Brutal Assault Festival
Sometimes making an interview with some artists, or festival organizers is harder than we think. This interview was planned almost a year, for the 16th edition of Brutal Assault Festival, but we just finished in 2012. Better later or never. So here is Martin Brzobohaty and explain everything about this very important extreme metal festival from Czech Republic, enjoy!
In 2010 you celebrating the 15th edition of Brutal Assault Festival. Can you give some background on how the BA music festival came about, and when you started?
Greetings to Romania! Yes we did 15th edition of the festival 2 years ago and this year it is going to be already 17th edition of Brutal Assault festival. It started 16 years ago as a 1 day festival with only local bands and 350 visitors. It grew up over the years to an international 4-day event as you may know it in the last years.
To start off, could you give us a short summary of 2011 BA?
4 days, 3 stages, almost 80 bands… wasn’t it too short?
What are the changes and improvements for this year?
I guess everybody has noticed this year’s line up that is the best so far. So this is one of the improvements, I would even call it a kind of evolution. Another improvements include adding a 3rd stage, refundable cup system improvements and some more that can be revealed later on.
If I’m not wrong BA was the first international metal festival for brutal music in Czech Republic.
Definitely first of its size. There has been Dynamo Power Jam festival many years ago that was quite popular at that time. But is had no international impact. So yes, we are happy to be the longest running extreme metal festival in Czech Republic whose international impact is still growing.
What do you think about the crazy Obscene Extreme festival. Are you in contact with Curby.
Curby’s festival is a nice one, definitely worth of a visit. I have attended it at least 10 times and always had a good time. We cooperate with Curby on different levels and we know each other for almost 20 years now.
Who’s idea was to relocate the festival to the Josefov Army fortress? Absolutely great place for a metal festival, the landscape and the whole fortress area is amazing.
We have been looking for a bigger festival site after the previous one in Svojsice was sold out in 2006. So we got this amazing 18th century fortress of Josefov. Definitely an amazing place with a huge history and atmosphere. As far as I know there is no such festival ground for a metal festival anywhere else. Besides the fact, that the fortress is a monumental building, it also offers a trip to catacombs and other local sightseeing.
The fest is now an internationally recognized phenomenon. Do you have any idea how many countries are represented by the people attending? Do you remember how long it took the first festival to sell out?
I have no idea, but we have fans coming from all over Europe, North America, South America, Asia and even Australia. It is nice to see such an interest from people who are travelling for half of the planet to attend a festival. The festival was sold out in 2006. If we are lucky enough, it may happen to be sold out this year too.
As the organizer, can you share what your duties involve and how early you start planning? Once the festival begins, are you able to enjoy it or are you too busy managing logistics?
The planning of this year’s festival has started already before the 2011 was gone. And the same goes for the future festivals, we are already now thinking what bands to book for 2013. Everybody is extremely busy during the festival, I myself can see only a few fragments of the bands playing. It is not an easy task to be a festival promoter and a music fan at the same time.
The lineup for BA 2012 is any metal and underground music fan’s dream. How do you go about inviting artists? Do you start with a wish list? Do certain bands contact you expressing their desire?
Yes, there is a wish list on the beginning. We are mostly contacting the artists by ourselves via their booking agents. And yes, some bands or agents contact us by themselves. So in the end the line-up is like a puzzle. And we are working hard to have the best “puzzle” around.
Are there any bands that you targeted that, for some reason, you weren’t able to get for the festival?
Sure. We are trying e.g. Slayer for many years. But anyway we are lucky bastards to have dozens of amazing bands on the bill.
There’s an incredible balance between new and older bands on the bill, i.e., with highly influential veterans such as Motorhead, Asphyx, Morbid Angel, Corrosion of Conformity, Incantation (this Year) etc sharing the bill with relative newcomers such as Skeletonwitch, Hail Of Bullets, Toxic Holocaust, et al. Was this by design?
Because we like it that way. We all grew up on the old bands but also we didn’t freeze in the 90’s. Also it is always nice to introduce “new” bands to the “old school” fans and vice versa. The metal music is going through an evolution and the festival dramaturgy cannot stay still with shut eyes and ears. I personally do not follow the trends but at the same point I cannot be an ignorant.
I really like your bands schedule for every year with highly influential mainstream/big bands such as Immortal, Satyricon, Cannibal Corpse, etc and the real underground bands to get chance to sharing the stage like Skepticism, Esoteric, Aura Noir, Jesu, just name a few. Who’s idea was/is to support this totally underground bands?
I would say it is like that for years. The festival started as a truly underground event. We have never forgotten our roots and where the festival came from. There are many jewels in the underground scene and it would be a shame not to discover them.
The Czech metal bands are known worldwide, they are kult bands in the scene like Master’s Hammer, Tudor, Torr, Maniac Butcher, Root, etc, but they never plaid in BA. Why?
Root did BA maybe 10 times. This year they will do BA after 5 years. As for the other mentioned bands, some of them do not play gigs and some of them are out of our interest.
Is there anything that you are doing for this year’s festival that improves upon what you did in the past?
I guess this was answered previously, may we delete this question?
What advice what you give somebody who has never been to Brutal Assault?
No special advice. Prepare for 4 days full of the best of the extreme metal and core music. Check out the festival’s website at brutalassault.com for complete information.
You’ve been there from the start. Can you share a few favorite memories?
Well there are a few memories, such as Will of Mortician pissing on our merch stall, Immortal ordering countless amount of ice cream at the hotel’s restaurant etc. some good and some bad memories.
Is there any single band or performance this year that you can’t wait to see?
Machine Head, Immortal, At the Gates, Converge, Gorguts… but I am sure I will see only fragments of their shows, unfortunately.
From an exterior point of view people seem to think that Brutal Assault has become a large scale business machine; however, there seems to be a lingering fragility within all important aspects of the festival. What do you feel has been achieved by BA?
For some of the visitors BA achieved a cult status. This goes especially for the visitors that are attending the festival for over a decade. Those people can see the progress [speaking of the line-up, services etc.] we did with BA over the years. Some of the younger visitors just praise the mixture of bigger and underground names on the bill, that we pick not-too-often-to-see bands etc. I guess there are many angles how to see the BA in the context of other festivals.
Could you give us a few words now about your line-up; what are you happiest about? Are there any bands that you are particularly proud of obtaining this year? If yes, which ones?
Especially those that cannot be seen too often… Shape of Desire for sure even if they are not a “big name”. Arcturus. Gorguts. At the Gates. There are many more to list but I guess everybody has some favorites. The line up seems to be one of the strongest in the BA history [if not the strongest one ever]. Some of the bands are difficult to book, sometimes it goes surprisingly easy.
The crowds are getting bigger and bigger, there's notably an increase in Hungarian/Polish & German people. Could you give us estimation as to how many?
The festival ground’s capacity is approx. 15.000 people and we are happy to see the growing interest of the fans. And yes, we are getting more and more popular in Poland and Germany.
Do you have an explanation for this?
I guess we do better promotion than in the past. Plus we work hard on the line up and services we offer to the visitors. Add cheap food and really cheap beer [1.20 EUR per a 0.5 liter beer]. Also quite friendly ticket price comparing to e.g. Metalcamp or German festivals. Add the unique fortress that the festival is held in. All that is what makes the BA the festival that would be a shame to miss.
Do the tickets get sold quickly? How many so far?
Yes, this year’s ticket presales are the strongest ever. I cannot reveal the numbers, but the presale has never been this good in the BA history.
Any news about the 2012 BA? Thanx for your time Martin keep on good work on BA!
Well we are posting the news weekly or bi-weekly so keep checking the BA website at www.brutalassault.com. And I hope to launch a Romanian BA website soon at www.brutalassault.ro! See you all in summer.