John Giddings speaks exclusively to eFestivals

IOW boss discusses this year's event

published: Mon 21st Jan 2013

John Giddings

Thursday 13th to Sunday 16th June 2013
Seaclose Park, Newport, Isle of Wight, PO30 2DN, England MAP
daily capacity: 90000
last updated: Thu 30th May 2013

eFestivals spoke exclusively to John Giddings, festival organiser for our annual discussion about The Isle Of Wight Festival.

John Giddings
How would you sum up this year's line-up?
I think it's brilliant, I'm really pleased. We've got something Eighties, Nineties, and Noughties. Music from the past, present, and future, and really amazed we've got it together this early. We've had a fantastic reaction from one and all.

You've also got all your headliners on exclusives, do you think that's important?
They are all UK Festival exclusives. I think for the money these groups demand, I think you need some form of exclusivity, because there are more than 500 festivals in the UK, and you can't all keep on competing against each other for a shrinking pound. You'll see that GuilFest has gone to the wall, and that's in our catchment. I think that's tragic, you have to protect your territory.

The licence review for your festival went through in November without a hitch...
Yes, brilliant, we were vindicated. It showed who was really in fault.

You mentioned a weather contingency plan you'd invest in...
We've got lots of plans we are going to unveil on our website and by press release. We have delivered for approval but it hasn't been rubber stamped by all concerned. But everyone knows we have doubled the car park spaces, and doubled the entrances and exits.

I have no intention of a repeat of the same scenario. If there's a nuclear bomb or a helicopter hits a crane things happen. The problem is people are used to spending hours getting in or out of Glastonbury, but people aren't used to that on the Isle Of Wight, because we've been blessed with brilliant weather the whole of our career. It was a surprise, but the 55,000 people who came had the best time of their lives.

I noticed when you pay for car parking it says which ferry terminal you're arriving at, is that because there will be separate parking areas?
Yes, I'm segregating fields. There's a red car park, and a white car park, for Red Funnel, and Wight Link. The two traffic queues will never cross, I have created a new traffic management plan. It's funny really because you can drive into Newport on a Saturday afternoon of the festival more easily than you can the rest of the year.

So you are completely prepared for bad weather in future years now you've had poor weather?
We think we've got everything covered now, bar a nuclear explosion. But, when you park cars on grass, if you speak to Badminton horse trials, or Silverstone, last year was the wettest on record. If this year is the wettest year on record I intend not to have a repeat of the same scenario.

You're announcing more acts on Monday?
Yes, at 8 o'clock on Monday, and we're not going to give any clues. They're good, and I'm very pleased. I'm very pleased with all our groups. I think we are a great festival of music. I think our audience loves good music, and show their appreciation of it. They're a great audience, and I need to look after that audience, and make sure they have a decent campsite and decent surroundings, and it's not overcrowded.

Considering how well the festival recovered from the bad weather at the beginning clearly the expansion of some areas, and changes to the site worked really well.
Yes, it worked extremely well. It was overlooked because of that bad 24 hours of weather on the Thursday, but we had doubled the entrances and the accesses within the arean and the campsite and it worked incredibly, people were very happy with it.

Are you intending to keep it the same for this summer?
You're always improving, we're digging in some ditches, and we're moving things around slightly, but that will all be unveiled in due course. We've got a great new Dance Tent which we're announcing on 1st February. We've had a smaller dance tent before, but we're going to make it a bigger dance tent this year, and feature it more heavily.

Are there any acts you are looking forward to seeing?
I'm looking forward to seeing g the Palma Violets, The Killers, and an act I'm announcing for the Saturday, that's on early in the day, he plays one of my favourite songs of all time. People always say to me who is your favourite act, and I always look at the audience enjoying themselves. It doesn't really matter who the act is, as long as the audience are having a great time.

The Stone Roses should go down quite well?
Yes, they're one of my favourite acts of all time, I think they helped the face of British music. We've had three of them individually, John (Squire) and his band, Mani with Primal Scream, and Ian (Brown) singing on his own, finally we have got the lot of them together. There will be a big party.

What's been your personal favourite festival appearance to date?
Maybe Jay-Z (2010), when Kanye West came on with Jay-Z it was incredible. But then Bruce Springsteen was incredible, Tom Petty was incredible, The Rolling Stones were incredible, Paul McCartney was, The Prodigy, Faithless, it just goes on and on. The Foo Fighters can come back anytime, Coldplay can come back anytime, Muse can come back anytime. There's just so many now over 12 years. The best thing was the anniversary poster we do where we put all the headliners as if they were all on the same day, it's brilliant, the bill of bills.

But I also love The Beach Stage, and the Siegeltent, and the Burlesque show and all that kind of stuff. I always think if there isn't an act you like on any of the stages you want to see, there's always something else to entertain you. That's my aim in life, and thank god there's no football championship on this year, and England never do well anyway. It just brings everybody down and everyone wears those boring nationalistic football shirts. I wouldn't mind if they had a better design, they're not exactly Stella McCartney.

You mentioned The Rolling Stones, do you think they will play Glastonbury Festival, as some people are predicting?
I have no idea, it's up to them. They can do anything they want this year.

How hard was it to book them in 2007?
Everything is hard, it's not an overnight success, but they wanted to do it, and when somebody wants to do something you can make it happen. If somebody doesn't want to do something it doesn't matter how much money you chuck at them. They were quite excited about playing on a line-up with Amy Winehouse, and Paolo Nutini, and bands like that, and after we had sold out.

That's the only festival they have ever played in the UK, so we are very, very proud of that fact. They were going to come without their B-Stage, and I paid £100,000 extra to put their B-Stage into the park for three songs. I thought, "If I get run over on Monday morning, at least I've brought The Rolling Stones to The Isle Of Wight."

Do you have a new design for the buses and everything this year?
Yes, we're unveiling a new artwork. I can tell you it's a mermaid. Well we are an island, and it makes you think of the sea, and sand, and the sun.

How do you think the festival scene has held up through this extended period of recession?
It's like everything, people at the top survive, and people at the lower end get cut out. It's a natural process of elimination; it's the same as record companies, or High Street shops. I work in Fulham and I can't go anywhere to buy a record. The general public wiped the shops out by buying their music on the internet.

How a ticket sales going?
They're good, we're definitely on course, we're happy. You have to keep pushing though, we're not all Glastonbury where you get 10 people wanting one ticket, you have to provide decent entertainment in a competitive market, and i think we have done so again.

The dates for the twelfth Isle of Wight festival are from Thursday 13th until Sunday 16th June 2013 at Seaclose Park, Newport, Isle of Wight.

The Stone Roses headline Friday, The Killers headline Saturday, and Bon Jovi close Sunday.
Other acts announced include Jake Bugg, Emeli Sande, Palma Violets, Ben Howard, Laura Mvula, Newton Faulkner, Lianne La Havas, Willy Moon, Young Guns, Kids in Glass Houses, Tracer, Stackridge, The Blockheads, Hugh Cornwell, Levellers, Steve Forbert, The Script, Bloc Party, Paloma Faith, The Maccabees, Ellie Goulding, Happy Mondays, Blondie, and more.
For the line-up details as available please click here.

An adult ticket with camping is priced at £185, with NUS weekend tickets with camping priced at £175, and a child (7 to 12 years) weekend ticket with camping is priced at £92.50. A day ticket is priced at £75. All children 6 years old and under on 13th June 2013 can go free of charge but must still be included in the booking in order to receive a wristband. A Campervan ticket is priced at £100, and car parking is priced from £10.

To buy tickets, click here.
interview by: Scott Williams

Thursday 13th to Sunday 16th June 2013
Seaclose Park, Newport, Isle of Wight, PO30 2DN, England MAP
daily capacity: 90000
last updated: Thu 30th May 2013

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