“It feels like a homecoming”: You Me At Six, Waterparks, The Interrupters and I Prevail get pumped for Slam Dunk Festival

There’s no better way to kick off the summer than Slam Dunk Festival. This weekend, the great and the good of punk, metal, ska and beyond hit Hatfield and Leeds to ring in a bumper festival season. We catch up with four stage headliners to find out what they’ve got in store for us…

“It feels like a homecoming”: You Me At Six, Waterparks, The Interrupters and I Prevail get pumped for Slam Dunk Festival
Nick Ruskell
Alexis Gross, Kurt Mackey & Ian Urquhard, Jawn Rocha, Nat Wood

Who’s up for Slam Dunk, then? Oh yeah – everyone. Once again, Leeds and Hatfield promise two days of festival magic. We track down You Me At Six, Kerrang! Stage headliners Waterparks, The Interrupters and I Prevail to get the lowdown on what they’ve got up their sleeves…

8:50pm, Slam Dunk StageYou Me At Six

It’s fitting that the Weybridge wonders are starting their last waltz by headlining the fest where it all started one last time. Sad times, but Josh Franceschi’s up for a massive party…

How does it feel to be starting You Me At Six’s final lap here?
“It’s special, as Slam Dunk was a seminal moment when we were coming through. Sometimes you think, ‘If that one thing hadn’t happened, would any of this had happened?’ For that reason alone, it’ll be an important show in this final year of touring. I’m excited.”

Has picking the setlist been difficult, knowing you can’t keep any songs for next time?
“Ultimately we’ve tried to construct a setlist we think celebrates our lifespan in that unique festival environment. We obviously have a chance to tour more with this band before the end, but these are our final festival experiences, so we’ve made some choices based on what we think our fans – and a festival audience that may just be watching out of interest – will enjoy the most.”

What do you remember about the first time you ever played Slam Dunk, at Leeds University back in 2007?
“Thinking, ‘Fuck, that’s Paramore. That’s my favourite band in the world, and there they are. In the flesh. I wonder if they wanna be mates. I wonder if they’ll watch us, if they’ve heard of us.’ I don’t feel weird about saying that it was one of my favourite days ever, because it felt like in that moment that was a slice of ‘making it’, sharing a stage with a band I truly love.”

And then you headlined a couple of years later – how was that?
“Mad as shit. I couldn’t quite fathom how and why we were there. That being said, for a long time when we would play live, it felt like we were just playing for our mates. I’d look out at audiences and just see ‘us’ in the crowd – teenagers and people in their 20s being soundtracked by us. That’s pretty mad.”

How do you think you’re going to feel arriving on site?
“Let’s have it.”

What do you hope people take away from watching you do this?
“‘That band are mint. I’m gonna go watch them tour the UK next year. They looked like they were in their element.’”

7:45pm, Kerrang! StageWaterparks

The Texas troublemakers are bringing the fun to their Kerrang! Stage slot. And Awsten Knight plans to round off the celebrations by getting locked up by the plod for gastronomic purposes…

You’re back at Slam Dunk – looking forward to it?
“Big time. I’m just mad we’re missing The All-American Rejects because our set times conflict.”

You’ll be topping the Kerrang! Stage. How does it feel to be headlining a stage at something like Slam Dunk?
“I love being able to identify tangible, clear signs of growth and this is one of those moments. We opened the Kerrang! Fresh Blood Stage the first time we came to the UK and now we’re closing out [your] stage! It’s cool and I’m grateful the UK fucks with us, even though I make fun of your food. You’re good people and I have your back.”

The Last time you played London you dressed as the Pope. What have you packed this time?
“Tube sock, Chili Peppers style. I’m trying to go to British jail to try the food.”

What do you remember about last time you played?
“That the crowds always smack. When we get a pit and crowdsurfers in the first 20 seconds I know it’s gonna be a good show. And doing a guest spot with Don Broco was awesome.”

Which one’s better – Leeds or Hatfield?
“Brother, I have to be real with you, I literally never know where I am in general, even in America. The last thing you’re gonna catch me doing is knowing the difference between Leeds and Hatfield. It’s all British to me, baby!”

Give us the hard sell – People have to come and watch Waterparks because…
“I’ll fucking kill you.”

8:40pm, Monster Energy StageThe Interrupters

Get your dancing shoes on for a day loaded with ska. That’s what Aimee Interrupter is planning to do, anyway…

How does it feel to be coming back to Slam Dunk again?
“It feels like a homecoming. We haven’t been to the UK since 2022 and we’ve missed it so much. This will be our third time, and we are so excited!”

You’re headlining your stage – how are you feeling about that?
“Honestly it’s a bit intimidating, especially considering how many incredible bands we are sharing the stage with, but we are so grateful for the opportunity. The first time we came to Slam Dunk I think we played around 2pm and the crowd was already so wild and fun, so playing at night is definitely gonna be a party!”

And headlining means you've technically got ska legends The Selecter opening for you, which is pretty crazy, right?
“It’s so crazy. It’s an honour to even step onto the same stage as The Selecter. They are one of our favourite bands and a huge influence on us. We will be there dancing along, for sure.”

What is it about Slam Dunk that makes it so cool?
“The thing that always stands out to us is that every time we come, the stage that we play on feels like a festival of its own. It reminds us of the early days of the Warped Tour back home. It’s so rad that we’ve been able to watch bands like NOFX, Bad Religion, Dropkick Murphys, The Vandals, Pennywise and Less Than Jake all on the same stage. We’d still come to the festival even if we weren’t playing!”

Who else are you going to be watching on the day?
“We are so stoked to see our family in The Skints. We’ve toured a bunch with them and they are an incredible band and the sweetest people. It’s also gonna be a family reunion with our friends in Pennywise and Big D And The Kids Table. I’m sure we are all equally stoked that we get to watch The Selecter burn the stage down!”

You’re no strangers to the UK – what do you like about it here?
“We love the people. There is a such a rich appreciation for punk rock and ska music, and the shows are so fun. We love seeing old friends and making new ones. We are long overdue for a proper UK tour!”

Loaded question: where’s better – Leeds or Hatfield?
“The shows are both equally amazing but the entire city of Leeds gets taken over by the festival in a way that is so fun, even after the show!”

8:15pm, GoPro StageI Prevail

Michigan maulers I Prevail are bringing the heavy to Slam Dunk this year. And when they’re done, Eric Vanlerberghe will be doing important research into the lager temperature at each site…

I Prevail are no strangers to Slam Dunk. What are your memories of playing the fest?
“I remember seeing a ton of bands for the first time, meeting new friends, and drinking copious amounts of beer.”

You’re headlining your stage – how does that feel?
“Pretty tight. It feels like just a couple years ago we were over in the UK for the first time, playing the early times and the clubs. It’s great because now we can travel with a bigger show and give our UK fans the whole experience.”

Between that and playing an absolute stormer at Download last summer, you’re on a roll at UK festivals, right?
“I guess so! If fans keep showing up, we’ll keep playing them. I always look forward to playing these festivals.”

Who else are you going to be checking out?
“There’s a few bands I’m excited to see – I’m really hoping to catch L.S. Dunes, La Dispute and The Ghost Inside.”

Which one's better – Hatfield or Leeds?
“I feel like this is a set-up. I’m gonna go with the one with the colder beer.”

To someone who’s never seen you before, give them the hard sell on why they should come…
“All your friends will be there. Might as well come by and have a great time.”

Slam Dunk Festival takes place in Hatfield and Leeds on May 25 and 26 – get your tickets now

Read this next:

Now read these

The best of Kerrang! delivered straight to your inbox three times a week. What are you waiting for?