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MammothFest Interview - Organiser Steve Dickson

 
 

So back in 2010 Brighton in the South East of England saw the arrival of a much needed and appreciated new metal festival which featured bands such as Entombed, Sylosis, Orange Goblin, Malefice and more! The festival was a hit but it failed to return the year after, and the next year and so on..but now it is making a mighty return! The man behind Mammothfest, organiser/promoter, Steve Dickson discusses his journey as a promoter including the difficulties he faced, his plans to rebuild and the future of the festival!...


So reflecting back on Mammothfest 2010, how do you think it went both personally as a promoter and from a festival attendees point of view?

Ah, haha straight in with the silver bullet! To be honest this is THE question I have asked myself most. As a promoter and a business man I lost some money so you could say it did not go as well as I would have liked. However, most festivals are expected to lose money in the first year and considering I went up against Ozzfest (and their incredible line up) and delivered a £35k event with all the bands I had; I can now reflect very positively on the overall experience. Naturally I still have a lot to learn however, from a feedback perspective I repeatedly hear that it was and remains still one of the best metal event they have ever been too!? It was so radical for Brighton, Entombed, Orange Goblin, Sylosis, Malefice and 24 other amazing bands from as far as Denmark and Sweden in one day in a civic hall; it had all the hall marks (I am told) of being an epic event! Its those comments I try to remember when looking back now. I am very humble about it all.

What made you decide to start your own festival in the first place?

Umm, Gap in the market and a high demand for a metal festival in the south, being sick of going so far north to attend metal festivals, seeing a buzzing metal scene in Brighton yet with nothing substantial we can call our own in our beautiful city? Also my own personal desire to be my own boss in something I am so passionate about such as in the metal industry with my experience in promoting meant this was something I simply had to do, and why not, we need something like this down south and I know I can do it!

What have you learnt as a promoter/festival organiser from last time and how do you think this will affect your approach for MammothFest 2014?

I have learnt so much but if there was one thing more important than anything else it is that just doing one event then folding is not good for the scene. The hype followed by the disappointment there may not be another one was not positive for the future of our local bands and venues and the scene as a whole. Building the business and ensuring we can continue to build with momentum is key. It plays a part in inspiring new musicians and creates hope and a realisation that local bands ARE good enough to play festivals. Overall, for me this is where tough financial decisions need to be made to ensure the long term future of Mammothfest is considered but I do so in the interest of growth and sustainability.



What made you decide to come back now for round two of the festival?

Honestly? The passing of my best friend to cancer in Dec 2013. Ricky was my bro, a man who spent many an hour listening to me banging on about this idea, a metal festival in Brighton. He was my main inspiration and voice of confidence behind the original event so when he passed I realised just how short life could be and therefore how important it is that I step up and make things happen, for him as much as for anyone else here, because we just don't know when it may be too late. Fuck it, its only money and there is nothing better than bringing some kick ass bands to Brighton, helping local bands, creating a healthy buzz and also to prove to myself that I have got what it takes to deliver again despite the financial loss I experienced in 2010.

What do you think were the biggest impacts on the festival in terms of what could have gone better or what went wrong? You must have a lot of passion and drive to come back again despite financial knocks you must have taken?

The worst thing was going up against Ozzfest (sponsored by Metal Hammer mag. no less! when not knowing they were even competition until they announced their event in June 2010 (3 months before Mammothfest) at the Metal hammer golden globe awards. I spent ages checking my event date to ensure I did not clash with another event so to learn of this with so little time was catastrophic news. If i pulled out I stood to lose a significant amount anyway, not to mention my reputation and letting so many people down, but then I had great support and a great line up so giving it great consideration I thought it would be a reasonable risk to take the event forward. Had it not been for the Ozzfest then I am confident we would have been on year four by now but that's life. We must dust ourselves off and move forward using the knowledge we gained in our experiences or it all becomes for nothing.

Following on from that what would you say were the biggest highlights and successes?

The biggest highlight for me was simply achieving putting the event on but there are so many positives that came from it all. It took a year and half nearly to plan. It was so tough sometimes. Getting so many incredible bands together in an event at this capacity, all playing a Brighton metal festival is undoubtedly one of my most proud achievements but also something Brighton metallers and Brighton can be proud of. Seeing so many people at Hove town hall losing their marbles to such wicked metal bands, it was all a very unreal and special day. Life for me is about setting a dream and making it happen.

How hard was the process of organizing and promoting the the last festival and how prepared are you for the work ahead?

Starting a new business of this nature/size is incredibly challenging. I completely under estimated just how "Mammoth" a task this would be first time round. It literally nearly killed me and put a huge strain on my family and closest friends for easily over four years, all things considered. Now I know what to do and have very particular systems in place to manage the business better so I feel at much greater ease this time round. It is always hardest first time round but like anything it gets easier as you do it more.

What can attending festival goers expect this time round?

This year I have opted for a 2 day event in the mighty Green door store in Brighton, right underneath Brighton train station so it is easy for all to access whether coming by train or bus. My plan is to provide a savage and diverse line up of 22 bands at a very reasonable price so it is affordable to all. I will be showcasing a few of the best unsigned bands from the south along with some very well established UK acts that are destroying stages all over the world at the moment. Needless to say the people have spoken and I have managed to get a lot of the bands they requested so I am extremely excited about the announcements I will be making this year.

Do you have a scheduled plan of events leading up to the festival? Such as line-up announcements and if so can you give us any dates or hints?

Indeed I can confirm Martyr Defiled, Savage Messiah, Meta-stasis and Ingested are my top four bands and the event will be held on Saturday 30th and Sunday 31st August 2014. But I still have another incredible 18 bands to announce, 2 every Monday afternoon leading right up to the event so I recommend everyone goes to our website
www.mammothmetalfestival.co.uk and adds themselves on our Mammothfest facebook page for further details and regular updates. Doors will be open at 2pm until 10.30pm both days so people can get the last trains home while still filling their metal studded boots.

What do you think the return of Mammothfest will do for the music scene in Brighton, as well as the presence within the South East of England, considering there isn't a lot of festivals (particularly within the rock/metal genre) down this way?

The interest in Mammothfest was significant from the moment I announced this years event. I have had so many messages of support and appreciation that the event is back that I cant help but feel this event is exactly what we need in the south. Why travel all the way to the few festivals we have up north when we can have our own? Now is the time to make this happen. With over 100 bands from all over the UK and a few from Europe show their interest in playing the event I have a great opportunity to hand select am incredible line up that can deliver an outstanding weekend of metal. I am hoping the 2 day event will bring together our UK wide rock and metal community and hope it will reignite passions and give the south another chance at re-establishing our very own metal festival

How are you hoping to shape the festival overtime and how big do you expect it to get?

I want to again shine a light on the amazing local bands while bringing the best bands in the world to Brighton.This year is all about reestablishing the Mammothfest brand again with a limited budget. If all goes to plan then I will be reinvesting the small amount of profit (yep I will not be taking any of the profits for myself for a few years at least) and already have 2 very closely located venues penciled in for 2015 over 2 days so i can expand to around 40 bands on 2 stages per day. My intention is to keep steadily growing the business/capacity while reinvesting all the profits until Mammothfest becomes I hope, one day, a huge outdoor metal festival one day near to Brighton. Bloodstock started off as an indoor venue and within about 10 years has grown to be one of the biggest metal festivals in the country hosting the biggest bands from around the world. I am ambitious whilst realistic so while it would be a dream come true to build Mammothfest up to such a size I am humbled by the support already in place and will simply enjoy each year with a sensible "one step at a time approach" and see what happens. All I hope is that whether people are in a band or not, if you want to one day play at Mammothfest then come support us now. The more the scene comes together the more i can do for the scene.

Have you got any advice for anyone who is thinking of starting their own festival?

Yes, don't do it unless you are literally bonkers...

Nah, in all seriousness it is an incredibly challenging thing to run such big events, it takes so many hours of commitment, but it can be very rewarding so start small, grow the business up and never exposure yourself to too much financial risk. The drop on a £35,000 event if it all goes wrong is far greater than a safer smaller event so play it safe. Get a feel for the market and always put on events you feel you can sell out.Check competition to ensure there is no clashes on dates! If you do profit then you can reinvest while growing a little and be happy with this rather than greedy. Stability is key. If anyone is genuinely interested in building up larger events then I am happy to help so get in touch with me because I want to see people succeed and will do all i can. I certainly know what can go wrong now and therefore what to do to succeed. Just don't drop your event on the same day as mine (no offence Ozzy!)


Lastly have you got anything you want to add about the mighty return of MammothFest 2014?

Mammothfest may not be "download or Sonisphere" this year but one day it could be. This is up to you, the reader, yes you. hi. If the support is there and you show your demand for our very own metal festival in Brighton in the south then not only are you supporting incredible bands you are investing in the future of our metal scene and if you are in a rock/metal band then maybe it will be you playing one day? I find it so frustrating when everyone relies on everyone else to make the effort and so no one does anything. It is time for everyone to get off their lazy asses and unite in support for our own southern metal festival.

Band members, you may not be playing this year but come along to the event, bring me your demos, EPs, Albums etc, meet me, support the bands and it could be you playing next year.

Also, there will be a wicked club night on Saturday night too so the party will go on late so what better way to make a weekend of it in Brighton!? Sleep on the beach and come back Sunday for round two!
 
You can follow the event by simply looking up "Mammothfest 2014" on Facebook and adding the event to your calendar. This is where all the announcements will be made first so drop in and say hi!
Very limited early bird weekend tickets will be available for £15 early in May otherwise weekend tickets will be £18 and Day tickets are £10 each MOTD and with an expect capacity crowd it is recommended you get in early to avoid disappointment!


I am so appreciative of all the support and look forward to hosting this years event with absolute pride.
Get all the latest here: www.mammothmetalfestival.co.uk

Interview by me originally published in Stencil Mag Issue 25 Pages 151-154 - http://issuu.com/stencilmag/docs/issue25/151



More bands have been announced since interview took place see current full line up below!



Get tickets and merchandise here: http://vanitasdirect.com/home/711-t-shirt-package.html Get tickets soon before they go and before the price goes up!

And look out for final annoucement coming soon and all latest updates as well as information on MammothFest warm up shows in the run up to the main event all on the event's Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/#!/mammothmetalfestival?fref=ts

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