bay, Cape Town’s swishest hotel, and whilst the rooms are being prepared we stroll out onto the Waterfront, bathed in sunshine, to have a little shufty at the famous Golden Seal statue.

The Seal statue is the hotel’s emblem and sits atop a plinth adorned with a series of golden plaques, bearing the names of the many famous and illustrious figures in film, music, politics and sport who have stayed there over the years. I investigate more closely and am suitably impressed. Here are some of the highlights:

– Michael Jackson
– Snoop Dogg
– Maroon Five
– Wesley Snipes
– Vladimir Putin
– Manchester United
– The England football team
– Stevie Wonder
– Robert De Niro
– Quincy Jones
– Barack Obama
– …and, just above Obama and slightly to the left… us.

The Lightyears.

Our proudest moment.We have a plaque on the Table Bay’s Golden Seal. And in case you don’t believe me, I’ve posted a photo on the right.

I suspect that if Putin discovered that he featured on the side of a statue, he’d play things pretty cool. Not us. We proceed to take a variety of shameless photos of ourselves pointing and grinning at our name, flipping the thumbs-up and generally behaving like the worst kind of tourists. But we don’t care. We’ve got our name on a statue. With a little union jack under it.

Our mothers will be so proud.

Best start to a tour… ever.

(By the way, this got me thinking – how many other plaques have been forged in our honour without us knowing? If we were to return one day to the Knutsford M6 Travelodge, would one of the concrete parking bollards bear the legend “The Lightyears stayed here – and they saw that it was good”? There’s simply no way of knowing for sure.)

'One day, my son, all this will be yours...'Thursday 4 February, 8pm (Green Point World Cup Stadium, Cape Town):
Being in a touring band has landed me in some pretty unusual places. I’ve performed the Korean national anthem with a world-famous opera singer for Her Majesty’s Ambassador. I’ve played my piano in the centre-circle of a football pitch whilst Rio Ferdinand and Carlos Tevez kicked a ball about above my head. And I’ve sung my heart out to a hundred and fifty Belgian farmers in a cow-shed in Kortrijk whilst a massive bull looked on, apparently completely nonplussed by the music (perhaps he wasn’t into indie). Tonight, I’m drinking free beer and eating tiny little miniature hamburgers at the brand-new 60,000-capacity World Cup Stadium in Cape Town whilst a rugby talk show is filmed on the pitch – the first time cameras have been allowed inside. And I know almost nothing about rugby. How did this happen?!

In the Players' Tunnel at the World Cup Stadium.In case you were wondering, it happened because the organisers of the Cape Town Tens (the event we’re playing at this weekend) are big names in the rugby world and in some cases were being interviewed tonight live on camera. When the filming finishes, we make our way back into the players’ tunnel in order to be as close as possible to the bar. I stand, beer in hand, gazing out at the immaculate flood-lit pitch and an interesting thought occurs to me. In six months’ time, the greatest footballers in the world will emerge from this tunnel to an enormous stadium crowd and a global TV viewing audience of millions. There is something wrong, and yet at the same time so wonderfully right, about me – a man who throws like a girl, would struggle to explain the offside rule and consistently came last in the high jump at school – beating them to it. Bring on the 2010 World Cup…

The stage is set.Friday 5 February, 8pm (Cape Town Tens Rugby Tournament, Hamiltons RFC, Cape Town):
Here we are, back at Hamiltons RFC (South Africa’s oldest rugby club) in the shadow of Green Point Stadium, making the preparations for our gigs this weekend at the annual Cape Town Tens Rugby Tournament. Last year’s event was spectacular and it seems to have doubled in size for 2010. The stage looks fantastic, all kitted out with a fancy lighting rig and an epic sound system. It’s also quite strange for us to see the drums set up on a riser at the back of the stage, which has happened on account of the fact that, for the first time ever, Tony isn’t on tour with us. Tony, you see, is having a baby (or rather his wife is), and for our South African trip he has been replaced by the inimitable Andy Paine, who is a little more conventional than Tony and play the drums sitting down at the back of the stage. Soundcheck is a very straightforward affair – the in-house engineers are excellent, and in combination with Danny Lightyear they have the whole thing sounding absolutely cracking within about twenty minutes. We’re all very excited about tomorrow…

The Lightyears onstage in Cape Town.Saturday 6 February, 8pm (Cape Town Tens Rugby Tournament, Hamiltons RFC, Cape Town):
The marquee is packed for our show tonight at the Tens… and let’s just say that the crowd are “well-oiled” after a day’s solid drinking in the Capetonian sun. After a storming warm-up set from Me & Mr Brown, we take to the stage amid flashing lights and dry ice and bask in the sonic glory of the Tens’ epic sound system. It’s a real joy to play on such a quality rig. The crowd are in the mood for singalongs tonight and the best moments come when we chuck in the odd South African number (Prime Circle’s “She Always Gets What She Wants”, for example – unknown in the UK but, boy, did that kick off in Cape Town!), as these really seem to capture the imagination of the locals. True to form there’s quite a bit of male nudity and playful wrestling going on during our set, as well as a practise in which one unfortunate chap is unexpectedly leapt upon by ten or eleven others until he turns red, like a tomato. Plus, these are BIG guys. All part of the fun of course.

My only disappointment tonight is that the increased security this year – as well as the barriers that separate us from the crowd – have rendered stage-diving pretty much impossible. Another time perhaps…

What do you give to the man who has everything he could ever possibly need?Sunday 7 February, 6.30pm (Cape Town Tens Rugby Tournament, Hamiltons RFC, Cape Town):
We spent today lounging by the pool and sampling the hotel’s excellent range of cocktails. If you look to the right you’ll see a photo of me and my blue margarita, which is admittedly something of a girly drink but is admirably offset by the book I’m reading (I would heartily recommend Slash’s autobiography, incidentally – any book which contains the sentence “This is exactly the excuse we needed to fire Bob Clearmountain” is worth a look, if you ask me). By the time we return to Hamilton’s RFC for the second gig of the tour we are feeling mightily chilled out and this definitely feeds into our set which, in keeping with the Sunday night atmosphere amongst the crowd, has much more of a laidback vibe than yesterday. We’re really settling in to performing with Andy and, as the sun sets and the tournament draws to a close, it’s a genuine pleasure to simply play music together. The highlight of the evening is when we join Me & Mr Brown onstage for a collective performance of Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida” and everybody present absolutely sings their hearts out. Magic.

Me, staring poetically at a wave at Cape Point.The rest of the tour is seen out in typical style with a celebratory last night out on the Waterfront, a frightening number of Jäegerbombers (for which we chiefly have Danny to blame) and a hotel-room party complete with the inevitable and merciless mini-bar raiding. John, Danny and I stayed on for a few extra days to climb the spectacular Lion’s Head, indulge in a little winetasting out in the countryside and marvel at the beautiful scenery of Cape Point, the southernmost tip of Africa – but that’s another story, for another time…

ps. Jacob David Lyons, the world’s first ever Micro-Lightyear, was born on Thursday 18 February at 10.33pm weighing 8lbs 10z. The race is on to turn him into a drummer/guitarist/keyboardist/bassist (depending on which member of the band you ask). The grown-up Lightyears are all excited at the prospect of little Jacob joining the LYs as soon as he’s ready, on account of the fact that he would bring our average age down really quite considerably.

The Sound Of 2009…?

14 January 2009

Whilst perusing the BBC website recently I came across a story on the BBC’s search for the “Sound Of 2009“. A winner had been crowned – Little Boots, proclaimed the pundits, will be the sound of 2009. She is apparently being hailed by some as the saviour of pop music. To be frank I hadn’t spotted that pop music needed saving (Gwen Stefani aside) but I followed the link nonetheless and diligently sat through the video of Victoria Hesketh, AKA Little Boots, playing live in the BBC6 studio. Predecessors of this sweeping accolade include Keane and Duffy, both of whom went on to release best-selling albums, so the odds are on that Little Boots is in for a cracking year.

Like most people, my natural instinct when confronted with the supposed “Next Big Thing” is to join the long list of detractors and dismiss it all as a load of old hype. Unfortunately, in this case, I couldn’t summon up a reaction nearly as extreme as that. As it turns out her performance left me kind of indifferent. I think “saviour of pop music” might be a bit strong but I have to admit the song stuck in my head for ages afterwards. I suppose if I had to sum up Little Boots in seven words I’d probably go for “not as bad as The Ting Tings”.

Speaking of which, has anybody else noticed that The Tings Tings are, well…. to borrow an industry term…. a little bit rubbish? I mean, yes, it’s inventive – but then a Japanese Spider Crab wearing ladies pants and sucking scrambled eggs through a straw could be considered inventive but you wouldn’t buy his music, would you?

I remember when I first heard We Started Nothing, the band’s debut album. I had been downright nonplussed by the furore surrounding the ubiquitous hit single “That’s Not My Name” but intially concluded I must have just been missing the point. “They’re an ‘It’ band, I thought. A zeitgeist band. I just don’t get it. I’ve listened to too many Ben Folds and Jellyfish albums and now I’m just not Le Cool enough to understand this music”. Thing is, everyone was raving about it. Jools Holland, NME, The Independent On Sunday. I figured they knew a heck of a lot more about music than I did so I’d probably best keep my mouth shut – or at least give the album a listen before I issued judgment.

So I listened to the album and slumped deeper into a feeling that everybody – literally, everybody – was in on something that I wasn’t. I stood in my kitchen for 38 solid minutes, open-mouthed, wondering why I was the only person who’d noticed. Remember that story about the Emperor’s Clothes? Y’know, this Emperor dude is running around the streets with his arse hanging out and everyone’s so keen to fit in that they just go along with it and pretend he’s wearing clothes? Yeah? Well, it’s kinda like that.

Anyhow, ranting aside, 2009 has some exciting treats in store for music fans, I reckon. The sublime Glasvegas broke spectacularly last year and it looks like they could go stellar in the next twelve months. Think The Killers meets The Proclaimers singing songs about the drudgery of life, social workers and crippling paranoia. Check out their eponymous debut album and revel in its haunting beauty (disclaimer: most of the songs sound the same to me but then that seems to be fashionable these days).

Tipped alongside Little Boots for world domination are the glorious Mumford & Sons, purveyors of a folky Americana sound that has been described as “Coldplay reincarnated as hillbillies”. We caught them on the Park Stage at Glastonbury last summer and found their music to be charming, bittersweet and uplifting. One to watch…

Oh, and I know I’m hopelessly late noticing this but Beth Ditto rocks!! I caught her on the BBC6 Hub Sessions the other day and she has a wicked sense of humour. Yes, I know NME already voted her Most Super-Coolest Person On The Planet Of All Time Ever in, like, 1992, and I’m behind the times, but there you go. I was well impressed.

Oh, and for an alternative point of view, check this out – it’s Neil McCormick’s list of 2009’s Next Small Things. I like it. Very wry.