Boxford band to play Reading and Leeds Festival

Last summer, This Boy Wonders’ Chris Athorne was working on a music festival clothes store. Next week, he and his Boxford band will walk out in front of thousands at Reading and Leeds. Entertainment writer WAYNE SAVAGE talks about how their dreams are coming true.

“LAST summer I worked pretty much all the major festivals. Obviously you look and think ‘God, I want to play here’,” says Chris.

“I was at Glastonbury four years ago and there’s a picture of me outside the pyramid stage saying ‘four years’. Potentially, if this goes well, the chances are there might be a stage we might be able to play.”

Four-piece indie rock This Boy Wonders - who take their name from the Aztec Camera song The Boy Wonders - are singer-songwriter and lead guitarist Chris, drummer Mark Willis, rhythm guitarist Lee Wilkins and bass guitarist Nikk Butcher.

Chris and Lee grew up together in Boxford, where they still practice, learning guitar at the same time and gigging together when Chris returned from university in Leeds. Mark joined after striking up a conversation with Chris about finding a drummer and Nikk, from East Bergholt, joined almost a year ago after the original bassist moved to Kent.

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They have released three EPs but it was their first, released back in 2009, that brought them to the attention of BBC Introducing who have really thrown their support behind the band.

The BBC Introducing stage at next weekend’s Reading and Leeds Festival will showcase 36 under-the-radar artists from across the UK and the guys can’t wait.

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“It’s going to be insane. We had an e-mail two days before Glastonbury from one of the show’s presenters about playing live on the show and secondly, to keep it very much under our hats that they were asked to put two acts forward for Reading and Leeds and we were one of them,” Chris recalls.

“Because of Ed Sheeran blowing up at the moment, he kind of came through BBC Introducing Suffolk, Suffolk could’ve been overlooked but we got this e-mail from Radio One saying ‘we’d like you to play Reading and Leeds’.

“It doesn’t seem real. As much as you’ve got to pinch yourself and say ‘look, this isn’t it yet; essentially it’s just a gig and there’s still a whole lot of work to be done and a whole lot of work to put in’ you’ve got to look back and think ‘actually this is a massive achievement.

“Even it was to stop tomorrow we could look back and say we’ve played the Cavern Club in Liverpool and now Reading and Leeds. It’s the potential of what could come from it; when you look at past artists [Florence and the Machine, Chipmunk to name just two] who have played on that stage that’s when you’ve got to kind of go ‘we need to step our game up a bit and make an impact’.”

While they’ve yet to release a full album - on their to do list in September - Chris and the gang are aware of how many doors playing a gig like this can open. He tends to think of it like football leagues.

“You’re constantly moving up different leagues and obviously we’re not quite Premiership but we’re nearly approaching like the Championship. We’re nearly there.

“The one thing about this whole process is you have to completely understand patience and completely be a realist because the truth is bands don’t make it and bands have come as far as we have and not pushed through,” says Chris matter of factly.

“There is so much work to be done; it’s very easy to get very excited about the prospect of playing Reading and Leeds and don’t get me wrong we really are, we’re very much in awe of it and it’s going to be incredible.

“But there is a whole lot of work and if we really want this as a life there’s a whole lot much more work we have to commit to after it [the gig]. You only get out what you put in.”

With the line-up settled - Mark’s been drumming for 20 years and Nikk, whose playing has changed the dynamics of everything and writes really amazing things according to Chris, has been gigging for years - the only impending change may be the name.

“The problem is the older we get the more redundant it becomes,” he laughs. “So we might have to change it somehow.”

If Boyzone can get away with it so can they.

The Reading and Leeds Festival runs from August 26 to August 28. This Boy Wonders play Reading on Friday and Leeds the Saturday.

Jason Carter, editor of BBC Introducing, says: “Giving new artists the opportunity to play across the bank holiday weekend is what BBC Introducing is all about, new musicians’ access to play at one of the premier UK festivals. As well as the performance opportunity, audiences watching the BBC coverage will get to hear and watch all the highlights from the stage, giving the new musicians even wider exposure.”

For more information about BBC Introducing and the Uploader, visit

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