The reviews from Bloodstock 2016 will be coming thick and fast over the coming days (our first is out now *plug*) and while I’m waiting for our Crew to get their words together, I wanted to put something up that – hopefully – is a little different from the rest. This is my view of working behind the scenes at Bloodstock.
Our site is, roughly, five years old. It’s gone from a personal blog to some out-of-control mad thing with around thirty people contributing and a core of about ten of us. Last year we somehow managed to get a couple of names on the media list for Bloodstock. James and Sean did a hell of a job, but there was far too much work for the pair of them! What they did do was a good enough job to ensure that we were allowed back into the media area with a bigger team for 2016 – including myself focusing on interviews.
I went through more interviews than I care to count each day, but the ones that stick out are from the younger/newer bands. I won’t name names, but seeing the nerves, excitement and simple joy from many of them at having played Bloodstock and doing all this press stuff pretty much summed up why I’m doing this job. Their enthusiasm and amateur professionalism (if that’s not a contradiction) was heart-warming and leaves me with a great feeling for the future.
Of course, there was the chance to chat to some of the bigger names – Anthrax, DragonForce, Behemoth… three years ago those were bands I knew as well as any of you guys. Now I’ve interviewed and had selfies with them while kicking back on beanbags. This is “dream come true” territory. However, it doesn’t come without a fair bit of work.
I’ve done interviews, photography, reviews, Skype chats, arranged things for other people, web design… but this was my first experience in a press / media “environment” with a large group of other people. At Bloodstock, I was mainly interviewing and work was non-stop for between 6-8 hours each day. That might not sound like a lot, but when you’re talking, writing, interviewing, planning, scheduling and trying to make sure you don’t over-run on anything… it’s a lot to keep on top of. Plus, it was scorching on the Saturday and I may have forgotten to eat lunch or wear sunscreen all day. Oops.
Planned interviews went ahead almost completely on schedule due to the efforts of bands and PR staff. Ad-hoc interviews were numerous and I’ve not turned down a single act except Regulus who unfortunately caught me an hour after we’d packed everything up (and I was off for a lie down due to a touch of sunstroke)… but I’ll collar them for a chat in the next few days to make up.
I simply cannot remember the last time I worked to hard and enjoyed it so much. For those who don’t know, and I mention it a lot, I’m a teacher in “real life” but Bloodstock was a completely different challenge. What made the whole thing such a buzz, though, was working with so many other fantastic people.
From our own guys, some of whom were paying punters who travelled down to help with reviews, to festival staff and PRs to people working for other publications, this was an absolute blast. When someone from another webzine spots you’re struggling and tells you just to dig through their bag of very expensive equipment – any time you like – to help yourself to their suntan lotion, you get a feeling for the trust and camaraderie on display. Everyone helps everyone else.
An empty media tent bursts in to a hive of activity as photographers rush back in after the 3-song main stage limit to edit their work before the next band. Interviewers line up in the sunshine to record chat after chat with bands from all four stages – Metal Hammer shoulder to shoulder with Rocks Off, next to Planet Mosh, next to us (though MH had much nicer lights and seats to be fair). Bloodstock themselves make it easier to get work done by providing free water for media staff and having no photo pit restrictions for the SOPHIE and New Blood Stages. This allows one photographer to get between both stages and stand a chance of getting a decent number snaps. Trying to schedule around a “first three songs” limit would be a pain.
My exhaustion peaked at the end of the second day and I was ready to drop. It wasn’t even 10pm when I was tempted to collapse with earplugs in to try and get a night’s sleep… but I didn’t want to miss anything in my free time!
Covering Bloodstock has undoubtedly been one of the most fantastic things I’ve ever done, and I’ve been lucky enough to do some bloody awesome things in my life. I still have no idea how I got there though I could go on an OSCARs style waffle listing the people I need to thank for getting me the opportunity (short version – Cosa Nostra PR for trusting us, Bloodstock for having us, Will Tudor for believing in us and my wife for letting me run away for five days!).
Roll on next year, if I’m allowed to do it all again. What a rush!
Header photo by Jorge Botas