SWEDEN ROCK FESTIVAL 2012
- by Rune Grande
- Posted on 08-05-2012
SWEDEN ROCK 2012
Sölvesborg – Sverige
6/6 – 9/6
Sweden Rock Festival blir i år arrangert for 21. gangen og er Nordens desidert største rene rockefestival. Alle band og artister som har betydd noe eller som fremdeles betyr noe har spilt der. Årets festival har samlet sammen en imponerende line up med MÖTLEY CRÜE, SOUNDGARDEN, TWISTED SISTER, BAD COMPANY, LYNYRD SKYNYRD, MOTÖRHEAD, THE DARKNESS og KING DIAMOND øverst på plakaten.
Sweden Rock Festival blir av mange omtalt som en av verdens beste utendørsfestivaler. Ble første gang arrangert i 1992, den gang som en endagsfestival og med bare 10 band på plakaten. Allerede året etter var Sweden Rock utvidet til en todagers festival og med betydelig flere band (23). Festivalen ble arrangert som en todagers festival de neste årene fram til og med 1999. I 2000 ble det innført en tredje dag, men de gikk tilbake til to igjen de neste 2 årene, før de igjen utvidet til tre dager i 2003. I 2007 ble enda en dag tilført og Sweden Rock har siden da vært en firedagers festival. I fjor var det hele 81 band som spilte under Sweden Rock.
Den aller første Sweden Rock ble arrangert i Olofström, men ble allerede det andre året flyttet til Karlshamn. Fra 1998 ble Sweden Rock lokalisert helt ute ved kysten i Norje og har siden da blitt arrangert der.
Som nevnt er det MÖTLEY CRÜE, SOUNDGARDEN, TWISTED SISTER, BAD COMPANY, LYNYRD SKYNYRD, MOTÖRHEAD, THE DARKNESS og KING DIAMOND som er de aller største navnene under årets festival, men det er massevis av andre gode navn å finne i line upen deres i år. NIGHT RANGER, SEBASTIAN BACH, MASTODON, DIMMU BORGIR, FISH, SEPULTURA, GOTTHARD, EDGUY, BLUE ÖYSTER CULT, ELECTRIC BOYS, STEEL PANTHER, SYMPHONY X og 10CC er store kjente navn som bør trekke masse folk til Sveriges sørkyst. CANNIBAL CORPSE, ENTOMBED, GAMMA RAY, DANKO JONES, EXODUS, GIRLSCHOOL, AMORPHIS, SLAUGHTER, TYGERS OF PAN TANG, KATATONIA, EXCITER, PENTAGRAM, GRAVEYARD, HELL og MICHAEL SCHENKER bør heller ikke skremme vekk for mange tilreisende.
Norske innslag under årets Sweden Rock er DIMMU BORGIR og RETURN.
(av Rune Grande)
SWEDEN ROCK FESTIVAL, could you please provide us with a brief overview of the history of this massive festival?
The festival started in 1992 under the name “Sommarfestivalen” (“The Summer Festival”) in Olofström. The founder, Ingolf Persson, was in his 30’s and thought it was strange that all music festivals were for teenagers. He wanted to start a festival that he and his friends would be interested in, with a focus on classic rock. In 1993 the festival moved to Karlshamn and was renamed Karlshamn Rock Festival. In 1998 it moved to it’s current location and in 1999 the name changed to Sweden Rock Festival. This was also the year when it was decided that this should be a hard rock and metal festival. For the first ten years several different owners were involved, the economy was often shaky and the festival was close to going bankrupt when it was taken over by new owner Michael Ivarsson. Under his management, most of the team except Ingolf were exchanged and the festival got clearer strategies and financial control. Ivarsson left after a few years, but the rest of the team he built has remained and in the last ten years, the festival has grown from 7400 attendants to 33000, while the Sweden Rock brand has been expanded with Sweden Rock Magazine, Sweden Rock Shop and Sweden Rock Cruises.
To make all this come together one would probably need more than one body and more than one mind, tell us a bit about the crew behind the festival, how do you make this all happen?
We are about a dozen people working full time all year around. As the festival dates draw closer, more and more people join in and all in all there are about 3000 people involved in making Sweden Rock Festival happen.
Booking bands could be a problem for any organizer, with a festival like SRF I suppose this is not a relevant issue, or is it?
Having a well-known brand like Sweden Rock makes it easier to get the agent’s attention, but it does not necessarily make band bookings easy. Anyone can put together a bunch of band names on a piece of paper. The tricky part is negotiating prices, and valuing how much different bands are worth compared to how many tickets you think they can sell. Also, availability is always a big factor – we have 81 bands on the bill this year, but to book those we have been negotiating with at least three times as many.
What is the top ten moments of the festival thus far?
That’s a difficult question to answer. I don´t think we can name any official moments – everyone’s experience of each festival is different and what is a top ten moment for one of us would be completely irrelevant to most other people. But to name one, I have to say that getting Twisted Sister to reform in 2003 was a bit of a turning point in the festival’s history. Getting the first Europe and Judas Priest reunion gigs in 2004 was also a milestone.
Have you suffered, like so many other festivals, from the financial crisis that struck Europe like a brick wall a couple of years ago? If so, how?…if not, why not…?
No, we haven´t noticed it at all.
Any dream acts past or present that has still to be on stage at SRF?
As a general rule, we don´t discuss bands that have not been confirmed for the festival. But Led Zeppelin would be nice!
Metal has once again grown in popularity during the past few years, any thoughts on the matter?
It is certainly much, much healthier than it was 10-12 years ago. But anyone thinking interest is on its peak right now should take a look at Finland, where metal is not only a big underground genre but actually a vital part of popular culture as a whole. You can go into a posh downtown Helsinki bar full of brats and hear a thrash metal song, and your local Oulu radio station will not think twice about playing heavy metal in between the Lady Gaga songs. I think both Sweden and Norway have a long way to go before we get there.
What can you tell us about the Sweden Rock band competition?
Basically, we realized that it was too hard for up and coming bands to get a slot at the festival. We get hundred, even thousands, of requests each year and we have had to turn everyone down since we didn´t really have slots for new talent. We did have the Nemis stage, and we still do, but that is a cooperation with the Swedish organization that is behind most of the rehearsal rooms here, so we don´t have much say in what bands get picked for that stage. Also, it is only open for bands who are members of that organization. Our band competition allows us to make slots available for both Swedish and foreign up and coming bands and apart from getting a slot they also get a small fee, catering, 4-day passes etc.
What do you think is the benefit for any given band to play a venue like SRF?
You get to play in front of an interested and usually big audience, you have 600+ journalists on the festival grounds and the best tech-, security- and artist service crews you will ever come across are working for you to make sure everything is on the highest possible level.
For SRF 2012, what are YOU looking forward to the most?
As for bands, I have to say King Diamond. It will be the very first full show he does after his back injury and heart surgery, and I know he is very excited about it. I’m sure it will be awesome.
Do you have any last words of encouragement as to why people from Norway should journey to Sölvesborg and the 2012 edition of Sweden Rock Festival?
If you haven´t been here before, ask someone who has. Most people that visit us seem to say good things about Sweden Rock afterwards. And if you do come, don´t forget to check out the beach! It is only 200 meters from the festival area, but a lot of people still miss it.