BEN BARBUAD/ HELLFEST PROMOTERKISS PLAYS HELLFEST JUNE 20,2010
(by Fred Vehert/Diamant Noir)
-KISS will exclusively play in France at Hellfest. That must have been a tough negotiation…
Not at all! In KISS' case, everything was wrapped up quickly. Money talks, and Hellfest is now large enough to lure and secure big names, at least one or two, every year. But we remain committed to be a festival with various bands and styles. Having a big band draws the crowd, and this is an opportunity to promote a larger range to extreme genres. Hard rock, heavy, black metal, hardcore, stoner, rock'n'roll, punk etc. Seven of us work now full time on Hellfest. But we do not consider ourselves professional promoters who sell tickets and bands like we’d be selling used cars or something. We want to be involved in the cultural dimension, too. Help these genres by setting up support, infrastructures for promotion of the music. They are pretty much ignored by the French media (radio, mass media), but they have an audience. Spreading this genre will help France catch up with the rest of the world. We often hear France is not a country for rock'n'roll, that bands skip playing here, and so forth. There is no action or support. We aim to change all that.
Going back to KISS playing only at Hellfest. KISS could barely fill half of Bercy (two-thirds would be more accurate, Ben!), a big risk for a promoter to pay so much money and lose more money. Only a festival can afford a big band.
-If you don’t mind me asking, how much did it cost Hellfest to get KISS?
You’ll understand that I cannot disclose the exact amount we pay the artists, but it is quite significant. I can barely believe how much when I think back about the days when I used to book bands in local pubs 10 years ago and pay them a whopping 500 Euros! KISS is a legendary band, famous for its massive shows. They offer a unique experience and there is a cost to that. But I don’t mind paying this much if I know people will have their money’s worth. The band will close three days of festivals, topping 120 bands, KISS will be the climax of our 2010 edition.
-The festival site is under construction, including a larger stage. Is that because of KISS?
Absolutely! We spared no effort to make sure they offer the best show. When they play indoors, they set up their own stage, whereas in a festival they have to work with what they have. In order to produce their full show, we have decided to upgrade our current stage which will be huge, so they can set up the same production. And since we’re outdoors, there will be some extras, like big fireworks, etc. KISS fans can be sure the festival show will be as good as an arena show. People’s perception of festivals is not always positive, but there is much more freedom than indoors. No reserved seating, you can wander around, go from stage to stage, stop at all the bars, check out the stalls (selling records). We had 50 different nationalities last year. There is more than music to a festival, it is an experience that does not compare with an arena show as it is too short. A festival is the full package.