Once again it is time for the New England Metal and Hardcore Festival. The sixteenth edition of the fest looks to be a great group of the finest death metal, black metal, hardcore, grindcore, crust punk, thrash (although less of it this year), metalcore, tech death, prog and power metal like few weekend long events in America can match. Held at the Worcester Palladium on two stages, it’s always a fun time and a great place to discover new bands and meet your heroes. Among the headline acts this year are Behemoth, Iced Earth, Nile, All That Remains, Goatwhore, Nails, Whitechapel, Bleeding Through, Darkest Hour, Broken Hope, Carnifex, Unearth, 1349, Inquisition, Sam Black Church, and many more. We caught up with the festival co-founder Scott Lee to discuss the 2014 incarnation of the fest.
We jumped into our conversation touching on the history of the fest and some of the surprising names on the bill:
“Sweet Sixteen! I think it’s pretty cool. I’m really excited about it! Thursday is going to be a regular door, so it’s going to feel like a regular show, just earlier doors. Doors are at five, so we just want to ease people into the madness! I’m really proud of this lineup with All That Remains, Emmure, the last east coast appearance of Bleeding Through, Gideon, Kublai Khan, and Oceano. Darkest Hour was just added. Broken Hope and Wilson were just added. It’s a bunch of cool bands. It’s kind of like you go out to drink: you have little base, and some snacks, and then you start chugging!”
“I just try to put on the best festival I can. I try to make the fans happy. I try to make everybody happy, but you can’t please everybody. The haters are gonna hate, but probably about 50% of the haters are still going to come. It’s going to be great.”
Scott took out the time to single out how proud he is to have Behemoth on this year’s lineup, as part of the inclusion of the Metal Alliance tour:
“Behemoth is one of the best bands in extreme heavy music today. They are on a huge comeback. He (Adam “Nergal” Darski) beat leukemia and that is hard as shit! Back in the early days of the earth they would build monuments to to a guy like that and I think somebody should today. That band is incredible, and they are great people too. They tried to take him out and he said “Fuck no! I gonna keep making music.” That band is sick! I think people are just jealous of him because he is trying to make something of himself. Back the guy, you know what I mean? Just because his lyrics or beliefs are of some nature, people are still human. He’s not hurting anyone. He is not committing murder, he’s not committing hate crimes. He’s making a name for himself and he’s repping Poland hard man, so back the motherfucker!”
All though a lot of spring tours in the US now plan their routing around Metalfest weekend, Scott makes sure to stay true to his roots and book the second stage, dominated by hardcore bands, first.
“I book that first. The second stage gets booked first and everything else comes into play afterwards. I look at other festivals like This Is Hardcore and other hardcore festivals and see what’s going on, and who is doing what. And by the way, did you see that This is Hardcore lineup? Oh my god! That is sick! I saw that and I hit up Joe Hardcore and sent a screen shot of the lineup and wrote “I quit!” (laughs) That is the best lineup I’ve ever seen in my life and I’ve been doing this for 22 years. But for our second stage we take the best of the best for hardcore, grindcore, that type of style. Nails, All Out War, Twitching Tongues, Ramallah, Reign Supreme, and you put them all on one show it’s gonna be sick! It’s gonna be a party.”
Having been long time supporters and attendees of the fest, we have seen the sponsors and partners list grow over time.
“Tama and Ibanez are our big sponsors. Tama is actually going to give away the back-line drum-set to a lucky fan that buys a ticket. You buy a ticket for the fest, your name goes into a raffle to win the drum-set that has been played by all of these bands. It’s like a $5000 drum-set You could go home with this on Saturday! All from Tama.”
Since Scott, and the company he works for, Mass Concerts books major acts, we asked his opinion of the recent Mayhem Festival lineup announcement.
“Mayhem fest is a different animal than we are. It’s a larger animal than we are. We are like a pitbull and they are like a fucking lion. That’s different. That’s the best analogy I can come up with. Looking at everything, their lineup has to put butts in the seats. That lineup has to get people out of the parking lot. Do I think that lineup sucks? No I don’t. I’m gonna to attend. You are not going to make everybody happy. Do I think it’s the strongest lineup ever? It’s a good lineup. I think it’s pretty cool personally. More people want to see death metal, and some people want to see Asking Alexandria, and some people want to see Killswitch Engage. You are not going to make everybody happy. But they are going to get thousands and thousands of people to go.”
The Fest also puts on a showcase at the annual South By Southwest (SXSW) music festival in Austin, TX as a way to bring up and coming bands to a great audience. The event this year was headlined by Veil of Maya and Comeback Kid. Scott gave us an account of the festival, including the harrowing car accident that happened: “I was literally four blocks away from that accident. And I was like “Fuck!” I have to say the Austin Police handled that awesomely, and the people of Austin, what I saw of them, were awesome. It was tragic and sad, but it doesn’t reflect on the festival. I hope it doesn’t leave a bad mark on the festival. I mean I live in Holyoke Massachusetts, and people do stupid shit here all the time. It’s just some fucking asshole who wants to be a rapper, go got in his car and killed people and hurt people. I hope it doesn’t put a black cloud over this. But the police did a great job. And the whole festival kept going strong. There were some memorial services and everything. As far as our showcase, it was there,m it was sold out and it was awesome. Dude, you know something? Where are you going to go where Lady Gaga gets pukes on someone, or gets puked on by someone? It was like a 12 foot burrito machine! It was great! awesome. House shows happen! I love house shows, they are great! I recommend everybody going to it.”
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Keith (Keefy) Chahckes