Andy Rea, one of six founders of the multi-award-winning 2000trees Festival explains why everyone loves heading to the Cotswolds in July.

Interview by Jane Howkins

Feature photo: Lower Than Atlantis, one of the festival’s headliners

The annual 2000 Trees Festival is set to run at the beginning of July. Are you excited to see it start? Or is nerve wracking, in case anything goes wrong?
Massively exciting and slightly nerve-wracking. As I write this (at 5.30am on a Saturday morning!) I’m getting ready to drive up to Upcote Farm for our first full set-up weekend with the team, which is a lot of fun working on site with an awesome group of organisers, volunteers and the farmers themselves. It’s one of my favourite places in the world. But as an organiser you also have to plan so much behind the scenes to ensure it runs smoothly and it is always a wobbly moment when we open the doors to the first arrivals, because so much goes through your head at that point.

The festival sold out last year. Are you expecting the same this time round? It must be a great feeling when that happens!
Last year was such a special 10th anniversary year we had amazing reactions all round – the bands loved it, the music industry journalists who all came along were delighted, our friends, family and most important of all the public who enjoyed one of the best weekends of live music of the summer. So, during, and maybe just after, each festival are the best feelings. This time we’ve continued to evolve with a few new tricks up our sleeves and tickets are really flying, so we can’t wait to get started.

How do you choose which bands/artists to put on, and how do you approach acts? Do you get to pick bands you like?
There is less freedom to book our personal taste ‘dream’ line-up than before. As we continue to grow and appeal to a wider audience, we have to focus on what they want, but there are still some personal choices in there like Hundred Reasons this time and Ginger Wildheart last year, stuff we were rocking out to as teenagers. We have a great ‘network’ (I hate that word) within the music industry, lots of tastemakers who are hot on upcoming talent. Plus, we’re huge music fans ourselves, and we ask our audience regularly for their opinions – and those who know Trees know we actually listen to them!

2000 Trees has become one of the better alternative music festivals in the UK. Are the alternative genres something you’re into yourselves?
I think, when you look around, we’re the best independent outdoor rock music festival going, and in such a small, intimate and beautiful setting it’s the perfect place to discover your new favourite bands. We were six friends sat around a campfire at a major mainstream festival, completely disillusioned by extortionate ticket prices, over-priced yet rubbish food and drink, poor facilities, bad staff attitudes, ever-increasing corporate sponsorship and the ‘musical merry-go-round’ nature of large, mainstream British festivals. So we vowed to take matters into our own hands by creating the perfect antidote.

We created it with music fans at the centre and that remains true today.

What have you been listening to recently, and who do you recommend our readers check out? Are there any upcoming albums you’re excited about?
Frank Carter & the Rattlesnakes, The Menzingers and Hundred Reasons are personal highlights, but I really like our line-up playlist and listen to all our acts on repeat, sad but true maybe, but there’s nothing better than walking past a tent and hearing a song you know and getting swept up in the moment as you head to the front of the pit!

We see you have some festival exclusives, like The Menzingers (we’re big fans!) Is that something that is important to you? They put on a great show, we highly recommend checking them out!
I should have read this question before answering the last – you have impeccable taste! Yes exclusives are a great thing, we have the Forest Sessions stage which is such a cool space in the woods, perfect for stripped down acoustic sets and once a band has played there they know the secret and want to come back!

What other UK festivals do you enjoy, and are you going to any others this year? We see you have a working relationship with the guys from Y Not, with joint tickets being sold, and some of the same bands are playing at both festivals. Will you be attending Y Not?
I loved working on 2000trees so much that I quit my day job to become a freelance event manager, so I now work at lots of events, including Kendal Calling and Victorious Festival which are both really good. Unfortunately work is mega busy so I won’t be at Y-Not, but it will be interesting to see what happens there now they are owned by a radio station! (Global).

Gnarwolves are coming back to perform for the third time in a row. They must be a special band to have been invited back so many times? How common is it for you to invite a band back to play multiple times?
I love these guys, they exemplify reckless youth, wanton narcissism and getting smashed for kicks – true punks! Seriously, they are great musicians, check them out. We would like to book a lot of our line-up year on year but it’s just not possible for many reasons, not least we need to freshen things up every time. So Gnarwolves are definitely doing a lot right!

Why do you guys think people should come to 2000 Trees this year? What gives you the edge over other festivals?
We’re music fans first and foremost who built this up from the ground with our bare hands, and continue to put on a great show for all the right reasons. If that’s not reason enough, then our line-up is frankly astonishing for a festival of under 10,000 people, the setting is sublime, it’s probably the friendliest festival I’ve been to, people really love the music and there’s great food and drink and other entertainment (did I mention award-winning comedy?)

Any last words for the fans?
Thank you, one and all. Come find me at the front of the pit and say ‘hi’. I may even buy you a beer!

Also, everyone knows small festivals are the best for a friendly atmosphere, shorter queues, creating great memories with friends and (for some top of the list) cleaner toilets. it’s the best place in the UK to discover your new favourite bands and anyone who has been will tell you the same.

2000trees festival takes place at Upcote Farm, Gloucestershire on 6, 7 and 8 July 2017