The fourth edition of Another Love Story, a festival presented by Homebeat and Happenings, takes place in Co Meath this weekend. Tickets (there were only 600 or so) are long gone. It’s supposed to be a very special thing, with a bill featuring mostly Irish acts such as Katie Kim, Tomorrows, Ailbhe Reddy and Ellll, JFDR from Iceland, amazing DJs such as Cian O’Caobhain (An Taobh Tuathaill), and lots of other stuff like the love olympics. I’m going for the first time this year and am very much excited. So much so that I talked to Emmet Condon of Homebeat. You can listen to the chat on the latest episode of the TPOE podcast (iTunes/Soundcloud) – just click play on the SC embed below. I’ve typed out some highlights from the chat, relating to the festival, below – we also talked a lot about arts spaces in Dublin being squeezed, the Homebeat label he’s launching featuring Carriages and Let’s Set Sail (Nialler9 had the scoop this morning) and lots more, so you’ll have to listen to the podcast for all that. See you at Another Love Story!

als 2017 lineup

On how Another Love Story started:
Emmet: we tried to set it up with the intention of doing something small and special. It came out of just a chat really in a car when we were saying some of the bigger festivals had felt like they were ordeals for us and our friends. The thing that’s always been surprising since day one was the fact people got the feeling of it so much, the heart of it, instantly, year one. I think by the Sunday of the first year we felt like we had something or that the message we tried to get across got across. I think that’s been the endearing feeling of it that people have taken that message.

How ALS has grown organically over the last three years:
Emmet: Look, it’s a really small thing, capacity is small. It’s always been our intention that instead of making big massive leaps that the thing would grow bit by bit. I think it’s come naturally with the progression of things like Happenings and Homebeat. It’s just naturally went along. We did a couple of New Year’s parties which have it a bit of exposure as well and so we knew from very early on when tickets went on sale; every year we put the tickets onsale to the people who’s been with us first and there’s such a big reaction to that that we, well we didn’t know but you get the feeling that if it keeps going that way it’s gonna go really quickly once it goes to public sale. We’re delighted, absolutely delighted, and astounded that it went so quick – and the fact that there’s so many people. it’s such a small thing and we haven’t gone out of our way to publicise it cos it’s a small thing. I think word of mouth was always our intention with it and it’s great that it’s motoring along as it is.

How ALS is different to other festivals:
Emmet: That trust is the cornerstone of the whole festival. I think that creates a certain respect. It’s not a fantasy escape land that’s been made up for a weekend, it’s somewhere where people go to get away from their lives and have a break but also to spend time with each other in a beautiful place. It’s a real family’s home so that’s a key difference with ALS to maybe some of the other festivals that sell you a sense of escapism from your life. I think we’re promoting that in a sense but there’s a sense of realness at the foundation of it which is a slightly different approach and I think that creates a different atmosphere.

On how festivals have developed:

Emmet: I was at the Trip to Tipp, I went to see Oasis at Pairc Ui Chaoimh, and the Prodigy. I had a ticket to REM at Slane and we were about to sneak off for the bus from Newcastle West and then my mum and my friend’s mum found out and we couldn’t go. That’s still my biggest regret, I still have that REM at Slane ticket in my drawer at home. The festival thing has become so much more sophisticated since then. I think increasingly the idea of banging a load of bands into a field with a burger and chip vans isn’t really – there are festivals like that and they do have their audience, but I think personally I’ve seen things progress a bit beyond that. I think musically and in terms of production and in terms of what the festival is offering people in terms of an experience. We’re trying to keep ALS as progressive in those terms as we can. It’s a small thing, there’s only so much we can do with it but we’re trying to make sure the quality of it is high all the time. That’s our driving force in organising it and how we programme it. Just keeping the thing moving forward.

Irish bands and music festivals:
Emmet: I feel like we have a responsibility… I suppose the really nice realisation when you’re three or four years in is that you have a platform that’s there to be exploited. Very much my thought would be that platform should be used to give the amazing Irish acts that we do have and that we do hope to get in the future a place to play. In terms of programming very much the idea is balance. It’s not about a certain headliner, it’s not about getting a big-name act. That’s my big thing about the other festivals – I feel like they just throw bands on at times without any thought to a flow or a sense of progression through the day; it’s just put big name, big name, big name, big name, and yeah the Irish acts get squeezed in very often on the bigger stages and lost. Again I think it’s a scale thing – the idea with this is that it’s balanced so that each act – and that means from the smallest new band that you might not have heard of, to Overhead, the Albatross to Katie Kim or This Is How We Fly, that they all have an equal experience. If we programme things correctly and place them in the right place of how the energy of the day will go is that they should have a great gig and the audience will have a great experience with them. It’s trying to be mindful with where things are placed and not just throwing names at it. When it’s small we don’t have the budget to get the huge acts but I’d be very much of the opinion that Katie Kim is as powerful as anything you’ll see at any big stage anyway and likewise with I am the Cosmos. I’ve been trying to get them for a few years and I’m really excited about having them. They don’t play a lot of gigs but they’re an amazing, amazing band, and likewise with Ships, who’ve had a great year, I’m really really looking forward to seeing Ships, but I’m also really looking forward to seeing Floor Staff, who’ve come back after a little while, playing the front room, and there’s loads of other bits and bobs that’ll happen throughout the weekend. Loads of our crew are amazing DJs and they’ll take over the Shift Shack, the little rave cave we have onsite… They’re all incredible DJs, I really genuinely think that they’re as good as you’ll see everywhere. We definitely try and give the Irish bands the best platform to show themselves in because I genuinely think they’re as good as you’ll see anywhere else. Bantum is another one. He’s got a new live show with Le Tissier, we had it at Reckless in Love at Body & Soul and it’a astounding… I would love to see some of the bigger festivals give people like Bantum or I am the Cosmos that platform, but obviously it comes down to the fact that unfortunately, that Bantum and I am the Cosmos are not going to sell you 15,000 tickets. That’s the unfortunate truth of it so that’s a wider question about the Irish music industry and how Ireland treats its own artists publicly and supports them.

And the most important thing to remember about running festivals:
Emmet: …basically the glamour of running festivals boils down to toilets, really. Once the music is booked it’s about a few speakers and then a lot about toilets.