MALLORY Knox are without doubt the best established band that Touch Down Festival has attracted to date - yet this year's headliners feel like they're just starting out.

"We feel like we have a point to prove, and we're having to win people over again," says frontman and main songwriter Sam Douglas.

The Cambridgeshire alt rock outfit have toured the world since forming almost a decade ago and have seen their last two albums debut in the UK Top 20.

But the departure of their founding singer Mikey Chapman earlier this year had called into question the future of the band. A few months on, and a well-received single, Black Holes, and UK tour behind them, Mallory Knox are back at the top of their game, ready to reaffirm their place at the forefront of the British rock scene.

Sam, who took over vocal duties in the band, continues: "At first it was a bit daunting playing the old songs, but it seemed to be the new songs that were really being well-received - they're going down really well with people who weren't even fans of the band before, and they're telling us they loved the shows and can't wait to hear more from us.

"Obviously with Black Holes we had a few people saying 'it's not the same without Mikey', but we knew that would be the case anyway. It did feel like a brand-new band in many ways.

"I've always been the main songwriter, and that's not changed, but we're taking a really different approach to songwriting.

"We kind of flirted with what we wanted to be doing on our last album with songs like Wired, but we were wary of stepping too far away from what people expect from us. In a way, Mikey leaving gives us the perfect excuse to jump two-footed into what we want to be doing.

"I wasn't even too keen on Black Holes being a single because I thought we had much better songs - and still do. I guess that bodes well.

"Looking back though, the songs I wanted to release would have been too much for some fans because they sound nothing like what people think Mallory Knox should sound like."

They may be still finding their feet as a four-piece band, but Mallory Knox are already making the most of this 'new start', stacking up the demos and writing as many tracks as is humanly possible ahead of recording sessions later in the summer.

Having split from their former record label, they have the freedom to make an album without any interference from above. The next record will be a big statement about their future direction, and Sam knows that they have to go about it in the right way.

"The plan was to have another single out before the April tour, but it's been about five months since we've put out new music," he says.

"We're in a position where we can stop and think about what we need to do next that's best for the band.

"Mallory Knox songs weren't always the most complex songs - and with them being written on acoustic guitar, they're not going to be - but the new songs are more about riffs and more groove-oriented. I've even written a few songs on bass, which sounds mad for us, and there is a song, Radio, which nobody's heard, that I wrote tapping on the steering wheel of my car.

"I had to pull over and sing the melody into my phone. It was only a few weeks later that I was going through my phone that I remembered about it.

"We're quite far into the process of writing this new record, but we're always going back and analysing what we've done. A couple of months ago, we thought we ere about three-quarters of the way through the record, but we've gone back and looked at things - we're getting there, but now we've got this freedom to do what we want and way more time."

As well as altering the sound of the band, taking on his new dual role as lead vocalist and bassist has also had an impact on how Sam approaches live shows.

"It's not really something that I was built for as a human being in general," he says. "It's completely alien to me.

"I can't be one of these eccentric frontmen that come up with these inspirational speeches or talk politics on stage, so the only thing I can be is what I've always been and write the best songs that I can.

"I've had to start looking after my voice between shows now instead of drinking as much as I can and shouting my head off at after-parties."

Next Saturday's headline set at Touch Down Festival is a massive coup for the organisers, whose small indoor festival has grown over four years to become one of the region's most anticipated events.

Playing among bands that cite them as major influences and in front of fans eager to see if they can still do it live, there's a certain kind of pressure on Mallory Knox, but Sam can't wait for his first visit to Workington.

"These festivals are great for keeping us in the public eye while we work away in the background.

"I'm really thankful that we still are able to play new places and play to new people.

"After the year we've had, where we didn't know if we'd be able to do this anymore, if anything it's made us more hungry and it's made us able to enjoy it a lot more.

"With festivals, even if you're on last, it's never quite your own headline show - people are there to see other bands - so there's not as much pressure.

"I'd like to say I always try and check out other bands at festivals, but if I'm honest, the past couple of years, music wasn't really something that inspired me anymore. With everything going on with the band, it just wasn't something I was enjoying.

"That's different now. I want to check out as many bands as possible, chat to as many people as possible, and enjoy the experience."

Mallory Knox headline Touch Down Festival, in Jane Street, Workington, on Saturday July 14. For more information and to book tickets, visit