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Last Updated: Sunday, 15 July 2007, 18:39 GMT 19:39 UK
Going backstage with The Enemy
Marian McNamee
By Marian McNamee
Rookie reporter, BBC News and Sport On Tour, Coventry

With only one hour before The Enemy are due on stage at the 2007 Godiva Festival, I am handed my mission. I have to track down and interview this hot new indie act, who have just gone to number one in the album charts.

The Enemy's Andy Hopkins at the Godiva Festival in Coventry
The Enemy's Andy Hopkins at the Godiva Festival in Coventry

It's a tall order but surely it can't be that hard. Coventry's a small place, right?

I swap my freshly-opened can of beer for a spiral notepad and pen and set to work.

But I have no pre-arranged interview set up, I have no official accreditation, I don't have a clue where to start looking for them, and, most importantly, I have no idea whether they'd grant me the time to ask them a few questions once I find them.

The search begins - and my first point of call is the Electric Tent inside Coventry's War Memorial Park, the venue for the festival, where Tom Clarke, Andy Hopkins and Liam Watts - three 19-year-olds known collectively as The Enemy - are scheduled to perform.

I walk the perimeter of the tent to see if there is a way backstage. As expected, the area is cordoned off.

It's a long shot, but I ask the security guard if I can come in. The answer is a definitive "no". I need a pass, so I set off for the site office - where I am pointed in the direction of "Mick".

Apparently, Mick is my key to getting access to the band. And the good news is he is willing to help. We set off for what is a pre-planned photo call for the band. He thinks we may be able to grab a few words with Tom, Liam or Andy there.

I soon realise it isn't going to be that simple.

Gold wristbands

Earwigging conversations squawking out of Mick's official radio, it is quite clear the boys aren't going to show. We need to go to Plan B, so we head backstage. Off goes Mick, picking his way carefully through the packed crowd. Mick is a fast walker and I struggle to keep up.

Marian backstage
The rookie reporter had to get backstage to meet the band

Suddenly Mick thrusts a gold wristband into my hand and tells me to put it on.

Until that point I've only seen either purple and yellow ones. Surely gold is the best. It certainly gets me where I want to go. I smile as I sail past security.

I am surprised at how calm things are backstage. But I am also worried whether I'll get my interview. There seem to be a lot of people who, like me, want to talk to Tom, Andy and Liam.

My gold wristband, I realise, is not going to get me to the front of the queue. While I wait for my chance, I take a close look at my surroundings. There are no flash cars here, just a few vans and a pick-up truck.

As I'm looking around, a guy in a black suit, white shirt and thin black tie brushes past as does band member Andy. Have I missed my chance?

Heartstrings

As Tom finishes off another interview I hear rumblings that it is the last one the band will be doing before they go on stage. It is now or never.

I'd got chatting to a guy called Matt who was there to film the gig. He says he can introduce me to the guy that, if anyone can, will be able to sort me out an interview.

The Enemy
The Enemy have gone to number one in the album chart

It turns out to be John Dawkins, the guy in the suit that passed by me earlier. He tells me to stop worrying and calls Tom over.

Tom and I start to chat. Feeling very smug I ask how it feels to be playing at home here in Coventry, in front of thousands of adoring fans.

"It's amazing to see so many people here today," he tells me. "It's definitely tugging at the heartstrings. I'm dead excited to see all these fans here. There'll be family and friends watching us, too."

Things have changed since The Enemy performed at last year's Godiva Festival. Then just 40 people heard them play in the very same tent. In fact, nobody heard them perform their first few songs because organisers forgot to let people in.

But Tom, Andy and Liam have enjoyed lots of success since then. According to music publication NME, they are "the band we have been waiting for since Oasis went to seed".

Local favourites

Clearly delighted to be on home soil performing to a crowd of thousands, we talk more about local bands and, although the hectic tour schedule means being away from the music scene in Coventry for a while, I ask what Godiva means for emerging talent.

"It's great for the local bands," says Tom. "It's a great opportunity and brilliant exposure because there are so many people here.

"I've had people come up to me, saying they didn't realise how big the festival is. Not enough people know about it, but it's an amazing festival, full of cultural diversity, and it's the biggest I've seen it."

And with that, he is whisked away.

It's my cue to leave and I head back to my place in the crowd. Along the way, I chat to some of The Enemy's fans.

Jane tells me that the band is "the best thing to happen to Cov since the Specials and King" while Stu is "counting on these boys to put Coventry back on the music map".

Stu's words turn out to be very prophetic. Less then 24 hours after thrilling the crowd at the Godiva Festival, their debut album, We Live and Die in These Towns, goes straight into the charts at number one.






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