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Death to corporate punk! An interview with Punk Is Dead fest!

Lancaster, California’s Punk Is Dead fest (August 30-31) brings in the best in classic and contemporary punk, metal, hardcore, crust, d-beat, thrash, powerviolence, grindcore, noise, sludge, doom, etc., all put together in 100% DIY manner. NAILS, THE BANNER, GODSTOMPER, ACxDC, EARLY GRAVES and a lot more will appear – see the flyer below  (design by Ethan Lee McCarthy of CLINGING TO THE TREES OF A FOREST FIRE / PRIMITIVE MAN). This awesome fest is not that corporate sponsored fake hardcore shit hundreds of thousands of kids are used to these days.

Here’s my interview with Zack Barrera, the originator and organizer of the fest. Check it out and hit the Industry Theater if you’re near!

Hey, Zack! Thanks for taking some time with IDIOTEQ. How’s it going in Cali this July? :) How are the preparations for you fest?

It is hot as hell here in the Antelope Valley.100+ degrees everyday.Other than that,it’s cool.

As far as preparations for the fest go everything is as it should be.We’re starting to get to the home stretch and right now I’m just full of butterflies in my belly waiting for the day of the fest.I’m beyond excited,though,I can’t wait.

Great! So how did you decide to organize the fest?

First and foremost I got sick of seeing all these fake ass corporate sponsored “punk” fests and tours and I just thought to myself,”Well I can do a better job than them”.You won’t ever see Rockstar Energy or some other bullshit corporate entity involved with Punk Is Dead as long I have anything to do with the fest,that’s a promise.Secondly there’s not much to do here in the Antelope Valley, music wise,and I wanted to give the punks/hardcore kids/metal-heads something to look forward to in the summer.

Have you worked with any festivals in the past, organized single gigs, or is this your first time putting such a party together?  Do you have some sponsors helping you out financially?

I’ve been booking and promoting shows for 4 years now and it was all really training for organizing the fest,that’s how I see it.

I have a private investor who wishes to remain nameless, (He’s afraid someone will break a neck and he’ll end up liable) who has really allowed the fest to be what it is. There wouldn’t be a NAILS without him so he deserves a lot of credit. 90% of the funding for the fest comes from me personally and a private investor. The other 10% comes from my handful of wonderful sponsors. Shout out to Melotov Records, To Live A Lie Records, Give Praise Records, and Mannequin Rein Recordings.

Ok, let’s discuss the controversial name of the festival. Tell me more about it. Is punk really dead? Where did the name come from?

For me, in a sense, punk died when GREEN DAY released “Dookie” and record labels discovered they could make big money off of punk. Vans Warped Tour dug the grave and BLINK-182 buried it. Because that’s what’s most people’s perception of punk is today.Vans Warped Tour. Hot Topic.Whatever shitty energy drink sponsored tour is coming to a town near you. But in reality,that’s not punk. Punks know what is punk, they can tell the difference. We aren’t sheep.

The festival name comes from a CRASS song.

Yeah, but everyone who’s supposed to know, simply knows, right? I mean there are tons and tons of amazing people, bands, promoters, labels and zines involved in the real punk scene. They sure keep punk alive, don’t they?

Absolutely.And they deserve credit for their contributions.

But I’m not addressing them. I’m addressing the thousands, (millions?) who attend the corporate-sponsored summer festivals, the tours, buy records,watch MTV. Who think that when they’re patronizing these things they’re supporting their favorite band or contributing to the scene.When in reality they’re only contributing to the bank accounts of the corporations behind the bands.

Of course, none of this is new, which is why CRASS made a song about it 30 years ago. As long as most punks continue being ignorant to the fact that they are being exploited the punk spirit will remain dead and unattainable to them.

Ok, Zack. Let’s learn more about the background of this undertaking. What made you want to hold the fest in Lancaster?

There just isn’t much to do here in the Antelope Valley. I could’ve held the event in LA or Orange County but I really wanted to do something to do something for the punks here in the High Desert.

You have a pretty wide variety of bands coming. How do you go about deciding who will play the fest?

I wanted to touch all the bases as far as heavy music goes. I have representatives from all punk/hardcore/metal subgenres playing the fest, from hardcore to crust to grindcore to powerviolence to death metal. I didn’t want to organize just another hardcore fest. That didn’t interest me, besides, everyone and their grandma now has their own hardcore fest. Boring.

Haha :) Ok, so what artists you are personally looking forward to?

Everyone. I personally booked every band playing the fest and I wouldn’t have booked them if I didn’t like them. But some personal favorites of mine I’m looking forward to seeing is the almighty GODSTOMPER;they’re absolute living legends, NAILS, obviously; BONE DANCE; they’re one of the few bands still carrying the mathy hardcore torch that COALESCE and BOTCH innovated. One band that flies underneath a lot of people’s radars that deserve a lot more attention is CHILDREN OF GOD.They make some of most experimental, progressive, and brutal hardcore right now.

Will there be some non-musical events at the PID fest?

What, like workshops? Nah. People don’t go to heavy music festivals for the workshops. Maybe there will be face-painting next year. Who knows?

Haha, fair enough ;)

What has been the most difficult part of putting this fest together?

Oh,I don’t know if any one thing has been particularly difficult. There are some time-consuming elements. The most fun part,for me,is the actual booking. I’m addicted to booking bands and in all honesty I probably over did it. There definitely won’t be 43 bands playing next year. I know that for certain.

Was it a struggle to make it an “all ages” event?

Absolutely not. I wouldn’t have even considered organizing the fest if it couldn’t be all ages. It has to be all-ages. Period. And it always will be.

Yeah, but isn’t it hard to actually organize such an event in the US? One of my first associations with “AA” is that lots of punk shows are closed for the American kids. Is it a myth?

There is an issue with the availability of all ages venues willing to put on punk shows here in the States. There is always a shortage. But you don’t have to work hard to find a spot to have a show at. There may be all ages venues shutting down pretty regularly but for every venue that gets shut down another opens.For example here in So Cal, Unit B in Orange County may have just gotten shut down but other DIY all ages venues like Bridgetown and The Dial persevere. When one door closes another opens.

Alright, back to the fest again… what do you find to be the most enjoyable aspects of setting up this party?

The booking for sure. Communicating with some of my idols and other bands I’m major fans of was really cool. I like the negotiating aspect of booking.Not that I like screwing bands over I just enjoy the haggling aspect.

What are your most admired punk fests? Who are your festival organizer heroes? :)

The original inspiration(s) for Punk Is Dead were the powerviolence fests put on by Chris Dodge and Max Ward of SPAZZ. Super Sabado Gigante and Fiesta Grande. From the seed of a powerviolence fest it kind of mushroomed into a fest that features bands from all scenes and subgenres.

I really wanted Chris Dodge’s new band TO THE POINT to play,but unfortunately it just wasn’t a possibility.Scheduling conflicts and crap.But if you haven’t already, make sure to check out TO THE POINT. Straight up Lack of Interest worship. Incredible.

So, summing it up, what can we expect from your show at the PID Festival at the end of August? Give us a few reasons why people should go see this.

You can expect loud sweaty people playing loud sweaty music to loud sweaty people moshing and thrashin’. And it’s cheap,which is more than I say about most heavy music festival nowadays.You can get those dirt cheap tickets here.

Sum up Punk Is Dead in one sentence :)

Death to corporate punk!

Thanks again for taking some time to talk to me. Cheers from Warsaw!

Punk is Dead Fest official website
Punk Is Dead fest Last.fm
Punk Is Dead fest Facebook

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