T Break’s 20th Anniversary at T in the Park

Broken Records, Tuff Love and Stanley Odd tell us about playing on the stage which discovered Biffy Clyro, Snow Patrol and The View.

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T Break’s 20th Anniversary at T in the Park

Stanley Odd played the T Break stage in 2010 / Credit: Jannica Honey

‘It was the gig which made our career,’ says Broken Records’ Jamie Sutherland. Their 2007 appearance on T in the Park’s T Break stage opened the floodgates for his Edinburgh-based band, whose career continues to this day. It’s the ultimate compliment that any of the many musicians who have appeared as part of this showcase of Scotland’s best unsigned artists could pay. While some don’t take advantage of the springboard offered and others are already well on their way by the time their slot arrives, it’s the ones like Broken Records who launch themselves from T Break which surely represent the scheme’s greatest success.

Since it began in 1996, T Break’s success stories have been many: Snow Patrol played as Polar Bear in 1997 and again under their new name in 1999, returning as main stage co-headliners in 2009 and headliners in 2012. Biffy Clyro played in 2000 and headlined the main stage in 2014. The View appeared in 2006 and made it to the main stage seven years later. Elsewhere, names like PAWS, Hector Bizerk, Honeyblood, Discopolis and Conquering Animal Sound have appeared on recent bills.

‘The tent was packed,’ says Sutherland. ‘It was two o’clock on a Sunday, maybe we just caught the weather, but we managed to keep the crowd. We headlined T Break showcase at the Liquid Room in August where we met a lot of agents, and the gig was written about in the press so it steamrollered from there. But even just having the rush of playing to a festival crowd that day was brilliant.’

While that August showcase gig and the live heats in spring are no more, there’s still the kudos of being selected by a panel of Scottish music industry insiders who hear enough new music to recognise your group are standing out from the crowd. For some the experience just doesn’t click, like Julie Eisenstein of Glasgow’s Tuff Love, who played in 2014 and are forging their own success regardless. ‘We applied on a whim and were surprised to be accepted,’ she recalls. ‘There were about five people there for us, which we thought was pretty good, considering we were on at the same time as the Pixies. I think we gained exposure from the press surrounding the event, though.’

Yet for others, just being on the bill is an ambition held since youth. ‘I was at the first T in the Park at Strathclyde Park in 1994 and saw Rage Against the Machine on stage with Cypress Hill,’ says Dave Hook of Stanley Odd, who played in 2010. ‘It was one of the first gigs I’d ever been to and it made such an impact on me, so the opportunity to play there was something I’d aspired to for a long time. We were the first act on the Saturday, so we went on Friday with a whole bunch of flyers and a team of folks that got involved in promoting it. Thankfully it paid off and the tent was full; the reaction we got from the crowd was excellent and the experience was amazing.’

‘It’s a glorified battle of the bands,’ says Sutherland. ‘But it’s exciting to do it, and musicians are very good at pretending they’re not competitive about things like that. When we started off in St Andrews we knew nothing about the music industry; we put in our demo to T Break and before we knew it, Vic Galloway was playing us on BBC radio and we had a manager. It was the point that everything changed.’

This year’s T Break bands will play the T Break Stage at T in the Park, Strathallan Castle, Perthshire, Fri 10–Sun 12 Jul

T in the Park

From relatively humble beginnings, T in the Park has become the acknowledged behemoth of the Scottish festival scene and one of the UK's largest events. In 2015 the festival moved from its longstanding Balado location to the new grounds of Strathallan Castle in Perthshire. Bands appearing in 2016 include The Stone…

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