The New England Metal and Hardcore Festival is entering its fifteenth year as one of the most successful and longest running shows in the United States. Taking place every year at the Worcester Palladium, which is the metal capital of New England, the show brings in diverse acts from across the heavy metal spectrum and fans from all over. This years’ show runs from April 18th – 21st. At the center of the chaos of the weekend is the relatively chill promoter extraordinaire, Scott Lee. As an employee of the company Mass Concerts, Lee founded and helps put on the show every year. Ghost Cult caught up with Scott to discuss all things Metal Fest with about one month to go until the curtain goes up on the weekend.
Congrats on the 15th year of the The New England Metal and Hardcore Festival. Why do you think the festival has had this kind of longevity?
Because the fans in New England are awesome and they love metal. And we keep working hard and pushing and pushing to get better every year!
How did you get the idea to do the very first metal fest?
I went to another festival out of state and saw how terrible it was run, and came back and decided to do our own.
Although it is not the same kind of show as the European open air fests, it is still quite a feat to put on a huge weekend long festival in the Northeast. What is it like logistically to run this?
It’s definitely a chore! (laughs) A lot of the tours now are routed to arrive here during metal fest and then back 9accross the country). And there are other big fests, like the Jamboree Fest in Ohio where some of these tours stop as well. So a lot of tours are just set up now around Metal Fest and Mass Concerts is a concert company, first and foremost. So we are always talking to booking agents and touring companies to get an idea about what bands are coming over, what tours are happening, what new records are coming out when we start planning for the next year.
The Metal Fest has even spawned its own little metal touring Eco-system of killer shows and tours now, right?
We have Mission to Metal Fest which is for the hardcore tour. We have The Road to Metal Fest which is the more metal-esque type of tour. We have the Break Thru Music Series which is a cool version of a battle of the bands. People go on in different stages and the winners are voted on by crowd response. It’s not cheesy at all, no one gets ripped off. It’s cool. It’s for younger bands to get the opportunity to play a big show like the metal fest. The winners play the main stage of the festival. We have a lot going and it’s definitely cool!
This year’s fest has a great lineup and a lot of diversity. Have the tastes of fans help dictate the festival lineup?
There are definitely more Metal bands this year than Hardcore bands this year, but it is definitely a good mixture of everything. You’ve got Pagan bands, you’ve got Thrash, Tech Death bands, proper metal bands Power Metal bands, we’ve have all the types of metal bands. Code Orange Kids got added today. Goatwhore just got added and The Dillinger Escape Plan too. We’re gonna announce two more bands: one bigger name and one smaller band. It’s crazy!
Hatebreed is one of the bands that were on the very first Metal fest, when they were really just starting to get noticed. What does it say about them that they are one of the headline bands today?
Oh it’s great! They’re awesome. I’ve been friends with Jamey (Jasta) forever and all those guys for years and years now. The band is incredible. There is nothing wrong with Hatebreed, at all. They are like fucking AC/DC. They don’t go outside the box too much. You can always count on a very brutal record. They are very nice people and they keep it real. And they never put on a bad show. That’s the bottom line.
I met a couple a few years back that came to the show from Australia to see Hatebreed, Biohazard and Bonded By Blood. Any other stories of people coming in from far away?
Some dude came from Iraq! He came in for this festival and some other festivals and I said ‘Goddamn that’s cool, you came from Iraq!’ We do get a lot of people from Australia, New Zealand, Japan, China, people come from all over the place. Tasmania! A lot of people come from much further away than you might think. Not as many people from Europe or the UK, but you know they have the big open air festivals and they must be like ‘we could do this twenty times bigger than we can do. Their festivals are huge. What are you trying to do kid? (laughs) Lots of people from Mexico, I know about 20 people coming this year from Puerto Rico. It’s amazing!
Thanks for doing so much for the scene locally and nationally, if you think about.
Alright brother, I’ll see you soon!