With the massively anticipated Bloodstock festival returning next month, TMF scribe Dominic met up with three generations of metal’s finest cohorts – the legendary Doro Pesch, Meshuggah’s powerhouse Tomas Haake, and young upstart Oli Drake from thrashers Evile – for a chat about all things loud and muddy.
Expectations of the festival
Oli: Metal, metal, and more metal! Brilliant fans, a great vibe; I just can’t say enough good things about it. Bloodstock is a very pure and honest festival – there aren’t any bands on the bill just for the sake of making it more popular, they’re all on there for who they are, that’s it.
Tomas: I’d never actually heard of the festival until this spring when we got the offer to play. But now I’m excited to go and play there as I’ve heard a lot of good stuff about it. Even before you say yes to a festival you go and check out the website and see what it’s all about; it’s seems a cool festival to be at – it’s a dedicated metal festival, how can you go wrong really? For us it feels like one you need to do.
Doro: I’d heard that the whole festival is run by this family and that they’re die-hard metal fans; and since I know and love Wacken so well, when I heard that Bloodstock was like that I went back to them and asked them to hook me up with the Bloodstock guys. I think it’s great that there is a wide variety of metal from death metal to traditional metal to just about any type of metal, it’s excellent.
Who are you really looking forward to seeing?
Doro: Unfortunately I don’t play on the same day as Tomas, but I definitely want to see Evile as they are also playing on the Saturday. My pals Twisted Sister are also playing, I think Dee Snider’s a great frontman who always gets the crowd going; and since we’ve played together so many times it’s always great to catch up, we just played the same festival in Spain together, and we’ve known each other for a long time.
Oli: Obviously Doro, that goes without saying. Obituary, they are one my favourite bands ever; I think I’m around all weekend, so I’ll try and see everyone! It’s just a great place to be.
Tomas: We’re just there for the Friday and I don’t know who is playing which day yet; we fly out to play a festival in the Czech Republic the next day. I’m hoping Gojira are playing on the Friday, and I really want to see Obituary too; Opeth are headlining the Friday, so I’ll see them of course. We toured with Benediction ages ago in about ’94 or something, so it would be great to meet up with them again and watch them.
Best festival memories
Oli: Last time we played Bloodstock we were on the main stage at about 11am; I knew Destruction were playing because I’m a huge fan of theirs, and half way through the set I looked over and there was Schmier [Destruction bassist and vocalist] headbanging along and giving me the thumbs up at the side of the stage!
Tomas: Probably Ozzfest in 2002, which was also the most important for us as a band; it’s different because it was a touring festival, and there were a lot of good memories from that summer. And of course it was a big door opener for us into the US market.
Doro: For me it has to Castle Donington in 1986 because we were a very small band and it was the first time we had been at a big festival; everyone was great and we got such good feedback that it gave us the drive to push Warlock on. Off the back of it the album got a worldwide release, and we got to support Judas Priest, who back then was my favourite band in the world. I was so nervous when we went on I nearly peed in my pants, it was only up a couple of steps and I almost didn’t make it, but then the drummer started and I just had to run up; it was this enormous field of people and the vibe... it was amazing.
Worst festival experiences
Doro: We were doing a show in Holland at about the same time, and I raised my fist at one point and my top came up, and stayed up. My bass player came running over, but some photographer had already snapped a shot, so in all the magazines afterwards there was just this photo; it was really important at the time for bands to been seen as serious, but all of sudden it was all about the boobs.
Tomas: We played a small in Sweden once, and the whole situation seemed really shady. The actual stage was just stacks of wooden pallets with boards just nailed into the top. The whole rig was attached to it and it was really windy, you could feel the top layer of pallets shifting as you were playing. And on the same night this Swedish artist, completely unknown over here, who’s also a Meshuggah fan, at least was at the time, was really hammered and kept trying to get up on stage; he finally got up and was so drunk, I knew it was not going to end well, he stumbles across the stage and falls right into the drum kit and the whole thing just basically falls into my lap – I’m trying to keep playing and trying to push him away, cymbals are all over the place, the toms are lying down, it must have looked really weird, but people saw it was his fault at least.
Oli: I can’t even think of any, we just feel so privileged still to be playing this big stages, it’s still like “look, that guy’s being sick on our van, yeah cool!”
Tomas: Let’s put a clear coat on top and keep it there!
Different preparations for festivals
Tomas: For me Bloodstock is a fly-in show where we don’t bring all our gear so I don’t bring my own drum kit. So preparation for me is usually just awkward trying to set up a loaner kit with all the different additions and weird quirks that I have. It’s usually a three hour nightmare right up until we have to line check and go on stage; and in the middle of the first song you find you’re getting caught on stuff because it’s not set up quite properly. I’m not sure if that is much of a preparation, but the good thing about it is that I don’t have time to get nervous because I know I’m going to be fiddling with that stuff right up until we start, so in that way it’s a good preparation that I don’t get wound up, ‘cos I get real nervous before we go on.
Doro: We usually play like two and a half, sometimes three hours; so we have to cut it down to one hour and just keep the highlights in, but it’s sometimes hard to pick the setlist because we have sixteen records now to choose from, so the fans like certain songs and at a festival you have to give them just the best. I love both; I love the quick and fast hit of the festival, but I also love long sets and being spontaneous about what we play depending on the vibe of the audience, the set’s never carved in stone – at a festival it’s more set, here and there we can change stuff around. But I love, just as long as the fans are there and in good spirits, it’s so special.
Oli: We have to rehearsal more than usual and just play a lot because I just bring my guitar, maybe an amp sometimes but it’s expensive; I’ll plug in and just have to put up with a sound that I’m not used to, you love your own gear and hate using anything else, so you have to see through that to enjoy the festival so I have to get used to the songs a lot more and forget about how bad the guitar sounds and just enjoy it.
Doro: I have to tell that to my guitar players because they are always complaining, I’m so happy to hear that!