Belle & Sebastian on new album 'Late Developers' and playing Spanish festival Cala Mijas

Festivals Belle & Sebastian: “The audiences in Spain are truly fantastic”

We spoke to the Scottish seven-piece ahead of their slot at Spanish fiesta Cala Mijas.

Sun, sea, sand and The Strokes. Can it get any better? We’re not so sure. Luckily, that’s exactly what’s in store at this year’s edition of Spanish festival Cala Mijas. What’s more, there are loads more incredible names taking to the stage across the weekend (Florence + The Machine, IDLES, Foals and many more), and if you need to cool off from all the excitement, you can walk just 15 minutes to jump in the sea.

Also heading to the sunny coast this year are Belle & Sebastian, following a hefty UK tour and their recently-released album ‘Late Developers’. Ahead of their spot at the weekender, we caught up with drummer Richard Colburn.

You recently finished up a big UK tour which had been rescheduled from back in 2022 - how did it all go? What were some of your highlights?
The tour went really well. In fact, it was one of the most enjoyable tours we’ve done. Most of the tour was sold out and we played a lot of venues we’ve played in the past so we knew what to expect. Some highlights included two nights at The Roundhouse in London, the Usher Hall in Edinburgh, a nice walk along the beach in Aberdeen, a 6am walk along the Mersey, playing Belfast and Dublin.

How did it feel to finally get to play those shows after waiting quite a few months?
To be back on the road felt great. The shows went down really, really well with all the audiences. To come back after a long time out and play to full houses most nights really helped us settle ourselves on stage. It’s a huge testament to our fans for showing up after a few false starts. The whole tour was great fun and we all enjoyed playing every show. I wish it could’ve gone on longer.

“Playing festivals are usually seat-of-the-pants stuff but enjoyable nonetheless.”

— Richard Colburn

Earlier this year, you released ‘Late Developers’, which was recorded in the same sessions as 2022’s ‘A Bit Of Previous’; how was it making the two albums in tandem?
To be honest, none of us were really aware we were making two albums. Because it was our own studio, it was just like coming into work everyday and not like the usual experience of making an album. Since 2002-3 we’ve decamped to another city or country to record albums. ‘Late Developers’ and ‘A Bit Of Previous’ is the first time we’ve recorded albums back in Glasgow. We have recorded other stuff in Glasgow prior to that including the soundtracks for ‘Bagnold Summer’, ‘How To Solve Human Problems’ and ‘What To Look For In Summer’, but as far as recording in our own studio, this was a first. Once we got on a roll, we just kept recording song after song and didn’t really notice how many songs we had. As far as I can remember, it was quite organic. Usually we record more songs than we need for an album, then try and piece the album together with a few songs left over, but this time we had two albums’ worth of songs.

What was the reaction like to the two records? And how’re you, as a band, feeling about the songs now that a little more time has elapsed?
The reaction was really positive. Because it was new territory, with having two albums in our hands, we weren't sure how to play it. We knew the first album would be a full release, with full backing, but unsure about the second album and how and when it would come out. I think the original idea was to just drop it on its release date like a surprise extra album. I actually think the second album did better than the first one, which had more fanfare. Personally, I like the second album better but both are good albums, in my humble opinion.

We feel pretty good about all the newer songs. We've incorporated a few of them to the live show. We toured the US last spring and played a quite a few of the new songs on that tour. Because of the situation we were in with cancelled tours, etc, we played it a bit more safe with the recent UK tour and played less of the newer songs. We stuck to a more tried and tested formula with the set list, which worked really well. What we did notice was the older songs are still more popular than the newer songs with fans at the our live shows.

You’ve got a handful of festival appearances happening this month. Do you have a favourite part of those sorts of performances?
Festivals can be really hit or miss as far as performance goes. It depends on a few things: the audience, time of day, soundcheck or no soundcheck, daylight or darkness, how and when you get to the festival, set length, among many other factors. Playing festivals are usually seat-of-the-pants stuff but enjoyable nonetheless.

You’ll be heading to the Cala Mijas festival on the sunny Costa Del Sol - have you played in Spain much before?
Yes, we’ve been fortunate to play Spain a lot over the years with festivals and our own gigs. The audiences in Spain are truly fantastic! They really know how to let their emotions out when it comes to watching live music. I’m really looking forward to playing Cala Mijas.

Belle & Sebastian play Cala Mijas (31st August - 2nd September), where DIY is a media partner. Head to the festival’s website for more info, and to buy tickets.

Tags: Belle and Sebastian, Cala Mijas, Features, Interviews

As featured in the August 2023 issue of DIY, out now.

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