As a young lad keen to bring more live music to his hometown of Lennox Head, Ben Luke was just 15 years old when he booked the first ever Beach Sounds festival. The five-band affair was a raging success, and Ben plus his collective Lennox Groove haven’t stopped since.
With the next event looming at the close of March, we caught up with Ben to find out why he needed to start Beach Sounds, what it has meant for Lennox Head, and what to expect at the upcoming festival.
Before Beach Sounds 2019 kicks off with Candy, Leroy Francis and more, we sit down with festival organiser and Lennox Head local Ben Luke.
HAPPY: Hey, how’s it going? What are you up to at the moment?
BEN: Hey mate, I’m going so well! Lots of different things are happening, a lot of new stuff is popping up to work on and I’m preparing to get down to Wollongong this weekend for TwAnG!, a touring minifest we are putting on there and at a few other dates!
HAPPY: I find it pretty crazy you started Beach Sounds when you were 15. What made you want to kick it off?
BEN: I had been (and still am) a massive Lunatics on Pogosticks fan and we reached out to them after they announced their last album tour to see if they wanted to play a Lennox Head hometown show. Lunatics thought it was just going to be a gig the local pub but I booked the show at the local community centre and created Beach Sounds Fest. It got a bit out of control, I ended up booking five bands including VOIID, White Blanks, Mini Skirt and WHARVES. All those bands have gone on to huge things. I’d say the first show happened out of luck as we somehow successfully organised five touring and local bands to play a show no one had heard about before through Facebook messenger, but I was also seriously interested in starting more work in the industry and helping to grow a scene for a town I thought had a lot of potential for original live music.
HAPPY: What’s been the main aim of the festival as it continues to grow?
BEN: It definitely is to continue building a name for Lennox, one of my goals in particular in doing that has been to give a solid platform for bands. After being in and around bands, especially when it’s all mostly DIY stuff, it’s clear to see the state of the industry and the lack of people or groups dedicated to growing and nurturing their scenes. There are a lot of people doing it and putting in a lot of effort but unfortunately live music in Australia is still struggling, doing a national tour unfortunately can sometimes only work out to be a small handful of shows unless you play a lot of regional shows, which is not always viable. In my eyes Beach Sounds is not only bringing light to the North Coast but will also bring light to the bands that are playing here and loving it.
HAPPY: Any particular highlights since you got started in music?
BEN: Yeah, of course, probably a lot more then I could list. Seeing the last few Beach Sounds come together out of almost nothing and seeing a load of kids having fun and a bunch of live bands enjoying themselves is always so rewarding. But maybe the biggest highlights for me personally have been meeting a bunch of amazing, dedicated and hardworking people, I have met a lot of people that I’m glad I can now call my friends, especially all the crew that have come back multiple times or have really heavily backed what we are doing.
HAPPY: How has Lennox Head responded to the growth of Beach Sounds and Lennox Groove? Was there much music coming to the area previously?
BEN: It’s definitely been tricky, Lennox Head didn’t have a lot of original music before we started kicking things off and the demographic here is interesting to say the least, we have faced a little bit of resistance with locals and logistics but I’d say that’s expected in most regional towns. In saying that though there is a huge group of young people in the North Coast who are so keen and they’re the ones that keep this alive, they’re the type of people you see up the front from the opening band to the closing and we hope we can continue to capture these kids with what we are doing.
HAPPY: The lineup is rad this year – you seem to have your finger on the pulse. What kind of day are you trying to curate?
BEN: Thanks so much! This year’s lineup is definitely my most closely curated effort so far. I’ve become wayyy too closely versed on all the really good upcoming bands at the moment, which of course isn’t a bad thing, so to use the best of that knowledge and to put together ten bands was a lot of fun. I’ve really focused on the best and most enjoyable live acts with a focus on raw expression and talent; every band on the lineup this year really encapsulates that statement in one area or another. I want to create a day that will really excite everyone and get the blood pumping from opening to close. I’ve definitely experimented with the lineup this year so hopefully it all works out and the night is as powerful and energetic as I’m hoping it will be.
HAPPY: What’s the site going to look like this year? Any surprises?
BEN: We’re changing it around a bit definitely, each year we have refined how we want the setup to work. We have two stages for the second time again and they’ll be going one after the other, setting up while the other stage is active, so there will be a relentless wall of quality music for the whole duration of the event. We are also experimenting with some new sound and lighting setups that will hopefully crank the excitement up another notch.
HAPPY: Is there anyone else working on Beach Sounds this year you’d like to give a shout out to?
BEN: Yeah of course! Lennox Groove, who is myself and my Dad, Nath, also work on the festival with local band WHARVES who are our co-promoters, they are big gear heads so they have been helping to organise sound setups and technicalities that are further out of our immediate range of knowledge.
HAPPY: Thanks for the chat Ben! Hope the festival goes off.
BEN: Cheers heaps Happy! Hopefully we see everyone get out to the festival, it’s going to be massive.
Beach Sounds takes place at Lennox Community Centre, Lennox Head on Saturday March 30th. Check out the lineup below, and grab your tickets here.
Beach Sounds 2019