Download Press Day part 2

Download Press Day part 2Download Press Day part 2Download Press Day part 2Download Press Day part 2Download Press Day part 2

Our Birmingham Live reviewer Chris enjoyed his time at the press day for Download so much, we have a continuation article.  This time the Q+A Session is included.

 

Andy Copping Booker of Download Festival

Andy is the Booker of Download Festival and has the joys of trying to keep people happy each year and in most years has people doubting the line-ups but each time he proves them wrong!

Andy states this is the 16th Download Festival and is asked how does it feel?

It is amazing.   We have now done more Downloads than Monsters of Rock, I don’t mind admitting this is a goal I wanted to get to and we’re still going super, super strong so hopefully will be around for another 16 (but Andy dreads to tell us how old he will be)

In 2017 you said to us you had already booked the bands for 2018, unbeknown to us, Guns N’ Roses were coming here, next year’s festival are these already booked?

We have 3 offers out and I think 2 of them will for sure and I think the 3rd will but we have an offer out for a headliner for 2020 too.

And Led Zeppelin is still the number 1 target?

Could you imagine a reformed Led Zeppelin would just be huge, that would be amazing

And Van Halen?

Yes it’s not the first time I’ve been asked this and band members are still alive, there always a chance yes, I mean twice they’ve been there and confirmed then pulled out both on separate years because they didn’t want to come to Europe.

With the sheer number of festivals each year is it getting more difficult as years go by booking festivals as you are having to book earlier and earlier?  

I don’t think its getting any more difficult than it is, just difficult year on year.   Yes we need to book earlier with Download being a more established festival people want to play here, the other festivals we class as boutique festivals they cater for one genre these obviously work and are big competition for anyone, but Download is an even bigger competition for them as the audience is much larger.

Talking about booking the bands your team is expanding how does that work for you?

Previously some of you know of Dave Bradley who worked with me and was inspirational in bringing in the Avalanche stage and NXT Wrestling as well as booking some other parts of the festival.   Dave has gone to work for WWE and I wanted to get some fresh book with Kam, Steph and Sean and we together sit down and plan who we’re going to book and yea it gets a bit fruity at the meetings sometimes. Just having new ideas and this really works well?

Who are you looking forward to most of all Excluding Guns N’ Roses?

I would have to say I’m looking forward to Ozzy because I think that it being his last UK festival appearance will be amazing, Greta Van Fleet will be huge (as close to Led Zepplin as you’re going to get really) Looking forward to Black Stone Cherry, a great slot for them, Volbeat and The Faim and Lawnmower Deth they said they were going to come cut my lawn so we upped their stage ☺.

There are some fantastic bands on the bill this year, can you pick a few of the smaller bands and the smaller stages that you think are in the category of “you need to drop everything to go and see these guys”?  

Loathe, The Faim, WSTR, Employed to Serve, Boston Manor

Melvin Benn – Festival Republic MD and Download Festival Director

What I didn’t mention is when Download started Andy had hair!

I am Melvin Benn here at Donington Park to talk about the initiatives we have today.

I think the line up Andy has put together is incredible and having a full set from Guns N’ Roses is probably the best night of the year.   I saw them at Olympic Stadium last year, it blew me away,  how good it was I wasn’t expecting it to be as good as it was, I should have set my expectations higher.

The complete line-up though is amazing and incredible. Everything else at Download continues to be terrific for me.  The community that Download is, is the most special festival community that I am engaged with, they care about each other, they care about the festival and they care about the music, and we are trying to respond to this.  My  single focus is the customer.

We’re improving on disability, we’re improving on sustainability,  we’re improving on campsite facilities and you saw the work that was done last year on draining.   We have more of that with the new owner, Jonathan Palmer is very committed to Download as a festival and as a tenant and Download for the long term.

The Download community being quite receptive is there anything you would like to do with one of your other festivals?

All I’m doing at Download I do at other festivals too.   At Download it is received much more warmly, it’s not that everywhere else is resistive it’s more proactively received at Download.   There is a levelling of who you are when you’re at Download Festival and when you are there, you are a Download festival goer and that level of oneness is what is lesser at other festivals.

Its good to see the changes you made last year with the drainage was not put in to practice?

I’m hoping that’s always going to be the case of course,  we are going to put more effort into more drainage when we negotiate the new contract with Jonathan,  the thing that most people may not know is we only ever had a 5 year deal to be here and were in our 16th year. So there are plans to put more into the site additional real toilets etc.

Kam / Sean Download Festival Bookers

We got to speak to the new festival bookers Kam and Sean who appear to be a fantastic addition to Andy.   Both have had an immense involvement in booking acts for this year’s festivals from all the stages and both come with a wealth of booking history in fact our Cellar Darling coverage in Manchester was one of Kam’s show.   Sean was previously working with Academy music group and both bring approx. 10 years history of independent booking experience.

What was your initial response to Andy’s casual approach through Instagram?

I thought it was a joke at first and was overwhelmed, Andy’s response was I’m not going to beat around the bush and of course I was delighted and it was pretty intense and definitely a huge step up.   Now I’m booking events nationally.

One question we always get from the bands themselves is how do they get your attention for being booked for Download?

Sean: The important thing is to always drop an email to Andy or through the band submission (it is like stalking on social media) Of course most bands have agents managers etc. but we do book some bands that haven’t got any and we might get 1000 people that contact us and we always get back to 2 or 3 and we do listen to every single things that comes in, even if we listen to 1 or 2 songs they get a chance.

So looking at the line-up can you pick any the bands that you’ve actually personally booked

Sean: Yea, Alexis on Fire, Marmozets, Dragonforce, You Me At Six, Bury Tomrrow, Mayday Parade me and Kam booked about 35 bands each

Kam: Park Way Drive, Corrosion of Conformity , Meshugga, Kreator, Neck Deep, The Bronx, Cancer Bats, Stray From the Path

Who are you guys most looking forward to seeing?

Sean: Marmozets on the main stage, Alexis on Fire as I’m a huge fan!

Kam: Parkway Drive, it’s great they are headlining the stage here at Download with a huge production, Body Count Kreator and Dead Cross  and Meshuggah.

I’m looking at the stages individually and there are some great bands and some are huge names how do they get so low down such as Tesseract and Von Hertzen Brothers?

Kam: It’s not so much as them being lower down, the Dogtooth stage we are trying to promote and make a much more heavier stage.

Sean: A lot of these bands want, really want, headline slots. Being at Download is a fantastic opportunity for them and there is still merit to playing these slots and the bands still enjoy it.

With Bands trying to get noticed with Download Bookers what are a couple of pieces of advice you would give to the bands?

Kam: We check out the bands that come through Download Take over, yes but we don’t manage this and its cool to check out the bands coming through here.

Sean: It’s difficult for bands and you got to have perseverance and you do need an element of luck but at the end of the day it does come down to good song writing and presenting it in the best way possible.   Its always going to be the best piece of advice and unfortunately that is a very subjective thing, as you might love your own band and no-one else does, it’s quite difficult and the supply and demand of bands its quite weighted towards them.

Kam: and it’s Saturated

Sean: There are always so many artists we check out and of course there is only so many slots so its quite limited

Who do you believe are going to be the future headliners when unfortunately the likes of Ozzy call it a day?

Sean: One of Kam’s bookings Parkway Drive can make it up there, they have a chance in the future

Kam: another band not on the line up this year Bring Me The Horizon

Sean: Royal Blood, it’s slightly different than the headliners of today

Is there any curfew on the Saturday with Guns N’ Roses doing a 3.5 hour set?

The curfew won’t be extended, no it will be 23:00 but we will be starting the set earlier about 19:00 – 19:30

Will there be clashing with Parkway Drive and Guns N’ Roses?

No, we promise, you will be able to run from one to the other

Kam: Winston is a massive Guns N’ Roses fan and the minute we realised they will be clashing, we specifically fit everything to fit but unfortunately  there may be clashing with the other stages

 

Laura Mina – Accessibility

Hello I’m Mina, well Laura Mina but everybody calls me Mina, I work for Festival Republic In the Accessibility team which is to cater for everyone with disabilities.  The spectrum is huge, people ask questions such as I want to come to the festival what’s there? to hey, I want to  come to your festival it’s great what other festivals do you do?

So are you new to the festival? I’ve been here for about 4 years?

Why the focus on disabilities for this year for Download?

It’s awareness and being proud and positive about what we’re doing and expectations, making it part of a community feel. We were nervous about last week and we have this campsite rep meeting in the accessible campsite and we selected a handful of customers to live feed into us and it was like yea, it was really cool.   It was really nice to go on site with disabled customers and attendees and for them to say I had this difficulty this morning etc or the platform was not quite etc? and its nice to show we are doing what we can, where we can.

I guess it’s one of the most important, if not the important role you have, while it may be a smaller number of customers being catered for these are also things that could benefit others and you’re on the front line how did you come about this?

Customer service is huge, it’s a community festival and one of a kind and it’s important to keep the trust there. I’m known by many on a first name basis and you get the smiles and the happiness and this year we’re trying to cater for the deaf too. I started in the customer services team and I have this great passion for helping people and naturally there is a requirement to help people, so I slipped into this role to ensure that everyone can enjoy and experience the festival.

 

Download is set for another great year.  We will have a full Download report following the festival.

 

Photographer/Reviewer: Chris Bowley

 

 

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