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  INTERVIEW WITH DAVE RITCHIE, FOUNDER OF LES-FEST - PART TWO

Johnny Main

johnny main



dave ritchie

In the second part of our exclusive interview with Dave Ritchie, founder of the award winning Les-Fest (Scotland's only Rock and Metal festival), we discuss booking the headliners, what the future holds for the festival and if he has any other events planned under the Les-Fest banner.

When it comes to those headlining bands, these are obviously important choices in order to attract first time attendees, so how do they decide on each headliner? "Well we all know who we would like, but we are currently limited stage size, budget and venue capacity, so we need to be realistic about who we chose", he explains. "We've had some bands on our radar this year and we've been lucky enough to secure some of them, but other times it has been about discussing artists with agents and seeing who might be available around festival time."

"We are offered lots of good sized acts but sometimes we just can't meet their aspirations and the frustration for us is that some of the bands we want are with agencies that currently don't really recognise what we (at Les-Fest) do every year, but that will change through time - we may surprise a few people later this year!"

Article continues below...

iron maiden



Looking at the past two years, I ask Dave for some of his favourite acts who have appeared at the festival: "Difficult and possibly unfair in terms of just being good people, professional and friendly and easy to get along then there are many. The vast majority have been great people - we have had a few egos flying around, but usually from really new young bands.

"For me personally though I have loved Furyon, Monument, Jettblack, Attica Rage, Praying Mantis, Estrella, Massive Wagons, Inferno and Evile but the list really could go on and on. There is of course a reason for this, which is that they have probably been the only bands I have actually managed to see because during the festival, I'm so busy working that I often don't get much chance to see the bands and soak up the atmosphere! Generally, though, I'm happy to say that almost every band we have had on has been great!"

There is a second stage at the festival now which is utilised for stripped down/acoustic performances – how did this evolve? "The venue for stage two was just very conducive to being a chill out area. It's covered over, but still kind of outside, plus it has its own bar with a couple of food outlets so I thought 'why not put a few artists with acoustics out there and let people have a timeout from the Metal madness at the main stage?' and it works really well. One year on, and we have many bands who are playing the main stage also want to play the second stage on their "off day", and I guess it shows a different dynamic of the band to the fans - it is really popular so that will continue onto 2014 and beyond."

les fest

Lots of the bigger festivals have signing tents giving the fans a chance to get up close and personal with the bands but Les-Fest doesn't have anything like that yet – is this something the Les-Fest team are considering in the future? "Yeah", confirms Dave, "it's something we're looking into for next year, along with an improved merchandising marquee with stalls and other products as well as a larger outdoor bar area with a wider choice of refreshments and a possibly even a DJ."

"The biggest issue I have with all the things I would like to do, is staffing the event. We have a few really good and supportive group of volunteers and of course my friends and family work tirelessly too, but we are not in a position to pay much, if anything to staff. Other than to give them access to the event and a place to sleep, the only money that comes in is through ticket sales and I am trying to keep them priced as low as possible, but if people want to help out at Les-Fest 2014, keep an eye on the official Facebook page and we'll let you know how to apply."

The festival is growing in size every year, so how does Dave see the future: "I know it started very small, but from 2012 to 2013, camping ticket sales alone rose by over 200%, while full weekend ticket sales rose about 100% and day tickets were a similar figure, so we are building a fan base", he tells me excitedly.

"We actively encourage people to come along for the entire weekend and experience everything the festival has to offer – right down to the Rock N' Roll train!. To be honest, if we can sell another couple of hundred tickets for next year then the event will be a sell out. Having said that, tickets have been flying already, and, as I handle all the sales personally, the pleasing thing is that we already have a loyal following – those people that came in year one, bought again quickly for year two and then obviously brought some friends with them, well, those same people and their friends are now buying for year three!"

One of the selling points of Les-Fest is that the main arena is indoors – are there any plans to bring the festival Main Stage outdoors in the future? "Yes," replies Dave with a definite answer.

"The plan for Les-Fest 2015 is to upscale the event and move the main stage outdoors. L.O.A. (Les-Fest Open Air) anyone?" he adds with a smile. "If the main stage is outdoors, that would allow us to have three stages, which in turn would enable us to increase the ticket allocation, which will extend our budget and then logically, that would enable us to book the bands that can fill a larger arena – it's a good way to move forward."

I ask Dave why he thinks Les-Fest has been so successful to which he ponders before answering: "A lot of people I meet say that I keep playing down our success and we should all be shouting from the rooftops, so success is not a word I would yet associate with Les-Fest.

"I won't be content until we at least sell one out - once we achieve that then it is a success. What we do have, though, is a very friendly inclusive event that the fans enjoy, we are praised by the site owners too, we have the facilities, the excellent security staff, a great sound system and, of course, the bands who enjoy the experience too. I suppose from the outside looking in it is a great weekend, but I am never complacent, so I guess the day I believe we are successful is the day I need to be wary of. You should never be absolutely satisfied - you should always strive to improve and excel. Feedback is always welcome - good or bad!"

les fest
Dave Ritchie, Johnny Main, Fede Valls

With Christmas approaching fast, the inaugural Les-Festive is scheduled for the first weekend in December at Ivory Blacks in Glasgow, so does Dave see this as another annual event?

"I think the regional showcase events will become regular occurrences and I would like to take the whole brand – not my favourite word but it is a "brand" now – to a level where we're putting on regular gigs in the North and doing tours and promotion.

"The Les-Festive event will become an annual showcase and it will also be the stepping stone for a dozen or so bands every year to get to the main Les-Fest event."

He is keen to point out that these Les-Fest spin off events are not "a battle of the bands - if twelve bands play and we like, say, eight of them they will all get a slot. If we only like two bands, so be it. What we are trying to create here, are opportunities for bands to get more exposure and ultimately establishing the Les-Fest – here's that word again – brand."

Winding up our chat, I ask Dave what, realistically, he wants Les-Fest to achieve?: "Originally the festival was that one off – that "I have a dream moment" we spoke about earlier, but now I am genuinely setting out to have what many people have told me it should be – a Scottish Bloodstock style event with three or four stages, the outdoors main stage and a crowd of thousands attending.

"To be clear though, never massive as I think we would lose touch with fans but five thousand sounds like a good number to me".

With that we part ways, but with the prospect of Les-Festive approaching and the headliners for Les-Fest 2014 on the verge of being announced, everyone here at MetalTalk Towers wishes Dave and his team the very best for all their endeavours!

Thanks again to Dave Ritchie for taking time out of his busy schedule to speak to me.

You can watch Dave and Fade onstage at Les-Fest 2013 here:



Les-Fest:
Les-Fest 2014
Valley International Park
Crossford,
Clyde Valley
Carluke,
ML8 5NJ

Online:
Official Website: www.les-fest.co.uk/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/LesFest

Click here for Part One of this interview.


10.12.2013





iron maiden



 

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metallica UK EXCLUSIVE: METALLICA RELEASE 'HARDWIRED' - NEW VIDEO RIGHT HERE
"Has it really been eight years? Doesn't feel like it! We’re obviously beyond psyched to share new tunes with all our friends out there via MetalTalk...

manowar WAS BREAKING NEWS: MANOWAR TICKETS ON SALE FOR THE FINAL BATTLE WORLD TOUR
The Kings Of Metal are abdicating and our very last Call To Arms is coming...

opeth OPETH DETAIL WEMBLEY ARENA SHOW
"We'll only play this set list three times on the whole world tour so if you miss it, you'll have missed it..."

tank UPDATED: TANK RELEASE DIGITAL DELUXE VERSIONS OF 'WAR MACHINE' AND 'WAR NATION'
"Doogies vocals were exactly suited to this period of Tank and we're extremely proud of what we created in these two albums."

pete way PETE WAY LEAVES HOSPITAL AFTER HEART ATTACK
"Pete Way and I would like to thank you all for your messages, kind thoughts and prayers..."

vader WAS BREAKING NEWS: VADER ANNOUNCE NOVEMBER LONDON GIG
Vader will be touring in support of their recently announced new studio album 'The Empire' which is due for release this autumn...

dead daisies THE DEAD DAISIES RELEASE NEW VIDEO FOR 'JOIN TOGETHER' AS 'MAKE SOME NOISE' CRASHES INTO WORLDWIDE CHARTS
"We want to thank all of our fans and friends around the world for the amazing support of our new record 'Make Some Noise'!"

bloodstock POLICE APPEAL FOR INFORMATION REGARDING SEXUAL ASSAULT AT BLOODSTOCK
"Police are appealing for anyone with information to get in touch and are asking people to share this appeal..."

guns n roses EXCLUSIVE: GUNS N' ROSES DOWNLOAD ANNOUNCEMENT ON THE WAY WITH AUSTRALIAN AND JAPANESE DATES CONFIRMED
Other possibles for the remaining two headline slots are Aerosmith, Def Leppard and Metallica...

roger dean URIAH HEEP, BUDGIE AND ATOMIC ROOSTER ARTISTS WORK TO BE IMMORTALISED ON STAMPS
Roger Dean has designed over 100 album covers for artists including Yes, Asia, London Symphony Orchestra, Nightwing, It Bites and Snafu.

evil scarecrow WAS BREAKING NEWS: EVIL SCARECROW ANNOUNCE 'ROCK YOU LIKE A HURRICANADO' TOUR
"We'll be bringing our biggest, silliest show yet along with some brand new, probably never heard before, music 'genius'..."

blaze bayley BLAZE BAYLEY TO BE FEATURED IN MULTI-PART CANADIAN DOCUMENTARY
"I'm excited to be returning to Canada and I look forward to meeting my fans, with the opportunity for them to be a part of the documentary."

last in line LAST IN LINE ADDED TO WINTER STORM LINE-UP
Winter Storm, the festival that will take place over the weekend of 25th and 26th November in Troon, South Ayrshire, have already announced an exciting line-up...

tony iommi GREAT NEWS FROM TONY IOMMI: CANCER IS IN REMISSION
"The chemotherapy and the follow-up treatment appear to have done the trick — but I'm aware that it could come back one day."

suicide silence SUICIDE SILENCE ANNOUNCE NOVEMBER 2016 UK TOUR
"Hold on to your butts cause we will be headbanging our way through your town! Bring your A game cause we will be bringing ours..."

ac dc AC/DC IN FULL FLIGHT: QUALITY LIMITED EDITION BOOK IS A MUST FOR COLLECTORS
All of the photographs have been carefully processed and digitally restored to optimise reproduction quality.

ozzy osbourne BOB DAISLEY FILES LAWSUIT AGAINST OZZY OSBOURNE, WHO RESPONDS
"We would have hoped that after 36 years that Mr Daisley would have lost his unhealthy personal obsession and resentment towards Mr Osbourne's success."

70 tons of metal 70000 TONS OF METAL: SIXTY BANDS, BARS THAT NEVER CLOSE AND MUCH MORE
Heavy Metal bands from around the globe playing concerts on four different stages...

lamb of god WAS BREAKING NEWS: LAMB OF GOD REVEAL NEW MUSIC VIDEO FOR 'EMBERS': MARK MORTON HAS SOME DEEPLY PERSONAL WORDS
"Nearly a decade after 'Walk With Me In Hell' it was happening yet again. Art was imitating life..."

iron maiden WAS BREAKING NEWS: IRON MAIDEN RELEASE "THANK YOU" VIDEO - WATCH IT HERE
Now it's break time for Iron Maiden but they will be back for a full scale UK Tour in 2017...

meat loaf WAS BREAKING NEWS: MEAT LOAF RELEASES SECOND TRACK FROM FORTHCOMING NEW ALBUM WITH JIM STEINMAN - LISTEN HERE
"Now psychologist and psychiatrists all over America are giving it to their patients..."

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