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Victorious Preview: The Southsea Alternative Choir...

Victorious Preview: The Southsea Alternative Choir Interview

The Victorious Festival site has been taking shape over the past a few weeks and the wait is nearly over. The Southsea Alternative Choir are synonymous with the festival and are easily the busiest band of the weekend with multiple performances across various stages. They are back again this year and I was fortunate enough to catch up with the guys, to chat about how and why the band was formed as well as what they plan to do with their spare time over the weekend.

Could you tell me about how The Southsea Alternative Choir was conceived?
Stuart Scott: Back in 2010 the idea was hatched to trawl around some Southsea pubs at Christmas, singing Fleet Foxes songs instead of Christmas carols, raising money for a local charity. Armed with two guitars & three voices and calling ourselves The Festive Fleet Foxes, Sam Richards, Sam Davidson and I ventured out for this first outing. The warmth we received from the public and from friends was overwhelming. With this providing a strong foundation it made a lot of sense to take it to the next level, so in 2011 a few of those close friends joined us, each of whom had their own previous experience being in bands. They all brought their individual musical talents, resulting in a bigger and better sound. We decided to put together a selection of contemporary rock & pop classics for our repertoire and actually get up on stage, and thus The Southsea Alternative Choir was born.

Could you tell me more about the great causes that the TSAC are currently supporting?
Charlie Waddington: When we started, and for several years, we supported a charity called Samuelsfund. Sam is a lovely young local lad – the son of a friend of the choir – who suffers from Cerebral Palsy. We raised a good deal of money for the family over the years and they remain great friends of ours, Sam is doing fantastically and going from strength to strength. Last year we decided to focus on another charity that looks after children, Cystic Fibrosis Kids. This year we’ve decided to work with Enable Ability, and specifically the youth sector of their organization. They’re an independent charity for the care, welfare and advancement of disabled people living in Pompey and the surrounding area. We liked the idea that they try to allow some folk less fortunate than us enjoy the things we might take for granted.

The band have a huge repertoire of songs but you can’t please everyone all of the time. Photo by Stuart Barker.

What can those lucky enough to have tickets to Victorious Festival expect from your live show?
Jim Lines: They can expect six sets of classic songwriting from every decade of popular music. Some songs we’ve done before, our crowd have come to expect certain tunes as standard! But there are some new additions, including a banger from Oasis’ ‘Definitely Maybe’ and arguably the finest moment from Ray Davies’ songbook, all brought to you by eight increasingly inebriated thirty/forty-somethings, intent on making the most of two days of pretending to be twenty-somethings.

Charlie Waddington of The Southsea Alternative Choir by James White

You’ve got experience playing both intimate venues and large festivals (including Common People and Bestival), do you change your approach for the festival performances?
Sam Richards: Not completely, the set times for festival shows tend to be a bit shorter though so it’s more about getting the blend right between absolute banger and slightly indulgent classic. I guess if anything, we might lean more towards the pop end of our repertoire spectrum if I’m being totally honest. The audience is broader, and don’t necessarily know us that well, so we have to make sure we keep them onside!!

Where and when can people find you at Victorious festival?
Sam R: Keep an eye on our Facebook page for exact times but we are playing 3 shows each day; about 1pm on the seaside, 3pm on the acoustic and 5pm in the D-Day Museum car park plus a special secret gig at midnight in the back room of the Bombay Express on Albert Road where I will be performing whilst face down in a lamb bhuna.

With multiple performances over the weekend, do you get much of a chance to explore/enjoy Victorious festival?
Jim: It’s become a tradition for me to spend time on the Saturday showing my daughter Nico around the site, which will be more fun than ever this year, as she knows every song in the set. Her favourite band is The Beatles, so I’m looking forward to performing a Lennon/McCartney standard for her. On the Sunday, my girlfriend and I will probably spend plenty of time at the World Music Stage, enjoying some alternative sounds and gorging on the lovely food on offer.

Ash Hills: Definitely be in the kids area this time around as my little girl Penny is now a year older and loves Peppa Pig 🐷. I’ll be watching Stereophonics too, as they’re a band I loved during school and the last time I saw them play was about 17 years ago!

Stu: Although we spend a fair amount of time stage-hopping over the two days at Victorious, I always find time to watch some great bands and catch up with family & friends. This year I’m looking forward to seeing British Sea Power, The Dandy Warhols and The Charlatans.

Matt Gill: Definitely check out the food at The Southsea Beach Café stall, lovely folk and top nosh. And we’re definitely not biased in any way, shape or form…

Sam Davidson: I’m looking forward to the first beer of the first day, and the last chord of our last set. Then having a rest…..’til next year.

Charlie: I’m stoked Field Music are playing, and Elbow should prove special on Sunday night, I’ve always had a soft spot for them, they’re special to me and my girl. We’re hoping they just play Leaders Of The Free World in its entirety with an encore of tunes from Asleep At The Back and Cast Of Thousands.

Sam R: Yeah, really looking forward to seeing Elbow, a brilliant band which I’ve been lucky enough to see a few times. Hoping they play a few songs off the first album. But they won’t.

What does the rest of 2017 have in store for you?
Sam R: Lots and lots of rehearsals! We’ve got another Christmas show booked at The Wedgewood Rooms (Saturday 16th Dec to be precise) that will need almost a brand new set so we’ll be spending most of our time at Casemates! We’ve got an ace plan for it, very different to last year so we need to knuckle down and make sure it’s match-fit.

Charlie: We’re also having a screening for the film of our last Wedge gig that local film company Electric Sheep Films have been putting together for us. It’s our Last Waltz haha! Hopefully that’ll be soon after Victorious. We’re playing a wedding sometime in September, we enjoy doing those, well, free bar usually so….. And lest we forget, another football rematch against the Victorious boys. They’re 2 for 2 at the moment but we’re going for best of 5. (You can read the match report from the last game here)

The Choir perform at Southsea Beach Cafe. Photo by Johnny Black


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