John Reese Talks His Role Within Knotfest

John Reese of Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival co-coordinator

John Reese of Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival co-coordinator

Knotfest has concluded its second Southern California edition this past October (and third year overall) with successful results, giving the heavy music scene an outlet for rising bands to be heard on a larger scale. Plus with one of the genre’s biggest acts to have an event of this size designed around them and hand selecting many of the acts on there, it opens up new opportunities for others.

For hardcore Slipknot fans, having their own festival event became a given for them to put on such an event. Veteran prodocer and event coordinator of the festival, John Reese, plays a huge role is making sure the show goes on smoothly.

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He gave his thoughts on what makes them such a likely candidate to hold such an event and becoming successful at throwing a two day event with multiple stages of heavy rock and metal bands, a museum of band related items and even a roller coaster.

Because I think Slipknot’s so visual. They’re so visual in what they do and it has that crazy side show kind of element that made itself defensible more than most other acts. So they wear masks, it’s dark and it’s visual and their videos are very intense. From the standpoint of creating this giant apocalyptic carnival, which is what I like to refer it to, there’s really no better band on the planet to create something around.

Photo Credit: Evil Robb Photography

Photo Credit: Evil Robb Photography

Working alongside the band, Reese played a key role in making the event runs smoothly. Best known for also producing the summer annual Rockstar Mayhem Festival, his experience producing events such as these helped put together such an event.

It’s not that different. The differences are the substantial amount of curation and involvement with Slipknot. They’re involved in every single decision and I would want it that way because it represents their brand.

They’re involved with the curation of the talent. They’re involved in everything that basically puts this thing on. I run all of the attractions by them. I do the leg work. They’re intimately involved in the curation of the event with Cory Brennan, the manager and the band,” he said, explaining his role alongside the Slipknot band members.

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Being involved in the production of Knotfest, Reese himself admitted he did get some say on the selection process of the talent. “Of course – I work on it and send them a submission list. If I feel there’s somebody worth fighting for, I’ll fight for that act. So I’m intimately involved in everything, trying to make sure we pull off the right show all the way down the line.

2015 was the third edition of the Knotfest (and second in Southern California), he explained how they made changes and fine tuning things to ensure it to run better and giving attendees a better experience.

We basically really wanted to deliver a similar kind of thing to what we did last year because we felt that it worked. We lost a couple of attractions. We lost the zipline and two lane Monster Trucks. We’ve done a lot of different things to make sure that the fans wanted to see and do we did. We felt last year the show was an hour and a half. The show was too long so we reduced the show by one hour.

We added acts to the extreme stage. That was an important part. We added a couple of more stages up in the top of the lawn at the Thunderdome with the fire. We added two more stages up there. We tried to adapt and engage and do stuff that we felt like created a good slow loop in the festival and gave people a lot of different things to see.

knotfest megaloop

When it came to selecting the talent, they took on the challenge of finding acts they felt would best round out such an event, while balancing availabilities and not repeating names from the previous year.

We have to try to find which artists are available. We didn’t repeat a single act from the year before. Everybody that played this year was entirely new with the exception of Slipknot. That was important and we threw in the hip hop element in there with Mobb Deep and Ghostface Killah. In my business that’s always finding out when bands are available, how much they want to get paid and all of those things necessary to be able to book one of these things.

Mobb Deep, by Melina D Photography

Mobb Deep, by Melina D Photography

Reese shared who he was personally excited to see during the Knotfest weekend. Being that he was involved in the selection process in booking talent, he himself talked about who he was excited to see performing on his event.

I loved seeing Judas Priest. There’s this new band Khaotika that I wanted to see….Belphagor…there’s probably 15 or 20 that I wanted to see. I’ve seen most of them through playing on the Mayhem Festival or other stuff that I do.

 

 

 Judas Priest, by Melina D Photography

Judas Priest, by Melina D Photography

Photo Credit: Hillarie Jason

Photo Credit: Hillarie Jason

I hadn’t seen Judas Priest since the early 80s so I was really stoked to see them. I always love seeing Korn. I loved the hip hop collaboration between Mobb Deep and Ghostface Killah. I loved that. It was great seeing Clutch. I hadn’t seen them in forever. Suicidal Tendencies – I’ve never had them on any of my festivals so it was great to see them. Love Cannibal Corpse. I could keep talking but…

Korn, by Melina D Photography

Korn, by Melina D Photography

Clutch. Photo Credit: Evil Robb Photography

Clutch. Photo Credit: Evil Robb Photography

Cannbal Corpse, by Melina D Photography

Cannbal Corpse, by Melina D Photography

Overall, he was happy with the results with Knotfest and the hard work put in by the members of Slipknot. “I’m just so proud of Slipknot. I actually went and signed them with Ross Robinson back in 1998 and watched them become arguably one of the biggest heavy bands in the world. They stick to their guns and they never compromised. They took a big risk and a big shot with putting Knotfest out there and I think what they’re doing for heavy music should be commended.

As for a 2016 edition, Reese would not give a definite answer at this time, but was positive about its future.

Well we’d love it to be an annual thing so we’ll see. We’re going to have a debrief and we’ll sit down and decide what we’re going to do next year if anything. Obviously I hope it comes back. The plan is for it to be an annual event in San Bernadino. That’s the plan but stranger things have happened. So that’s our plan and we’ll see what happens.

As for Rockstar Mayhem Festival or any other hard music related festival tour in the near future, he did not have anything definite at the time and said “I’m working on some stuff. Who knows? Once again, never say never. I don’t know yet. Nothing’s in stone yet. We’re still working on some things. We’ll see what happens.

By Rei Nishimoto

Knotfest 2015: Live At San Manuel Amphitheatre in Devore, CA.

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Slipknot brought back heavy music into their brand of a festival called Knotfest once again to Southern California as they packed two days (plus a VIP only Friday evening event for campers) full of headbanging and mayhem at San Manuel Amphitheatre in Devore, CA.

The VIP pre-party show consisted of brief sets by Khaotika, Motorbreath, Rings of Saturn and The Faceless, while Sepultura became the main focus of that evening, performing many longtime favorites from their 30th anniversary tour, such as ‘Refuse/Resist’, ‘Arise’ and ‘Propaganda,’ while working on a few of the newer songs such as ‘Choke.’

 Corrosion of Conformity, by Melina D Photography

Corrosion of Conformity, by Melina D Photography

Saturday’s main stage led the charge with the return of Pepper Keenan with Corrosion of Conformity, working in favorites such as ‘Clean My Wounds’ and ‘Albatross’; then Trivium and Mastodon both brought out powerful sets of powerful guitar driven hard rock leading into Korn’s semi-setlist of their début self titled album (ie they played only half of the album but they still brought their usual powerful live show) while working in other favorites like ‘Freak on a Leash’ and ‘Falling Away From Me.’

Korn, by Melina D Photography

Korn, by Melina D Photography

 

Mastodon, by Melina D Photography

Mastodon, by Melina D Photography

 Corrosion of Conformity, by Melina D Photography

Judas Priest, by Melina D Photography

Headliners Judas Priest came out strong with a cross-section of newer songs such as ‘Dragonaut’ and ‘Valhalla’ while working in longtime favorites such as ‘Breaking The Law’ and ‘Hell Bent For Leather,’ as well as ‘Turbo Lover’. Following a strong showing on their previous tour, they did not disappoint and showed that after all of these years they can still deliver classic metal the right way.

Unlike the 2014 edition, Slipknot only played one day instead of both days, and they brought back the mini roller coasters and the Slipknot museum for attendees to enjoy. Another addition to this year’s edition was the Extreme Stage with such bands as Kataklysm, Abysmal Dawn, Belphagor and Inquisition living up to their musical brand and the headbangers representing as well.

 Reaktion, by Melina D Photography

The ReAktion, by Melina D Photography

The only band who did not quite fit the stage was Chilean-Canadian alternative-metallers The ReAktion, where their synth-driven riff metal was something fans grew accustomed to but was greatly out of place on that stage. The early set time worked in their favor on Sunday, with fans enjoying sightings of Slipknot DJ Sid Wilson around their set. Despite that, their eclectic sound was refreshing and somewhat interesting to see how they evolve from here.

Slipknot vocalist Corey Taylor made a brief appearance with fellow Iowans Green Death during their brief set later on Sunday. Fans got acquainted quickly with the band despite their lack of recognition prior to the show.

Stages 2 and 3 were placed on the revolving stage where bands could get going much easier. Saturday’s set began with Battlecross, Red Fang and Goatwhore getting early set calls, but the packed crowd showed up to rock out with each band. Even the well publicized Josh Barnett joined in the pit action early on.

Trivium, by Melina D Photography

Trivium, by Melina D Photography

 

At The Gates, by Melina D Photography

At The Gates, by Melina D Photography

Veteran metallic hardcore outfit Earth Crisis brought back memories of their appearance of Ozzfest 1996 at this venue. Other highlights included At The Gates’ aggression driven set, while Body Count plowed through their set of classics (despite minor technical difficulties with Ice T killing time with his attempt at telling jokes on stage). GWAR capped out the stage with their usual antics and over the top stage show, moving forward post Oderus Urungus (a.k.a. Dave Brockie).

Mobb Deep, by Melina D Photography

Mobb Deep, by Melina D Photography

Sunday’s main stage opened with Ghostface Killa and Mobb Deep’s brief old school hip hop set that attracted curious onlookers, while Clutch came in with their usual power riff rock set that their stripped down stage show appeared a bit bare for such a large sized stage.

Clutch, by Melina D Photography

Clutch, by Melina D Photography

 

Bring Me The Horizon, by Melina D Photography

Bring Me The Horizon, by Melina D Photography

Bring Me The Horizon’s updated stage show and sound definitely caught the attention of the crowd with their LED powered backdrops with the letters to SPIRIT aligning with each word of their opening song ‘Happy Song.’ Frontman Oli Sykes had the crowd moving along with his commands, and kept the show entertaining. Plus their newer synth oriented melodic rock sound on songs like ‘Throne,’ and ‘Can You Feel My Heart’ made their live show much more anthemic driven tunes for the crowd to sing along to. Even with the older heavier songs like ‘Chelsea Smile,’ Bring Me The Horizon showed that they have a full arsenal within their bag of tricks and is no surprise why they have the attention of the hard music world.

Slipknot, by Melina D Photography

Slipknot, by Melina D Photography

 

Slipknot, by Melina D Photography

Slipknot, by Melina D Photography

When Slipknot took the stage, they unveiled their new stage setup that resembled the carnival from hell, and they took charge from the opening minute. Opening with ‘Sarcastrophe’ and leading into ‘The Heretic Anthem’, Slipknot was on a mission to show why they are one of the biggest hard acts on the planet and can command their own festival. They even worked in ‘Me Inside’ (which they have never played live before apparently) and ‘Eeyore,’ giving the crowd more to get manic over.

The second and third stages on Sunday featured hard rockers Devour the Day and Kyng giving the crowd energetic melodic rock to nibble on, while semi-hometown favorites Snot got the crowd rocking with selections from their Get Some album while paying tribute to their late singer Lynn Strait.

Cannbal Corpse, by Melina D Photography

Cannbal Corpse, by Melina D Photography

Helmet, All That Remains and Beartooth all plowed through power sets of rock and metal that got the crowds working up a sweat, while led into the massive stampede of fans eagerly awaiting Cannibal Corpse and Suicidal Tendencies to perform. Cannibal Corpse simply owned Knotfest’s second stage and possibly had the largest crowd of headbangers and mosh pit participants of any act, which bled into Suicidal’s already veteran LA punk rock fan base. Overall, the insanity that came with those acts simply made the observing that much more enjoyable.

Overall, Knotfest 2015 brought together a strong collection of acts within the heavy music world once again and gave fans something to be excited about. After two consecutive years, hopefully Knotfest will continue to be an annual event (or something close to it).

 

PHOTO SET DAY 1:

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PHOTO SET DAY 2:

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WORDS BY REI NISHIMOTO 

PHOTOS BY MELINA D PHOTOGRAPHY

Festival Preview: Knotfest

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Slipknot’s Knotfest is taking over, and if you have doubts about this I feel sorry for you. Growing to new locations and opportunities, Slipknot continues to grow their brand and the legend of these concert events. Taking place this weekend at the San Manuel Amphitheater and Festival Grounds in an Bernadino California, kicks off tonight with a private pre-party for campers ad VIP’s with performances from Sepultura and The Faceless among others. In addition to camping and vendors, this year’s Knotfest has crazy attractions like the Knotfest Museum, Street Drum Corps Blood Drums Experience, Thunderdome – Fire Area, Ring of Fire Carnival Ride, Flaming Carnival games and more.

Slipknot, by Evil Robb Photography

Slipknot, by Evil Robb Photography

Music is the thing that makes Knotfest come alive and Saturday is headlined by the mighty Judas Priest prepared to put on their legendary stage show. Followed up by Korn, who is in the midst of their debut album, 20th anniversary. Next on the main stage is Mastodon, followed by Trivium, COC with Pepper Keenan and a surprise special guest TBD.

Dr. Michael Bishop as Blothar of GWAR, photo by Meg Loyal Photography

Dr. Michael Bishop as Blothar of GWAR, photo by Meg Loyal Photography

The #2 and #3 stages for Saturday boast the likes of GWAR, Earth Crisis, Body Count, Goatwhore, At The Gates, Red Fang, Born of Osiris and Battlecross. Meanwhile the extreme stage has Kataklysm, Inquisition, Her Name In Blood, Belphegor, Abysmal Dawn, and Khaotika. Plus there is a Headbang for the Highway Stage sponsored by Zippo.

Clutch by Evil Robb Photography (20)

Sunday is no less impressive with Slipknot putting on their typical astounding show. They have out done them selves in every edition, and this should be no different. Bring Me The Horizon has possibly the biggest album of the year on their hands and are in the penultimate support slot appropriately. Rock giants Clutch follow closely along with Mobb Deep and Ghostface Killah.

The eclectic and star heavy second and third stages have bands such as Suicidal Tendencies, Beartooth, Cannibal Corpse, Snot, Helmet and Devour The Day. On the extreme stage legends Dying Fetus with have a chance to show fans how real technical death metal is done. They are joined by Internal Bleeding, The Reaktion, Disgorge, Green Death and Kings of Carnage.

You can still get tickets for Knotfest here: 

Knotfest Announces Lineup, Earlybird Tickets On Sale Today

knotfest2015posterbands

Knotfest, the two day music and lifestyle festival curated by Slipknot will return to the San Manuel Amphitheater & Campgrounds in San Bernardino, California next fall. Over three nights over 50 bands will perform on four stages from Friday October 23rd to 25th. Headlined by Slipknot’s fest closing set on Sunday, they will be joined by Judas Priest, Korn, Bring Me The Horizon, Mastodon, Trivium, Corrosion Of Conformity, Clutch, Mobb Deep, Ghostface Killa, Suicidal Tendencies, Cannibal Corpse, Gwar, Beartooth and many more bands tbd.

Slipknot’s M. Shawn Crahan (Clown) commented on the fest:

“Knotfest returns to Southern California for round two and with legends like JUDAS PRIEST headlining night one and a lineup of some of the greatest acts in metal and heavy music, we couldn’t be more excited..”

Slipknot,  photo by Susanne A. Maathuis

Slipknot, photo by Susanne A. Maathuis

Knotfest co-founder and 5B Artist Management president Cory Brennan also remarked: “We knew we had to build upon the monumental success of last year’s festival and we believe we’ve done just that with this epic lineup of bands.”

Knotfest two-day tickets will go on sale at 10 a.m. PST on Monday, June 29 at Knotfest.com. Limited quantities of Early Bird Discounted 2-day festival tickets, as well as VIP and Camping (RV and dry camping directly adjacent to the venue, is available for Oct. 23-Oct. 26) packages are also available while supplies last.

To view all ticket options for Knotfest, visit Knotfest.com.

Doors will open at 12:00 p.m. each day, with music starting soon after doors.

Knotfest 2015 Lineup

Saturday, October 24

Main Stage

Judas Priest
Korn
Mastodon
Trivium
Corrosion Of Conformity

[Special Guest To Be Announced]

Second Stage:

At The Gates
Body Count
Red Fang
Battlecross

Third Stage:

Gwar
Born Of Osiris
The Sword
Goatwhore

Fourth Stage (Extreme):

Kataklysm
Belphegor
Inquisition
Abysmal Dawn

Sunday October 25

Main Stage:

Slipknot
Bring Me The Horizon
Clutch
Ghostface Killa
Mobb Deep

Second Stage:

Suicidal Tendencies
All That Remains
Kyng
Beartooth

Third Stage:

Cannibal Corpse
Helmet
Snot
Devour The Day

Fourth Stage (Extreme):

Six Feet Under
Dying Fetus
Disgorge
Internal Bleading
Green Death

Maryland Deathfest 13 Part I: Various Venues, Baltimore Maryland

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For the 13th year, the inner harbor area of Baltimore is turned into what is known as Maryland Deathfest. This year being my first time, I went all out and made sure I was present for all 5 days/nights. After the hours upon hours of partying and headbanging, I had found an annual tradition that I almost feel obligated to return to year by year. Of course maybe not for everyday of the festival, but the experience alone is worth it.

Upon arriving in Baltimore Wednesday afternoon with a few friends, it did not take long to find all of the metal heads. Black t-shirts, denim vests, leather boots, jean shorts, and long-hair filled the streets and hotels. After unpacking in our rooms and wandering the streets, the Ottobar became filled with excited fans, ready to hear some great death metal from bands like Funerus, Drawn and Quartered, Massacre, and Incantation. The Ottobar had a bar tender just selling beers out of basins outside of the regular full bar. This served to be quiet convenient in between sets to go outside for fresh air then on the way back in, refill for the next band. Incantation certainly stole the night for me as I was able to see them for the first time a month earlier at New England Metal And Hardcore Festival, but on a very short set. Headlining at the Ottobar, this offered me another look at these death metal pioneers and I certainly enjoyed them more the second time around.

Devourment, by Hillarie Jason Photography Origin, by Hillarie Jason Photography

Avoiding the first night parties, my pals and I woke up early and found a local diner for breakfast to consume as many carbs and cups of coffee as we could in preparation for the day ahead. The plan today was to watch some death metal over at The Baltimore Soundstage and then make our way over to Rams Head Live for late night doom. The Soundstage is a small, dim lit venue which I found to be perfect as this venue typically held the hardcore/grindcore bands for the festival. Merch tables and bars lined the outer walls which I am sure made a killing throughout the weekend. The lineup consisted of Mortal Decay, Origin, Internal Bleeding, Skinless, Devourment, and of course, Mobb Deep. One of my favorite moments from the Soundstage on this day was Jason Keyser of Origin/ex-Skinless jumped on stage with Skinless to perform one of the Keyser-era songs off of Trample the Weak, Hurtle the Dead. After a quick bite to eat in between Soundstage and Rams Head Live, I made my way into the back entrance of the venue. This venue was hidden away inside the building and actually had three floors with fans hanging over railings to get a view of the small stage up front. Just as I found a spot in the back on the railing of the second floor, the mighty Conan took to the stage and brought forth one of the heaviest guitar tones I have ever heard live. After getting through a trance inducing set from Ufomammut and a thunderous jam from YOB, it was time to head back to the hotel for some re-cooperation. The next day, we would get to venture to the Edison Lot.

Conan, by Hillarie Jason Photography Ufomammut, by Hillarie Jason Photography Yob, by Hillarie Jason Photography

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WORDS BY TIM LEDIN

PHOTOS BY HILLARIE JASON PHOTOGRAPHY