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Wildfire Festival director Dave Ritchie Interview, 1/3/16.

Wildfire Festival

I caught up with Dave Ritchie for a chat about Wildfire Festival.  Follow the links at the bottom of the page to buy your tickets, they’re selling fast and after yesterday’s announcement that the band creating so much buzz in the rock music world right now, Inglorious, will headline Saturday night at this year’s festival if you don’t get your ticket fast you might miss out.  It’s going to be a cracker!

• Hi Dave, for anyone who hasn’t heard of it, what/where/when is Wildfire Festival?

Hi Karen, Wildfire Festival is essentially Scotland’s only rock and metal festival. There are other events but this is a whole 3 day camping/glamping weekend event. It takes place in the beautiful Southern Uplands of Scotland, held within the 53 acre Wiston Lodge Estate near Biggar. This year’s festival – our 5th – will be on the 24th -26th June.

• Tell us a bit about previous festivals and how Wildfire has grown.

Well it started off in 2012 in a small venue and ran for 2 days. Here we are 5 years later with a 3 day event, 3 stages, 70 or so bands, covering everything from rock and metal, a little blues, acoustic and even some prog. The event itself has never been picked up on by mainstream press and media so with the help of people like yourself at PlanetMosh it has been a much more organic and word of mouth thing. That means however that the people that come along are all hardcore and dedicated music fans. We have the best audience in the country.

• If someone can only go to one festival this year why should they choose Wildfire?

Overly used word but it is truly unique. Safe, clean, family friendly all set in beautiful scenery. You can pitch your tent next to your car and you are only a few hundred yards away from the main stages. The bands tend to hang out for the weekend too so it’s a great opportunity to get up close and personal with some truly awesome musicians. A true fans festival.

• What are the options available for people who want to stay on site?

Well you can bring your own tent for a start, then we have cabins – which have probably now sold out. We have some accommodation in the main lodge itself and this year we are doing pods and ready made cardboard and guaranteed waterproof tents. We welcome trailers, tourers, camper vans, or whatever people have. If you don’t fancy being in the great outdoors there are plenty of local hotels too, but they are filling up fast.

• Who’s playing this year that we should definitely come and see?

Every band is worth seeing and everyone will be putting on a great show. For the old school metal fans, Ripper Owens or Riot are a must. If you like rock then the hottest new UK act of the moment, Inglorious are playing and with Thirteen Stars, Massive Wagons, Colour of Noise and more there are plenty of great rock acts. Then for those that like it really heavy Swedish Metal act Gormathon, Divine Chaos and Wretched Soul should tick the boxes. But with an anticipated 70 acts this year, everyone should find a lot to like at Wildfire Festival.

• How do you decide which bands to book, and do the fans have a chance to say who they’d like to see?

We like to keep the line up varied. However we do also listen to fans feedback and we do bring bands back by demand. Hence bands like Massive Wagons, Die No More, Mason Hill etc. make a welcome return. The main ethos of the event has always been about introducing people to new music. So most acts are booked off the back of a good live performance that I or other team members have seen, or on recommendations of the fans. As we like to say “Come to Wildfire Festival and find your new favourite band.”

• Apart from the music what else does Wildfire have to offer?

Great showers, regularly cleaned and serviced toilets, a lovely local bar doing real ales, good quality food, at sensible prices and a beautiful countryside setting.

• This is year five, where do you see Wildfire in another five years?

It should be by then a well established, well run, well known, live music event, hopefully attracting good numbers and attracting top names in the business. But if all we achieve is getting new music out to the public, then I would still consider that a job well done. Sadly this is where the big events are getting it wrong in my opinion. We all know that big names sell tickets, but we need to create the next generation of big names and I don’t believe the industry is doing that. The other thing I keep going on about is giving my generation of rock and metal fans the opportunity to bring their children or even grand children, the next generation! Get them out to Wildfire and let them see music as a real, living thing. Kids love it.

• You’ve just announced endorsement from Balbex, how important are things like that to the success of the festival?

If I am being honest it is all about perception. We get no funding, no sponsorship and no other financial support. But if quality companies like Balbex – through Black Cat Drum Distribution – Blackstar Amplification and Amedia cymbals are willing to add their name to our event then that sends out a signal to the industry. Top companies believe in what we do and give us their support, that is important. They of course get to show off their gear to some really fine musicians so everyone wins. Still looking :)

• Do you have a message for people who are still wondering whether to come to Wildfire or not?

Yeah, please just do it. Nearly every person that has ever come along from the start has come back again and again. Our fan retention rate is probably unparalleled. If you come along once you will be sorry that you did not try the Wildfire Experience sooner.

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About KarenS

Photographer, lover of books and movies. Can normally be found walking the dog in the rain.
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