Saturday, April 13, 2024

Bloodstock: The Evolution

Starting out in 2001 as a one-day indoor event and seeing numbers of roughly 700 people, Bloodstock has become a household name amongst rock and metal fans.

Now seeing numbers of 15,000 people, it has evolved to a full blown outdoor metal festival (Bloodstock Open Air – BOA), having seen acts such as Lacuna Coil, Testament, Cradle of Filth, Lamb of God and many more gracing its stages.

Adam Gregory
Adam Gregory

I caught up with one of the festival directors Adam Gregory to talk about this infamous metal fest’.

Who came up with the idea for Bloodstock and how did the dream become a reality?

AG: Bloodstock was the brain child of Paul Gregory and Vince Brotheridge; sitting discussing the state of music, they just decided, sod it, how hard can it be, Paul had a contact with Biff from Saxon as he had painted their album covers since 1984 so just called in a favour, Biff agreed to headline the first show, it was a one day indoor show and really was a step into the unknown. After a couple of years, Vince had to pull back from the festival for personal reasons, that’s when us, his kids, stepped in; we’re as stubborn as the old man, so didn’t give up on what we thought was something in the making.

Think back to your first Bloodstock, did you ever imagine it becoming such a huge festival? 

AG: When we had the first Bloodstock, we always hoped it would take off and gather momentum, but to be honest, we took each year simply a day at a time, standing back looking at both where we came from and where we are. We’re all incredibly thankful to the fans and everyone involved in making it happen, Bloodstock would not be here if it wasn’t for so many people, it truly is something we think that EVERYONE can be proud to be a part of, and we’re looking forward to the future and what Bloodstock will become.

Over the years, how has Bloodstock evolved?

AG: We always had a plan for steady organic growth, we didn’t and don’t want to explode with numbers as we would lose the special element which makes Bloodstock that little bit special and sets us apart from a lot of other festivals. Over the years, we like to think we are better than the previous year and always look at ways of improving the fan experience, we don’t always get it right but are quick to realize something’s not right and get it sorted. We think Bloodstock has just become a much bigger version of what it was and still has that very special feel you don’t get anywhere else.

Is there anything new that we can expect to see this year? 

AG: We always look to add in a little bit of change, but very difficult to add something new that won’t bring a negative effect to the fan experience, we work to the old adage “if it’s not broken, don’t try to fix it,” but we have made a couple of tweaks from last year based upon fan feedback.

BloodstockHow are the headliners chosen?

AG: This is a difficult one: We listen a lot to the fan feedback and try to work it out from there. The reality is, we try for one or two bands EVERY YEAR but whether it be down to touring schedules on the other side of the planet or simply the band are already booked elsewhere or are in the studio, we can’t always get our wish list, we have a large inner circle of fans who we bounce both offers and ideas from and we work hard to try and make the whole line-up as strong as it can be, Bloodstock is very much about the whole weekend so it’s important the line-up balances as much as possible. Bloodstock is very much a Metal Festival, so we try and cover as much of this genre as possible.

What would you say is your favourite Bloodstock moment to date?

AG: Wow, so many! For me it was probably when Dave Mustaine invited us on stage for a family photo, standing up there in front of all of those fans with such a great guy was truly mind blowing; it’s really weird, you get to meet all these icons and gods of metal but have to remain composed and act cool, really hard when the kid inside just wants to be fan-boy.

Every year, Bloodstock runs a competition where bands compete and get voted for in a bid to play Bloodstock called Metal to the Masses.

Who came up with the metal to the masses idea?

AG: That was Paul Gregory’s concept, he wanted to give something back and there was so much bad press about pay to play events at the time, Paul’s idea was to create a fair platform for all unsigned bands to be able to have a go but more importantly without having to pay to do so, we battled the industry at the beginning as no-one really got it. We had half a dozen venues up and down the country taking a chance on the concept, eventually Paul met Simon Hall who had so much passion and energy and really understood the genre. Simon agreed to spearhead the project and really has done a fantastic job, to have 26 UK cities now involved, alongside 3 European countries now involved; really does go to show not only the job Simon has done, but the passion and want of the global Metal community. Also, let’s not forget that a lot of these venues have been selling out which is amazing for a show with unsigned bands, just goes to prove how alive metal really is and how good the fans actually are, and long may that continue.

It was great to talk to Adam, and I certainly get the feeling that Bloodstock is family run festival with no hidden agendas other than to bring the best metal festival they can to anyone that wants to experience it. You can keep up to date with the Bloodstock team via the links below. Good luck team Bloodstock and we look forward to seeing you in August!

BloodstockBloodstock Facebook:

Natalie Conway
Natalie Conway
Absolute Rock demon hiding under the guise of respectable Mummy / PR. When I'm not playing air guitar whilst cleaning with my two toddlers, I tend to be working in Rock / Metal PR. I've recently discovered the love of interviewing and it's something I'm determined to get better at!

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