This year will see the 3rd edition of the UK TechFest, the fresh faced, friendly and innovative event which showcases the best of the Uk Tech Metal scene as well as the best progressive acts from around the world.
Taking place at the Newark showground, Lincolnshire from the 10th to the 14th of July, featuring bands such as The Ocean, Glasscloud, Chimpspanner and Eyes of a Traitor, it seems that the only way is up for the UKTMF. Not mention their latest announcement including the likes of The HAARP Machine, Gorod, and Aliases.
So with excitement and expectation building over this year’s groove heavy glory, I was lucky enough to chat with TechFest founder and organiser Simon Garrod, about his brain child and how it came to life.
How did you come to found the UKTMF?
I started out blogging, doing press for bands, reviewing, interviewing, arranging compilation CDs and general online promotion. Through that I established a network and decided to try and orchestrate a festival out of all the bands, promoters and blogs I had been working with.
Why Tech Fest as a name specifically?
I suppose Tech-Fest was an easy name to remember, it does what it says on the tin.
I didn't want to go with *insert plural here* Fest as you then have to tell people what that brand is all about before they then check it out, hence the Facebook page is just UK Tech-Metal Fest so people can easily find out about it from the name… “It's a Festival… From the UK… Dedicated to Tech Metal… I assume?”.
How much experience as a promoter did you have before deciding to start a festival?
Next to none. I had played in bands before and some friends and I had organised a friend's birthday gig in a village hall. We brought in all the bands and sound system and had a rough idea of how it all worked, however I always had faith in the people I knew around me to advise and support me on the areas I was new to.
How long had you been thinking of organising a festival before you took the plunge?
It was probably about 3 months. Prior to committing I'd thought to myself that if I could book a one day event with 10 smaller bands and get someone as big as Chimp Spanner or Aliases to headline I would be astonished!
I wasn't even sure if I was going to organise it myself, I just wanted to get a load of bands, promoters and people together up for the idea of such a festival and maybe see if it would be possible.
I created the Facebook page just to see how many people would be interested in such an event happening, I promoted it on all my usual channels and within about 48 hours there was over 650 "Likes", approximately 30 bands had applied already and everyone was talking about it as if it was definitely going to happen. So I was like "Oh fuck, I suppose this IS going to happen then". From that day on I decided to dedicate all my free time to researching venues, accommodation and sound companies and bands etc. I drew up my plans and just went for it.
It grew so fast we ended up with a 3 day long festival with bands like Textures, Sylosis, Monuments, Chimp Spanner, Aliases, Hacktivist, The Algorithm, Uneven Structure and many more. 33 bands played that weekend in Alton at a village community centre and it worked amazingly well, Metal Hammer gave us glorious reviews and was a sell-out show first time.
What is your personal ethos behind running the festival and does that transmit to the feel of UKTMF?
I want to make the biggest and most valuable experience I can for the bands that play the event, I want them to sound great, look great, play great, get great coverage and have most of all have a great time. Last year one of our biggest points of feedback was how great the atmosphere was; Tech-Fest is like one big, happy family where the bands and fans all experience the festival in the same way. I'd like the festival to grow bigger each year but most importantly I still want to make sure we keep that relaxed, chilled out, interconnected vibe that made the past Tech-Fests so great.
As a promoter/organiser do you have a code of ethics when dealing with bands etc?
It's a case by case basis as all bands and agents are different. I suppose I appreciate that all bands have a certain way they like to do things and I know how precious the band can be to its members. I always want the best for the bands I book, so I try to encourage/help them to gain as much value from the experience as they can.
What was your best/proudest moment at or during the organisation of UKTMF?
There are so many to name, probably the moment Veil of Maya started playing on the Saturday headline slot at Tech Fest 2013; 3 years ago I never saw that happening in my lifetime.
Any nightmares, either with attendees, bands or promoters?
Not too many, obviously a few minor things have fucked up along the way but nothing major we couldn't resolve at the time. I suppose the time I panicked the most was when the generator overheated and turned off just before No Consequence played at UKTMF 2013! We had to move them over to the second stage to give it some time to cool down and to get the electrician in. Luckily, we were all good to go in time for Cilice and Scar Symmetry, but yeah that made me sweat a bit!
What are your ambitions for UKTMF?
To keep it growing steadily, we want to book bigger bands each year and keep things expanding in terms of quality and presentation, but at the same time still keep the friendly, inclusive atmosphere first and foremost.
Has running the festival changed your view of the music industry?
Definitely. I now release how hard it actually is to become an established, successful band making a name for themselves let alone a career.
What advice would you give to anyone dreaming of starting their own independent festival?
Do something unique, that doesn't compete with anything else, because if you try to be the next Download Festival you will almost certainly fail. Research every angle of the event you want to produce and look into everything you need to do to make it actually happen, allocate a budget you are happy to lose should everything fuck up and then go for it.
Tickets for the UKTMF are available HERE
See you there!!!
– John Whitmore