meta-scriptElectric Picnic 2020 Lineup: Rage Against The Machine, Snow Patrol, The Chemical Brothers, Lewis Capaldi And More Announced | GRAMMY.com
Rage Against The Machine perform at L.A. Rising in 2011

Rage Against The Machine perform at L.A. Rising in 2011

Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

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Electric Picnic 2020 Lineup: Rage Against The Machine, Snow Patrol, The Chemical Brothers, Lewis Capaldi And More Announced

Ireland's sold-out summer festival will also feature Irish group Picture This, Run The Jewels, Denzel Curry, Skepta, Annie Mac, Rick Astley, Helena Hauff and many others

GRAMMYs/Mar 11, 2020 - 10:15 pm

Electric Picnic, one of Ireland's leading festivals, has today (March 11) announced the initial lineup for its 2020 iteration. The sold-out three-day event, taking place September 4-6 in Stradbally Hall in Stradbally, County Laois, Ireland, has confirmed headliners Rage Against The Machine, who recently reunited for the first time in nearly a decade, Snow Patrol, The Chemical Brothers, Irish group Picture This and Lewis Capaldi. The lineup also includes Run The Jewels, Denzel Curry, Skepta, Annie Mac, Rick Astley, Helena Hauff and others, with many more to be announced.

The festival's lineup announcement comes in the midst of the global coronavirus outbreak, which has recently caused multiple festivals and tours around the world to cancel or postpone, including Coachella and Stagecoach in Southern California as well as Ultra Music Festival in Miami and SXSW in Austin

In an interview with Irish daily newspaper The Irish Times, festival organizer Melvin Benn of Festival Republic, the company behind Electric Picnic, said he does not expect to cancel or postpone the festival due to the coronavirus.

Read: Ohana Festival 2020 Lineup: Pearl Jam, Maggie Rogers, Yola, Real Estate & More

"I'm not worried about it at all," he said. "I'm full steam ahead unless the governments here and in the U.K. say we can't go ahead... I'm 100 per cent of the belief that by June we will all be over the hump and we will all have forgotten about it, quite frankly, and all you buggers will find something else to write about it.

"At this point in time I have got nothing in my head other than planning for this festival to take place at the time it will take place. When you put it in perspective about the number of people that could be seriously hurt, I think it has been whipped up a little bit, but it's a great news story.

"The reality is that, for me, I'm about providing entertainment outdoors until somebody forces me to stop."

Read: Foo Fighters' D.C. JAM Fest 2020 Lineup: Pharrell, Chris Stapleton, The Go-Go’s and More

In the same interview, Benn, who called this year's lineup “incredible, with five headliners," acknowledged the lack of female headliners at Electric Picnic 2020, noting an absence of female headlining acts this summer, according to The Irish Times. “We are completely committed to bringing women through all of the line-ups, but there is not a gender-balance ability across the headliners generally at the moment," he said. 

Launched in 2004, Electric Picnic is an award-winning festival and one of the biggest music and arts gatherings in Ireland. In 2019, the festival featured headliners The Strokes, Florence + the Machine, Hozier and The 1975, among many others. 

Tickets for Electric Picnic 2020 are now sold out. Head to the festival's official website for more information and to view the full lineup.

Breaking Down The Coachella 2020 Lineup: Rage Against The Machine, Frank Ocean, Calvin Harris & More Announced

Perry Farrell of Jane's Addiction on stage at Lollapalooza 2003.
Perry Farrell of Jane's Addiction at Lollapalooza 2003.

Photo: J. Shearer/WireImage/GettyImages

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'Lolla: The Story of Lollapalooza' Recounts How An Alt Rock Fest Laid The Blueprint For Bonnaroo & More

A new three-part documentary on Paramount+ traces the origin of Lollapalooza from its early days as a traveling alt-rock showcase initially conceived as a farewell tour for Jane's Addiction, to the three-day Chicago-based festival that exists today.

GRAMMYs/May 22, 2024 - 09:27 pm

Few music festivals have had the cultural impact of Lollapalooza. 

Conceived in 1991 as a farewell tour for Jane's Addiction by lead singer Perry Farrell, the festival quickly became a traveling showcase for alt-rock and counterculture. Its eclectic lineups, which also included punk, metal, and hip-hop acts, helped define a generation's musical tastes. 

A new, three-episode documentary, "Lolla: The Story of Lollapalooza," takes an in-depth look at the festival's journey over three decades. From its early days of bringing together alt acts including Nine Inch Nails, Living Colour, Pearl Jam, and the Beastie Boys, Lollapalooza has evolved into what it is today: a three-day festival based in Chicago's Grant Park since 2005. The festival remains an enduring celebration of alternative music.

"Lolla" explores how Lollapalooza defied expectations by both embracing and helping shape the emerging youth culture of the '90s — a rebellious, introspective shift from the flashy excess of the '80s. The docuseries highlights the festival's influence through a trove of archival footage and exclusive interviews with Lollapalooza co-founders, show promoters, bookers, MTV hosts. Of course, "Lolla" features a who's who of '90s-era rockers — including Farrell himself, Flea from Red Hot Chili Peppers, Tom Morello of Rage Against The Machine, Trent Reznor from Nine Inch Nails, Donita Sparks from L7, Ice-T

To watch "Lolla" is to open a time capsule for alternative culture, one where the stage becomes a symbol of generational change. Read on for five takeaways from the documentary, which is now streaming on Paramount+. 

The Reading Festival Served As Inspiration

For their farewell tour, Jane's Addiction decided to emulate the UK Reading Festival's approach to curating live music and alternative acts in a multi-day, open-air forum (where bands like the Buzzcocks and Pixies played to crowds of 40,000). 

Jane's Addiction had been scheduled to play the 1990 Reading Festival, but Farrell partied too much the night before after a club gig and lost his voice, and the band had to cancel. Drummer Stephen Perkins and future Lollapalooza co-founder Marc Geiger decided to check out the event anyway, which planted the seed for the future tour. 

"Reading was a cornucopia of artists, and scenes, and curation, and it was such a vibe," recalled Geiger in an interview scene from the doc. "I remember saying, 'Perry, we have to do it.'"

Farrell was game after missing his chance to see Reading first-hand. So Lollapalooza co-founders Geiger, Don Muller and Ted Gardner, who was also Jane's Addiction band manager, got to work emulating the Reading model. In addition to live music, Farrell wanted something "completely subversive" with booths to engage festival goers with everything from henna tattoos and art galleries, to nonprofit and political organizations like Greenpeace, PETA, the Surfrider Foundation, and even voter registration for the Rock The Vote campaign. The result was art and activism combined with commerce.

Lolla Was Born From The Death Of Jane's Addiction

Although Jane's Addiction had a big buzz with their third album, Ritual de lo Habitual, the band was on the edge of  dissolution. "We really couldn't stand each other," admitted Farrell. Ready for his next act, Farrell saw the opportunity to end on a high note with Jane's Addiction. "The best work we did, we left on the stage at Lolla," he said in the doc. 

In the early '90s, alternative acts were not selling out massive venues. Organizers were on edge, hoping fans would buy tickets and show up to not one, but 28 U.S. tour dates featuring the seven-act lineup for the first-ever Lollapalooza.

What nobody expected was the watershed success. The first show saw fans sweat it out to see their favorite acts in Phoenix, on a day with temperatures well over 100 degrees. Nine Inch Nails' equipment melted in the heat, leading the band to destroy their failing gear before walking off the stage. 

Despite initial hiccups, the tour wasn't hindered. Lollapalooza's first year sold out in a majority of venues holding 15-18,000 people, driven largely by word-of-mouth and favorable coverage by MTV.  

"I think everybody knew and ultimately felt, 'wow, I'm sort of lucky to be here — I'm part of something,'" recalled Geiger in the doc. "It was bigger than anything these artists or fans had seen at that time."

Lollapalooza '92 further mixed genres on the main stage — like gangsta rap (Ice Cube), grunge (Pearl Jam) and shoegaze (Lush) — while greatly expanding the line-up on a side stage upon which Farrell and Perkins introduced their new band Porno For Pyros, alongside many other acts. Lollapalooza's model was born. 

Early Years Embraced Racial Inclusivity, But Lagged Gender-Wise

Right from the start, Lollapalooza organizers mixed up the bill beyond white artists that traditionally headlined rock concerts long before and after Jimi Hendrix performed at Woodstock and Monterey Pop. Part of why Lollapalooza thrived is the inclusion of bands like Ice-T's Body Count, Fishbone, and Living Colour — favorite headliners during the early tours.

Rage Against The Machine guitarist Tom Morello credited Living Colour with helping build "the alternative arc" and opening doors for Rage. "Without Living Colour, Rage Against The Machine doesn't get a record deal. Ever," Morello said. 

A big moment came near the end of the '91 tour when Ice-T and Farrell squared off to cover Sly and the Family Stone's "Don't Call Me ******, Whitey" in which they tersely trade verses, then end up tangoing across the stage. It was a provocative performance that grabbed headlines and the audience's attention months after the high profile police beating of Rodney King in Los Angeles. In '92, Soundgarden showed solidarity with Body Count by performing their controversial track "Cop Killer" with their guitarist Ernie C onstage in Miami. 

While Lolla embraced racial diversity, the early line-ups were male-dominated. Lone female act Siouxsie and the Banshees were a favorite in '91 and later Lollapalooza main stage artists, like Sonic Youth, Babes In Toyland, Lush, and the Breeders — which had more if not all female members — were outnumbered by their male counterparts.

Read more: 6 Female-Fronted Acts Reviving Rock: Wet Leg, Larkin Poe, Gretel Hänlyn & More

Donita Sparks noted that L7 got booked in '94 only after they fired off a bluntly worded fax to the organizers. "We got the offer," Sparks said, "but we had to push the issue. And we had to fight for it. 'Cause that's how much we wanted to be on Lollapalooza, and more importantly, that's how much we felt we deserved to be on Lollapalooza.

Female artists would eventually receive their Lolla dues, with Billie Eilish, Lorde, HAIM, Miley Cyrus and Karol G performing as festival headliners, and artists like Lady Gaga starting out as side stage artists before exploding in popularity and returning to headline the fest a few short years later. 

It Became A Victim Of Its Own Success

Lollapalooza from years '91 to '93 were the purest in terms of alt-rock acts, but as the event drew a wider range of talent and demand, it began to suffer a bit of an identity crisis. After all, it's hard to be a beacon for the underground scene once that culture is above ground.

By Lolla '94, attendance set records and alt-rock had hit the mainstream while grunge peaked and critics bemoaned its growing conventional status. Former second stage booker John Rubeli revealed that Nirvana turned down a $6 million offer to headline the '94 tour because of frontman Kurt Cobain's fear of selling out. Cobain's suicide a few short weeks later changed the scene. 

In '95, the festival returned with more indie bands on the mainstage, but some were eclipsed by bigger artists like Coolio, who drew a bigger crowd to the parking lot side stage. Increased popularity drove commercial sponsorship, and the event became more expensive. Ticket sales dropped. Then in '96, Farrell quit his involvement with the festival for a year in protest over the booking of Metallica, whose aggressive music and audience he felt were out of step with his vision.

"I felt disrespected," Farrell said. "I'm not putting this thing together to make the most money. I'm putting this thing together to make the most joy."

Upon his return in 1997, Farrell's inclusion of electronic acts like the Orbital and the Prodigy were, to some ears, ahead of the curve. The festival then went on a six-year hiatus. 

Lollapalooza returned on shaky legs for its 2003 tour, which included Audioslave, Incubus, the Donnas, and the reunion of Jane's Addiction. But it was truly reborn in 2005 as a three-day event in Chicago through concert promoters C3 Presents (who co-executive produced the "Lolla" doc).  Admittedly, some of the 21st century headliners like Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus, Journey, and Paul McCartney would never have fit the '90s festival bill. 

Times have changed and, today, the festival has embraced its conventional success while retaining its original genre-spanning reach with the Killers, Melanie Martinez, Skrillex, and Tyler, the Creator included on this summer's lineup.

Lolla Was A Model For Coachella, Bonnaroo, And Beyond

Prior to the arrival of Lollapalooza, rock festivals were usually single weekend events that took place in a fixed location, like Woodstock in '69, Steve Wozniak's US Festival in '82 and '83, and European festivals like Reading. "I just think it's the first American, truly eclectic concert series since Woodstock," said Ice-T. "And even Woodstock wasn't as eclectic because Woodstock was pretty much all rock."

Lollapalooza's successful tour format inspired other popular tours and live events, especially in the mid-'90s. During the festival's break during the late '90s and early 00's, niche festivals like Ozzfest, Vans Warped Tour, and Lilith Fair stole the show. These festivals not only continued Lollapalooza's legacy by bringing diverse genres to cities across the country, but transformed the live music scene into a cultural phenomenon. 

While epic, genre-spanning weekend festivals like Coachella and Bonnaroo have been raging since the early aughts, Lollapalooza first proved that a seemingly radical idea could grow and thrive. Incorporating a mix of rock, hip-hop, electronic, and alternative acts, inclusivity and mobility became a festival blueprint. Today, Lollapalooza is tapping into international audiences and local music scenes with versions of the festival in Argentina, Berlin, Stockholm, Paris, and even Mumbai. 

Lollapalooza's success proves that the media and music industry often don't realize the size and passion of certain scenes and subcultures until they're brought together in the right setting. By uniting diverse musical acts and their fans, Lollapalooza highlights eclectic talent but also shows just how much people crave that representation and diversity.

Music Festivals 2024 Guide: Lineups & Dates For Lollapalooza, Coachella, Bonnaroo & Much More

Amaarae performing in London in 2024
Amaarae performs in London in March 2024.

Photo: Burak Cingi/Redferns

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10 Can't-Miss Acts At Primavera Sound Barcelona 2024: Amaarae, Ethel Cain, Troye Sivan & More

Barcelona's Primavera Sound shines as a star-studded spectacle every year, but the famed international festival's 2024 lineup is especially lively. Get to know 10 acts you won't want to miss at Parc del Fòrum from May 29 to June 2.

GRAMMYs/May 22, 2024 - 08:43 pm

Since 2001, Primavera Sound has served as Barcelona's kickoff to summer. And with a stacked lineup chock full of effervescent acts for its 2024 iteration, this year's fest will certainly get the feel-good, warm-weather vibes rolling.

Phoenix starts the party with pop rock and new wave on May 29, setting the stage for fellow headliners Pulp, Vampire Weekend, and Justice on May 30. Lana Del Rey, The National, and Disclosure will make everyone's Friday night on May 31. Then, SZA, PJ Harvey, Mitski, and Charli XCX will ring in June on Saturday, before house/electronic acts ANOTR, The Blessed Madonna, Chloé Caillet, and Mochakk close things out on June 2.

But the headliners are just the beginning of what makes this year's Primavera Sound Barcelona exciting. Peggy Gou, L'Imperatrice, or Omar Apollo will likely tease new tunes, as they all gear up for June album releases. And just a month ago, Faye Webster, The Last Dinner Party, and Eartheater all had their respective Coachella debuts, proving they're more than ready to tackle the Primavera stage.

In the festival's jam-packed five-day lineup, hundreds of acts are primed to kick-start summer with a bang. Below, GRAMMY.com highlights 10 sets you won't want to miss in Barcelona — from Deftones' alt-metal bash to Amaarae's soulful hip-hop.

yeule

Performing: May 30, Plenitude Stage

Singaporean musician yeule is pioneering the ambient and glitch pop genres one song at a time. Born Nat Ćmiel, their stage name is based on a video game character, Paddra Nsu-Yeul, which speaks to their artistic steps in and out of reality. yeule's musical (and fashion) aesthetic is defined by the cyberworld, marked by futuristic, alternative styles that bewitchingly break norms.

Though they started out as a bedroom producer, yeule's more recent creative endeavors — like their invigorating 2022 album, softscars — have been more collaborative, adding a new layer of inspiration and beauty to their work. With influences ranging from Avril Lavigne to Radiohead, yeule's Primavera set will be ideal for living out all of your emo nostalgic fantasies.

Deftones

Performing: May 30, Amazon Music Stage

Get ready to scream with Deftones at Primavera. Winning their first GRAMMY back in 2001, the alternative metal band is still rocking out 20-plus years later — and making waves in this festival lineup. While Primavera tends to be led by various electronic and pop acts, Deftones is uniquely ushering punk to the festival's frontlines.

Banding together in 1988 in Sacramento, Deftones is known for their progressive experimentation within metal and rock, often dipping into psychedelia, post-punk, trip hop. Headed by lead vocalist Chino Moreno, the band's hardcore sound is unabashedly raw, original and heavy, continuing to evolve expansively with the metal genre.

Paving the way for contemporary heavy metal over the years, Deftones is a defiant act you won't want to miss at a major stage at Primavera Sound.

Troye Sivan

Performing: May 31, Santander Stage

Ready to feel the rush? Troye Sivan certainly is.

The Australian pop star is making Primavera an early stop in his tour for Something To Give Each Other, his latest album featuring jubilant singles like "Rush" and "Got Me Started." Once his European tour wraps in Birmingham, England at the tail end of June, he'll be headlining the Sweat Tour with fellow headliner Charli XCX — who coincidentally will be performing at Primavera the next day on June 1.

From the electropop seedlings on his 2015 debut, Blue Neighborhood, to the full-fledged forlorn beauty of his 2020 EP, In A Dream, Sivan's artistry has evolved significantly in the last decade. Today, his music is its most freeing yet, and there's no doubt it'll be glorious (and sweaty) on the Primavera stage.

Obongjayar

Performing: May 31, Plentitude Stage

UK-based Nigerian artist Obongjayar's musical style is nearly indescribable. Interlacing Afrobeat, spoken word, and EDM, all of his songs are distinctly tinged with a signature, soulful vibrance, and it'll be sensational to see how Obongjayar takes his pensive profundity to fill the Primavera stage.

Though he might be best known for the Fred again.. collaboration "adore u" (which samples his track "I Wish It Was Me"), Obongjayar's special sound effortlessly meshes with everyone he works with. From "If You Say" with Sarz, to "Point and Kill" with Little Simz, to "Protein" with Jeshi, it would be fair to call Obongjayar a chameleon — except instead of blending in, he's standing out.

Ethel Cain

Performing: May 31, Santander Stage

There's no better word to describe Ethel Cain's music than transcendent.

A master of gothic indie rock, Cain stitches together uncanny Americana and lovelorn nostalgia into a radiant, sensory experience. Her debut album, 2022's Preacher's Daughter, is divine and sometimes disturbing, but its ambience live sends audiences into an impossibly satisfying trance.

Whether you're listening to the enchanting slow burn of "A House In Nebraska" or the eerie roar of "American Teenager," both Cain's storytelling and live performance are infallibly spine-chilling — do yourself a favor and don't miss Cain's hauntingly beautiful set at Primavera.

BADBADNOTGOOD

Performing: May 31, Cupra Stage

Looking for a band that combines jazz styles with hip-hop production? Look no further than BADBADNOTGOOD, an innovative Canadian instrumental band.

After meeting at a Toronto jazz program in 2010, the three-piece band bonded over their hip-hop music appreciation, and the rest is history. Since then, BADBADNOTGOOD (which now features Leland Whitty in place of original member Matthew Tavares) has released five studio albums — fittingly, including covers of hip-hop songs with jazz interpretations. The group has also worked with Kendrick Lamar, Tyler, The Creator, Thundercat, and many more notable artists.

The band's collaborative production and remixing has earned them two GRAMMY wins and five total nominations, and there's no question BADBADNOTGOOD's set will put a spell on Barcelona.

Arca

Performing: May 31, Amazon Music Stage

Electronica is Arca's playground, and the pioneering producer's set at Primavera is sure to craft a whole new world. Dynamism defines the Venezuelan musician's shape-shifting art; through its avant-garde fusion of reggaeton, ambient techno, and dark electronica, her music is bursting with vigor.

Arca's music often discusses themes of gender identity and sexuality, and her views of queerness center around harmony and inclusion, which reflect in her pristine tracks "Nonbinary" and "Machote" on her GRAMMY-nominated album KiCk i. Having released 10 albums since 2006; worked with artists like Rosalía, Björk, and the late SOPHIE; and even opened for Beyoncé's Renaissance World Tour, Arca brings immeasurable experience to Barcelona.

The producer's music naturally begs to be heard live — it's meant to sweat to and be danced to, and Arca's Primavera set will embody true electronic extravagance.

ATARASHII GAKKO!

Performing: June 1, Cupra Stage

This rising Japanese girl group's powerful sound easily warrants a stage name in all caps and with an exclamation point.

Fresh off their U.S. television debut on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!," ATARASHII GAKKO! is ready to tackle the Primavera Sound stage with their engaging J-pop that integrates elements of hip-hop, rock, and jazz. Intrepid and commanding, their live performance features synchronized dancing, matching sailor school uniforms, and occasionally a marching band.

The quartet's upcoming world tour has a handful of sold-out dates. They've already conquered crowds at Coachella and Head in the Clouds — and there's no doubt that ATARASHII GAKKO! will bring their best to Barcelona.

Amaarae

Performing: June 1, Amazon Music Stage

Ama Serwah Genfi — better known as Amaarae — is an alté trailblazer. Raised between Atlanta and Accra, Ghana, the singer crafts mercurial music that is both introspective and stylish, and destined to be performed for vast audiences.

From her 2017 EP, Passionfruit Summers, to her 2023 album, Fountain Baby, it's easy to be mesmerized by her distinct, eccentric soprano and overflowing confidence. Her critically acclaimed "Sad Girlz Luv Money" (featuring Molly and Kali Uchis) charted globally in 2021, and just last year, she became the first Ghanaian American to perform an NPR Tiny Desk Concert. Amaarae's live performances bring her blend of R&B, pop, and afrobeats to a new level, and she's ready to introduce her infectious global beats to Primavera.

Bikini Kill

Performing: June 1, Pull&Bear Stage

Famed pioneers of the riot grrrl movement in the '90s, Bikini Kill is bringing punk fun (and rage) to the Primavera stage.

Influencing alternative stars like Sleater-Kinney, Pussy Riot, and The Linda Lindas, it's no question that the iconic American band has inspired the next generation, whether that be through their music or activism. From "Rebel Girl" to "Feels Blind" to "I Like F—ing," Bikini Kill's beautifully irate music calls for female solidarity and empowerment still resonate with listeners today.

Though the band broke up in 1997, they reunited in 2019 and have since been touring together — and now, Primavera offers a special chance to see another inspiring moment from the revolutionary rockers.

​​Leap Into AAPI Month 2024 With A Playlist Featuring Laufey, Diljit Dosanjh, & Peggy Gou

Graham "Suggs" McPherson of Madness performs in 2023
Graham "Suggs" McPherson of Madness performs in 2023

Photo: Gus Stewart/Redferns

interview

Madness Frontman Suggs Talks New Album, First U.S. Tour & Getting Kicked Off "Top Of The Pops" — Four Times

Ahead of their appearance at Las Vegas' Punk Rock Bowling fest and first American shows in 10 years, Madness' lead singer Suggs details the band's hit-filled history, 2023 album and coming up Two Tone.

GRAMMYs/May 22, 2024 - 01:32 pm

American audiences may only know "Our House," but there’s much more to Madness than their lone Stateside mega-hit.

Prior to their 1982 smash, the English band enjoyed immense commercial success in their home country. Between 1979 and 1981, Madness sent nine consecutive singles into the Top 10 of the UK Official Singles Chart. 

"It was a few years of hard work and all of a sudden, we were the most successful band in England," says Madness frontman Suggs (born Graham McPherson), chatting from London. "That happened because people f—ikn’ dug the tunes we made."

Madness also helped bring ska to the masses. Alongside comrades like the Specials, the London septet were leaders of the late ‘70s British ska boom, which combined Jamaican rhythms with punk swagger, and united Black and white working-class kids. Among their hits from this era were "One Step Beyond" (1979),  "Baggy Trousers" (1980) and "House of Fun" (1982). 

With their street-savvy fashions and Monty Python-style music videos (which caught the eye of Honda and led to a series of advertisements in the early '80s), Madness have been  fixtures in UK culture and beyond for over 40 years. They endured so strongly that their 13th LP, 2023’s Theatre of the Absurd Presents C’est la Vie, hit No. 1 on the UK Official Albums Chart — their first studio album to reach the summit.

Beginning May 22, Madness will tour the U.S. for the first time in 10 years, including a headline slot at Las Vegas’ Punk Rock Bowling festival, alongside Devo and Descendents.

On the phone, Suggs is chatty and jovial, quick to break into song or pull a good story from his band’s topsy-turvy history. Madness once turned down a chance to play Madison Square Garden as "Our House" surged in 1983. (They’d already performed on "SNL" and "Our House" was an MTV staple.) Madness could have been a much bigger band in America. But after years of non-stop touring and promotion in the UK, Madness was nearing its breaking point. "We had f—in’ 20 hits and we were all getting a bit tired," Suggs remembers. "I see the Pretenders, 18 months touring America! So, we never really continued." In 1986, Madness went their separate ways. 

A decade later, ska was enjoying a moment in the sun in America as groups like the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, No Doubt and Reel Big Fish dominated airwaves during the genre's "third wave." Over in the UK, a rejuvenated Madness was enjoying its elder statesman status, drawing massive festival crowds since reuniting in 1992. No Doubt frequently cited Madness as an inspiration and even tapped keyboardist Mike Barson to play on one of their songs. And the fire still burns. At Coachella 2024, No Doubt covered Madness’ rendition of "One Step Beyond," itself a cover of a ‘60s classic by Jamaican ska legend Prince Buster. 

Madness — whose current lineup also includes guitarist Chrissy Boy, saxophonist Lee Thompson, bassist Mark Bedford, and drummer Woody — has earned its place in rock history. Their classics still bring crowds to a frenzy and, as their latest album proves, fans are still enthralled by what Suggs and company have to say.

GRAMMY.com recently caught up with the Madness singer for a career-spanning swath of topics: crafting tunes in the modern day, some sage advice he got from Clash frontman Joe Strummer, why Madness kept getting banned from "Top of the Pops," and much more. 

Was there a moment you realized "Our House" was going to be a much bigger song than your previous hits?

When it was a hit in America, that was definitely an indication. And that’s the alchemy of music — you just don’t know when you’re doing it at the time. I remember we were rehearsing, when the song started… our bass player Mark [Bedford] goes [hums "Our House" intro], dum-dum, dum-dum-de-dum-dum… There wasn’t a chorus at the time, so our producer Clive [Langer], just sang, "Our house, in the middle of the street," just joking. 

But without that, it wouldn’t have been the hit that it is. [Songs] are like babies. You have them, you bring them up, and then they go out into the world, and you don’t know where they’re gonna go. It’s not up to you. It’s up to other people to decide if they like them or not. 

We’d been in America for a month and suddenly "Our House" was a massive hit. We’d been offered to play Madison Square Garden but we were just tired and wanted to go home. We all had kids. We didn’t do a few gigs [that] we were offered in America that might have changed the situation. 

We [weren't] arrogant — but we were a bit. And we were so popular in England. We were making a very good living; we didn’t really have to go anywhere anymore. We just decided that it was kind of too late to try and break — whatever that word means — America. It was a great hit, it was fantastic, but that was kind of it.

What do you remember from the first time Madness toured the States?

It was 1979 or so… It was a really big, eye-opening experience. There were seven [of us] in the band, so probably 10 of our friends [including crew]. We were like a party on the road, we didn’t really need anyone else’s company. Coming over the Brooklyn Bridge and seeing New York, you know what I mean? When you come from London — I mean, London isn’t small — but you don’t compare it to New York. 

And then L.A. and all the palm trees. I remember we played at Whisky a Go Go. We did two shows a night: one at 11 and one at 2 in the morning — my suit was still wet. 

It was kind of off because [L.A.] was still catching up with punk. You had the Dead Kennedys, Black Flag, X. People were doing all this mad punk dancing and the worm or whatever, writhing about on the floor. We’d sort of done that in London; we’d had the Sex Pistols and the Clash. We were into something else, which was dancing, and playing music by Black origin. We weren’t just thrashing about and spitting at each other. But that kind of thing was still going on, which made it a bit difficult for us because a lot of the places we were playing were really punk. And we weren’t punk. We were over that.

By the time "Our House" came around in '82, I’d think America was starting to catch up.

By then you had Blondie, the CBGB scene, Talking Heads, and it started to make more sense to us. With post-punk, there were grooves suddenly. It was offbeat, but it wasn’t anger. 

When Madness first started playing, what were the crowds like?

It was just our friends. We started off in a pub in Camden Town, where we were living. We got a residency, every Wednesday night. First week, there’d be 10 people. Second week, 30, 40, 60, 80, 90, 100, and then two months later, we had a queue around the block. The music we were playing, which was ska, and the clothes we were wearing was kinda different than everybody else around. 

Then we got a gig supporting the Specials in a pub in West London. They sort of appeared out of nowhere — Coventry — which is quite a long way from London. And they were wearing the same clothes as us, playing the same kind of music. I remember [Specials singer] Neville [Staple] was shooting holes in the ceiling with a starting pistol and I just thought, Crikey, these are kooks. We might be onto something. I remember Johnny Rotten getting out of a cab and going, "Are you for real?" And these kids went, "Yeah, you f—ing arse." It was the transition of power. It wasn't that long: ‘77, punk. ‘78, us. And suddenly you got the Specials, the Beat, the Selecter. Two-tone became this massive phenomenon in London. So we went on tour with them: the Specials, Selecter, Beat. 

I remember being with Joe Strummer from the Clash and I was walking through a playground with him. I can’t remember where we were going, but all the kids were singing "Baggy Trousers" on the swings. And I’m going, "I want to be cool, I don’t want school kids." And he went, "No, you’ve got it wrong, mate. You want to have young kids, that’s the best thing that can happen. As far as I’m concerned, it’s the young people you want to connect with." 

When you’ve got pretty naive school kids singing your songs, you’ve definitely done something you should be proud of. 

What was Camden Town like when you were growing up there?

It was rough, man. You know, people now in London are getting more and more scared, lot of knives flyin’ and gangs, but it was the same. You lived in a certain area and you would be very wary of another area across the road because you could be stabbed, shot. The greatest thing was the music. 

Every pub had a stage and there’d be music on every night. In that period, punk was still there, then you got goth, you got psychobilly, rockabilly, then you got new romantic. Every pub you went to was something going on. Different scenes, all these kids. 

The pride I have [as one of] these working class kids. There’s no money, you just tried: this is what you’re gonna wear, and this is what you’re into. And suddenly a whole scene started. It was totally organic and individual. It wasn’t trend sections, fashion magazines; it was just kids doing what they want.

Where you grew up, what were race relations like?

They were difficult. And we got caught up in that, unfortunately, because we were all white… Although our original drummer was Black, but he left because we were too s—. Like I said, there was all these different scenes and the scene we were into was ska and reggae. And you had this whole culture — from the mods to the skinheads to the suedeheads in the late ‘60s and ‘70s — which was all about fashion and listening to that music, but it got usurped by these [racist] skinheads who started to take it the other way.

We’d be playing concerts and there’d be all sorts of racism going on and we’d have to deal with it in our own way. I remember jumping into the audience a few times and getting beaten up. It went away, fortunately. Only a couple years: probably ‘78, ‘79 maybe. Even the Specials were getting it, and they had Black people in their own group. They’d get people f—ing sieg heiling. It’s a fucking long story. 

What we had here was football hooliganism, which has now become very popular in Italy, France, and Germany. It’s one of our greatest exports. [Laughs.] It was easier for them to come to rock concerts than football matches, where there were loads of police. 

How did the commercial success first come?

By being really good. People saw what we’d done. It was a few years of hard work and all of a sudden, we were the most successful band in England. That happened because people f—in’ dug the tunes we made. Then we split up in 1985 and I think we were still the most successful band of the ‘80s… in England. Ha ha! 

"The Prince" on 2 Tone [Records] got to No. 16, then we had [our debut album] One Step Beyond get to No. 2, then we had "House of Fun" [reach No. 1]. We just had hit after hit, you tell me. 

Music videos played a big role in Madness' success, right?

That had just started. This was before MTV. We went to Stiff Records [in 1979]. We’d been on 2 Tone [Records], but we decided we wanted to spread our wings and Stiff had Elvis Costello, Ian Dury, Kirsty MacColl, the Damned. Dave Robinson, who ran that label, also saw the potential that we were all quite theatrical, so we started making videos. 

[Television program] "Top of the Pops" had 20 million viewers; it only was allowed one promo pop video, and we were always the one that they showed. When we did "Baggy Trousers," there was a feeling in the air. People would talk about our videos, and it definitely added to the potency of what we were doing. 

The intellectual types and the tastemakers, the people who make and break you, just thought we were a flash in the pan joke, and the music got slightly sidelined. Only recently we’ve had much better reviews of our history. We put a lot of effort into the music [and] those videos. 

There’s so much going on in those songs, musically, if you really listen.

We’d have friends, musicians, play covers and they’d go, "We can’t play your songs, it’s too complicated." We had seven of us, all wrote songs, so we were in constant competition with each other. You couldn’t just go, "Mine’s the best." You had to actually write the best song. 

So many bands with two or three songwriters are fighting all the time, or just break up. How did Madness do it with so many?

Tolerance is the main thing. The underlying reason is we were friends from when we were at school. We were famous around our way. It was a gang called the Aldenham Glamour Boys, and to be in or amongst them, you were famous. So by the time we got the band going, we weren’t really bothered by other people’s impressions of us. 

On "Top of the Pops," we got banned four times. The girl who used to do our promotions said, "Do you realize people would give their right arm to be on this?" And I said, "The thing is, we’re just not right arm-giving people."

What were the four things you got banned from "Top of the Pops" for?

The first time was when one of our friend’s brothers was in prison and he held up a sign saying, "This is for prisoner number 44224022." That wasn’t allowed. The second time, we got on a lift with this dance troupe and the lift plummeted into the basement because there were too many of us. The third time, Lee [Thompson], our saxophone player, had a t-shirt that said, "I need the BBC" and then he had another t-shirt underneath that said, "Like a hole in the head." And I can’t remember what the fourth one was.  

When America had its brief ska moment in the ‘90s, did Madness get any new attention?

I don’t think so, no, because we had accepted that it was too late. It was great to see, all the Americans, Mighty Mighty Bosstones or whoever checking us. But we weren’t going to go back. If it had been 20 years earlier, it would have helped. But it was too late, like, "Who are these old farts?" [Laughs.]

When Madness got back together in the ‘90s, what was that like?

Vince Power, who just passed away, a great promoter, used to do this Irish festival, Fleadh, in North London. We all used to go. And he says, "When’s the last time you played?" And I said, "Well, probably about six years ago." And he said, "Why don’t you do a one-off comeback?" 

So we did Madstock! in 1992. We didn’t know if anyone was going to turn up. 35,000 people turned up. So we put on another one. And 70,000 people turned up. There was an earthquake, 4.5 on the Richter scale, people were jumping up and down. And they had to evacuate people out of their houses, flats, and apartments because of the earthquake that we’d created. We put out a greatest hits album, it goes to No. 1, sold 2 million copies, blah, blah, blah… And we’ve been going longer now on this bit than we did on that first bit. 

It’s really interesting to hear how you’ve been part of rock music through so many eras.

I’ve just done a couple songs with Paul Weller, he’s a friend of mine from the old days. We were working on a tune and I went, "Look Paul, it’s only music." And he said, "No, it f—ing isn’t." [Laughs.] And it’s true innit? We made a lot of f—ing good pop music. It’s something I’m very proud of. It’s the soundtrack of our lives. When you hear a tune, you remember exactly where you were. 

When you wrote the lyrics for the new album, Theatre of the Absurd, what was on your mind?

We all write. We had 40 songs. During the lockdown, for that two years, the worst way to communicate is email. People were losing their minds. So I thought we were going to fall out and never speak to each other… And we made a record I think is good. I mean, [it went] No. 1 in England; that’s the first number one [studio] album we ever had. 

I wrote the first song on the album, "Theatre of the Absurd." I was just sitting on my own, stuck, and I was imagining being in some old theater with all the doors locked, not being able to get out. Theatre of the Absurd was a French artistic [concept]  where things became so absurd, it was all gobbledygook. They just made up words. 

I’m really fortunate. This band of mine, they're a dysfunctional family, it’s very difficult to be in. But it’s like the philosophers the Eagles once said, "You can check out any time you like, but you can never f—in’ leave." 

But I’m looking forward to playing America. The fella from "Curb Your Enthusiasm," Larry David wants to introduce us. 

Are you gonna do that?

You know, Helen Mirren did a bit on our new album, [so did] Martin Freeman, actors from England. Getting someone from America who likes us, I can’t see the problem with that. We shall see. 

Watch: "A History Of L.A. Ska" Panel At The GRAMMY Museum With Reel Big Fish, NOFX & More

Post Malone holds and acoustic guitar and looks at the crown during his Super Bowl LVIII performance
Post Malone performs during Super Bowl LVIII in February 2024.

Photo: Perry Knotts/Getty Images

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Post Malone's Country Roots: 8 Key Moments In Covers and Collaborations

Ahead of Posty's upcoming performance at the Stagecoach Festival, catch up on the many ways he's been dabbling in country music since the beginning of his career.

GRAMMYs/Apr 24, 2024 - 07:25 pm

Editor's Note: This article was updated on May 20, 2024 with information about Post Malone's collaboration with Morgan Wallen, "I Had Some Help."

Since Post Malone burst onto the mainstream nearly a decade ago, he has continued to flaunt his genre-defying brand of musical brilliance. For his latest venture, it’s time for gold grills and cowboy hats: Posty’s going country.

Though his musical origins are in rap, Malone has seamlessly traversed pop, R&B, and blues, always hinting at his deep-seated country roots along the way. In the last year, his long-standing affinity for country music has moved to the forefront, with appearances at the CMA Awards, a country-tinged Super Bowl LVIII performance, and a feature on Beyoncé’s COWBOY CARTER. Next up, he’ll make his debut at California's Stagecoach Festival alongside some of country music’s biggest names — and pay tribute to some of the genre greats.

While it’s unclear exactly what the Texas-raised hitmaker will be singing, his 45-minute set on Saturday, April 27 is labeled “Post Malone: Performs a special set of country covers.” After years of performing covers for and alongside country stars, the performance is arguably one of the most full-circle moments of his career thus far.

Ahead of his Stagecoach premiere, read on for some of Posty's biggest nods and contributions to the country music scene over the years — that could culminate in his own country album soon enough. 

A Slew Of Classic Country Music Covers

Malone has a history of channeling his musical heroes, often pulling on his boots to deliver heartfelt covers. He's paid tribute to country icons many times, including covers of Hank Williams Jr.'s classic, "There's A Tear In My Beer” in a 2018 fan-favorite video

During a 2022 Billy Strings tour stop at The Observatory in Los Angeles, Malone made a surprise appearance and used the moment to honor Johnny Cash alongside Strings. The pair delivered an acoustic duet of Cash's infamous murder ballad, "Cocaine Blues."

And just this year, Malone covered Hank Williams Sr. during a surprise performance at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium. On April 3, he closed out the annual Bobby Bones' Million Dollar Show with a rendition of Williams' "Honky Tonk Blues." 

A Longtime Kinship With Dwight Yoakam

Malone has long collaborated with Dwight Yoakam, marking a friendship and professional partnership that spans his career. Yoakam is a GRAMMY-winning trailblazer known for his pioneering blend of honky tonk, rock and punk that shook up the country scene in the 80's with his blend of "cowpunk." 

The pair frequently joined forces on Yoakam's SiriusXM Radio spot "Greater Bakersfield," where one standout 2018 appearance features Malone covering Yoakam's own “Thousand Miles From Nowhere” as the two laugh, strum and belt out the lyrics together in perfect harmony. 

On April Fool's Day in 2021, they playfully teased fans with the prospect of a double country album release — which may not seem so far-fetched three years later.

It's fitting that Malone would find such deep inspiration in folks like Yoakam, a man who first rode onto the country scene with a new take on a traditional sound. Much like Yoakam bridged generations with his music, Malone brings a new yet familiar energy to the country scene, embodying the spirit of a modern cowboy in both style and sound.

A Country Tribute To Elvis

Malone teamed up with Keith Urban for a duet rendition of "Baby, What You Want Me to Do" during the "Elvis All-Star Tribute Special," which aired on NBC in 2019. Originally written and performed by blues musician and songwriter Jimmy Reed, "Baby, What You Want Me to Do" was famously covered by Presley and commemorated through Urban and Malone's unique blend of modern guitar-slapping country-rock charisma. 

That wasn't Malone's only country collab that night, either. He also covered Presley's "Blue Suede Shoes" alongside Blake Shelton, Little Big Town and Mac Davis.

A Celebration Of Texas With Country Legends

In March 2021, Matthew McConaughey and his wife, Camila, hosted the "We’re Texas" virtual benefit concert, to help Texans coping with that year's disastrous winter storms during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Following performances by George Strait, Kacey Musgraves, Willie Nelson, and Miranda Lambert, Malone — who moved to Dallas when he was 10 — served as the night's final entertainer. He performed Brad Paisley's "I'm Gonna Miss Her" followed by Sturgill Simpson's "You Can Have The Crown" backed by Dwight Yoakam.

A Rousing Tribute At The 2023 CMA Awards

At the 2023 CMA Awards, Malone joined country stars Morgan Wallen and HARDY on stage to cover late icon Joe Diffie‘s “Pickup Man” and "John Deere Green." Malone's first-ever performance at the CMAs felt more like a reunion than a debut, with Malone right at home among his collaborators.

“I’ve manifested this for years," HARDY told Audacy's Katie Neal. "Slight flex here, but I started following [Post Malone] when he had like, 300k Instagram followers. I was on the 'White Iverson' terrain, like the first thing that he ever put out and I was like, ‘this is dope,’ and I've been with him ever since.” 

After the performance, Malone hinted to Access Hollywood that it might be the start of a new chapter. When asked if a forthcoming country album would be in the works, he answered, “I think so. Yes, ma'am.” (More on that later.)

A Countrified Appearance At Super Bowl LVIII

Before Beyoncé announced COWBOY CARTER in a Verizon Super Bowl ad, Malone offered Super Bowl Sunday's first country-themed clue at the top of the night with his tender rendition of "America The Beautiful." Sporting a bolo tie and brown suede, Malone delivered his patriotic performance with a characteristically country drawl while strumming along on acoustic guitar before Reba McIntire's star-spangled rendition of the national anthem. 

Malone's performance followed in the footsteps of a long line of country artists who have kicked off the national sporting event, which started with Charley Pride in 1974 and has included Shania Twain, Faith Hill and Garth Brooks

A Tip Of The Hat To Toby Keith

During a performance at the American Rodeo in Arlington, Texas, on March 9, Malone paid tribute to the late Toby Keith, who passed away in February. After pouring one out and taking a sip from a red solo cup (an homage to Keith's playful hit of the same name), Malone performed a cover of "As Good As I Once Was" for the Texas rodeo crowd.

His TikTok video of the performance quickly garnered over 4 million views, sparking enthusiasm among fans for more country music from him. "Sir. I'm now begging for a country album," wrote one user in a comment that has received over 11,000 hearts.

A (Potential) Full-On Country Album

His much-teased country album may not be too yonder. After confirming that a country album was in the works during a live Twitch stream on his channel, Malone has spent much of this year teasing forthcoming new work. There is no scheduled album release date as of press time, but Malone has shared snippets of new songs including “Missin’ You Like This” and dropped sneak peeks of collaborations with Morgan Wallen, HARDY, Ernest, and Luke Combs

In February, Malone posted a sample of a collaboration with Combs, "I Ain't Got A Guy For That," the first in a series of song snippets shared across his social channels. 

Malone and Wallen have been teasing a collaboration since the end of 2023. After building plenty of anticipation, they debuted “I Had Some Help” during Wallen's headlining set at Stagecoach in April. Officially releasing the track on May 10, the song didn't just prove to be a banger — it debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, and broke the record for most streams in a single week with 76.4 million official U.S. streams, according to Luminate and Billboard.

No matter when the album may come, Post Malone’s Stagecoach set will only up the anticipation for some original country music from the star — and from the looks of it, fans and genre stars alike are more than ready for it.

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