When you’re done with big festivals like Wacken Open Air and Graspop and you’re on the look out for a more affordable alternative, then the annual Into The Grave festival may suit your needs. Ghost Cult caught up with Into The Grave mainman Paul van Berlo to see what makes his festival such a special event.
Hi Paul, can you introduce yourself and tell something about Into The Grave Festival for who aren’t familiar with the festival?
Hi! I’m Paul, and I am the organizer of the Into The Grave Festival, which is a one-day, one-stage festival with 8 metal bands for only 6,66, that is for the early birds until february 1st. Tickets in presale are now 10 euro, which also is very cheap for 8 bands (only 1,25 per band!)
Can you share some insights on the origins of the festival? How did it all began?
Back in 2010 when the Waldrockfestival folded triggered me to start a metal festival in the centre of our city. When I was 16, 17 i visited the early editions of Dynamo Open Air in Eindhoven and this shaped my idea of how the festival should be.
Despite relatively small (financial) resources you still manage to attract some big names like Paradise Lost and Satyricon. What’s your secret?
There’s no secret. You just need a lot of volunteers and a lot of enthousiastic metalheads and then anything is possible! We have a nice story to tell to the bands that we like to come play here, and most of the times they like that and really want to play at Into The Grave. As long as everybody keeps drinking beer, we can afford those bands.
What makes Into The Grave stand out compared to other metal festivals?
Nowadays, most festivals are more than one day and have more stages. Into The Grave is just one day and after a band had finished playing you don’t have to rush to another stage to see the next band, but you can get a beer, get some food, look at merchandise and talk to your friends. I think that give Into The Grave a more relaxed feel than most festivals. And of course we have view on the leaning tower of Leeuwarden which is also quite unique. Oh yeah….and it is located on an ancient graveyard, with actual tombstones in the square on which the audience is standing. I guess other festivals don’t have that 🙂
Organising a festival like Into The Grave takes a lot of time and effort. Can you take us through the motions of organising such an event?
Yes it does take a lot of time! Almost immediately after the festival we start with next year’s festival. With so many festivals around bands have to be booked far ahead, especially if you want a bit of exclusivity. And filing for a permit also has to be done a year ahead. And when the line up is complete you have to make sure that everybody knows that these awesome bands are playing on this great festival for only 6,66 euro’s! And during the festival i hope to manage to see every band for 10 minutes, but i haven’t managed that yet.
There’s also a tradition that the openings act is always a local band from Frysia. What’s the reason behind this?
Frysia is a metalminded province with a lot of good metalbands. Bigger festivals like Into The Grave but also Dokk’em Open Air are a good change for these bands to present them to a bigger audience. And for most bands it’s pretty cool to share the stage and the backstage with big names like Bolt Thrower, Enslaved, Satyricon or Paradise Lost. I think that should always be a part of the festival.
To which extent do you cooperate with other festivals?
With our collegues of Dokk’em Open Air we organize The Highway to Hell, a bandcontest of which the winner gets to play on both festivals. And we keep each other appraised of the bands we like to play, so there’s no competition about which band plays where.
Do you see Into The Grave as the perfect alternative for the bigger and more expensive festivals?
It can be an alternative for those who have little money to spend. Because I know these 3 or 4-day festivals can be very expensive. But Into The Grave can also be a nice addition to the bigger festivals. We see it as a nice party, and a change to have a great day out with your friends.
There seems to be a trend that festivals are becoming more of a carnival in the sense that’s all about the experience and less about bands and music in general. What’s your take on this?
I think Into The Grave is pretty old-fashioned in that. There’s no carnival at our festival. Amongst other things because we don’t have the money for that, but also because we think there is no need for it. We focus on putting 8 quality bands on stage and making sure that everybody has a great day.
Finally, do you have any last words for the Ghost Cult crowd?
Obviously we hope to see you all on august 10th in Leeuwarden! And we can always use some more volunteers to help on the festival: building up, behind the bar, cleaning up. If you are interested just send us a mail, you can find al info about that and the rest of the festival on our website.