Download 2011: Dee Snider ponders filth attack; a message from Skindred’s Benji; promoter regrets bands’ cash demands and much more

Dee Snider

Talking shit: Snider

Twisted Sister are pleased to see how much Donington has changed since they last played the event in 1983 during its Monsters of Rock incarnation. Frontman Dee Snider says: “No one’s throwing anything at the band any more. Back in the 80s if you didn’t like a band you showed it by throwing anything you could get your hands on. At the Reading festival someone threw a piece of human excrement at the band – I’m still pondering how mad you have to be at a band to do that. Is it your own? Did you lay it fresh? Or do you think, ‘I may hate a band later so I’ll do some in a bag’? Do you wear gloves?”

Skunk Anansie guitarist Ace has stark memories of a backstage bus trip at Donington in 2004: “I needed a lift to the main stage,” he explains, “And a guy told me to jump in a little minivan. I got in and it was all the guys from Slipknot sitting there. We started driving down the road and someone flagged down the van – it was Tom Araya from Slayer. I was like, ‘Oh, hello…’”

Children of Bodom bassist Henkka Seppala would love his band to play a Darkness track, just to see how frontman Alex Laiho would deal with it. “I’d over I Believe in a Thing Called Love. The biggest difference would be the vocals. It would be quite funny to see if Alex could hit the notes.”

Synyster Gates explains he originally wrote Avenged Sevenfold‘s current single So Far Away about his dead grandfather, before translating it into a song about drummer Jimmy ‘Rev’ Sullivan: “I sat and played that song with him when it was about my grandfather. We’d be drunk as fuck in the wee hours and crying together. When Jimmy passed I wanted it to be about him – to see it getting some popularity is very cool.”

Pendulum bassist Gareth McGrillen loves playing at Download, but you’d be hard-pressed to believe it. Asked about the best things at the Donington event he replies: “Big fat gothic people, makeup, hair – because I don’t have any. The site’s really good except for when planes go past. There’s less people on drugs than other festivals.” He cheers up long enough to add: “Sorry to all the other festivals but I think UK festivals pretty much rule over any other country in the world.” The band are set to make 27 open-air appearances during the summer then they’re planning to take a break.

Neil Fallon knows why Clutch felt their performances at festivals in the past were below par. “We had a hard time with them for years,” he says. “We were uncomfortable because we’re a night club band. Now we’ve learned to cope with it we know it’s about having as much fun as the crowd. There’s so much music for days that you’ve got to leave them wanting more rather than overstay your welcome.”

Download promoter Andy Copping says most bands demand too much money to appear at the event. “It’s an absolute pain in the arse trying to pull it together,” he states. “There’s some bands who are available who want to play it and there’s some who want to play but they’re not available. There’s others who want ridiculous amounts of money. They all want ridiculous amounts of money – but some are just off the scale. Sometimes you have to pay more than you really should to ensure you get certain acts. This year there’s 144 bands over the whole weekend, the most we’ve ever done. It’s like a huge jigsaw – do the corners, the edge, then the middle and there’s an annoying little bit you can’t find. I always think next year it’ll be slightly better and slightly easier but it never is.”

Benji Webb of Skindred has a message for the global rock and metal community in these difficult times. He says: “Keep listening, keep rocking, keep going to shows. The most important thing you can do is buy merchandise, whether it’s ours or someone else’s. If you’re downloading music, it’s all good. If you’re stealing it, do what you’re going to go. But go to shows, keep it live, keep it locked. It’s important to the bands, and me.”

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