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HomeMusicATC’s Alex Bruford on Fontaines DC’s arena ascent | IQ Magazine

ATC’s Alex Bruford on Fontaines DC’s arena ascent | IQ Magazine

ATC Live founder and MD Alex Bruford has given IQ the inside track on Fontaines D.C.’s live progress ahead of their biggest run of shows to date.

The Irish post-punk band, who release their fourth album Romance on 23 August, have a packed summer in store, with slots at festivals including Sideways (Finland), Hurricane & Southside (Germany), Fuji Rock (Japan), Sziget (Hungary), Pukkelpop (Belgium), Glastonbury and Reading & Leeds (UK), among others.

They will then visit the US & Canada in the autumn, followed by a European tour in November/December, stopping at venues such as the WiZink Center in Madrid, Verti Music Hall in Berlin, two shows at Alexandra Palace in London, a three-night stand at The Factory in Manchester and arena dates in Cardiff, Nottingham, Leeds and Glasgow.

The outing will then conclude in their native Dublin, Ireland, with two concerts at 3Arena on 6 & 7 December.

In the following Q&A, Bruford, their agent, talks IQ through the story so far…

“Working with Fontaines D.C. has been a joy, primarily because of the bands remarkable drive, determination and prolific output”

How have you managed the band’s growth on the live scene up to this point? 

“Working with Fontaines D.C. has been a joy, primarily because of the bands remarkable drive, determination and prolific output. The band released their first three albums in the space of three years – Dogrel in 2019, A Hero’s Death in 2020 and SkintyFia in 2022. Each album pushed the band forward musically and creatively, and the momentum they were able to build with this pace of releasing has been crucial to their growth live.

“Managing the growth has come down to long term planning, building of multiple territories simultaneously, reacting quickly when necessary and working with promoter partners who are as dedicated to ensuring the band achieve their goals as we are. In particular, Dan Roberts at Metropolis Music in the UK has been instrumental to the UK touring success.

“It’s not all been plain sailing – on the first album campaign the band’s career acceleration was so fast that there were too many demands on the band members, and we all had to learn what pace of touring worked best for them. Now we have a good balance and a fantastic production team, led by PM Marcus Haughton, who takes care of the band globally. Marcus and myself work closely together from the inception of tour plans to ensure all routings are as strategic and logistically efficient as they can be, whilst ensuring the necessary rest is built in for the guys to be at their best on the road.”

What is the strategy around the coming campaign? 

“Working closely with the band’s management, Ian McAndrew, Emma Greengrass and Trevor Dietz, and Cerys Vaughan at ATC Live, we started working on the strategy for the Romance campaign two years ago. 

“The bands last show in Europe was 2022 so it feels like the right time to hit the stage again. The first shows back will be at select festivals in the summer of 2024 that don’t clash with our November headline tour plans, allowing us to announce the tour in April 2024 around the release of the new single Starburster.

“We’ll headline the Park Stage at Glastonbury and then release the album with XL records on 23 August, the day before the band hit the main stage at Reading & Leeds, two key media moments.

“We’ve added headline shows in markets we won’t get to on the album tour around the 2024 festivals”

“We’ve added headline shows in markets we won’t get to on the album tour around the 2024 festivals, including Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Austria, Slovenia, reaching more fans and further building the band’s touring footprint. The 2024 headline run will be the band’s biggest shows to date, and a springboard to extensive UK and European touring in summer 2025.

“The strategy laid out relied on one key factor – the band delivering the new record on time to release the first single in April and album by the end of August. Whilst we never want to put pressure on the creative process, the fact is that artists that can deliver music on time and in a planned window have a huge advantage over those that can’t.

“In the interim period [vocalist] Grian Chatten released an acclaimed solo record, which received much support at press and radio. Grian had the option to tour the record, but made the wise decision to focus on writing and recording the next Fontaines D.C. album, a decision which is paying dividends now.

“Knowing that we could rely on the band to make the timeline work enabled us to secure the best nights of the week for every key show – so we went up with Friday and Saturday in London, Friday, Saturday and Sunday in Manchester and Friday and Saturday in Dublin, crucial to the success of the tour launch. They hit the target, delivering their best record to date and on schedule.”

“Demand has exceeded expectations by some way – it’s clear that the band have made a major step forward”

There is a “reduced price ticket” option for certain tour dates, what was the thinking behind that?

“The band have always been keen to ensure there is an opportunity for those on lower incomes to come to the shows, and not be priced out, so we made sure some reduced price tickets were available for this purpose.”

What are your expectations for the group in 2024?

“Demand has exceeded expectations by some way – it’s clear that the band have made a major step forward. To sell out two Alexandra Palaces (20,000 tickets) in London and three Aviva Studios in Manchester (15,000) tickets in one weekend is phenomenal business.

“In addition, we sold out the band’s first arena show in Ireland at the 3 Arena Dublin in a day, with a second date immediately added. My expectation is that all 2024 headline shows in the UK and Europe will be sold out.”

How would you compare their live popularity in the UK & Ireland with the rest of Europe? 

“The UK and Ireland are the biggest markets for the band, but thanks to their hard work touring internationally many markets are a close second.  In Amsterdam we sold out one AFAS arena (6,000 tickets) and added a second the morning of onsale. We had strong starts at our first arena shows in Madrid, Brussels and Paris. In Rome we have already sold out our summer show at the iconic Auditorium Parco della Musica, and our two summer headline shows in Poland are sold out.

“Further afield, Australia is a strong market for the band, with a very successful tour around the Laneway Festivals in 2023, and the band will return to Japan to play Fuji Rock Festival this summer.”

“The number of markets we can play arenas will continue to grow”

What’s the plan for Fontaines D.C. from here? 

“The band are already an arena band, playing arenas in many markets on the 2024 tour. The number of markets we can play arenas will continue to grow. After the headlining their first festival at Green Man in 2021, we will see more festival headline shows.

“With four albums of material and extensive touring experience to draw on, the band will take the show to another level in 2024.  The exciting part of where we are at now is that we are only 1 single into the new album campaign, with a phenomenal record to come.  

“Fontaines D.C. are not here to tick off achievements, but to consistently challenge themselves and their audiences, which I have no doubt they will continue to do. We look forward to seeing where that takes us!”


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