PlanetMosh’s Miley Stevens had the pleasure of catching a rare few minutes with Mammothfest Director, Steve Dickson.
Here’s what they had to say:
Miley Stevens: Hey Steve! I guess the first question I have to ask you is what inspired you to create Mammothfest?
Steve Dickson: Mammothfest was inspired off the back of running metal shows under my promoter name “tactical whore promotions”. Having run a load of successful gigs and profiting I not only felt I had the “knack” for promoting but I also saw a huge gap in the market for larger events. It seemed that nobody wasrunning metal festivals down South so, seeing a gap in the market, I decided to dip my toes and here we are! Also, Rik (my business partner whom sadly passed away of a brain tumour in 2013) and I often spoke of running a metal festival down here and as we spread the word of the idea more and more people got behind it and still do!
Miley: What is the ultimate goal for Mammothfest?
Steve: My ultimate goal is to one day run an open air festival that merges all the darker sounds of music in one place. So we will have a dance tent with evil drum and bass and dubstep etc. a huge black metal stage and a main stage that hosts the biggest bands in the world while providing an ever-growing platform for the worlds incredible emerging artists that need a place to cut their teeth so we ensure we have headliners of the future.
Miley: What are you most looking forward to over the weekend?
Steve: I am most looking forward to the point when we break even because the financial pressures are always a heavy burden to carry. Other than that I can not wait to introduce on to our stage the mighty Venom whom I have been a massive fan since I was a child. But also Textures whom again have been in all my playlists for many years. I’m looking forward to taking a look at our biggest crowds to date and thanking them all for supporting what we do because this is such a massive deal to us to reach record sales and have such huge support…..oh and I must give everyone a nudge in to the Rikstock stage to check out the amazing emerging bands. They are up there with headline bands easily!
Miley: For those unfamiliar with Mammothfest, could you describe your music policy?
Steve: Our music policy is ultimately driven by quality across all stages. Whether you have heard of a band or not – you know you will get the best talent all weekend on all our stages which is why we have record labels attending so they can keep an eye on new bands coming up through the ranks.
Miley: How is organising a festival different to organising a gig?
Steve: Festivals require considerable additional attention, as we are essentially running a number of gigs over one weekend under the Mammothfest umbrella. Until we can afford to go outdoors it will remain this way too – but this works for us. We can keep a hold on costs to drive profit so we can reinvest all back in to growth – which is why year after year we come back with ever-stronger line ups…and we will continue to do so forever. Yes that’s right – not a single person of the 25-strong team get paid, but not because we are tight, because we all understand the need to build and do it for the love. If ever we make it big then we have our ways of putting back and do so anyway but this is a strict rule that gives us maximum ability to grow. So this is the difference between a gig and a festival, it requires that much more investment from people, money and time and growth is a lot slower because it’s an annual event.
Miley: What makes Mammothfest different?
Steve: Mammothfest to start with is on the South coast and to quote many people who say “Thank F*** we have something down this way rather than having to travel for hours to get to any other respectable festivals!” We also have the backdrop of Brighton itself where partying comes hand in hand with the bars, restaurants and night clubs. You don’t have to rely on just our line-ups to have a great weekend. Our beaches are not sandy so the pebbles give many a unique sea front experience where you don’t get sand everywhere and all our venues are close enough to make this a really easy fun festival, with Brighton Laines providing an interesting walk about town…and if it rains it doesn’t matter because we have shows in banging venues such as Concorde 2 and The Haunt to keep people dry!
Miley: Would you have done anything differently, given the opportunity?
Steve: We are always learning so there are many things with hindsight we could have done differently. But rather than go in to them as there are far too many, I think it is safe to say we will never stop learning, we will never stop making mistakes, it is how we rectify problems and learn from them and ensure we don’t do them again that matters.
Miley: How do you source your bands, and find those who you want to play?
Steve: We source our bands from numerous different angles. I work for Terrorizer magazine so I am hot on it with new bands anyway, through compiling the cover mount CD every month, a role I am truly honoured to do. I also tour the UK under the Mammothfest brand holding “Mammothfest Warm-Up Shows” so I can keep my finger on the pulse for hot new bands to add to my bills. I am also very aware of the headline bands and other incredible acts from around the world simply because I love metal (and many other genres) so much so make it my business to know what bands sound like, those who are pushing things and what our customers want to see. This somewhat unique position in the metal market enables me to pull together line ups that are both unique and incredible from first to last band.
Miley: Where do you find the time to run a festival, between band life, family life and your general working life?!
Steve: Ha yeah, tell me about it! Well I help to run the Origin agency (www.theoriginagency.co.uk) (as well perform in Meta-stasis, run Mammothfest and work for Terrorizer) so I also manage a number of bands, book tours and much more – so I really am working flat out…but I’m not the only one and rarely complain. It is no secret there is far less money in music than maybe the 80s when labels etc. seemingly had infinitely deep pockets so I have to cover a lot of bases to bring in enough to look after my family and ensure I can save for Mammothfest. That all said, working for myself enables me to pick and choose when I work – so this gives me the flexibility to prioritise my family and then get shit done. Money is not the ultimate aim for me. I have already achieved my goal simply by being self-employed in music. Everything else is a bonus that I am eternally grateful for. Growing success, in theory, should come hand in hand with hard work, patience and integrity…all of which I hold highly in terms of ranking importance.
Miley: Who is your dream band to book for Mammothfest?
Steve: Meshuggah has always been one of my main targets and I have to laugh, as I grow the business and can afford more bands. Sometimes I think for a second that Iam getting closer to affording them…only to learn their price has increased tenfold again as they continue to be a dominating force around the world! But its all about having end goals that drive me to build and one day we WILL book them. Already talking with their agent but it’s a way off yet.
Miley: What message do you have for those reading this interview, Steve?
Steve: If anyone is considering coming to Mammothfest, do not hesitate, come down. It is going to be an incredible weekend and with your support the money will be totally reinvested in full into a bigger better event next year. You, the people, are the ones that hold the key to having your own metal festival on the South coast. Some of the venues are close to sell out though so buy in advance to ensure entry!!!
Mammothfest will be taking place from this Friday, 30th September until Sunday 2nd October. Since talking to Steve, weekend and Sunday day tickets have now sold-out.