Most of us have been able to avoid festival blues in good fashion, but those that come after a sweltering, drunken long weekend at the Newark Showground for UK Tech Metal Festival are incredibly hard to shake. In the midst of going back to work after the festival, and beginning to re-adjust to the normalities of life, Tech Fest was still lingering in the minds of many. It was hard to walk away from.
The weekend was filled with more positive vibes than you would expect out of any regular festival. Many who attended in 2014 had been the previous two years, and in infinitely good spirits, the Tech Fest family always recognise one another, even if they live in totally different parts of the country or even the world. That’s the beauty of Tech Fest, it poses an infinitely more positive atmosphere, a relaxed vibe with no rockstar “I’m better than you” demeanours. The bands, crew, press and attendees all integrate within the same small area without being secluded or separated for reasons unknown. It’s one of the many reasons why Tech Fest has proven to be something that captivates your average festival-goer.
It also happened to have an absolutely insane lineup; headlined by tech metal favourites Vildhjarta, Monuments and SikTh. Despite the sizzling heat throughout the weekend (much akin to last year), the indoor stages were at times, approaching oven-strength temperatures. But that didn’t affect anybody in the slightest. With a stacked lineup featuring many national and international bands with bright futures, there was always something for everybody. Whether it was the crushing death riffage from Martyr Defiled, or acoustic wizard Jon Gomm, or instrumental genius Chimp Spanner, you were not limited on choice. There also happened to be minimal intermissions, which didn’t leave a single person bored.
Tech Fest has proven something spectacular; a gathering that brings so many people together, musicians and fans alike. MetalRecusants caught up with various artists across the weekend who had much to say about Tech Fest itself.
John Browne from Monuments said: “There’s only really two festivals worldwide that do this kind of thing, Euroblast and Tech Fest. It’s actually humbling to have a festival that’s dedicated to a style of music that all of us here helped create. It’s just a great atmosphere. Everyone’s here for the music, and everyone’s here to have a great time.” (Read the full interview with Monuments here)
Paul Ortiz, better known as Chimp Spanner, who has played every single Tech Fest since its inception, is quite the creator when it comes to dishing out instrumental brilliance. He played an absolute belter as the Early Bird featured act on the Thursday night. For those that don’t know, Chimp is very creative in terms of influences, which range from anything from video games to contemporary film. With all of his material entirely self-funded and self-produced, Chimp is one of the more innovative stars in the modern day tech metal umbrella, who fans always clamour to see.
“It had been quite a long time, as shows are quite sporadic at the moment, but I’m really happy with how the set went on Thursday night!” Ortiz said, “Tech Fest just keeps going from strength to strength really. It always feels very well organised and well run. There’s a great vibe to it.”
Portsmouth’s Seething Akira played on the Friday night afterparty on the Double Slits Guitar Stage. All five members had this to say:
“Tech Fest is just generally a nice place to be. It’s very well organised, it seems a lot more spaced. We would love to come back again, and this time we would love to stay for the full weekend. It’s a shame that we have to shoot off straight away. We came last year and *kind of* played. We played an acoustic set due to PA issues – it’s nice to come back and show everyone what we’re made of!”
And they were phenomenal. HIGHLY recommended!
Aeolist, whose debut EP Aeolist I was lucky enough to write a review for (found here) were one of the bands I was most looking forward to across the weekend. And boy did they deliver! Aeolist are a band with a bright future in the tech metal scene, and they believe Tech Fest has helped them reach that goal:
“We remember coming last year, on account of a band pulling out. And being like “Woah! What the fuck is this? Where has a festival like this, with all of these bands, suddenly come from?” and it’s fucking awesome what the organiser is doing. It’s brilliant. We along with everyone else just hope to see it blossom throughout the future. As you can see, it’s growing every year and it’s getting better and better. It’s quite a niche market for that kind of stuff, to turn that around is amazing. Here, everyone from that scene is in one place. It gives you a chance to see all the bands who wouldn’t necessarily always come through your town. There’s a real community that Tech Fest is the heart of. It’s almost like a second home for many bands and fans who come here.”
Derya Nagle (guitarist) and Lori Peri (bassist) of London’s The Safety Fire are progressive metal favourites. They have really made a big impact as of late, and delivered a smile-heavy yet crushingly vibrant, dense performance on Sunday. Prior to their slot, they kindly took the time to still be really cheerful and hilarious as they always are, and bring yet more positivity to Tech Fest:
“I think apart from size the whole thing is run differently” Derya says, “Tech Fest is quite laid back, a lot of nice people around. You see all your friends who you haven’t seen in ages. There’s no kind of “rockstar” thing going on. There’s not like a segregated band area and that is really cool.”
“This scene is really close-knit and that is great” Lori adds, “This community has grown so organically, at a time when people really care. You’re walking around and they’re not bothering you because everyone’s so friendly. That’s what’s great about it.”
Both were really excited about Sunday headliners SikTh.
Lori said, “It’s safe to say that this scene probably wouldn’t exist without SikTh. They were a huge influence in how The Safety Fire originated.”
Federico Paulovich, from Destrage, who ripped Tech Fest a brand new orifice on Sunday, had some very positive words about the festival as well:
“Looking at the bill, I would definitely say that Tech Fest is a very innovative festival. I think this is a very well-organised, perfectly located gathering. Definitely a lot smaller, but with a great following. We played an open air festival in Germany and also Euroblast two years ago, and I would say Tech Fest is on the same level. Although I have only been here a few hours so far, I’m loving how it looks so far. And I’m very excited to be seeing SikTh later on!”
SikTh were obviously a smart choice to book for the festival, as they had the whole venue packed to the max with very little room to manouevre.
Exist Immortal also delivered yet another amazing set, as expected. With every Tech Fest under their belt too, they have been one of the more marquee attractions every year, and feel that the festival is a second home.
“It’s bigger and better, and considerably cooler. I felt like a Christmas dinner last year!” exclaims guitarist Kurt Valencia. Whilst this year was hot, last year was something else entirely, so we can sympathise!
“It’s a really chilled place. That’s the one thing that’s different about any other festival – no division between bands and punters. For me [vocalist, Meyrick De La Fuente] that’s what stands out about Tech Fest. It also possesses a much lower percentage of dickheads. If you’ve been to any other major festival there are always a few. But none at Tech Fest. I left booze outside my tent the other day, and nobody nicked it. If that doesn’t scream positive vibe I don’t know what will!”
Rich Hinks, creative genius behind progressive prodigy Aeon Zen, as expected, played an awesome set on the Sunday.
“I think we’re reasonably different from most of the bands here” Rich says, “We’re a bit more melodic, and have a bit more of that prog influence that comes from our earlier albums, which we still haven’t shaken off yet! I think it works, it’s nice to have a lot of variety. A lot of the bands here are viciously heavy and I love that too, but it’s nice to sort of break that up a bit.”
“I think the fans appreciate variety here more as well.” Rich continues, “Jon Gomm played yesterday and there’s definitely space for other styles within this genre. Gigs we normally play just tend to be support stuff, with a few headline gigs. But Tech Fest is really nice how it’s set up. Four straight days of continuous music, no gaps between artists. There’s a huge difference between that and other major festivals like Download and Sonisphere. It’s really nice to have it more continuous, especially considering it feels more of a community as well, just because there isn’t that petty “rockstar” atmosphere. It’s really good to have a hub in the UK for this type of music.”
Aeon Zen’s new album Ephemera drops on the 1st September, pre-orders will be available at the beginning of August.
A huge talking point across the weekend, and you’ve probably seen his name appear more than once in this article, was acoustic aficionado Jon Gomm. In the sub-headline slot to Saturday’s featured act Monuments, Jon Gomm was instantly welcomed by the metalheads who voiced their amazement and appreciation for his songwriting.
“There’s really awesome music and in particular incredibly awesome guitar playing.” Jon says, “It reminds me of when I was a kid; I used to shred (that was my thing), and there was never a place for that in music except if you just made shred-style music. Now there is finally a musical outlet for it. It’s fucking amazing!”
When describing the vibe of metal gigs; “It’s funny I played at Download a few weeks ago and that’s the first ‘metal’ thing I’ve done. Before I went, I thought I had better do something like an arrangement of a metal tune, and I thought, ‘No just go and do your thing and just see what people think’, and it went really well so I’m going to do that here at Tech Fest and hopefully people will like it.”
They did. Very much.
“People who are into metal are normally into other stuff as well.” Jon concludes, “I mean graffiti artists, when they paint something, what they do is solely tantamount to the location of it. If it was somewhere else it would be completely different. Someone does a painting on a wall of a train station; that’s different to that painted on a block of flats. Completely different. That’s what I’m trying to be – seeing how my graffiti works on ‘your’ wall!”
“The UK is awesome for these festivals. It’s just not been this style of music. I hope it stays around for a long time. There is something quite pure about tech metal as a musical form. It’s pure musicianship, there’s no real bullshit. Nobody’s trying to be/look cool, which can be kind of a curse, certainly in a lot of indie festivals I have played, and I am a little bit of a hipster! In tech metal it’s purely about doing something you really want to do. And I love that.”