Rockaway Beach returns with Porridge Radio topping their first ever festival bill

We are barely a week into 2022, but the first festival of the year is about to kick off.After a pandemic-induced year off, the alternative music-championing Rockaway Beach returns to Butlins at Bognor Regis this weekend.

Friday, 7th January 2022, 1:53 pm
Updated Friday, 7th January 2022, 1:53 pm

After a pandemic-induced year off, the alternative music-championing Rockaway Beach returns to Butlins at Bognor Regis this weekend.

Headliners include veteran trip-hopper Tricky, former Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker’s latest project Jarv Is… and for their first time topping a festival bill, acclaimed indie band Porridge Radio.

The four-piece band released their second studio album, Every Bad in March 2020, but thanks to Covid were only able to start touring behind it late last year – including a date at The Wedgewood Rooms in November.

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Frontwoman Dana Margolin recalls the joy at getting back on stage: ‘It was really amazing. I was partly worried about it because we hadn't toured properly, ever.

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‘We'd done DIY tours before this one, but this was our first proper tour which was booked by our booking agent, and it got pushed back by two years. It was like: “Do I want to do this?” But then when it started, it was: “Yeah, I do – I love this. This is the best feeling”.

The band’s debut Rice, Pasta and Other Fillers came out back in 2016 on a small label. After years of slogging around the circuit and slowly building their fanbase, Every Bad was set to be their big break.

Porridge Radio are at Rockaway Beach in January 2022

And it did ultimately feature on numerous end-of-year best of lists and garner a Mercury Prize nomination.

But were the London and Brighton-based band worried when the album was released just as the world went into lockdown?

‘Yeah...’ admits Dana tentatively, ‘although, actually I'm really glad it came out when it did. It was a few years in the making and trying to get it out, so when we finally got it out, it was: thank god we've finally done it!

‘Even if we were in lockdown, we'd been touring in a DIY-way for about five years before that and releasing our own stuff on our manager's label, doing everything really DIY.

Dana Margolin of Porridge Radio at The Wedgewood Rooms, Southsea on November 21, 2021. Picture by Paul Windsor

‘We were quite tired, even though everyone else thought we were just beginning – we'd been working really, really hard, putting everything into the band for years.

‘So it was actually quite nice to have a little bit of rest time and to figure things out.’

While the band were unable to tour, Dana, as the band’s founder and primary songwriter has been working on new material. And she hints heavily at releases in the pipeline.

‘I tend to write just when I want to write. I don't like the idea of writing for something – I like the idea of just doing it because you feel like writing.

‘There's actually a lot of stuff coming. I feel like I shouldn't reveal too much… We've been working on loads of things during lockdown that you'll probably get to hear about soon.’

During lockdown they also recorded a clutch of covers through working remotely and getting together when restrictions allowed.

Among them were Wolf Parade’s You Are A Runner…and The Shins’ New Slang, which were released on Sub Pop’s legendary Singles Club (the home of early releases by the likes of Nirvana and Soundgarden).

Dana explains how they got to work with the Seattle-based label: ‘I think they got in touch because they really loved Every Bad, and asked if we wanted to do something for the Singles Club because we really love your work.

‘I didn't want to put out an original song for it, because we hadn't worked on a lot of stuff at that point, so it was our manager who suggested: “Why don't you go through their back catalogue and choose some of your favourite songs and cover a couple of them?” And that's exactly what we did.

‘There were so many tracks there that were really formative to me. They were songs that were really important in various ways – teenage moments, you know?’

When asked about how she felt about the hype and praise for Every Bad and people tripping over themselves with superlatives, Dana is refreshingly lacking in false modesty.

‘It was funny to us, because firstly: We know!

‘We've been doing this, we know we're good. Even when most people didn't know who we were, there's always been a few people who've loved us. And we've always believed in what we're doing and also we've always watched the music industry do that – pick up bands and be like: this is the hype band, these are the next big thing.

‘Every year it's another cycle of the same thing, so it was kind of funny that it was finally us.

‘It did mean we might finally have some success here, which is amazing, but it's also ridiculous because of the way the music industry works.’

And similarly with the Mercury Prize nomination (ultimately won by Michael Kiwanuka’s Kiwanuka): ‘That was great as well, but again I was kind of in disbelief because it was in this year where we weren't going anywhere.

‘I kind of didn't believe anyone was listening – why do people like our band suddenly? I've never met them! But it was nice to have that attention and validation.’

The band also kick off a UK tour on January 17 at Heartbreakers in Southampton, go to heartbreakersbarvenue.seetickets.com.

Tickets are still available for Rockaway Beach at Butlins, Bognor Regis which runs from today, January 7-9. Go to rockawaybeach.co.uk.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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