Breaking News: Hellfest 2015 is set to be insane. We sat down with Alex Rebdcu, Head of Communications, Public Relations, and Marketing Operations at French rock festival Hellfest this week to discuss hostility with locals, the festival, and the next potential headliners.
HTF: Hellfest 2015; you pumped for it?
AR: Definitely. I’m really excited because we’ve been working on brand new stuff; people have been talking about it a lot! We’ve got new service, new staff, new ornaments, new universe, blah blah blah. It’s a new edition, and we’ve really crossed the corner for Hellfest.
HTF: The weekend and 3 day tickets sold out in 15 days; before Christmas, a new record right? Have you guys been feeling the support this year?
AR: We are not surprised that we sold 45,000 tickets in 15 days, but it’s fucking awesome. And now we can focus on the festival itself instead of selling tickets. It’s a good condition to be working in.
HTF: You’ve still got 30 bands left to announce, is there anybody left in the rock world to even announce?!
AR: We’ve got 160 bands; the most important bands like Slipknot and Limp Bizkit have already been announced, and the last bands we’re going to announce are going to be tiny French bands. It’s good to be bringing the big bands like Motorhead together with little bands like Rise of the Northstar.
HTF: Which bands do you see right now as the next big Slipknot or Iron Maiden of festivals?
AR: I don’t know which band is going to be the next headliner. We can’t talk about the next headliner, because I don’t know anybody who could be bigger than say Iron Maiden, Rammstein, Black Sabbath. You know, we don’t really like to talk about the big headliners too much, because of course they’re going to disappear; I don’t want to sound mean, but they’re kinda getting old, y’know? Of course no band is going to be the same as them. We don’t really care about the big names too much; we can provide more-underground bands as well as the big ones. I mean, 10 years ago people would come to a festival and say ‘oh, I want to see this big band’. Now, they come to Hellfest and say ‘I want to see this band, this band, this band’.
HTF: With the music festival scene becoming quite flooded in recent years, do you guys feel the pressure to be louder than everybody else, to be better than any potential rivals?
AR: I don’t want to say it’s a kind of war. But we don’t really feel any pressure, because we are the most important. Sure, if a potential rival came along, we’d be all like ‘what the fuck’ and step up our game. But at the moment, I’m really glad that we get people who trust us, who decide to come to the festival before seeing the lineup. We provide a real experience, instead of merely providing the big names; unlike other festivals.
HTF: Who’s idea was the name of Hellfest, anyway? Where did it come from?
AR: It’s a long story, but the guy who created it lived in a small town. He really wanted to go to all of the big festivals, but they were too far away, as obviously nobody big wanted to play in a small shitty town. So he said, well, if I can’t go to the bands, the bands will come to us, and they will ask me to play. So he created a festival called Fury Fest [which went on to become Hellfest after 2005], and now we’re selling tickets to over 45’000 people.
HTF: Obviously, it’s been 10 years since the start of Hellfest. Has the locals reaction and perception of you guys improved since the start?
AR: We don’t have any trouble any more, because the locals want to work for us, to help us, to be part of the project because it brings money into the area. You can rent your room to people who don’t want to camp, you can volunteer; I’d say about 99% of the locals want and like Hellfest. When we started 10 years ago, nobody used to know about music festivals or metal as much, so we used to lie and say we were organising a rock party, because people were afraid. But now, people aren’t afraid, and want to be part of the project.
HTF: Anything else to add?
AR: I’d like to say thank you to everyone who’s either come or is coming. We welcome any festival-goers, and you need to come test this French experience. This year is going to be fucking massive.