A week from now, Live Evil festival will be opening the doors to London audiences for its fourth instalment. Always curious about the mechanisms in action behind the events, ZT contacted organizer Marek Steven who was gave us an inside perspective on the festival.
ZT: Live Evil first started in 2010 and, with the exception of 2012, every single year it returns stronger. What is it that keeps you going?
Steven: I guess it’s the amazing feedback that we get from the fans and from the bands as well. I’ve done a lot of shows in my time but the response to every single Live Evil from the people who have played and from the people who have been there has always been weirdly amazing. People seem to feel like it’s something quite special and that’s a huge thing that keeps us going, ‘cause it’s a lot of work. If a band says it’s the best festival, or if people say it’s the best weekend they’ve ever had, then that’s enough. I mean, looking at people’s faces, I can see how impressed they are – I don’t take it as a personal compliment, but I think it’s got quite a special atmosphere, so it’s rewarding to have people express that.
ZT: For its first instalment, the festival was promoted as ‘Fenriz curated’. What is Fenriz’s involvement in the festival nowadays?
Steven: ‘Fenriz curated’… I think we used it by mistake back then. It was very simple: we used his Band Of The Week as the basis for the bands that we picked. It seemed like a good idea because it prevented all the annoying agents and managers hassling and all that kind of stuff. Fenriz listens to a lot of music and he shares it and he supports the bands. I thought that was a very special, positive thing. Well, every single band for the first 3-4 years was a ‘Band Of The Week’ initially (some of them we suggested to him)… But it’s not that big a deal. As time moves on, both he and us, naturally, at the same time were like, ‘you know what, I don’t think we need to be as strict about it now’. I do think Fenriz’s taste in heavy metal is very good… Darkthrone may not be one of my top bands but I think they are amazing. Having met him by chance and having hung out a few times, I do think he’s a very inspiring individual and his passion for music is very special. It kind of feels the way I feel about music and the way that the festival presents itself, showcasing passionate heavy metal fans. So his involvement now is that he’s very much kept in the loop and I shall chuck ideas at him and see what he says before they’re announced. So he’s basically there as a critical taste and someone that we respect and that’s it. It never was about curating really, it was about a level of music passion that I believe in.
ZT: Has any band ever refused to play?
Steven: Well, obviously, lots of bands can’t play for various reasons. Like, we’ve wanted Metalucifer and Sabbat to play pretty much every year but it’s no way to that because they can’t leave Japan for that many days. So quite a few examples like that. It took me almost 2.5 years to persuade Satan to play, that’s something I was quite proud of. Constant hassling and hassling and hassling and in the end they relented and they played and they had an amazing experience – it was a very special atmosphere. It was very rewarding to see the crowd, the room completely full, and this amazing British band finally getting this London gig that they didn’t believe could ever be… a positive experience for them.
ZT: Looking at the bands that form each year’s bill and bearing in mind Fenriz’s (direct or indirect) involvement in the festival… just how important is a band’s ‘trueness’ when you pick names for the festival? And what the heck is ‘trueness’?
Steven: Heavy metal is a term that was coined in the ’70s and really it’s heavy rock, and that’s what this music is. Some people play it heavier and scream louder. I really couldn’t give a fuck about cult and true and all that stuff. I’ve been listening to heavy metal since about 1982 or something (laughs)… I’m pretty old! I’ve always been a heavy metal fan so I’ve seen a lot of things come and go so for me it’s ‘are they a good band? Are they nice guys?’. So I wouldn’t put on an Indie band but… anyone that rocks hard and they mean it and they’re good people… that’s kind of an important thing for me really. It’s a weird thing but the more pleasant the people are, I tend to find the better the music is. I don’t know why that is but the really great guys, the no-trouble and polite and ‘let’s hang out’ guys, they seem to be in the best bands.
ZT: What is the worst, and what the best, part of organising such an event?
Steven: There’s a lot of emails, a lot of work… but it’s fun actually. There isn’t really a bad part, it’s all fun. It’s exciting, seeing it build up and it’s exciting booking bands and organising it. I mean, the first couple of years we lost money so that was kind of annoying – I was broke for most of 2012 because of the festival. The only bad thing is if you lose money. The best part of it, like I said before, is just being able to help it happen and seeing the crowd and the bands having an amazing time and making sure every band has a great experience, and then having bands that wanna come back every year and play. That’s an amazing thing! And I hear little things, here and there, about people’s experiences, how they’ve come and they’ve been inspired and they start a band, or it’s got them back into heavy music they’d forgotten and lost the passion for… hearing those kind of things is probably the highlight, really.
ZT: What are your expectations from Live Evil 2014?
Steven: I think it’s gonna be the best year and I mean that. I am quite in disbelief of how good the lineup is this year. I think it’s the most consistently amazing list of bands. The venue is absolutely perfect – the fact that we’ve got the upstairs and the downstairs and the courtyard… and the people who run it, you know, it’s a family and a fantastic guy called James who runs the place, I think that’s gonna have an impact on the atmosphere.
ZT: Parting thoughts?
Steven: The belief behind it has always been ‘loving music’ and supporting bands. That’s all it’s about. I hope people can support us and help us grow because I think it’s quite a special thing for London to have such a festival and I wanna keep doing it ‘til the day I die – without them it’s not going anywhere.
Intrigued? Head over to Live Evil’s facebook page, where you can find links to earlier instalments and to this year’s bands.
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