NME caught up with Courteeners‘ Liam Fray backstage at Glastonbury 2023, where the frontman told us about the impact of playing the festival and what to expect from the two new albums on the way.
The Manchester indie veterans were up against Foo Fighters’ secret Pyramid Stage set as The Churnups, but still pulled an impressive crowd to their early evening set on Woodsies – formerly known as The John Peel Tent.
“Eighth time lucky, it was pretty special,” Fray told NME after their set. “That was the most nervous I’ve ever been for a show. But people just want to come and sing some songs with you and have a good time. Isn’t that mad? The stress can be running around your mind but when you break it dow, isn’t it nice? People in a field singing your songs. Fucking great.
“The excitement of the people coming here is palpable. These gigs are 99 per cent of our lives, but you realise that your set is less than one per of this whole thing.”
Fray continued: “We’re enjoying the longevity thing – we weren’t cool in the first place, we’re not cool now, there’s no pedestal.”
After their set, Fray said he was planning on catching sets from Maggie Rogers, Badly Drawn Boy and Christine & The Queens across the weekend. After Glastonbury, he’ll be turning his attention to completing two Courteeners albums – one of which was previously slated to be a solo release.
“We’ve have the time to be afforded the chance to do anything we fucking want,” he said. “I mean that in the freest sense. Nobody has ever given us any constraints; that’s just me being conservative about what people really want.
Revealing a few new song titles including ‘Solitude Of The Night Bus’ and ‘When Are You In New York Next?’ – as well as the claim that another sounds like “Mac Miller covering Leonard Cohen”, Fray said that the upcoming music “is gonna blow people’s heads off”.
“The song is king, and the song will always win,” he said. “When I play these new ones to people, I feel dead happy. It feels cool to be in this position. Someone who I trust told me that they’re the best songs I’ve written since [2008 debut album] ‘St Jude’.
“I want to do two albums. One is fun and the other is piano, drum machines, a bit moodier. Don’t expect any hits off that one, but I know what will happen – they’ll be the hits and no one will give a fuck about the ones that I think are good. The ones that are sleepers will be loved. But also, who cares? I love that idea from tonight of feeling so insignificant as part of Glastonbury. I’m going to try and transfer that to the rest of my life.”
The band’s last release was 2020’s acclaimed ‘More.Again.Forever’, their sixth album.
Yesterday was closed with a stellar headline set from Arctic Monkeys, as well as a surprise set from Foo Fighters appearing under the moniker The Churnups.
Glastonbury continues today with performances from Guns N’ Roses, Lizzo, Lana Del Rey, Manic Street Preachers, Måneskin and more. There will also be a number of secret sets, including The Pretenders (with a number of special guests) and Blossoms and Rick Astley performing a set of Smiths covers.
Check out all the latest from Glastonbury 2023 on the NME liveblog here, and see more news, reviews, photos, interviews and more here.