eFestivals Gets Probyn

Download 2009 interview

published: Wed 13th May 2009

around the site(1)

Friday 12th to Sunday 14th June 2009
Donington Park, Leics, England MAP
£135 weekend, £65 any day, camping is an extra £25
last updated: Thu 11th Jun 2009

Given that Download 2009 has put together not only its own greatest ever lineup, but one of the strongest festival bills in recent years, eFestivals was particularly excited to prise Festival Director John Probyn from his many, many duties for a quick chat about exactly why 2009 will belong to Donington. Here's the lowdown...

How has putting together this year's festival compared to previous years?
Like a dream come true to be honest. Last year we were all a bit down as people kept telling us we didn't have a good line up and then when we got to the festival, I realised we had 50,000 people on site and in this day and age, that's not bad. So we picked ourselves up, went out and booked a killer line up, changed the site round to make it better for the fans and away we go! The vibe this year is brilliant, both amongst the fan community on line, in the office and even around the industry and that makes life a lot easier.

How has the presence of Sonisphere affected the general set up of Download. Has there been more of a mind to improve on certain aspects of the festival as a result of the competition?
It hasn't affected me, or the set up of Download at all. Every year we have competition from someone and if I allowed myself to get all bitter and twisted over how well another festival was doing, or what effect it might have on me, then life would be very short – and sad.

Do you think the presence of another big metal/hard rock festival is a good thing from the perspective of a music fan?
Fans deserve variety and they will decide what they want to spend their money on based on personal choice.

2008's line-up was criticised by certain sectors of the music press and various metal fanbases. While all line-ups will inevitably receive its critics, do you feel that the backlash given to Lostprophets taking a Sunday slot was particularly harsh?
Lets be honest, everyone had an opinion about last year but 50,000 fans came and had a great time. It doesn't matter who we book to headline, someone will hate it and slag us off.

Having put so much effort and time into a festival, is it frustrating to see such criticism arise, especially given the huge number and variety of bands that will eventually play anyway?
I listen to criticism, evaluate it and act on it if I think action is required. If not, I forget about it, fast.

2009's line-up has arguably received the biggest praise of any previous year, why do you think that is?
That's easy, because it's the best line up for a rock festival ever!

What is the most exciting aspect of this year's bill for you personally?
ZZ Top, can't wait!!

There have been murmurs that Download will attempt to stagger certain parts of the bill this year, any news on this? Are there any particular clashes that the organisers are looking to avoid?
It's a festival and there will be clashes and no matter how much work we put in to the schedule, someone will fuck it up by being late, not turning up or throwing a hissy fit back stage.

The Sunday main stage has a classic rock presence that few other years have focused towards, where did that come from?
Andy Copping who books the bands – genius!

Was it important to try and bring in three headliners that have never played Download before?
It's a Rock Festival and at the end of the day we only have a certain amount of bands in the world that can headline. Its not like V or T in the Park where we have a big list of bands to go after, but what Andy tries to do is offer variety and this year he delivered big time.

There has been some controversy surrounding the status of Faith No More's appearance, as it was first billed as the 'only UK show of the year', and then simply 'first UK show of the year'. Many fans have suggested that they were mislead over the exclusivity of the band playing, is that something you guys hope to fully address soon?
We don't tell lies, we give people information based on facts at the time. What's the point in me misleading a fan, is that going to make them want to buy tickets in the future?

Was the band's 'self-confirmation' for Reading and Leeds as big a surprise for you and Andy as it was for everyone else? It came out of the blue...
Every day is a day at school in this business.

Though the festivals obviously have different core audiences, if Faith No More do end up playing Reading, do you think it would undermine Download, particularly given the hype surrounding Faith No More's announcement?
Look at the line-up on the Sunday at Reading last year, did that undermine Download and stop 50,000 people having a great time?

What plans are there for future Downloads? Are there any new aspects being introduced this year that could be expanded upon in the future?
We try new ideas every year, some work and some don't. The future of Download is easy; if people keep buying tickets I will keep running it.

Finally, if you could put together your own dream festival using any bands and artists, alive or dead, who'd appear?
Friday – The Beach Boys, Diana Ross & The Supremes, Slade!
Saturday – Queen, The Police & Bruce Springsteen
Sunday – Ramnstein, ZZ Top, The Prodigy

interview by: Merlin Alderslade

Friday 12th to Sunday 14th June 2009
Donington Park, Leics, England MAP
£135 weekend, £65 any day, camping is an extra £25
last updated: Thu 11th Jun 2009


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