Sally and I were fortunate enough to be given press tickets to Wychwood Festival, a family focused, three day event at the Cheltenham Racecourses. On our journey there we encountered a young woman who was volunteering over the weekend. Striking up conversation, she enthusiastically told us of a local teenage band who were performing, called Freefall. She sold them well, and her enthusiasm convinced us that they were somebody we definitely needed to check out. I’m glad we did. Pulling them away from their set up for a quick 10 minute chat, we found them to be instantly likeable, innocuous and passionate about music.
The band is comprised of five members. Elin Allan is lead vocalist, Ryan Drake and Callum Spencer on guitar, Ben Thomas on drums and Jack Bryan, in his own words “tries to play bass”. He however was being modest, as when we saw them perform he was completely in control of the instrument. Elin plays the role of frontman perfectly. Rocking a look that mirrors her main influence, Haley Williams, she was the prominent voice in answering our questions, and certainly a prominent, powerful voice when in front of the microphone, but the other members were certainly capable of carving out their own identity and making their presence known.
The band originally started in late August of last year, with Elin and Ben jamming with Calum. From there they were introduced to Ryan in October, and Jack completed the roster in February of this year. Already they have had a string of successful gigs under their belt, and creative energy is flowing freely, with new material apparently being written “every week”.
The quintet are all studying music at college, bar Ben who left college last year. They all confess to loving the practical element, while the theory leaves a lot to be desired. Elin concedes that the college “‘[is] good for some things”, as it was through their head of year that they heard of this festival, and encouraged to apply. Obviously they were successful in their application, and joined their school peer Callum Marsh (who made his festival debut this weekend) on the Wychwood line-up.
Talking about their music writing process, the band immediately points the finger to Ryan as as the instigator. Very often he will come in and say “I have something new!”, a guitar riff or progression, and then the band will build a song around it. It is a very music driven process, with lyrics almost always being finished last due to Elin’s meticulous writing. She hates showing people work in progress if she doesn’t think it’s good enough.
When asked about what advice they would give to similar young people wanting to break out into the festival scene, they overwhelmingly encourage just writing to the organisers as soon as possible and asking if you can be on the line-up. It’s important to do it early, December or January is a prime time according to Elin, and “very often they will get back to you.”
The band, like most bands, have visions of making it big, admitting that “this is pretty much what we want to do.” They also admit they failed to follow their own advice, and left applying to festivals a bit late this year, but are going to pursue the issue much more tenaciously next year to really get maximum exposure.
We were fortunate enough to catch a few songs from their set, and they really did deliver the goods. The turnout was unjustifiably low given the talent, although the weather and timing certainly served to disadvantage them. Their set included cover songs, a decision taken so as to increase the likelihood of people knowing what they were playing. They were performing on an acoustic stage, and while they played well and injected a lot of energy into their performance, I’d love to see them when they are fully amped up.
Freefall have incredible potential, with the charm and passion to make something of it. They are definitely one to keep an eye on in the next few years, and hopefully they will continue to develop their own style, and distinguish themselves from the growing trend of generic altpop.
Check out Sally’s review of them here!