Just in time for the launch of this year’s edition of Ieperfest, I’m extremely proud to present you IDIOTEQ’s mega-feature on this amazing independent punk/metal festival! Always being an ecologically friendly undertaking, Ieper is taking place for the 22ndt time this year. The longest running outdoor fest in Europe features 4 stages and attracts more than 10 000 visitors. Ieperfest is not just about music. Each day of the festival will welcome workshops, vegan kitchen, movie screenings, zine libraries and all kinds of debates.
Ieperfest 2014 will kick-off with a pre-fest on Thursday, August 7th.
Here’s my interview with Bruno Vandevyvere, responsible for booking and communication and learn all about Ieperfest’s history, current state and hopes for the future.
Ok, Bruno. Can you believe we’re finally doing this? Haha! We’ve been scheduling this interview for months! You’re a busy man, aren’t you? :) The time you were celebrating the 20th Anniversary of Ieper Fest I was in the middle of my wedding and fast forward 1,5 years I am now a proud father of a 2 month daughter! What has occupied your head the past 2 years?
Right on Karol! We could call it “work in progress”, right?! The last 2 years have been really busy for me. Ieperfest is a constant factor througout the year. Sometimes I take a break for a few weeks, but the fest is always there. Especially with a summer and winter edition, there is always something to attend to. Also the label (Genet records) is picking up again. We are helping out a few young bands to get their music released, so keep your eyes open for that. On top of that I work a full time job, try to spend as much time as possible with my family (2 kids + girlfriend) and I try to run 60+ km on a weekly basis. Life is busy, life is good!
Yup, same here, busy as a bee. I’m a happy father of a 2 month old baby, in the middle of finishing works in my new apartment, managing loads of stuff at my day job, also struggling to spend some time with family. It’s crazy, but like you mentioned, it’s good for you, haha ;)
Ok, man. To fully answer the question who you are :) please tell me Bruno… Apart from organizing and running Ieperfest, do you have more personal artistic or musical projects?
I’m just doing Ieperfest and Genet records. That’s more than enough musical activities for me. Wanna keep some time for family, friends and sports as well.
Before we get to the Ieperfest, please explain the Genet label and its relation to the festival.
Genet actually started the same year as the festival (1992). We have organised tons of shows since then and released over 100 records for a wide vaiety of bands. I started booking Ieperfest as a Vort’n Vis (around since 1989) volunteer, but as the fest kept growing we needed to involve more people. So at a given moment it became a Genet – Vort’n Vis cooperation. Both collectives are not for profit organisations and share a similar DIY background. None of the shitworkers get paid for what they do for the festival. Profits are split equally between both collectives to finance their proper activities besides the festival.
How many people help around the fest? Tell us more about the company machine that runs the whole thing. After so many years, how DIY is Ieper crew?
The core group of 16 persons that keep the machine rolling are all volunteers doing a nearly professional job. During the festival there is a team of 120 persons that are helping out. I’d say that Ieperfest is still as DIY as can be. The more we can do ourselves, the better. Some things we are unqualified to do (sound, security, etc) or outnumbered (parking, camping, catering, etc) so we partially work with other organisations or professionals for those.
I really like the new idea of the Fluff Fest crew organizing special consulting meetings with people who’d like to participate in the organization process. Do you take people’s feedback into account for future development of Ieperfest? How does it work at your end?
Ow yeah, we definitely listen to all ideas that visitors and supporters may have. We are always eager to learn from others. If anyone has a splendid idea or suggestion, they can always get in touch. By the way, did you know that each year a bunch of the Ieperfest core group volunteers (or “shitworkers” as we tend to call ourselves) are also helping out at Fluff fest?!
Ha! Nice! Ieperfest’s Winter edition took place on March 1 in Ieper! How was it? Please shoot me a brief summary of this year’s parteey :)
We had 11 bands scheduled for this sixth winter edition: DRS (BE), CENTURIES (US), HEADSHOT (BE), WASTED (FI), SETTLE THE SCORE (DE), OATHBREAKER (BE), NASTY (BE), A WILHELM SCREAM (US), NO TURNING BACK (NL), EXHUMED (US) and TOXIC HOLOCAUST (US). We always try to book a nice variety of acts. Think we did a nice job again at that. All in all we had 550-600 people present (visitors, bands, guests, press, shitworkers, etc.) so we were really satisfied with that.
How different is it comparing to the main summer event and how did you come up with the idea of starting the sub-edition?
The winter edition is just a big club show really. It takes place indoor with just 10-12 bands and in winter (duh, hehe). The summer event is spread across 3 days with no less than 84 bands this year + a small pre-fest on Thursday. We launched the winter event in order to break the long period in between two summer editions. It’s a good way to get together with the Ieperfest crew, see some familiar faces in the crowd and start the promotional campaign for the summer festival.
You should put it on in a basement or a squat since the line up doesn’t include biggest names ;) Tell me more about the venue.
Well, we wanna keep it located in Ieper and there’s not really any squats there …The local youth meeting centre (JOC) has relocated to a new space next to the train station. It has a nice bar, splendid venue and basically everything we need to set up a cosy winter festival. So no need to look for another space at all, if you ask us!
Have you thought about making it bigger and trying to expand Ieper Winter Fest into a tour hosted in multiple locations?
You mean, just like there is the “Hell on Earth” tour, we should launch the “Ieperfest winter” tour? Naah, not really. Did I tell you we are all volunteers working another job besides the festival? I think we rather concentrate on what we’re doing right now than expanding our activities.
How would you sum up last year’s edition of Ieper, the longest running hardcore party on Earth? :)
Ieperfest 2013 was not our best edition to date, that surely was 2012. However, the weather was fine most of the time and we saw nothing but happy faces: bands, visitors, press people, shitworkers … There’s always the unavoidable bitchers and complainers, but all in all it was a very satisfying edition. Band highlights for me personally were DIY metalcore heroes CATHARSIS, Nintendo core giants HORSE THE BAND, the one and only JELLO BIAFRA, Sao Paulo (BR) brother bands O INIMIGO and QUESTIONS, Belgium’s own meanest thrashcore outfit REPROACH, legendary Finnish punks TERVEET KADET, hardrock fury VALIENT THORR and upcoming vegan metalcore heroes WOLFxDOWN. Just to name a few, hehe.
It was the first time we invited extra catering and beverages stands. From the lovely french fries by Frietketel, over the incredible pastries by Dolce Sophia to the splendid coffee specialties by Koek & Zopie, all received much praise. Ow yeah, and all 100% vegan, of course.
How does the number of attendees grow? Did you break all the records in 2013? Give us some numbers.
2012 was an absolutely record breaker, with about 4000 people present per day. Last year we had a bit less, but the number that showed up was still fine. 2014 looks really promising and tickets have been selling like crazy. We expect to break the 2012 records without any problem this year.
Being an organizer does not prohibit you from cheering and simply attending Ieper’s performances, right? Can you name a couple of the best sets that mesmerized you the most throughout all these years?
With literally hundreds of bands that have played to date, it is really hard to say which ones were the best … If you really want a few, I’d pick the following:
SWING KIDS (1996)
I still remember how SWING KIDS singer Justin Pearseon told me he wasn’t feeling quite confident to headline the festival on Sunday. I was hardly able to reassure him that they would do just fine and that a whole bunch of kids were going to stick around to check their set. And that’s what happened: the band played a mind blowing set and many visitors spoke about one of the best shows they had seen to that date. A picture of that show was later used for the SWING KIDS picture disc discography LP. Still very proud of that!
REIZIGER & LEIAH (2000)
Ieperfest is not just about hardcore and metal. Belgium’s REIZIGER and Sweden’s LEIAH are the perfect example of two bands that played a splendid set at Ieperfest 2000. Apart from the obligatory shower, we had a dry weekend and the two Genet records stalwarts kicked ass with their tight emorock tunes with wicked breaks and creative outburts. Both were among the highlights of the festival and these (at that day) young bands moved fast-forward to reach larger crowds soon afterwards. REIZIGER played a very successful reunion show at Ieperfest 2011 and are recently released a brand new record.
In 2001 the numerous Ieperfest spectators were able to witness the clash between US east-coast DIY epic metalcore kings CATHARSIS and west-coast synth-mathcore moguls The LOCUST. Both bands absolutely killed it with, ehm … killer performances. The LOCUST (featuring Justin of SWING KIDS) set was ended abruptly when local authorities decided to interfere since we were slightly running out of time. Too bad, but the band were back for a much deserved revenge a few years later (same problem). Also CATHARSIS hit the Ieperfest stage again: in 2013, no less than 12 years after their very first performance.
Sacramento (CA, US) hardcore punks TRASH TALK insisted on playing a floor show, with just the drummer on stage. Their set became one of the most crazy ones ever seen at Ieperfest. A year later CONVERGE (Salem, Massachusetts) agreed to play a shorter set in order to give TRASH TALK (them again) the chance to also play a couple of songs. The latter had arrived way too late so they were fortunate to even get on … CONVERGE did play a killer set though. It was their very first Ieperfest performance and they totally killed it with their wicked mathcore madness. Sweet memories.
Ok Bruno, let’s go back in time and discuss your early days, as you’re a dinosaur! :) How do you remember putting out the very first edition of Ieper? How were the first years of its existence?
I was a Vort’n Vis volunteer when the first edition was organised in 1992, I was in charge of bookings and communication back then, but didn’t book the fest. Next one was in 1994 and at that time I advised Hans on the bookings and helped out with promo and communication. From the fourth edition onwards I have been the main responsible for all bookings and communication. Things were very DIY back in the day. We didn’t have email or internet to make life easy on us. It was a small venture and we managed to improve the fest and grew slightly year after year. Ieperfest has been an international thing from the very start with bands and visitors participating from several European countries.
Looking back now, what would you say are the most stressful aspects of running Ieper?
That’s simple. Last minute changes, cancellations and bands arriving too late are a real pain and always cause stress. We urge all bands to come in time. Get-in times may seem early sometimes, but it has saved a couple of bands from missing their slot. Small delays can always happen so sometimes it’s better to travel over night.
Touching general Ieperfest issues, why is ecology education so important for you guys? What’s “Green Policy”?
Organising a festival like Ieperfest is a rather polluting activity. So we try to keep our ecological footprint as small as possible. We have done so from the very start but this aspect has grown more and more important during the years. We recycle as much as possible, but first of all, we try to avoid pollution. We don’t serve meat, so that means we don’t have to be concerned about zillions of litres of water wasted just for feeding a few souls. We filter water ourselves so we need less bottled water for bands and cooperators = less empty bottles = less pollution. Check our website to read more about this. You might be surprised what you can do yourself and make a difference.
Rokycany, where Fluff Fest is taking place in, was awfully treated with “graffiti” 2 years ago. The organizers issued a statement saying that they pay a lot of money to remove it from rented equipment and buildings around the town. I wonder what’s YOUR relationship with the municipality in Ieper. Do you face any problems with local authorities?
Back in the day when Vort’n Vis and Ieperfest had first started, we didn’t get along that well with the local authorities. They saw us as a bunch of drug addicts that were a danger for local business and tourism. Fortunately we were able to change their opinion. Ieperfest is a major event in Ieper, it has promoted this old war town internationally so much. For many kids worldwide Ieperfest is a household name and any one who has been to the fest in the past keeps sweet memories about it and the cosy town of Ieper. So basically, Ieperfest is free publicity for the city of Ieper!
What I love about Ieperfest is that you are very open minded to many different genres. I love this idea that people come to see a metal band, they get curious, then check out some metallic hardcore band and get addicted to newly discovered artists :) I truly believe that blending styles might help people broaden their horizons, reach inspiring thoughts and be more aware. How do you pick up bands for the festival? What’s the strategy for the line-up for the coming years?
We wanna keep on booking a wide variety of bands. We try to be open-minded on the matter. The more styles we offer, the more different bands people can discover. Througout the years we have learned that the Ieperfest crowd is quite eager to discover new styles, new bands, new tunes … We added a third musical stage for that reason. Well, on top of trying to give some lesser known bands a chance to play the fest, that is. Just check the line-up or have a isten to the Ieperfest bandcamp page and you will know what we mean.
Fluff Fest, Sweden’s Firestorm Fest and a few more festivals’ organizers used to cancel some of the bands that turned out to stand against their politics. Do you have such restrictions?
We have a strict “no racism, no fascism, no sexism” policy and really want to stick to that. However it can happen that a band with rather sketchy politics gets on the bill. In that case, when we find out eventually, the collective will decide what to do about it.
What active bands are you dying to book, but never succeeded? Is there a dream act you’d love to have that’s just been unobtainable so far?
Some bands we have been trying to book for years but always failed to do so are: BAD RELIGION, CARCASS, CAVE IN, CULT OF LUNA, ELECTRIC WIZARD, GOOD RIDDANCE, HATEBREED, HIGH ON FIRE, KILLSWITCH ENGAGE, LAMB OF GOD, MELT-BANANA, MODERN LIFE IS WAR, RUSSIAN CIRCLES, SAINT VITUS, SLAPSHOT, WALLS OF JERICHO, etc
Either because their bookers are ignoring us, or we don’t fit in their tour scheduling, or they prefer playing bigger Belgian fests that are asking for exclusivity for their performance.
We are happy to cross off the following from that list this year: ANTISECT, BOYSETSFIRE, COLD WORLD, CONFLICT, DEAD KENNEDYS, DYS, GORILLA BISCUITS, NO WARNING, REPULSION, RINGWORM, SNFU & TERRORIZER. All of these have never played the fest before, so we are really happy to finally have them.
Alright Bruno, let’s drop a good teaser for this year’s edition of Ieperfest :) Are there any special plans to celebrate the 22nd fiesta? Tell me about the new stage and some other stuff that you want to reveal this year.
Some well kept secrets you mean? ;-) We will add a few more extra catering stands. We wanna prove that meat/dairy free food can be just as delicious as what a carnevore regularly eats. We hope to amaze a few people and hopefully they will look at their diets in a different way afterwards? We realise Ieperfest has influenced a whole bunch of visitors to eat less meat, or even better, to go veggie or vegan. The more delicious, cruelty-free and environmentally-friendly food we can offer, the better!
What’s going on at the fest beyond the music? What organizations are you collaborating with and what a man who’s never been to Ieper Fest can count on when he decides to attend the next edition?
One of the things that struck me most last year, was the fact that so many people seemed to have such a great time at Ieperfest. People come over and enjoy themselves. Be it by watching the bands, hanging out with friends, enjoying the splendid vegan food, having a couple of drinks, checking out the More Than Music program, etc. It is fantastic to see all of those happy faces.
The More Than Music stage is a really important part of the fest. It shows that Ieperfest is more than just blind consumerism and fun. Have a look at the MTM tab to see what it is about.
Speaking about this year’s edition, what have you been looking forward to the most at this point?
Well, introducing a new stage is definitely a great challenge! There are so many things we have to take into account. Band/style clashes, equipment issues, etc. Fingers crossedthat all goes well. We are pretty well prepared so we are quite confident things will work out.
Alright Bruno. One last thing, I promise. Your latest Ieperfest update unveiled a huge lineup change. I was already aware of the STRIFE cancellation, but had no idea that this will come with so many other switches. What happened and how do you deal with such emergencies.
I think it’s a combination of opporunistic behaviour and bad organisation by bands and bookers. Not going to say too much about it at this point. We announced the final bill with 84 bands early May. 16 (!!) of those cancelled, so all in all we confirmed 84+16 = 100 bands. Really amazing if you ask me. We are all volunteers and have many other things to do than just keep on booking replacements for bands that pulled out … In the end the 2014 bill is still total killer, definitely our best one to date. Really really happy with it, also with bands we added at a later point.
Thank you so much Bruno! We made it! :) Feel free to add anything you want! Sincere good luck and more power to you, good Sir!
Finally, done and dealt with. Thanks for your continued support, Karol!
Ieperfest official website