'Heartbroken' Leeds band FridayNightLights plan charity festival for people in Ukraine

A Leeds band "heartbroken" by the invasion of Ukraine have launched a charity single and benefit festival to raise money for humanitarian aid.

By Abbey Maclure
Monday, 7th March 2022, 4:45 am

Post-hardcore band FridayNightLights, who have a big following in Ukraine, released Bridge to Engine Room on Monday.

The single is pay-as-you-feel and all proceeds raised will be donated to the Help Ukraine Emergency Appeal.

Vocalist and guitarist Rik Ansbergs, whose dad is from Latvia, has been spearheading the fundraising campaign.

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Rik Ansbergs, right, and drummer Sean Carrick of FridayNighLights who have launched a charity single festival in aid of people in Ukraine (Photo: Tony Johnson)

He praised the warmth, hospitality and generosity of people he has met in Ukraine and vowed to help support them in any way he can.

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"The people are amazing," Rik, 46, told the Yorkshire Evening Post.

"I first went for the Euros in 2012 and I made friends with a journalist out there. She then helped us organise a tour.

The band, who have a big following in Ukraine, said their hearts have been "breaking dearly" watching the Russian invasion unfold

“The people of Ukraine have embraced us so much and I wanted to give something back to them. I couldn’t just sit and do nothing.

“And my own family, my dad, went through exactly this with the occupation of the Russians in the Second World War."

The band, made up of Rik, drummer Sean Carrick, bassist James Rowan and Liam Shevill on vocals and guitar, formed more than 10 years ago and has enjoyed a number of tours in Ukraine.

The band are planning a benefit festival in Bradford to raise extra cash for the appeal named Back to Youth (Photo: Tony Johnson)

Rik said their hearts have been "breaking dearly" watching the Russian invasion unfold, which is believed to have taken the lives of hundreds of Ukrainian civilians.

He broke down as he added: “As a band we have toured there, we have memories in those places, we’ve walked in the streets and put names to their faces.

"I want to be able to look in their eyes and tell them I didn’t just stand by when I finally get to meet them again.”

The band are planning a benefit festival in Bradford to raise extra cash for the appeal, named Back to Youth after a festival the band played at in Ukraine.

The three-day event will run at Nightrain from March 18-20 and Rik has had an outpouring of support from bands who have offered to play for free.

Rik added: "We were the first English band to play in a town called Kalush at the Back to Youth festival and we were followed around by TV crews. It was absolutely amazing.

"It would have been in May this year and we've been wanting to go back to play for a few years.

"This is our nod to them - we don’t know if it will happen this year, but we want to show our support and open people’s eyes to the real side of Ukraine.

“I took this on my shoulders and I had this purpose to do it. And I never expected it to mean so much to my Ukrainian friends.

“It’s grown and become a monster, in the best possible way. It’s amazing the number of bands who are up for doing this for absolutely nothing.”

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