Essential Sounds: 28.05.21

May 28, 2021

If you’re still floating in space by way of last week’s playlist – fear not, as this week you can either keep on trippin’ or enjoy some more earthly delights without crashing the mothership.

If you want to seek out the tracks elsewhere, here’s the info you’ll need:

Annie HartSun in the Dark (Ordinal Records) (header image)

Trees SpeakScheinwelt (Soul Jazz Records)

PictureplaneBlade Addict (Crimson Mist) (100% Electronica)

CursesDiscipline (Eskimo Recordings / N.E.W.S.)

Alicia Breton FerrerRed Alert (Self-Release)

Aaron Dilloway, Lucrecia DaltDemands of Ordinary Devotion (Hanson Records)

Chelsea WolfeDiana (Loma Vista Recordings)

FacsAlone Without (Trouble In Mind)

Year Of No LightAlètheia (Pelagic Records)

Hangman’s ChairCold & Distant (Nuclear Blast)

White WardDebemur Morti (Eitrin Editions)

Black MidiAscending Forth (Rough Trade)

The Holy FamilySt Anthony’s Fire – Edit (Rocket Recordings)

Shannon LayRare To Wake (Sub Pop Records)

Donovan, David LynchI Am The Shaman (Donovan Discs)

Dust MountainVillage on Fire (Svart Records)

Track Premiere: Dust Mountain - Village On Fire

May 27, 2021

With Dust Mountain’s extraordinary international live debut at Roadburn Redux in mind, we’re beyond excited to premiere “Village On Fire,” the first single taken from the band’s forthcoming debut album, ‘Hymns For Wilderness,’ which will be released through Svart Records on Oct. 8.

Emerging from the darkened Wastement in Tampere, Finland, Dust Mountain was founded in 2016 by siblings Toni Hietamäki (Oranssi Pazuzu, Waste of Space Orchestra) and Henna Hietamäki (Cats of Transnistria), accompanied by a stunning band: drummer Jukka Rämänen (Hexvessel, Dark Buddha Rising) bassist Riku Pirttiniemi (Death Hawks) and guitarist/backing vocalist Pauliina Lindell (Vuono).

Equally inspired by ’60s and ’70s acts such as Fairport Convention, Pentangle, Linda Perhacs and Coven, the mandolin-driven “Village On Fire” celebrates the connection between nature and ancient rituals, moving between fictional fantasies and true, close-to-heart beliefs, making Dust Mountain a joyous, occult-soaked, psychedelic folk rock affair.

Now it’s time to get (re-)acquainted below…

Essential Sounds: 21.05.21

May 22, 2021

This week’s playlist is a double whammy – it’s practically two playlists in one. We couldn’t resist adding Neptunian Maximalism‘s Solar Drone Ceremony in there. So you can get stuck into some of the music that we’ve uncovered in recent weeks, and then float away on another plane for fifty two minutes, thirty eight seconds… where you go after that is up to you!

If you want to seek out the tracks elsewhere, here’s the info you’ll need:

IosonouncaneJabal (RCA Numero Uno)

Otay:oniiFrom Me II to Me (WV Sorcerer Productions)

Clipping.Wriggle (Sub Pop)

GostCoven (Century Media)

Victory Over The SunNowherer (Coarse Air Records)

Sunrot1312 (Self-Release)

Filth is EternalZED (Church Road Records)

Colonial WoundI (New Morality Zine)

MastodonForged By Neron (Loma Vista Recordings)

PanopticonKnow Hope (Bindrune Recordings)

PsychonautThe Great Realisation (Pelagic Records)

Neptunian MaximalismSolar Drone Ceremony (I, Voidhanger Records)

Essential Sounds: 07.05.21

May 7, 2021

This week’s playlist is a corker, if we do say so ourselves! How about that HEALTH x NIN collab to get your weekend off to a great start?!

Don’t forget that today is Bandcamp Friday, which means that more of what you spend today on the platform will end up in the pockets of the bands and labels that you love. So, it’s a great day to go shopping.

If you want to seek out the tracks elsewhere, here’s the info you’ll need:

Health x Nine Inch NailsIsn’t Everyone (Loma Vista Recordings)

Cold CavePrayer from Nowhere (Heartworm Press)

Perturbator Excess (Blood Music)

Backxwash x Ada RookI Lie Here Burried With My Rings And My Dress (Ugly Hag Records)

ORYXMisery (Translation Loss Records)

AmenraDe Evenmens (Relapse Records)

Bossk ft. Johannes PerssonMenhir (Deathwish Inc)

At The GatesSpectre of Extinction (Century Media)

An Autumn For Crippled ChildrenSplendour Unnoticed (Prosthetic Records)

YautjaThe Spectacle (Relapse Records)

Dawn Ray’dWild Fire, Pt.I (Prosthetic Records)

Dawn Ray’dWild Fire, Pt.II (Prosthetic Records)

Jo Quail, MorleyAngus Dei (Robot Needs Home)

UnreqvitedAutumn & Everly (Prophecy Productions)

Violet ColdBe Like Magic (Self-Release)

MJ GuiderViñales (Modemain)

Roadburn Redux: Aftermovie and Stats

May 5, 2021

We thought you might like a look back on Roadburn Redux, so alongside this years aftermovie (different to any we’ve done before) we thought we’d share some stats.

We had 78,937 unique visitors to the site whilst it was online, which resulted in 247,872 views on the 100+ videos that we had uploaded to the site. There were also over 22,000 plays on the embedded Soundcloud content and over 7000 of you read the articles we put online too.
3975 of you created an account – to chat, like and comment throughout the weekend.

We ensured that content was free to view, so that finances wouldn’t be a barrier to participating in this special event – however we did have a donation option on the site. Over 2000 people donated – for which were are extremely grateful. In total €56,143.49 was raised via donations – which will go some way towards covering the cost of the extraordinary production and ensure that we can continue to put on boundary-pushing festivals into the future. The average was €26.96 – but one Roadburner donated an incredible €500! Every dollar, pound, and euro that was donated is extremely appreciated – no matter how big or small the contribution.

We had people watching from 132 countries14,000+ people from the US, 12,000+ from The Netherlands, 8000+ from Germany, 6000+ from France and 5000+ from the UK. Hopefully amongst those numbers are a few of you who are newly converted Roadburners!

And if you added up all the time spent watching Roadburn Redux content from all around the globe, it’d come to 5 years, 188 days, 31 minutes and 58 seconds. Time spent wisely, we think!

It goes without saying – but we’ll say it anyway – that we’re extremely grateful to everyone who participated in Roadburn Redux, and to everyone who made it possible. We hope that next April Roadburn will take place in person, to once again create something very special – together.

Special thanks to: Fonds Podiumkunsten, Gemeente Tilburg, Provincie Noord Brabant, Ticket To Tilburg and Brewery Bavaria.

Essential Sounds: 30.04.21

April 30, 2021

We’re working our way back to reality from Roadburn Redux, waiting for the world to open up for physical shows and festivals. Still might have to wait a little, but we hope you enjoy this week’s weird and wonderful playlist.

If you want to seek out the tracks elsewhere, here’s the info you’ll need:

Crippled Black PhoenixPainful Reminder (Season of Mist)

At The GatesSpectre of Extinction (Century Media)

Domination CampaignDeath Before Dishonour (Prosthetic Records)

DéhàBlackness in May (Burning World Records)

ShortparisMoscow Speaking (Universal Music)

A Love Moment for the EndBlacklight Chameleon (Nutriot)

Metropolitan JamHeave Blood & Die (Fysisks Format)

Derya Yıldırım & Grup ŞimşekAy Dili Dili (Bongo Joe)

The Lords of AltamontLiving with the Squares (Heavy Psych Sounds)

Bobby BeauSoleilSwamp Gas (Self-Release)

Nun Gun, Michael SaluThe Spectre (Algiers Recordings / Witty Books)

PostcardsHome is so Sad (T3 Records)

Zeresh, Davide BorghiAir From Afar (Toten Schwan Records)

V.V.I.A., In Atlas, Venus VolcanismAté (Self-Release / Gateway Music)

Essential Sounds: 23.04.21

April 23, 2021

And just like that, we’re back to reality – which does have its upsides too given that we’ve just put together a new playlist for you. Several of the tracks that we premiered last weekend are starting to make it out into the world too!

If you want to seek out the tracks elsewhere, here’s the info you’ll need:

Nicole DollangangerWhispering Glades (Self-Release) (header image)

MidwifeChristina’s World (The Flenser)

Lustmord x Karin ParkTwin Flames (Pelagic Records)

Big ‡ BraveWited. Still and All… (Southern Lord)

Hante. – Blank Love (Synth Religion)

S U R V I V ERedline – From Road 96 (Digixart)

VR SEXDog Complex (Dais Records)

Jess and the Ancient OnesLove Zombi (Svart Records)

CROWNNeverland (Pelagic Records)

NoctuleEvenaar (Church Road Records)

An Autumn For Crippled ChildrenMelancholia (Prosthetic Records)

Full of HellAmber More – Live (Self-Release)

Body VoidPale Man (Prosthetic Records)

Year of no LightRéalgar (Pelagic Records)

A Heartfelt Thank You

April 21, 2021

We have to start by thanking you for coming on this journey with us… we say it a lot but this past year or so has been a wild ride in so many ways, and this edition of Roadburn was more of the same. There’s likely no emotion that between us we haven’t felt, and we’re grateful to have had your company on this particular rollercoaster.

To say we’re overwhelmed by the response to Roadburn Redux would be an understatement. Whilst we had hopes and dreams for how it would turn out, we almost didn’t dare to have any expectations or to say those dreams out loud. We didn’t know how it would feel to experience a version of Roadburn without an in-person connection, we didn’t know who would show up, who would stick around – it was all an unknown.

When we set out to put together Roadburn Redux, we knew that we would have to follow our own path – as we always do – but also ignore what we have learned over many years of putting on events; this was something different. All the parameters of Roadburn organisation that we were familiar with had shifted, or vanished entirely. We’re grateful to the support of some wonderful labels and booking agents who were willing to take a chance on our ideas. So whilst there was a tremendous amount of time, care, love and attention that went into Roadburn Redux, to some extent, we were still winging it when it was time to go live.

It wouldn’t have been possible at all if it weren’t for the 013 venue’s belief in what we had already established with Roadburn (that’s us, and you by the way) and what the future is capable of holding for us. The production team adapted to the necessities of their jobs changing essentially overnight and accommodated every restriction and requirement that was needed to allow bands to perform live.

And what performances we were granted! The production values were second to none, and the results were truly spellbinding! We couldn’t be more proud of the high level output that was made possible by our production team working alongside the Livewall team. And of course the bands – who had to overcome surreal circumstances to deliver their art – were beyond amazing, every single day.

As for the pre-recorded sets and audio/video premieres, we were absolutely blown away by the effort and commitment that bands put into crafting, recording and delivering assets. From the newest bands that we hope we’ve helped uncover, right through to the established artists that we have cherished and celebrated for years. Sometimes things came together at the last possible moment, and sometimes against the odds, but we got there in the end.

There would have been no festival at all without the work and dedication of the people we have just mentioned, but it became evident over the last few days that the true spirit of Roadburn is only conjured up when we all experience the music we love – together. Of course, it was strange to realise that this was happening, or even possible, in a digital realm – but it was so apparent within minutes of the website going live that something special was happening.

As ever, it will take a while for Roadburn to sink in, for us to process it and figure out where we go from here. We’re somewhat stunned that we pulled it off ourselves, but dare we say that we’ve taken Roadburn to a new level? We’ve learned – through our shared sense of community above all else – that just about anything is possible, and that you’re coming along for the ride, wherever it may take us.

It is our most sincere wish that next year we’re together in person – April 21-24, 2022. Until then, we hope you have some special memories from Roadburn Redux to hold on to.

Walter, Becky, the whole Roadburn team & the 013 crew

Roadburn Redux wouldn’t have been possible without the support and help from: Fonds Podiumkunsten, Gemeente Tilburg, Provincie Noord Brabant, Ticket To Tilburg and Brewery Bavaria.

Roadburn Deep Dives: Emma Ruth Rundle

Roadburn 2017, Sunday 23 April, 013 Green Room

Redefining heaviness. If you’ve had any sort of interaction with the world of Roadburn in the past few years, you have surely come across this notion at some point. Just like everything else in art, culture and human innovation, heavy music is changing, evolving, becoming richer and gaining new meanings. As a festival that strives to give a home to groundbreaking and unusual artists – the “freaks in the corner”, as Steve Von Till from Neurosis so wonderfully puts it – it’s almost a mission statement for Roadburn to not only keep up with what it means for music to be “heavy” but actively contribute to that expansion and that discovery of new territories. And if that might seem like a complex goal, or even a rather vague ethos to follow, sometimes everything comes together and is crystallised in a single moment; something you can point at and just go, “yeah, that’s it”.

That’s precisely what happened when one lonely – and, as it turns out, rather terrified – woman stepped up to the Green Room stage on the last day of Roadburn 2017. Emma Ruth Rundle didn’t know it at the time, but she was about to make Roadburn history.

José Carlos Santos
Paul Verhagen (Pics)

“It was such a turning point for the festival,” says Becky Laverty, one of the main faces of Roadburn, as the festival’s Press & Communications manager, who was instrumental in getting Emma to perform this show of shows. “It helped us to open up some doors and explore what heaviness meant. That show summed up really well that ethos of redefining heaviness. That one woman, with no accompaniment, was able to create this unique atmosphere, so dense and overwhelming. It was absolutely a heavy performance, but not necessarily the kind of thing that people associate with heavy music. It immediately became one of the shows that we’ve referenced the most when booking shows. What is heaviness, and in what ways can you define it? That’s a question we ask ourselves all the time, and this show is an important part of the reply to that.”

For all the show’s impact on Roadburn and on Emma herself – we’ll get to that in a minute – it’s funny to realise, when talking to the parties involved, how different it all could have been, if not for a few random details that, with seemingly cosmic will, worked together to create the conditions for that powerful performance. Like, for example, why she stepped up to the stage all alone.

“Before Roadburn, I was on a really long tour, which started with Deafheaven in the United States, and I basically never got out of the van,” Emma says. “I kept going with Jaye Jayle, who were touring. When I got the Roadburn offer, I decided to book a European tour around it as a lot of American bands do, to make it more affordable. Because I couldn’t afford to take my own band, the idea was to use Jaye Jayle as my backing band, and have them open the shows during the tour – that would give them the opportunity to go to Europe too.”

When things didn’t work out with Jaye Jayles‘ drummer, Emma brought in the drummer from her own US-based backing band, and the group only had a few days to rehearse for the tour. Then they all went to Europe, without ever having played a show together.

“We had a day, as a long soundcheck, before a show somewhere, to play as a band. That was it. I’m saying this, and I realise that I would never do any of this now, when I look back on it,” she laughs. “We made it through that night’s show. But was it good? I don’t know! But it didn’t feel right to me. The whole purpose of this trip was to be at Roadburn, so I reached out to Walter and Becky asking them if a solo show was a possibility they could consider.

“If I had the opportunity to present it as a band, and to represent well the album I had made, which was the reason why I was invited, I would have chosen to do that. But I felt that it wasn’t good, it wasn’t presentable, and the last thing I wanted to do was to be humiliated at Roadburn. I was finally going there, it was such an honour to be there as an artist, at that magical place… So I eventually made the choice at the last minute to do it alone.

“I hadn’t played a solo show for some time because I had been touring with my US band,” Emma continues. “I hadn’t played in that format since I did solo opening slots for other bands, with reimagined versions of what the albums were, but at least that’s something I did do for a long time. I felt I had enough experience and I felt strong enough to do it like that again.”

To add to this sense of a-woman-against-the-world loneliness, another unfortunate event unfolded: “This was the same year that Chelsea Wolfe, King Woman and True Widow played,” Becky recalls. “There is actually a photo with Chelsea, Nicole, Kristina and Caro from Oathbreaker – this group of great women who played Roadburn, and Emma wasn’t in it because she was only there on the Sunday. I remember a conversation with her when she told me she was really looking forward to coming here and seeing all these women who were playing that year and with whom she’s friends with, and none of them were there anymore when she arrived and she was all on her own!”

But Emma never backed down. She was prepared. Scared, but prepared. “I knew that it was going to be terrifying,” she says. “All of the emotions leading up to it, I would describe them as terror and fear. You know that nightmare where people are standing naked in front of their class or something? That was what this whole Roadburn thing was like to me. I hadn’t performed in front of metal audiences in a long time either, but I do have a lot of experience with people heckling, talking to each other, not listening, even dumping beer on my stuff. I was ready for all that. I was ready to go into battle. I wanted to have this accomplishment of performing no matter what. I had this idea that if I had a band, people would have more respect for it and listen. And if they didn’t, at least we’d be louder than them.”

Fortunately Roadburners came through and proved themselves up to the situation. The audience in the Green Room on that magical evening was in itself a sanctuary, it lifted rather than brought down the brave performer singing her heart out to them.

“The Green Room was absolutely crammed!” Becky recalls, still in some awe of the atmosphere that was built in there. “Emma looked a bit nervous when she first came out, but then she totally owned the stage. It was such a powerful performance. Although I believe it would also have been incredible if she had played with a full band, it was really a stark performance, which felt right because that album, Marked For Death, is quite stark as well. She looked so strong and powerful, she dominated in such a calm and quiet way. Afterwards I spoke to her backstage and I told her this, and she said it had been one of the shows where she’d been the most terrified. But it didn’t come through at all.”

It did not, but Emma was indeed: “I’m super disorganised, and Becky and everyone from the staff really helped me. I was like a little bird and they picked me up and put me back up on my nest. Once I got to the Green Room – and I’m reliving the fear right now! – as soon as the show started, I realised people were silent,” Emma says quietly, her own voice hushing as if still in acknowledgement of the incredible response she got on the occasion. “It was a very powerful and moving experience for me. I think to this day it still remains my favourite show that I’ve ever played.

“I’ve never felt the respect that I felt from the Roadburn community and the audience, it really blew my mind,” Emma says. “It changed my life, honestly. I felt that was a pivotal moment in my career as a performer. Nothing has ever been the same for me since that moment. It was the first time that I felt… maybe this isn’t placed in the right way, because people should get their sense of self-worth from other places, but at Roadburn I felt respect as a musician for the first time in a way that I had never felt before in my life: I felt like I had a place.

“It gave me a strength that I’ve taken with me forever since then. That I have the right to do what I’m doing, that I have a place to have a voice, that I shouldn’t feel ashamed for myself, for what I’m saying and what I’m singing.”

All of this somehow makes missing Emma’s curation-that-never-was in 2020 even more heartbreaking, but there are also good things to take away from that. “It’s such a shame her curation never came to fruition,” Becky laments. “But I do feel that our relationship with her is not over and there is much more to come. That was just the beginning. It’s also to do with how heavy music has evolved. I don’t think Emma would be covered in the likes of Metal Hammer ten or fifteen years ago, for example, and for that matter nor do I necessarily think she would have made much sense at Roadburn then, even. The boundaries of heavy music are shifting, and she is a prime example of how they are evolving.”

Emma herself says of the pandemic-interrupted Roadburn 2020: “It’s sad. It’s crushing. We all did the work, it was there. It would have been so cool. It was such an honour, and such a highlight of my career as a musician, working with Walter and with Becky and everyone involved, making the decisions, talking to the bands, getting to know some of them, getting a feel for this amazing community and how it was all coming together in this moment.” But she also comes away with the positives and with the hope that doesn’t fade: “I don’t feel like everything was lost for me though, I still took away an amazing experience. I do feel horrible for everyone who didn’t get to see the shows, I’m sad that I didn’t get to see the shows! And for all the bands that didn’t make it there, too. But this is what it is now. We’re still here, we didn’t lose our lives and a lot of people did, that’s how I have to look at it. I really look forward to when I can get back to Tilburg and to Roadburn again.”

We’re all counting seconds over here, dear Emma.

Roadburn Deep Dives: Thou

Roadburn 2019, Saturday 13 April, Ladybird Skatepark

“Oh God, that one,” Roadburn artistic director Walter sighs and then laughs wearily, just at the mere mention of Thou’s legendary Misfits covers show at the Ladybird Skatepark during their residency in 2019. That reaction alone already tells you everything about the odyssey that took place behind-the-scenes of what has become one of the most surprising and talked-about moments in Roadburn history.

When Thou were confirmed as Roadburn’s 2019 Artists In Residence they agreed that they would play four distinctive sets over the course of the festival. Only three of these shows were included in the schedule – the time and location of the fourth remained under wraps. Despite that (or maybe because of it?) it became one of the most unforgettable shows in Roadburn’s 20-plus years. So, let’s take this from the very beginning…

José Carlos Santos
Teddie Taylor (pics)

“From the first moment I talked to Bryan about Thou being artist in residence for Roadburn, the idea of having a secret show was already there,” Walter reveals. “I told them about the options: I mentioned there was a skate park, and the Hall of Fame room.” Thou vocalist Bryan Funck confirms: “We had decided pretty early on that it would be really cool to do a covers show, and we wanted to keep it secret, and also do it at the smallest place possible. We didn’t think so many people would be that excited about it, so we thought we’d just create something a little more intimate, just cram a bunch of people into a small space.”

Thou had originally thought of the Cul de Sac for a venue, but the festival wasn’t using it that year. The smallest room available was the Hall Of Fame; but it wasn’t quite right for what the band had in mind.

“The room itself is small, but the stage is quite wide,” Bryan explains. “It’s a nice, cool space, but in terms of what we were going for, especially with that set, it was a bit sterile and it just wasn’t going to work. The skate park stayed on our radar, mostly because it felt like a punk thing, something that’d be fun to do. We even imagined that it would be great to have people skating at the same time and everyone going nuts!”

Fortunately, it didn’t get that far, as security staff had enough on their plates as it was, but the journey towards skate park acceptance was to be a long and arduous one for everyone involved. “We had different opinions about how popular this was going to be – we thought that there would be people there, sure, but not that many,” says Thou guitarist Andy Gibbs, laughing now at how colossally wrong he was in that prediction. “If there were other things happening at the same time, which there were, we thought it’d just be this niche thing. We weren’t sure if word would spread, and how fast, so for us it’d just be like a really small show with half a dozen people. But Walter told us right from the beginning that no, there’d be a shitload of people and it’d be difficult to manage. I don’t think I really understood that until right before it happened. We had thought people would just stand there and stare blankly at us like they usually do,” he laughs.

As we all know by now, it was far beyond a ‘niche thing’. Anyone who was at the festival that afternoon will remember the feverish anticipation when people started to realise that the secret show was due to take place.

“Until a couple of days before the festival, things were still undecided on both ends,” Walter recalls. “The Hall of Fame was easier, there was a stage, it was a proper venue, but there was a certain magic about doing it at a skate park. The real fun started when we announced the running order and the times. People started going crazy because the fourth show wasn’t announced, they kept asking where and when it would be, and we would just shrug and say, ‘We don’t know!’ But it was really obvious from the schedule, the spot was right there – the Hall of Fame ended at 11pm that evening! What did you think was going to happen afterwards?”

When Thou arrived in Tilburg at the beginning of the festival, they went to check out the two venues. And while they weren’t particularly excited about the Hall of Fame, they figured it could work. But over the weekend there were a couple of other impromptu shows at the skate park – Thou saw the potential and wanted to make it work.

“On Saturday morning, anticipation was at a high,” Walter remembers. “The band had decided and asked for the skate park, and production went ballistic. ‘How can we have hundreds of people in there, it’s not doable!’ they told me. People at the festival were, at the same time, getting super anxious, to the point that I couldn’t even walk around anymore without someone coming up to me and asking me about it every time! I remember even Nergal, who was at the festival, at one point came up to me and asked me to tell him where it was going to be! And I just kept saying ‘I don’t know!’, and it was really the truth, even if no one believed it!”

If you’re not too familiar with the proceedings of putting shows together, you might be wondering what all the fuss is all about: it’s just a room but with ramps, right? Walter explains: “The problem is that the skate park is not a venue for shows. For the little punk shows we did there, we just threw together a small DIY PA, and there were a few dozen people watching, and that was fine. But the production team was adamant that it wouldn’t be able to accommodate something of this size and scope.”

That seemed to seal it; but there was one superhero about to rush in and save the day. “After several serious conversations with all parts involved, it was Frens, the 013 general manager, who came to the rescue,” Walter laughs. “He told me, ‘Walter, we need to do it DIY style! This is punk rock and we’re going to do it at the skate park, we have to!’ I told him that production didn’t want to do it, so he went and talked to them, and just told them matter-of-factly that it had to happen because the band was on the way and it was confirmed with them already. Which it wasn’t! But he overruled everything anyway. This happened around 10pm, about an hour from the show. We had an impromptu meeting with security, and we also still had to call the general manager of the skate park to tell him what we were going to do, and he kind of gave us the go ahead, he was just like, I don’t know, sort it out with the production!”

If you have met him at the festival, you’ll know that Walter in panic mode is usually, despite the seriousness of the situations, a harbinger for special things to happen. And here he was, going berserk once more, right before yet another legendary happening.

“I rushed to Thou’s dressing room, and all the band were there with Emma Ruth Rundle. I told them, ‘Skate park is happening! What amps do you need?’ Everyone was super excited and started throwing around ideas: I want a model T, I want that one in the corner backstage, this and that. Five minutes later, I’m backstage with a lorry and all the amps on the street being loaded on it to be carried to the skate park. Of course, that’s when some people saw it happening, and started to catch on. We set it all up with the recommendations of the security staff, who were super helpful, because we still had to measure doors and all kinds of things like that: we still didn’t know exactly how many people we could fit inside without running security risks, which we obviously weren’t going to do.”

All in all, it was one of those situations where it was better to ask for forgiveness than permission. “The day after the show, we had to have a real talk with production, because they were a bit angry,” Walter says sheepishly but with a devilish grin. “They were not amused about mine or Frens’ actions. I know I was very undecided in the days leading up to it, it was all ‘Hall of Fame! Skate park! No, Hall of Fame! No, skate park!’ all the way, then I reassured them on Saturday that we wouldn’t do the skate park, and then at 10pm I’m all like, ‘SKATE PARK, YEAH!’ I get why they were mad.”

Fortunately, anyone who was there will surely be unanimous in considering that it was all worth it. The first thing Bryan told the audience before they started playing was, “So look, we’re gonna have a lot of fun, or we’re going to look like a bunch of fucking dipshits. You gotta pick. Usually we look like dipshits, so I’m thinking we’ll try to have something new tonight, and have fun.” And fun they had…

“The amount of people there was actually less exciting to me than the actual response to it, that’s what made it so memorable for me,” Bryan says. “People were so into it, and having so much fun! For as little as we practised for that set, and probably for as poorly as we played, it turned out incredibly well. It was easily one of the most fun shows we ever had. That set is now the set by which I judge all Thou sets by. It’s actually become a sort of completely unrealistic thing to live up to, but I can’t help it. After having experienced it, now I know it can be like this. So why can’t it be like this all the time? It sort of ruined our normal shows for me!”

For the festival, it was an equally momentous occasion. “It was a defining Roadburn moment,” Walter states. “As awesome as the big shows are, as much as we are known for our production values, as much as the commissioned pieces are an essential part of everything… sometimes, it all comes down to stuff like this. All these bands started out in garages, in basements, in skate parks. This sort of thing is where our hearts lie, it’s where we all come from. Seeing a band in a garage or in a damp basement, it’s in our blood. And it all came together on this show. The band, the fans, the staff, everyone in that room came from that same place. This is the underground that everyone fell in love with years ago, at the very beginning of our individual journey. The expression in people’s faces, the smiles, the joy, the excitement… I’ll never forget it.”

Also, in more practical terms, it had an effect that is still to be measured: “A venue was born, too,” Walter says. “The requests we had for bands wanting to play the skate park in the 2020 edition that didn’t happen was insane. It’s actually being rebuilt now, so we don’t know how it’ll look or even if we’ll ever be able to use it again, but we’ll see.”

It’s interesting to look back now on such an important part of both the festival and the band’s history, and to think about how any small detail might have completely changed it. For instance, Andy reveals that it wasn’t always a clear choice to have Misfits as the theme of the covers show.

“Mitch [Wells, bassist] actually wanted to do Deftones,” Andy says. “I think when we first talked about it, Walter thought we’d do Nirvana, that’s why he suggested it in the first place,” adds Bryan. “Which makes sense: we do a million Nirvana covers, so that’s what people would expect us to do. But for us it was like, let’s just have fun with it. Being a crazy show, and at a place where people weren’t expecting, it all came out of us not wanting to do just the same old thing that everyone thought we would.”

Andy agrees: “That was the whole appeal. I don’t think anyone would peg us for Misfits fans, and to be honest, none of us are really huge Misfits fans! Mitch was really pushing for Deftones, but we pushed back a bit on that, because no one’s gonna go crazy over a bunch of Deftones songs: it’s not energetic enough.”

Perhaps even more shockingly, Bryan quips: “I wanted to do Metallica!”

“That would have been great!” Andy agrees. “But the songs are so complicated: there was no way we could have gotten that together in time, we didn’t have a ton of time to practise for this.”

And you know what? Thou and Roadburn aren’t done playing tricks on you guys. “I loved all the secrecy about it, that’s the kind of shit I love,” Bryan says. “If we ever come back to Roadburn, I’d love to not even be on the bill, and just show up and do a bunch of really fun and weird stuff and have a great time with it. Just surprise people!”

Andy picks up on this: “Maybe we can play on the other side of town. In the lobby of the hotel, like that Nine Inch Nails marketing campaign: we’d leave cryptic notes in bathrooms all over Tilburg. That would be sick.”

Sit tight: who knows what Thou will have in store for us next…

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