Interview: The Giant Seagulls, ‘Glastonbury Festival is the best week of your life!’

Have you ever interviewed a seagull? We have; in fact, we’ve interviewed the Giant Seagulls. One of Glastonbury’s most famous Walkabouts is the Giant Seagulls who have been a part of the festival for over 20 years – they approach festival-goers, rummaging in bags and pockets, stealing food from plates and picnic baskets, squabbling amongst themselves and generally cause a fuss. They’re one of the many things that make Glastonbury the festival it is.

What do they think about it all themselves? We found out below.

Q&A with The Giant Seagulls

How does it feel to be heading back to Glastonbury for another festival.

It feels absolutely wonderful! It is one of our favourite gigs of the year, but one we never take for granted. It’s never guaranteed that you get to come every year, there are lots of great acts all wanting to perform at Glastonbury, and they obviously want to have a wide variety, so we are always grateful for the opportunity to be booked. There is great nervousness whilst you wait to know if you will be booked, and if you are, it’s then so very exciting anticipating your time there. We count sleeps!

What can you tell us about The Giant Seagulls

The Giant Seagulls were conceived and made by Mike Rowan of Surreal McCoy Street Theatre Company back in 1999 and did their first gig in Ulverston in May of that year. They have been going strong ever since and have worked all over the world at some amazing events in the UK and Ireland, throughout Europe, Canada and Australia including of course Glastonbury Festival, several Commonwealth and Olympic Games, regularly at The Australian Open Tennis and hundreds of other arts, sporting, corporate and community events in between.

We have several teams based throughout the UK, a couple in Australia, one in Canada and are at looking at setting one up in Europe to cover events, given the damage that Brexit has done to the ability for UK artists to perform in the EU.

We have dozens of people who have performed with us and each person brings their own unique character to the birds. Despite the fact that the costumes themselves are identical, people will comment on their different ‘expressions’ which is due to the wonderful body language of each of our performers. Our company, Surreal McCoy, like our characters to engage and interact with their audiences. We play with people, we make them laugh, and in doing so we make ourselves laugh. It is a very rewarding career to have!

You have been a feature of the festival for over 20 years – what is it about the festival that keeps you coming back?

Glastonbury Festival is the best week of your life if you are lucky enough to go! Everybody should have a turn at least once in their lives.

It is never just about what bands are playing. Glastonbury is an Arts Festival and the diversity in what you can see and do is unlike anything anywhere else in the world.

The creativity that goes into setting up such extraordinarily different areas throughout the festival from the excitement of Theatre and Circus, and the beautiful and peaceful Greenfields to the wildness of Shangrila, Block 9, Arcadia, Woodsies and dozens of areas in between is mind blowing. It changes peoples perceptions on how life can be. You can find wonderful peaceful places to be, and you can find places to be absolutely wild and lose all your inhibitions and everywhere in between. It’s like a spell is cast over those fields for 5 days imbibing everyone there with a spirit of joy, kindness, inclusiveness and camaraderie.

With the addition of Glastonbury-On Sea, is the festival feeling more like home for the Seagulls

Glastonbury-On-Sea is a fabulous addition to the festival and a brilliant place to spend time. Reminiscent of childhood days on the pier and at the beach, and a fabulous array of performers

The Seagulls have not performed at Glastonbury-On-Sea as yet. We have been asked several times, and it is, of course, a perfect venue for The Seagulls, but Theatre and Circus who were our initial booking also have booked us each year since and there is both a loyalty to them, and a long following of punters that come to T&C fields to see them that we honour. It is feasible perhaps in the future that we could have The Seagulls in both areas.

Will you have a chance to checkout any other acts across the weekend?

Absolutely! That is what we will spend the majority of our time doing when we are not performing ourselves.

We are performing at 12.30 and 3.15pm on Thursday, Friday and Saturday this year, and then straight back out into the fields all dressed up and ready to party and see as much as we possibly can. Theatre and Circus Fields are amazing to just sit in and watch the brilliant array of Walkabouts go by, or see amazing shows at Sensation Seekers Stage, the Astrolabe, Circus Tent, Outside Circus Stage, Poetry and Words which later turns into the brilliant Mavericks, and the Cabaret tent, seeing some bands along the way, having a drink in some fabulous bars, marveling at the huge installations in the naughty corner, walking up the hill to look down on the beauty of the whole site…… the opportunities are endless. The only thing there is not enough of is time to see everything!

Don’t miss the Giant Seagulls in the Theatre and Circus fields at this year’s Glastonbury Festival