hmv previews… Slam Dunk Festival
Throughout the year, we're going to be bringing you a comprehensive preview of the summer's best festivals. We start this week with Slam Dunk Festival…
Leeds, Hatfield and Wolverhampton.
Leeds University on Saturday May 24, Hatfield (The Forum, Hertfordshire) on Sunday May 25 and Wolverhampton Civic Hall on Monday May 26.
How did last year go?
Superbly, it was an absolute sell-out, with All Time Low headlining and Sleeping With Sirens, Deaf Havana, The Wonder Years and Tonight Alive playing stellar sets.
Who's playing this year?
All-American Rejects are headlining. The line-up so far is as follows:
The Ghost Inside
The Devil Wears Prada
I Killed The Prom Queen
Crown The Empire
I Am The Avalanche
All-American Rejects. It's their first UK show in almost two years when they came over to support Blink-182.
Around £35, it varies a little, depending on which site you go to…
hmv talks to Ben Ray, founder and promoter of Slam Dunk…
How's everything looking for 2014's Slam Dunk Ben?
"I'm a bit stressed to be honest, but we're getting there and really happy with the bill. I know it feels to everyone like we're announcing later than last year, but we normally announce around this time and it was only last year that we were able to announce All Time Low before Christmas. There's so much to get right before any announcement, but we're almost there."
You've got All-American Rejects topping the bill, why did you decide on them?
"They're a great band for this festival, they've got a younger fans, but they've been around a while and they're one of the original, breakthrough pop-punk bands. They've sold over 10 million records and had some big hit singles. They're a perfect Slam Dunk headliner."
One criticism of them might be that though they've been very successful they've not been in the UK much recently and their hits were all a little while ago…
"For me that's a good thing. Some bands come over and tour a lot, this booking has exclusivity, which I always look at."
When you go after headliners, are you looking for an exclusive? A band to do Slam Dunk and nothing else?
"With the amount of festivals in the UK, competition is brutal. I think it all comes down to line-up now, most kids will only go to one festival and so every promoter is chasing exclusivity to give their line-up the edge. If artists can get promoters fighting over them for their one UK festival slot, it works to their advantage. It's not the kind of thing the fans see though, they just judge you on the line-up you put together."
"We always try to keep ticket prices down to an absolute minimum, that's a big part of why Slam Dunk is a success, we've sold out pretty much every year since 2008, value for money is so important to us."
When it comes to booking bands, how contained do you try and keep it in terms of genre? Are there any certain types of bands you book?
"We're a niche festival. We try and keep it contained to certain genres, obviously things evolve over time, but we're not a straight-up rock festival. It's pop punk, it's emo, it's ska-punk, they're our main genres. We have a metal element, which has grown a lot, but we don't book straight-up rock bands or straight-up metal bands. We know our market, we know what the fans want, it evolves, but we've got an ethos that we keep to."
Last year as well as the events in Leeds, Hatfield and Wolverhampton you ran events in Glasgow, Cardiff and Dublin, will that be happening again this year?
"I cannot confirm that. I can only confirm the three main ones. We're currently working on other events, but I don't know how many we're going to do at this stage and where they'll be."
Let's talk about the rest of the line-up, you've got the likes of Letlive, The Devil Wears Prada, Neck Deep, have you tried to make sure there's something for everybody?
"Absolutely. It's important to me that there's a strong pop-punk element, but it's a real mix of genres, everyone's covered in there. No-one goes to a festival for one band, you need to have a number of bands to hook people in. We try and organise our stages like that too. Lots of festivals will want people who like a certain genre to move around, we try and make it so if you like one particular type of band, then you can pick a stage and kind of stay there."
How would you describe the vibe of Slam Dunk?
"It's one big party basically. There's no camping, no hassle, relaxed atmosphere. Plenty of people have told me that they go every year, regardless of the line-up, which is great for me."
Do you ever think about taking the festivals into bigger venues? Maybe arenas?
"The problem if we went to an arena is that it's one big space, you could have one, maybe two stages. We have seven stages, which is pretty unique for a small festival, so we'd have to sacrifice a lot. We're able to keep costs down by mainly using existing venues, if we took Slam Dunk outdoors the costs would increase hugely."
Finally, of all the headliners you could book, who would be your dream booking?
"It's hard to say. It's a pop-punk festival, so someone like Blink-182, they'd be a dream headliner. But, Slam Dunk isn't about one big headliner, I don't like the idea of having one big band and a massive gap, it's about the whole bill."
Tickets for Slam Dunk Festival go onsale on Friday at 9am.