Feature: "Welcome to Rockville", "Carolina Rebellion", and "Rock on the Range" with Danny Wimmer
Wed, 20 Feb 2013 11:11:37
"We're trying to wave the rock flag as high as we can," exclaims Danny Wimmer.
That's what he and the crews at premier festival production companies Danny Wimmer Presents and Right Arm Entertainment are doing stateside with Welcome to Rockville [April 27, 28 Jacksonville, FL], Carolina Rebellion [May 4, 5 Charlotte, NC], Rock on the Range [May 17, 18, 19 Columbus, OH], and Fort Rock [April 14, Ft. Myers, FL]. In fact, Wimmer and co. put on world class festivals that beckon audiences to return again and again. They're doing their part to keep rock 'n' roll alive in North America, and they're doing a hell of a job of it. That's why they're dominating the game and paving the way for the next generation of great rock bands. There's no better platform than their festivals.
In this exclusive interview, Danny Wimmer talks to ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino about the upcoming festivals and so much more.
How do you choose the lineup for Welcome to Rockville?
It is difficult putting the lineup together every year. Bands are in their different cycles. Some bands that you like aren't out. We plan this a year out working with artists, managers, and labels. We're hoping to find bands we can help move the needle in the market. Every year, it's different. For this year in Jacksonville, Limp Bizkit hasn't played there in over 10 years. That's a big grab for us. They're local heroes. I'm really excited to have them. Alice in Chains has been around for a long time, and they've played a big role in a lot of people's lives especially in the '90s.
With everyone from Stone Sour to All That Remains, Welcome to Rockville is an all-inclusive cross-section of everything going on in hard rock and heavy metal.
It's very important to find the next round of bands. We're in the iPod generation. Fans are listening to different genres. They're listening to more lifestyle rock, and the younger kids are going back and picking up Alice In Chains. I feel like Welcome to Rockville is something a father and son can enjoy together. That's how I program it.
There's also a spot for younger acts like Otherwise and Gemini Syndrome.
For all of our festivals, I believe we have a duty to continue finding the next round of bands. It's very important for us, as tastemakers of rock, to find and identify the next round of bands and talent. It's our job to keep feeding the machine.
How would you spend your day at Welcome to Rockville, if you were a fan attending in the crowd?
That's an interesting question! To me, it's a whole experience. You've got to spend time on the third stage and see who's coming up next. It's important to reach out, listen, and find new music. For me, it's about discovery. It's also easy for me to go back and listen to something very familiar like Alice In Chains. Festivals are about meeting new people, music discovery, enjoying good food, getting some drinks, and having a really fun day. It's part of the culture of rock 'n' roll.
You've provided a platform for a lot of bands like Five Finger Death Punch who have risen to the top in the 21st century, which is no easy feat.
Look at Alice In Chains, they're making music that's relevant. Take Limp Bizkit too. They've moved the needle outside of the U.S. They're back in Europe, and they're ready to start their campaign back in the States. They're headlining major festivals overseas. They're coming out with a new record, and I feel like they're writing relevant music. I can't wait for the new Alice In Chains record.
Do you get to go into the audience much?
I spend a lot of time in the crowd. I want to know what t-shirts they're wearing. For Rock on the Range, which is more straight-down-the-middle rock, we started noticing kids were wearing Asking Alexandria shirts. That's lifestyle rock. We noticed A Day to Remember shirts coming up. We realized this is a great way we can expand. We can go left. We can go right. We can get The Smashing Pumpkins. We can get Soundgarden. We can get Lynyrd Skynyrd. It's becoming one fan. People are music lovers, and they appreciate all types of genres in rock. I spend a lot of time, I ask a lot of questions, I watch people, and I try to figure out what they're habits are. I learn what we're doing right and wrong. I want to constantly make our events better.
Who are the next contenders for the rock crown?
I'm really liking the way Volbeat is building themselves. They got the Metallica tour, but they took advantage of it. They have a great label and management team. They're playing America and winning fan by fan. They weren't jamming radio at the beginning. They built a fan base, and radio came to them. They're going to be jumping into headline status in the next couple of years. Five Finger Death Punch is a very important band for rock 'n' roll right now. I'm excited to hear what their next record is. To me, those are the two who really moved the needle.
Ghost B.C. could take over too…
Ghost B.C. is a lifestyle band that kids are passing around amongst themselves. When you see them, it's an experience. It's a show. It's theatrical. We definitely believe in them, and we definitely believe they'll be a headliner in the next couple of years.
Soundgarden at Rock on the Range is quite special too.
Man, I've got to tell you Soundgarden was one of the most important bands that came out of the early '90s. They led the way. They were a leader. They came out in the '80s and paved the way for Nirvana and Pearl Jam. I'm so proud to have them on our stage. I can't wait to see them. King Animal is brilliant. Chris Cornell is a godfather. He's got a beautiful voice. We're really excited about them for Carolina Rebellion.
Also, you've got Korn's first U.S. show with Brian "Head" Welch.
Last year, we got very lucky. Korn was playing Carolina Rebellion. "Head" was on a P.O.D. tour. His band wasn't even on Carolina Rebellion. He reached out to the Korn guys and told them he'd love to see them and hang. We witnessed a reunion on our stage. They're a very important band. They helped define a moment in rock 'n' roll. It was incredible last year. We can't wait for Rock on the Range.
Will you be attending Welcome to Rockville?