Heavy Montreal has made a name for themselves in the last decade as the premier outdoor heavy metal festival in North America. Now that they are moving to a new site, getting more press than ever and exploding in popularity we thought it was high time to sit down with one of the festivals founders, Daniel Glick from Evenko to chat about the festival.
Glick is a brilliant dude and one who clearly has a lot going on underneath the surface. He made for a fascinating interview and a peek into a pillar of the American scene.
Find out more: http://www.heavymontreal.com/
So how do you feel four days out from the festival?
I'm feeling awesome. After seeing the site this past weekend for another festival we do, we are really excited about it. It's going to be incredible. We've got the two stages on opposite ends of the field. There's lots of trees and a forest. Heavy Mania is coming back. Sales are great. The weather is looking good too!
I've always admired how you created this first true outdoor heavy music festival in North America. What inspired you to start that?
Well we started in 2008. We had already started doing other festivals for alternative music. We are promoters all year round, we promote events at all the big venues around here and do all the hard rock and metal shows. After seeing that festivals were starting to grow in North America we wanted to give that experience to other fans.
Why do you think there has been this explosion of festivals?
I think Americans looked over to Europe and saw the cool stuff they have going on. It's really fun. It gives fans a chance to discover new artists. They get to see 10-20 bands in a day! There's a whole experience around it as well. It's not just about seeing the bands, it's about getting ready, being outside, picking your schedule, all that. That' has helped them explode!
You kind of predate a lot of these festivals that have bee dominating the market – are you worried about the competition?
I don't think so. I think it's important to keep giving fans an amazing experience. That's one of our primary goals. I think we have to keep doing what we are doing, innovating, challenging ourselves and expand. We always have a post mortem every night and talk about what went well and what needs fixing, even for the next day. We are constantly doing that. I think we pull it off pretty well.
There's a lot to unpack there, first of all, what innovations do you think came into play with Heavy Montreal this year?
I think taking the site from where we had it last year to where it is now is a real big one. I think fans are going to love it. We've seen over the past eight years that fans like that area for other festivals and we have had one off concerts there with like Avenged Sevenfold and Wiz Khalifa. It attracts people. There's something really nice about it. We've got our accommodations that we do too so when people come in from out of town we can give them a cheap spot to stay and everyone in there is there for the festival. We have after-shows and stuff too. We co-present the Grimposium which is a cool conference. We are creating a nice community around the festival.
Just to clarify – are you a metal fan?
Yeah. I listen to everything though. I think we are mostly just looking at fan experience. We see what people like. Like I said we did Avenged Sevenfold on that site and that's the same crowd. We look at things in terms of the fan experience and try to take those models and give everyone the good stuff.
Something that struck me about this lineup is this balance of cool underground bands and mainstream darlings – was that a goal going in?
Always. We always want to have some of the young cool stuff. We need headliners like Disturbed and Five Finger though.
How do you determine the balance and choose bands?
We obviously have a long list of bands we want to work with – the Metallica's and AC/DC's. Then it comes down to availability versus price and the budget of the festival. That's how we decide. There are a lot of festivals in the world. Sometimes people route around us but it's a giant puzzle that we undertake. We are already working on next year.
Given your rather unique perspective, do you think we can have a festival scene in America similar to the festival scene in Europe?
I think so. I think it will take more time. I think we are seeing a lot pop up and then go away. I think the great ones will stick around and doing something good and become the staples for North America.
One thing a lot of festivals have done in the past few years is using the brand to expand elsewhere – would you do something similar with Heavy Montreal?
We've done it in the past and it's possible we will do it again. We did Heavy TO for a few years. It didn't work the way we wanted it to work. I think we all thought it was a great idea. No one is saying no to any of that. I don't know if you've noticed but we use our brand throughout the year with “Heavy Montreal Presents” for bands that make sense. For example we have a Slayer show in September that's branded Heavy Montreal. We want to keep our fans involved in the brand, we go to other markets.
Obviously this is one of the most stressful jobs you can choose to do – what inspires you to keep going?
There's a couple answers to that, especially after a crazy weekend. I think we all really like finding solutions to problems quickly. As much as it's difficult and stressful there's always a solution and that brings out the fun. I like the teamwork. It's not just me who does any one thing. That's really nice. We work really well together. We understand each other and argue about certain things but that's the best way. When you're sitting there at the end of the night and everything has calmed down and it's almost done and you get to stand back and take it all in it feels amazing! It's very gratifying and as a promoter we get to go to concerts for free!