It’s not easy opening a stage at Download Festival. It’s even more difficult when you are opening a stage confined to a tent, but nonetheless, Greg Dean’s Iconic Eye are more than happy to step up to the challenge. Following the release of their great new album Hidden In Plain Sight, the band are ready to demonstrate to the Donington faithful why they are deserving if 25 minutes of your time. We spoke to the man behind the bands inception, Greg Dean, to discuss all things Download.
DD: Hello there! First of all, thanks for talking to us. Who have we got here, what do you do in Iconic Eye, and what are you up to right now?
Hi, I’m Greg Dean. I’m the originator of the band, I wrote most of the songs on the first album and live I play guitars. We have been releasing like mad. We wanted to be able to turn up and play without thinking so we can live in the moment and enjoy our time in the sun (unless it pours!)
DD: This is going to be the first time you guys have graced a stage at Download Festival. How excited are you to finally make your début appearance?
Words can’t describe it. It’s where we’ve wanted to play since we were kids, its like winning the lottery, its a money can’t buy event in our lives and we are going to live and love every moment of it.
DD: Have you been to Download before in the past as punters? If so, what has been your most memorable moment at the festival?
I’ve been lots of times. My most memorable moment was on my first visit when it was called Monsters of Rock. It was 1981 and I was 16. I’d gone on a coach with my 14 year old mate Steve Baker. This was way before mobile phones so imagine that! Now the coach driver told us to be back to the coach by 11pm. The festival ran late. It was being headlined by AC/DC and Whitesnake were their main support. At 11pm Whitesnake were still on stage so being kids we thought it’ll be alright, the coach won’t go before the main band has played. Wrong! It did and we were left there. We slept in black bin liners on the main field and then walked until we found a phone box in the morning to get a lift home. That was fun! In more modern times and again with AC/DC, seeing them bring their own stage and crash their train through it was amazing. I also remember hearing Hailstorm for the first time there in the Red Bull tent. Really enjoyed discovering them.
DD: What other festival plans do you have over the summer, and how does Download compare to these other festivals?
We have some local festivals but nothing compares to Download, like what could!? Ever!
DD: Are you planning on soaking up the full weekend experience this year? What bands are you looking forward to seeing, and what bands are you looking forward to hanging out with?
We are doing a final rehearsal on the Friday so will arrive very early on Saturday morning. Hopefully we’ll be doing interviews for most of Saturday when we leave the stage but are hoping to catch Black Star Riders and Gary our bass player wants to see Ace Freely (he’s a bit of a Kiss fan!). Then on Sunday myself and Gary will be back as punters. I’m really looking forward to Tremonti and Slash and hoping that Alter Bridge are one of the surprise bands. Gotta see Kiss, they always bring a show!
DD: Your new album Hidden In Plain Sight has just came out at the start of May. Can we expect to hear some new songs off the album? What’s your favourite track to play live and why?
Yes, we’ll only be playing songs from the album. We have a 25 minute slot so that’s 6 songs. We did a couple of warm up gigs so are going with the ones that went down the best and represent the variety of the album. In terms of a personal favourite I thinks its “Let It Rain Down”, our current single. I love the way it builds and rocks out at the end.
DD: The album is quite unique in the sense that you drafted in two separate vocals for the recording. How did this come about, and which vocalist will you be taking to Download!?
That’s a bit of a story really. When I decided to record the album I initially played and sang everything and then did a stock take. The obvious finding is that I can’t sing! Initially the album was top of my bucket list so was a studio only event. My wife and bass player from another band that I was in went to School with Lee Small (ex Shy) and given his amazing voice it seemed a no brainer to ask him to be the singer. Lee agreed and we started 6 songs that became the first EP (Well Begun). At that point the band had started to gel and we decided we wanted to be a real band and play live and write together. Lee’s a busy boy and lives a fair distance from the rest of the band so was never in the equation. Paul (Emo) mentioned a guy (Tim) in Stafford that he thought might be good and we auditioned him and he fitted in brilliantly. In the meantime though Lee had finished all the vocals for the album. I made the decision that the live audience ought to hear what they were going to get live so I took Tim into the studio and he did the vocals too. So you’ll see on the album where Tim is lead vocals that Lee is backing vocals. Killer combination! So Tim is a permanent member of the band now and will be on stage with us at Download.
DD: There’s going to be a whole load of kids making their first trip to Download this year. If you could give three pieces of advice to the festival virgins, what would it be?
Firstly come and see Iconic Eye! Secondly take the opportunity to go and see other bands that you wouldn’t normally see, there will be so much variety at the festival and it deserves to be heard. Thirdly, have lots of fun, make friends, be happy and look after your mates.
DD: OK, a light one to wrap things up. Imagine you are camping at Download this year. You can only choose ONE of the following luxuries. A) a tent, B) a sleeping bag, C) a stack of beer. What one do you choose, and why?
(C) beer because with beer you can bargain your way into anyone’s tent! and probably their sleeping bag too!
DD: That’s about it from us. Thanks so much for taking the time to answer some questions. Any last words to our awesome readers?
Thank you Liam for asking us to talk to your readers. We’d just like them to check out Iconic Eye and decide what they think, they can access us via Spotify, iTunes or by our website (www.iconiceyemusic.com) and we really would like to see everyone at Download so please come and see us at 11am on Jake’s Stage on Saturday or just come say hi if you see us walking around the festival.