Music preview: Embrace on their Secret Festival at Lotherton Hall, Leeds

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Fans of West Yorkshire band Embrace have long been accustomed to the five-piece cloaking their shows in secrecy.

In the past decade and a half the group from Brighouse, whose hits include Come Back To What You Know, Gravity and Nature’s Law, have staged clandestine gigs everywhere from a boxing ring to the Big Brother house.

In 2014 they decided to take put on their own Secret Festival, with fans only being told the venue – Knebworth House in Hertfordshire – three days in advance, while the line-up remained under wraps until the day itself.

Last year they moved the event closer to home – at Lotherton Hall on the outskirts of Leeds. And although they’ve let slip that they’ll be using the same venue again next month, they’re keeping schtum on all the other details.

“I think we had such a good time last year and the venue suited us so well, we thought ‘Let’s stick there for another year and see how it goes’,” explains Embrace’s bass player Steve Firth.

“I don’t know whether we’ll be there next year, we’ll probably try somewhere new, but we like the fact that it’s up north and it’s near to Leeds and it’s our area.

Certain things will probably only be worked out in the van on the way to the festival. Everything’s last minute with Embrace.

“The USP of the Secret Festival may well be that it’s at a different spot every year, we’ll see. We do make it up on the spot a lot, there’s no machinery behind it, we decide stuff in the van on the way to the gig a lot of the time.”

What has made such shows enjoyable for the band over the years is the way their fans have embraced their off the cuff nature. “They’re all special and they’re all totally different from one another,” says Firth. “Sometimes when we’re organising them we’re thinking why on earth do we do these because they’re such a b*** ache to organise but they’re usually the most fun we have.

“It’s one of those things where you’re so glad you’ve done it afterwards and it creates new memories for us and the fans.”

Firth is tight-lipped about what’s in store on September 3 but he does reveal: “It’s a family-friendly festival and we’re spending a bit more of the cash on making it more fun for the kids.” That said, he adds lightheartedly: “Certain things will probably only be worked out in the van on the way to the festival. Everything’s last minute with Embrace.”

Previous festivals have featured acts such as Cud, Starsailor, Gomez and The Magic Numbers. Firth says when it comes to choosing the line-up “we get a certain number of bands who are going to please the fans then we throw in a few curveballs”.

“Last year we had a band called Evil Blizzard opening it. They’re not the sort of band who you’d expect Embrace fans to like, it’s all doom rock, they all wear masks, there’s a pig on stage and there’s a guy called Mop Man, it’s really strange. We also have cover bands on – we’ve had a Bowie covers band and a Beach Boys one. We’re just trying to vary it.”

To coincide with this year’s festival the band are releasing The Secret EP – their first new material in two years. “If you buy a ticket there’s a free download of the single [Love is a Basic Need],” Firth says. A 10-inch picture disc will be “exclusively available at the festival as well”, he adds. “We’re making up 500 copies on vinyl which I’m excited about.”

The band are “in the middle” of work on their sixth album. “I think we’ve got six or seven songs finished. We’ll hopefully get an album out next spring – that’s the plan,” Firth says.

For details on the Secret Festival CLICK HERE

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