Big Day Out promoter KenWest: “We won’t makethe mistakes of the pastagain”
Sun 15th Jul, 2012 in Features
On that note you’ve chosen not to do sideshows with the Chili Peppers?
There will be something in New Zealand for them, but even there it is just a sideshow – there are no [mini-festival] combinations of six bands, which we were talking about doing at some stage. This year is fully focused on Australia – working out what is right for the event. Put it this way [the bands] like coming out to Australia and not working too hard, you know there is four days off between Gold Coast and Adelaide. There is a point with certain acts where the money is up to someone else to work out, the bands don’t want to do fifteen Entertainment Centres anymore, they’ve done that so therefore it’s really more like a holiday that they are getting really well paid on.
And it allows you to put the focus back on the festival?
Well this time we were limited in what we could do anyway. We also did get to the point unfortunately, where everybody will tell you what they need to say to get you to pay more money. ‘Oh, now we are going to do this run because it is shorter and it’s the same amount of money’ and I’m going, ‘But I’m paying for all the accom and don’t you want four days off in the middle of summer – isn’t that good?’ Don’t people like that?
In some cases [in Australia] they have six festivals in four days – how is anyone going to have any fun at that. Let alone occupational health and safety and caring for your crew and your acts. This competition to try and make it so tight, that these bands are in such demand worldwide that they couldn’t possibly be here for an extra four days and have a holiday is wrong. It’s just agent speak to try and get more money, it’s not want the bands really want.
Does this mean there will be fewer sideshows?
What the main principle of the sideshows is, if any [band] really wants one they can have one, but they’ve got to be underplayed. We don’t want to be hard selling anything. Not that we are lazy, but we are trying to create some heat [for the festival].Part of the problem is that [bands] are doing big crowd shows at sideshows and they should be doing something more intimate instead to make those shows much more special. We have plans afoot down the track to try and get [bands] to perform other projects as their sideshows, because a lot of the acts have different projects.
Has that helped you cut costs – as earlier this year you spoke a lot about costs getting too high due to bidding wars between promoters?
Absolutely, absolutely. Also, without giving any trade secrets away, once we got the Chili Peppers in position it was a bit easier to negotiate the others because they all sort of start talking about their worth, and we go ‘Well we’ve kind of got that covered’ and now we are just really wanting you to be on the show. You know it started with bait and hook, trying to put acts together that would compliment each other, but also be in competition with each other. Acts that respected each other. The great thing about this lineup, and the ideal thing about the Peppers, is that there are hardly any bands that don’t want to play on the same show as the Peppers.
“There were certain bands we couldn’t get, like Refused”
Which bands were you unable to secure?
There were certain bands we couldn’t get. Like Refused; we just had to contact the band direct because we didn’t know what was going on. And they said the guitarist is producing an opera in Sweden, so they said he might have some work clashes but then we thought, ‘Well you don’t get time off for that, he is working for himself”. So that idea timed out and I think they are coming in three months, it’s still in the bidding process. Probably AJ [Maddah, Soundwave promoter] will get that, he ends up getting all that stuff. He always over offers and hopes that someone will work it out for him at the end of the day…but that’s another story.
At one stage we were looking at The Strokes earlier on but Julian Casablancas wasn’t able to commit because [he] was just going into the studio and didn’t want to commit until they were out of the studio, and nobody knows when that would be. So we had to unfortunately move on from that and that timed out perfectly because we were also talking to The Killers at the same time – and that rolled well. But really there wasn’t that much we missed out on; there were a few acts that we pulled out the bidding for because people were offering stupid money which is always going to be the case when you are competing against dance events as well.
You would have been competing with dance festivals for acts like The Killers or Bloody Beetroots…
[The Killers] single just got played today, they are nice people. They are doing ridiculous interviews where they are saying ‘This album’s is a reaction to the last album, which is a reaction to the first album’ and I love this double negative approach. I think they are a good stadium act and a really good act to take a bit of the status off the Peppers.
A few months ago Charles [from C3] had The Killers new album played to him over the phone. You know, like the old days. You used to say ‘Just play me something over the phone’ and it was great. And it’s been a pleasure to find people – such big acts – that still have that structure in place. The process has really changed and that’s fantastic. I just got off [the phone] from the Beetroots [and] we’re going to stream live their world premiere, because I’ve put together the world premiere of the Beetroots new show in Sydney.