With the hotly anticipated Maritime Metal Fest only two days away, founder and organizer Reverend D. Evil took some time out of his busy schedule to sit down and chat with the site. Known for a promise that keeps its roots firmly grounded within the Celtic culture, D. Evil has gone against the grain and has successfully built a market for a metal festival here in Nova Scotia.
JM – Do you remember the circumstances under which you thought that a metal festival would actually be able to fly, here in Nova Scotia?
RDE – I don’t know if I ever thought it would fly, but I remember the reason why I wanted to do this festival was because I was sick of seeing four and five bands on one show at local pubs. You would see them struggling to get the support and I felt that if these bands lived in other areas of the world they would have lots of opportunity to play in large shows and festivals. I wanted to create something for the bands which allowed them to play in a large festival while providing exposure outside of their region through online publication and print media. I also wanted to give people, like myself, the concert that I wish somebody had put on when I was kid. Maybe I wouldn’t have made some of the mistakes that I did, as a teenager, if there were more outlets like this.
JM – Now in its 3rd year you would hope that the process of putting together a two day festival such as this would become easier, however this year you had to deal with moving the show to a totally new location. How did that alter this year’s incarnation?
RDE – It increased costs significantly on the festival side but in doing so it also opened the doors in terms of availability of amenities. Hotels are now across the street, as opposed to twenty five minutes down the road and a gas station right across the street instead of twenty minutes down the hill. It opened a lot more opportunity for people to be comfortable if they weren’t into camping. However, on the other side of that, I did work hard to find a spot that would still offer camping, helping to maintain that festival atmosphere where you would enjoy the music and enjoy the togetherness of everyone being there for the same reasons.
JM – Obviously this is not something that can be put together overnight. At what point do you actually begin contacting bands and vendors to partake in the next year’s festival?
RDE – This year I decided to move the festival up into the summer months to help alleviate the stress that came with having a festival in September. That time of year, you have to deal with storms, the fact that it’s the end of the camping season and that could push people away from this festival. You also have to deal with the fact that people are heading back to school during that time of year. You would think that it’s easier to connect with people because of this but you have to deal with the fact that a lot of these students have spent their disposable cash on other events which took place over the course of the summer. That decision was fairly soon after the festival ended last year. I would say that I’ll begin work on next year’s festival, in terms of locking down sponsors and doing some followups on this year’s event, the Monday after the festival ends. From there I try to dedicate at least 20 hours per week to each festival throughout the winter months, and as spring rolls into summer, those hours disappear and I’m completely full out. I’ve had time to have one meal with my mother and other than that I sleep when I can, simply due to the fact that I am constantly attending to tasks. Things like permits, insurance and ticket brokers can eat up a lot of time and then I need to make sure that the bands, which are booked, are committed and still together. But it’s got to be something that you love doing. Just like being in a band, if you hate doing it then it’s never going to be fun. There’s no point in going through the motions to fill a slight void in your life. It’s never going to feel like you’ve accomplished something whether you succeed at it or not. People think that I make a lot of money doing this but the truth is I really don’t make any money at all. All of the money that I make at a paying job goes into these festivals and when you lose money year after year it can be tough to keep going but I do love these festivals.
JM – Once the bands start to play are you able to sit back and enjoy the creation you’ve put together or does the job only end once the last chord is struck?
RDE – The absolute maximum is one song per band. If there are 30 bands playing this weekend, I might be able to make that happen by sneaking up behind the soundboard and listening for a couple of minutes. This year we have The Pack AD, who happen to be one of my favourite bands and John Dunsworth who is one of my favourite actors on the globe, so its really hard for me not to have fun and be part of the party. The ultimate goal, for me, is to stop losing money and to be able to sit and watch at least two to three songs per act, however if I can get the festival to the point where it’s paying for itself and I can really enjoy a song or two per artist, that would be payment enough for me. It might not put the groceries in the cupboard but it would be some sort of spiritual payment.
JM – Although not as large as other genres, the metal community as a whole on the East Coast seems to be a very supportive group. What does it mean to you, to know that you have their full support, and how do you plan on continuing to grow this festival?
RDE – I’d have to actually correct you on this one a little bit. Even within that metal/hard rock community, getting support from fellow promoters, event organizers, other bands that feel slighted because they didn’t make the cut one year can be near to impossible. Unfortunately some of the key people within the metal and hard rock scene here in Nova Scotia, you get those who want a piece of the pie but don’t want to help bake it. It really is a shame that these key people are not behind this festival in any way at all. But those that do come together for the festival and let themselves be part of this community are the ones who really shine through as the loving, caring and supporting ones. Much along the lines of the Evolve crowd, these people want to come together to enjoy one another over a common theme. Hopefully with time, people will look at this festival and realize that we don’t have anything like it at this moment. With a little luck those in the scene who are are not supporting the festival, will be able to put whatever petty thoughts they have aside and realize that this is about the music and musicians. It’s not about me, or them, or the money that can be made. The people who want to join me on the front lines and help out in anyway they can are more than welcome.
JM – I see that this year’s headliner is none other than Vancouver grunge/rock duo The Pack AD. How do you expect this will influence other artists decisions about signing on for future festivals?
RDE – What’s funny is that five years ago I might have considered this group for my annual blues festival but they’ve really transitioned into a straight up hard rock band. Somewhere around 2006-2007 I had spoken with this band and told them that if I were to ever get a festival going on the East Coast, that I’d let them play. I don’t expect that the people who might head down to the Seahorse to see a band like The Pack AD would open their minds enough to head to a metal festival to catch them. However I do expect that those who are unaware of The Pack AD and find themselves at this festival are going to be completely blown away. It’s hard to say how they will impact other artists’ decisions to come to this festival. As for opening the door for larger acts, my main focus is to try and keep it at a grassroots level. Bands like Broken Ohms, Hero’s Last Rite, Black Moor and Diablo Strange are as good as some of the metal bands that have made it in other parts of the world, but they don’t get the support in this area. If this festival can create one full weekend where people can come together and enjoy the hard rock/metal music being played while also not having to worry about getting home, then I’m going to be happy.
JM – I’ve heard that you hold a small battle of the bands for local acts, with the idea that one of those lucky performers get a chance to play the following year. How important is it to you, that the local scene is represented on stage?
RDE – Well the battle of the bands is actually called the Loud Times In The Maritimes Band Battle. It’s designed to help show those bands, who have yet to get their act together, that there is more out there; that they don’t have to just stop at the high school level and never progress; that young acts, if willing, are able to take it to the next level. If this event becomes one tenth of the Amnesia Rockfest, those young local bands are going to strive to push themselves.
JM – Before we take off I have to ask, if you were stuck on a deserted island and only had 5 albums with you, what would they be?
Red Hot Chilli Peppers – Blood Sugar Sex Magic, Black Sabbath – Black Sabbath, The Doors – The Doors, Metallica – The Black Album, and Pink Floyd – Dark Side Of The Moon. It’s a great question and I’ve had thoughts along the lines of this exact one. Between friends and people I bump into this question tends to pop up from time to time. Actually you have to give me seven. AC/DC – Back In Black and Guns N Roses – Appetite For Destruction have to also be there. I would drown myself on the shore of the island if I couldn’t take all of those.
Maritime Metal Fest is taking place on July 17th and 18th on the Hants County Exhibition Grounds in Windsor, N.S. Daily passes and weekend passes are still available and can be found here. You can also follow all of the festival updates over on the Maritime Metal Fest website here, or on their Facebook page.