Random Facts With… Rob Da Bank
Rob Da Bank doesn't actually rob banks for a living as his name might suggest. He is the purveyor of the all encompassig Bestival festival on the Isle of Wight if you've been living under a rock for the past 10 years. He also runs Sunday Best label and plays records all over the world. Ahead of said Bestival next week we sat down for a Random Facts on hair, hovercrafts, discount tents and David Bowie.
So let's hear your first fact then…
Well, I’ve been looking at facts more specific to me really. As you know, my name is Rob Da Bank and over half of all bank robberies actually take place on a Friday.
On a Friday?
Yeah. Don’t know why though.
Does that include some of the ‘great’ bank robberies?
No, I can’t name the actual ones. There must be a lot of bank robberies around the world in a week and half of them are on a Friday. Maybe they think there’s the most money in the bank on a Friday because people have been going in there all week and paying in money. But I’m not sure if that’s how it actually works in the bank world. If I was a bank robber, I’d probably pick another day to rob a bank as they’re probably all on high alert on a Friday.
Do bank robberies even happen these days? I was just looking them up. I’d imagine they’re a bit more difficult these days. Have you ever… We probably shouldn’t go down that route.
Have I ever had an experience robbing banks? A lot of people ask me that one or make crap jokes about my crap name.
I'm assuming that's not your actual name?
No, it’s not. With some people I do pretend it is because you get the childish joke behind it and then tell them that I’m a famous bank robber. I used to tell the press that my dad was a bank robber.
I wasn’t actually going to ask that, it was actually going to be a bit more sinister around festivals and robberies, but I don’t think it’s actually worth going down that route.
Nah, probably not. I’ve not famed, but I’m well known for my long hair, and I was reading some facts about hair. The common myth that hair continues to grow after death is a myth. It doesn’t actually grow after death. I just had this weird image in my head of people in coffins with hair sprouting out of everywhere.
Really horrible thought. But yeah, that’s a myth. The anticipation of sex apparently makes hair grow faster. So with my hair clocking in at whatever it is, metres now. I must be anticipating a lot of that. I must be thinking about sex a lot then.
It’s good for bald people, all they’d have to do is think about sex for days on end and they’d have hair like mine!
I’ve got some facts about festivals. This ones a bit rubbish but, Glastonbury is the UK’s largest festival and if everyone paired up to camp it would take up 88,500 and if they grouped it would take only 3,000 tents. I don’t know. I mean tents is an interesting one. Do you have the same problem as Glastonbury in terms of tents with people fucking off and leaving them?
Yeah, we do have some. It was something daft like 43 tonnes of landfill last year alone, which was just tents. That might have been the year before actually because we did a campaign last year involving me folding up a pop up tent on screen and urging people to do the same. Especially when it’s been sunny, it’s frustrating that people think it’s okay to dump it. You wouldn’t do it anywhere else, but yet it’s somehow become the done thing. Yet if you go to a different country, no one would even think twice about dumping it. If you go to Japan people walk round with plastic bags picking up their rubbish all the time. I mean, I don’t want to get on my high horse because I’ve left rubbish at a festival before but tents… I think it’s partly the supermarket and manufacturers fault, making £20 tents that are almost made to throw away. It’s just all part of our throwaway culture where people don’t care if it’s cheap as chips and it breaks.
Or £7.77 In Tesco.
Yeah. My brother brought one one year and I think it was either buy one or stay up all night and yeah, it was £7.77 in Tesco.
That’s just daft isn’t it? I mean, on the one hand, it’s fantastic for people that don’t have much money.
It’s not going to have much permanence is it. It’s not like you’re going to be using it year after year.
You could have one for every day of the week for £7.
I hate that one, I’m just going to throw that one away.
But yeah, I guess in one way it’s good for the economy and for people that can’t really afford it, but on the other it’s really bad because it’s encouraging us to use really badly made shitty tents from parts of the world that people are employed at about 2p an hour to make them in a sweatshop.
So, Bestival started the same year as Glade. And the Isle of Wight plays host to more carnivals per capita than any other place in the UK.
That is correct, yes! The Isle of Wight is the Carnival Capital of the UK.
I didn’t know that.
Yeah. It’s also the most haunted place in the UK.
Apparently yeah. It’s also the world’s most haunted island.
Didn’t know that either. What’s that founded on?
There’s a lot of laylands and loads of ghost hunters come here from all over the shop. I haven’t seen any yet but I’m always on the look out, obviously. I’m out late at night looking around for any ghosts.
How did you end up in the Isle of Wight?
From running Bestival really. We don’t need to be here. It’s not like when people say ‘Oh that must be really handy because of the festival’. Well it kind of is, for that week of Bestival. The rest of the time we don’t go to the site and start digging six months in advance. It’s a beautiful part of the world and quiet. We’d been in London for 20 years so it was time to have a change of pace really and obviously it was the place that the hovercraft was invented so we had to come here.
I didn’t know that. It was invented there was it?
Yeah yeah, by Christopher Cockeral in 1956. It’s still got the UK’s only remaining passenger hovercraft, which is Hovertravel. It’s a great, but slightly surreal way to get to work. I normally just get one of the regular boats but every couple of weeks I’ll get the hovercraft and it’s 1 minute across and it’s pretty cheap, so it’s a cool way to get to work
What happened to the hovercraft? Why did it die?
I don’t know! Weirdly in other parts of the world it hasn’t died. You go to some places and they are used a lot as ferries and stuff. I’ve no idea, they’re so brilliant. My mate’s dad, when I was a kid, was one of the main hovercraft engineers at the time and we’d go on Saturday morning swap shop with Noel Edmonds and whizz around in his dad's hovercraft. It felt like a bit of a novelty then and it has sort of died out. Maybe they’re expensive to make? I don’t know.
I’m just having a look now. It had its hay day in the 70s apparently. That seems pretty sad. They’re pretty cool looking things as well aren’t they?
Yeah. Maybe it’s to do with the wind because the hovercraft is the first one to go down when it’s bad weather. They can still withstand quite a lot of weather though.
It’s not like a zeppelin is it really. You can see the fundamental flaws in a zeppelin. I’ve just seen that apparently they develop the hovertrain as well!
Several attempts have been made to adopt air cushion technology on fixed track systems. They abandoned it in 1977 due to lack of funding and the death of the lead engineer. That could have been quite exciting.
That could have been a thing of the future! I think in 100 years times they’re going to look back and say ‘God, they were still using hovercrafts in 2014.’ It will look slightly antiquated, as it’s pretty noisy.
They’re pretty noisy?
It’s noisy, yeah, but it’s fun and a lot of people do actually use it for their daily commute to Portsmouth from the Island, so it’s not a joke. I can only assume that it’s just not as comfortable or something.
Lithuanian coastguards still use it as their transport of choice.
There you go. If it’s good enough for the Lithuaian coastguards then…
Did you know that Dr Zeuss pronounced his name Dr Soy-ce?
Did not know that, that’s interesting.
Yeah, S-o-y-c-e. Soyce We’ve all been going round saying Dr Zeuss and he’s actually Dr Soyce. I’m not sure where you can go from that but there you go.
That’s kind of like top trumps. You’ve trumped me there.
R: I’ve got another completely random one, thinking about DJ’s and music and stuff. In Buddism, Avicci is the lowest form of hell. It’s quite apt really that he’s actually one of the most popular DJs in the world.
I don’t know if he’s done it accidently. As it’s Avicci with one I and then he’s added another I, but I don’t know if that really matters. It still sticks with the idea of the lowest level of hell. Not that I’m a snob about other DJ’s at all…
Well yeah, it’s pretty exciting fact about him because it’s not far off… Apparently he stopped drinking and met his girlfriend. That’s the best fact I could find about Aviccii to go on from that.
He stopped drinking AND met his girlfriend?
Yeah. Great fact, really exciting. Why would you even pollute the internet with that?
Right. Ten things you didn’t know about Aviccii. 1. Tim became Aviccii because of Myspace. 2. Apparently Aviccii’s girlfriend introduces herself as Aviccii’s Girlfriend. I think I need to get off this site quite quickly to be honest with you.
Yeah. That was terrible.
Well that’s a good one… Hmmm, I wonder when the first festival ever was. Do you know when it was?
Well, are you taking it back to Pagan times?
Yeah, why not.
I don’t know. It’d probably be difficult to put it down to a time and day and location because, I mean, it could have been around Stonehenge time.
It’s saying around Pagan times, and that it’s pagan related. It’s not giving me an actual direct time. I guess I was trying to find the first ‘modern day’ festival. I guess it comes back to things like folk festival times.
I’m sure there were more before. If you talked to Michael Eavis it was Blues Show that was kind of what turned into what we think of as a modern festival. I think that pre-dated Woodstock. I’m not sure.
The world festival was first recorded as a noun in 1589 as Festifall. Feast first came into use as a noun in circa 1200, and it’s first recorded using a verb was 1300. It’s religious undertones initially through things like Divali and Christmas and Eid and Hanukkah. Harvest festivals seem to be where it was originally used. Which makes sense.
Glastonbury started the day after Jimi Hendrix died in 1970 so I think Woodstock did predate it.
Yeah, it was ’69 I think.
Annoying that the Yanks beat us to it.
As ever. The history of a festival is actually really really interesting. Do you have any idea of the amount of sound that emanates from the festival each year? And the amount of electricity used? It’d be cool to get some facts about energy use.
For Bestival? God no, I don’t. I wish I did.
Maybe we should veer away from festivals as it probably gets a bit boring for you talking about them over and over.
No no, not at all. Although I just found something quite interesting. In England we call the French Kiss the French Kiss, but in France they call the French Kiss an English Kiss.
Didn’t know that. That’s nice. Odd!
You think 'oh that’s a bit saucy, it must be French' as we’re this sort of stiff upper lipped. Yeah, weird. Food for thought.
I’m on some facts about phobias. My girlfriend actually has a phobia about butterflies and I’ve got a weird thing about peaches.
What, the skin of them?
Yeah, I come out in goosebumps, it’s pretty weird. I get chased around rooms with them and stuff.
My son’s got one about certain materials, like stretchy materials and stuff. I’ve got one, well it’s not a phobia and more of a superstition. Well, not really a superstition but when I was about 16 I was in school and I think it was a GCSE day and everything went really well that day and I got home and found out that I’d put a pair of odd socks on, so since that day I’ve never worn a pair of matching socks again.
You’ve never worn matching socks since that!
Yeah, which is about 25 years now, in the hopes that every day will be as glorious as the day that I passed my history GCSE.
Every day is a GCSE exam basically.
Basically yeah. It drives everyone up the wall because if anyone buys me some new socks, they need to buy another similar pair and swap one. I just can’t wear any even socks.
I bet Christmas is a great time. ‘Oh yeah that’s great, have you got another pair in a different colour?’
Hexacociohexacontairtaphobia is the fear of the number 666.
Oh really? Crickey. People are actually scared of that?
Yeah, apparently so. Nomaphobia is the fear of being without your cellphone or losing signal.
Nice, I think quite a few people have probably got that in the UK at the moment.
I doubt you have much reception down there do you?
It’s okay, it’s not too bad but that’s partly why I’m calling you on the landline. It’s quite nice in a way not being plugged in all the time. Not many people have the patience for it though; they’re kind of like ‘Get with the real world’.
My mum lives in Salisbury, on the way down to you, and the reception there is shocking. It’s actually quite a nice break as when you get there, there is no connection to the outside world.
You’ve got to have a message on your answerphone saying that though otherwise people are just like ‘For fuck's sake, get back on your phone!’ Back to phobias though, I think coulrophobia is the fear of clowns and about 5 or 6 years ago we did either a circus theme or a clown theme and when we announced it we had so many people message us saying that they had coulrophobia, or fear of clowns, that we had to change the theme that year and the Scissor Sisters were headlining on one of the nights and they thought it was hilarious that we’d changed the theme. So when they came on they brought with them 5 of these giant 12ft, really grotesque, old fashioned clown puppets – just to piss people off that suffered from coulrophobia. At Camp Bestival this year as well the theme was circus and I dressed up as a clown one day, and loads of people were telling me not to do it because their kids hated clowns. I think after arachnophobia it’s the second biggest phobia.
Weirdly, I was just on Twitter and there’s a picture of a hovercraft and it says ‘Hover grounded after huge grinding from engine whilst it seized.’ Maybe that’s what happened to them then and why people don’t use hovercrafts anymore.
Got a good one here. Anatadayphobia is the fear that somewhere, somewhere a duck is watching you.
Jesus, that is really weird. Oddly, we bought some Indian Runner Ducks the other day as a fox ate 4 of them. I literally just bought them yesterday and I can just about see them in the garden from here. Weirdly, that’s actually become true whilst we’re talking.
Oh dear, that’s not very nice.
They’re nice ducks though; I don’t think they’re watching me or anything.
Here we go, phobias may be memories passed down through generations in DNA according to new research. Maybe all of your ancestors have been worried about passing their history exams.
That could be right, yeah.
Maybe. It might seem hard to believe but we have about the same number of hairs on our bodies as a chimpanzee. It’s just that our hairs are useless and thus so fine they are almost invisible. It’s not sure why we lost our protective fur, it has been suggested that it was to help early humans sweat more easily or to make it harder to parasites such as lice and ticks or even because our ancestors were partly aquatic. Interesting!
There you go! The only thing that you can’t tell from hair is someone’s sex, whether they’re male or female. It’s weird. If you think about when they find it at a crime scene, they can find pretty much everything about you from it, but they can’t actually tell which sex you are.
I could do a load of really horrible crimes and leave my hair all over the place and they wouldn’t know if I was a boy or a girl. This is nothing to do with that, but I’ve just seen that the largest ever record collection on file contained more than 1 million LP’s.
The man was called Paul Mawhinney. He was believed to posses the largest record collection on earth that stretched past the 1 million mark and featured more the 1.5 million singles. That is just absolutely stupid isn’t it.
Recordrama, he’s even got his own Wikipedia entry and a record store in Pittsburgh.
That must be uncontrollable.
Wow, that’s just completely insane.
I mean, I love records and I love vinyl but I’ve been narrowing my collection down so that I actually get to listen to them.
I think it’s important to do that. Sometimes it just gets to the point of having records for the sake of having records. The more refined you are in your collection, for me, I find you actually listen to stuff more.
Yeah totally. I have an annual sort of spring clean and get rid of all those. Actually, I’m not going to start naming all of the record labels that have become defunct.
Well, let’s not mention Big Beat too much.
Oh god yeah! That’s what I was going to start with.
I had a big Skint / Freskanova cleanse a while back. That was quite a cathartic experience.
By the mid 1990’s, Recordrama was doing $5million a year in business. Wow.
Jesus. Well, he’s got quite a few records to sell for sure.
He was a significant help in restarting David Bowie’s career by getting fellow Pittsburgher and RCA boss Tom Cossie to re-release the album Space Oddity in 1972 after it’s initial release in 1969 failed to hit. That’s interesting! Good work there.
Good ol’ Recordrama.
I presume you’ve had a pop at getting Bowie to play?
Well, yeah. I have. The only issue is that his agent is John Gillings who runs the Isle of Wight Festival.
Yeah, and he has played the new Isle of Wight Festival so it’s sort of…
Is he ever going to play again? I’m not sure…
I’ve been told not. But then when you read those interviews that he did last year, or earlier this year, that he’s basically saying never say never. So it’s a bit like Kate Bush really.
Yeah, exactly. Those lyrics on Love Is Lost from last year. They’re quite sad lyrics and it’s almost very reflective lyrics.You get the impression that it’s coming to an end, without trying to be too morbid about it. That’s the impression I got from his lyrics anyway. Anyway, lets not go too far down that into too much conjecture…
Here we go, this is a good one about goosebump evolution and going back to my peach phobia. Goosepimples are a remnant of our evolutionary predecessors. They occur when tiny muscles around the base of hair tense, pulling the hair more erect. With a decent covering of fur this would fluff up the coat, filling it with air and making it a better insulator, however, with humans thin body hair it just makes our skin look strange. Similarly, we get the bristling feeling of our hair standing on end when we are scared or experiencing an emotive memory. There we go, that’s what it must be. Some emotive memory with peaches for me. Many mammals fluff up their hair when threatened to make themselves look bigger. I must have had a face-off with a peach in a former life.
I’m going to send round a crate of peaches.
I think I’d have a heart attack.
So you can’t walk down the fruit and veg isle of Sainsburys without panicking?
People chase me around the supermarket with them… Let’s leave that there…
Yeah that’s fine, the kids are trying to pull me into the car to go to the New Forest… enjoy the peaches.
Bestival 2014 takes place on 5th-7th September on the Isle of Wight. Last minute tickets available here.
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