With the majority of 2014’s festivals now behind us, the thought and promise of what next year will bring is a sure fire way to keeping the winter gloom away. Jay Hawkins recently caught up with Steve Dickson, Managing Director of Mammoth Fest for a bit of chinwag and to ask about the plans for next year – and here’s what he found out!
1. So how did it all start? We’ve spoken recently that this years festival was actually the second time the event had been held, the first being in 2010. Who’s idea was it to hold the first ever Mammoth Fest?
Back in 2007 I first had the idea when I was promoting smaller metal events in Brighton. As the success of my “Tactical Whore Promotions” company grew, so did my ambition to hold ever growing events. No one else was holding a metal festival and so in 2009 I launched Mammoth Fest. The excitement in Brighton was electric, the launch party sold out and here we are!
The first Mammoth Fest was indeed held back in 2010 with mighty bands such as Entombed, Orange Goblin, Sylosis, Malefice, Mnemic, Sybreed, Scamp and a healthy balance of local/underground bands; in all twenty eight bands graced our two stages in our wonderful city of Brighton.
2. This years festival was held over two days, at the end of August. Will this be a permanent date for the Festival, as I’m aware you’re already planning 2015’s event?
One of the things that concerned us as a smaller festival was the amount of competition there was in the summer so we have decided to move our 2015 event to later in the year. We are indoors so the weather is of no concern to us so it made sense. This way we also allow our customers a little respite from paying out festival fees which, is another reason why our festival is so reasonably priced. Mammoth Fest 2015 will actually therefore be held over the weekend of 2nd -4th October 2015 so yes over 3 stages and 3 days, but that’s all we can say at this moment!
3. I’ve noticed the Festival is held in Brighton, which is actually nice to see, as most of the larger UK metal Festivals are currently situated in the Midlands. Has this fact helped in any way? Subsequently, this years event was held at The Green Door Store, is this going to be the permanent venue for the festival?
Brighton has its own unique party vibe so it doesn’t take much to convince people to come here and yes I strongly feel both this and our location down south is a strong reason why our festival works. There is nothing quite as heavy as Mammoth Fest for quite a distance and people don’t want to have to travel all the way up north to see their favourite bands, so we offer a service that makes our locals very happy. This doesn’t put people off from traveling further though to come to us, we had customers travel from as far as Norway and Sweden which is incredible.
4. Set the scene for us that don’t know what this festival is all about? Is this festival a camping festival? what facilities are on site? Is it held indoors or outdoors? Whats the festivals capacity?
We are honored to have just been nominated for “Best Metropolitan Festival 2014” by the Festival Awards committee. What this means is essentially that we are a festival that utilises the venues our city has to offer. We have massive plans that include becoming one of the biggest open air camping festivals in the UK but we are realistic about our budget and like Bloodstock, they started indoors and look at them now. We shall be taking over a number of venues next year which have all the facilities required for a safe but “heavy fucking metal party”. Our vibe is brutal enough for you to go bat shit mad while also feeling you are part of a family. It’s truly amazing.
5. Sum up this years festival, in your own words.
A buzzing hyper heavy metal sell out weekend that put Mammoth Fest and Brighton on the UK heavy metal festival annual “to do list” for all metal heads. We have not received a single bit of negative feedback, we had the logistics right, our line up was insane, every band performed out of their skin and with the right prices for tickets, merchandise and beer everyone felt part of something truly special. It was one of the best moments of our lives as a team.
6. I notice you had some top quality bands on this years bill, who went down well, who should we be looking out for?
I can say without any question all of the bands were exceptional. There were a few curve balls in our line up including Porshyne and Deal was for the diamond who are not so “abrasive” sounding, more progressive and also add to the mix the acoustic magic of both Sean De Burca and Tom and Ash (like Gabriala and Rodrigo) that enabled the whole weekend to feel like a welcomed journey through aural wonderful textures. It never got too intense but the intensity was always there if you wanted to let go. In terms of the harder bands, Ingested destroyed the stage as did Abhorrent Decimation and I was over the moon with our capacity crowd for my band Meta-stasis but it is the combination of such a diversity of acts that made this event so successful in my opinion.
7. I’m aware you too are in a band, a band we’ve both seen, photographed and reviewed at last years first and probably last Rock and Metal Circus. What’s currently on the cards for you and the band Meta-stasis?
We are currently writing our third album while in negotiations with a few labels about the second, currently unreleased album. It is very exciting times indeed for us. We have a number of tours booked for 2015 already too, which will see us reach all the corners of the UK so we are looking forward to taking our madness out of the asylum and into peoples minds!
8. 2014 hasn’t been the best year for small, up and coming festivals, what with the likes of Alt-Fest and Rock and Metal Circus failing to start off the block. Does this worry you, how is Mammoth Fest going to survive, other than having a great untapped location, where people from the Deep South can go to. Less we forget, Brighton isn’t actually that bad to get too on the train, from London, right?
I get asked this question a lot. There is no doubt there is a general nervous feeling around confidence in festivals, especially new ones. People are a little more hesitant to buy advanced tickets now especially if they are highly priced unless it is from an established brand. This makes our job far more difficult but there are solutions. Its a shame that (I feel) Alt fest sold a dream rather than a reality and that’s exactly the point. Organisers at this level have GOT to be real about what they are trying to achieve. This is why we have a very strict strategy in place in terms of growth. We would rather be stable and not expand than push to hard and then find ourselves unable to afford an extravagant event that collapsed. We are letting our customers tell us whether we need to expand. We have larger venues secured in case the venues we have reach capacity but at least we are not going in high hoping we reach a target that could cripple us if we failed. Our ticket prices are as a low as possible, we understand our customers need to get the last trains home so our events finish early enough to accommodate this. Our venues are close to the train/bus station so its easy to get too. This is not just about the line up but the whole customer experience. Get it wrong and you out cast the majority immediately. Most of all it is realistic. We have got that right this year which is why we sold out and are up for a festival award this year. Hopefully this will assure our customers that you can trust in Mammoth Fest even if other brands crumble.
9. So what can we expect in 2015 from Mammoth Fest? You’ve already proudly announced that this year made a profit, to which that extra cash will be put straight back into next years even, making it bigger and better, how will you achieve this? What can you tell us?
Absolutely, we are a ten strong team of volunteers who are somewhat dedicating their lives to a greater cause. We are reinvesting every penny in to slight expansion so rather than one stage over two days we will now be holding a three day event over three stages. Whilst this sounds like considerable expansion its actually not going to cost a great deal more so we can assure our customers of security in purchasing early bird tickets and supporting us. We will have forty seven bands this year with a huge emphasis on supporting the underground scene, many of whom were the highlight of our 2014. It doesn’t have to be Metallica or whoever and cost the earth to have a high standard music event as we have proven. We are just real. I can not mention any bands at this time but I can confirm we will be holding an extreme/death metal stage sponsored by Terrorizer and we will also have a stoner doom stage as part of our weekend. We are talking to a number of big metal bands too but we can not say anything more other than this is going to blow our Mammoths heads off!
10. Band application requests have gone out for next years event, I bet you’ve been inundated with applications, right? I notice you’re looking for support to book Decapitate, how’s that going, is that a likely booking? Who else would you love to book for next years event?
Hehe I cannot comment on who we are talking too but as for applications we had to set up an automated bands application page on our website in order to manage this because we had over two hundred bands in one month. Rest assured we listen to all the bands and select those we feel are really getting their shit tight. Bands that work hard, releasing high quality music, gigging lots off their own back etc. Those bands that are working hard, they know who they are and I think we have a fairly good idea too. Despite this its not enough for me to sit behind a computer deciding on whether one band or another are meet our criteria so I am in the middle of planning a thirty date UK wide Mammoth Fest warm up tour. The reason for this is simply to get off my arse and see for myself what the UK underground metal scene has to offer. Promoters have an opportunity to put forward the bands they feel have been excelling in their local area and I will eventually chose fifteen bands from the thirty dates to play Mammoth Fest next year. This is the only way I can truly understand what bands should be on our bill. I must say now too, this is not a battle of the bands. I am simply taking my decision making process from behind my computer out into the music scene, make the effort, give bands an opportunity and some respect. This is going to be massive for the underground metal scene and with this infrastructure in place we hope to maintain it for years to come so bands should speak to their local promoters and ask if they are a part of this to secure themselves a place before its too late!
If not and any promoters want to get involved, all they need to do is email, firstname.lastname@example.org for more info on any opportunities that may be available.
Interview by Jay Hawkins – JJ Photography UK.