Behind the Scenes – an interview with Mucka Jay of Breaking Bands / TBFM

Your hostess with the mostes'...
Your hostess with the mostes’…

Every so often we like to look at things from a different perspective and collar someone who’s not quite so much in the limelight as the bands we usually feature. Today we have a few words from Mucka Jay, the man behind TBFM and the very successful run of Breaking Bands festivals. Focussing on these live shows, we chucked some questions at him and these are the responses…

When did you start Breaking Bands?

Breaking Bands Festival came up as a follow on from the TBFM Birthday Bash. TBFM was born on 31st May 2009 and each year we put on an all-dayer in different venues around the country.  In 2014 after making it a 3 day weekend (with hotels) we decided we needed to move forward and get onto camping sites to make it a proper festival. We had been looking for a very long time for a decent site and finally found our home when going to Beermageddon in 2014.

Why did you start Breaking Bands?

As mentioned, this came from our Birthday Bash weekenders but it is all about championing the bands that have worked so hard all year round. Putting on a music festival has been a lifelong ambition so this is a dream job!

How has the festival grown over the years?

From 2014 when the planning went into action things have progressed dramatically. We have improved the main stage, the acoustic stage and now there is a 3rd stage (outdoors) so it has increased. We also under-estimated numbers the first year so we made an increase of 100 tickets for this year. We still sold out early and we are set to sell out even quicker for 2017.

How far in advance do you know what bands you’re going to feature?

We already had the headliners for 2016 announced on the first night of the 2015 festival. We wanted to make a statement of intent. Like with major festivals, we want to plan 2 years in advance but unlike major festivals we are not recycling the same names on the bill so it’s very difficult to get too far ahead with plans. Unfortunately, a lot of the younger and newer bands don’t make it to the next year so we have them in mind but cannot book them.

Do you have backups “just in case”?

Oh hell yeah! Each year we have a full list of replacements for every single band we announce. We could in effect, have a back-up Breaking Bands Festival. The quality of the bands that have applied each year is amazing. I am rather shocked when I see some of the names on the applications!

You always seem to be inundated with requests to play – why?

I think it has something to do with the fact we don’t just put a band on a festival. We try our best to further their band careers with months of promotion before and after the festival. With nine months clear when we have the full list of bands announced we start with radio airplay, promotion of their videos on TBFM TV, features in the TBFM Magazine (including 3 bands going on the front cover) and a lot more. We make bio pages on the main website with links to bands music, social accounts and websites. Its more than just a gig, it’s a promotional package and I think that in itself attracts attention. Plus the fact every single band apart from our special guest Sunday band is truly chosen from the applications. This includes the headliners.

What’s the correct way to get information to you if someone’s in a band and want to be considered for Breaking Bands?

First way is always via the website but applications close early each year so you have to be quick. You need to be watching our Facebook page at the start of June for the link. The other thing we do, though, with no guarantee, is to invite bands to play before applications open. This is done by bands coming along and supporting the festival the year before. Why ask to play a festival that you have not attended? We did this the first year and Superhooch made themselves a part of the 2015 festival as fans of music. 2016 they were invited to play and now they have been chosen by the fans to come back for 2017. We like to see bands get involved as it’s more than just a festival, it’s a network opportunity via all the press that come along, it’s a way to get up close with fans of music and generally a great weekend off from gigging to come and enjoy the festival.

Is it easier to get headliners to play Breaking Bands now that you’re a well-established event?

Headliners are the toughest part of the job. We want them to be unsigned/independent but we also want them to be bands people really do want to see at the top of the bill. As for the special guest band… that has been tough in its own way but since we are now an established sold out event seemed easier to sell to the bigger names. Breed 77 in the first year are good friends of ours so it was essential for us to have them. Blaze was just a gimme as he’s local, no bullshit attitude and it was the end of his 70+ gig tour. Sometimes you can get lucky! Acid Reign next year I managed to ask them in person and I hadn’t even got to the selling points of the event before they said yes book us in!

If you could pick any – any – acts to headline, who would you have?

Oooh… on the spot kind of question. I think I would like to see Robert Plant come and play the acoustic stage. He’s local, he’s a legend and I think it would be an emotional gig. Main stage though I have a few that are realistic future targets so I won’t mention them but if I could get a definite yes then I would ask for Ozzy to come and play. You couldn’t have a better gig than Sabbath in a sold out 500 capacity venue. That would be explosive! I would request that we put Sharon in stocks and everyone has a go at throwing sponges at her to raise money for charity!

Actually, of all the bands in the world (and they know this themselves) Evil Scarecrow to headline. One day this will happen!

How do you decide the theme for each year, such as 2016’s Wild West idea?

The Wild West idea came because I wanted a rodeo bull. Never had chance to go on one and I thought it could make a good centerpiece. The rest just came into its own. The rest of the crew said it was a mad idea but let me roll with it, but they all admitted afterwards that it was a great idea!

Have you got any clues you can give us about 2017’s festival?

Well we have already now announced a third stage for 2017 which I would have hinted about if I had have done this interview sooner (my fault!). Clues… possibly something about zombies, something about grass skirts and something for the kids. Cannot say more but hopefully you can put those ideas together and work out something amazing.

We’re going with hula-hula zombies that are small enough for children decapitate with handy-dandy child-size chainsaws. Thanks to Mucka Jay for his time and we’ll be keeping you up to date with further announcements for Breaking Bands 2017 as we get them.

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