"Different gigs have different emotions..."

“We try and treat every gig as if it’s the last one we’ll ever do, because you never know, it might be,” laughs Islet front-man Mark Thomas.

This carefree statement sums up the Cardiff-based group’s blazé attitude towards the industry and the energetic spontaneity of their live shows. Playing Dot To Dot festival this year, those with a ticket can expect to see a fervent set as part of the first UK tour since debut album ‘Illuminated People’ was released.

In its eighth year, Dot To Dot is well-established and never fails to deliver an impressive line-up. Taking place in Bristol, Manchester, and Nottingham over the course of three days, everyone on the bill travels to a different city each night. “It’s is a great festival,” Mark enthuses. “We played there a couple of years ago in a room upstairs, then afterwards went downstairs and watched Liars. I always love festivals like that where you can wander around and all of a sudden be watching one of your favourite bands.”

The four-piece are just back from their first ever European tour. “It was quite an adventure,” he says. “In Amsterdam we played in the same venue as the Manic Street Preachers, but in different rooms. With them being from Cardiff too we knew a lot of their backline staff and they gave us loads of their rider!”

Existing on their own terms, they’d previously been in other acts which “got lost in the world of ‘making it big’” according to Mark. “The idea with Islet was to do something completely exciting and fresh, something we’d never look back on and cringe,” he says. Without explicitly aiming for success their debut album, Illuminated People, ironically cultivated it due to the sheer uninhibited experimentation within. “Musically we wanted to be quite free and go off where we wanted without boundaries,” explains Mark.

The resulting fusion of styles and genres in an incredibly inimitable way has won over a strong cult following – all of whom will be eager to see them live. “We couldn’t actually tour around the album because we’ve all got jobs and we couldn’t get the time off,” Mark admits. He works in a special needs school and finds this inspirational. “I work with children who’ve got severe disabilities. Some of them are locked inside their bodies and can hardly move. It influences how much I want to use my opportunities in life to the maximum,” he explains.

Other members work in art galleries and libraries – perhaps that’s why they feel the need to make as much noise as possible when they can. “When we’re actually together we’ve all got so many ideas that it’s difficult to get them all in,” he laughs. There’s a definite frustrated energy being released in the studio and that is enhanced further live. “We really try to create a different experience live to what is on record. I hope that we manage to play them in a way that people can tell what they are but they do vary,” he jokes.

At Dot To Dot you can expect Islet to deliver a frenetic show as all that pent-up energy is unleashed. “The whole band are really focussed on expressing through music the range of human emotions we all feel. When we’re loud and angry we reflect that in music and when we’re happy we try to encapsulate that too. Different gigs have different emotions. I’ve gotten quite angry at gigs and other times I love it and can’t stop smiling,” Mark describes. At the festival expect instruments to be passed around mid-song, and a bit of stage diving to be thrown in for good measure. “Come down if you want. We’ll definitely be enjoying ourselves… Unless we’re not,” laughs Mark.

Words by Simon Butcher

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Dot To Dot runs between June 2nd - 4th.

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