Last month, Wacken Open Air – or W:O:A – took place successfully for the 28th time. Despite the weather and Mother Nature not being in its best behaviour, the organisation once again seemed pretty flawless and everyone had a great metal holiday. 2017 saw many various bands take the Wacken stages. From Accept performing with an orchestra, Status Quo bringing the 70s to the metal land, Alice Cooper decapitating himself, Batushka performing their Russian Orthodox-inspired black metal, and even Bob Geldof sung about how much he hates Mondays with The Boomtown Rats.
W:O:A is an institution. It is not just a festival. This means that there is a lot of serious work behind the scenes. It is always fascinating to learn about the preparations that are needed to organise such a mammoth of an event. To be precise, for the 2017 edition, there were 75,000 attendees. On top of that, around 4,500 crew employees, 1200 security guards, 400 police, 250 firefighters and 900 paramedics. There were around 150 bands performing on eight stages, which translates to around 1,600 people. Now, if I did the math right, that is around 83,000 people (if not more).
To find out more about the preparations for this year’s edition, I talked to the co-founder, Thomas Jensen. He talked me through the exciting changes in the infrastructure festival – the drainage system and the world-famous beer pipe. Thomas explains why the new drainage system was necessary and why the idea of a beer pipe was introduced. I also had to ask whether there was a time that Wacken Open Air run out of beer.
I also asked the all-important question about security. This was on everyone’s thoughts. With all the horrible attacks happening in Europe at music festivals and other mass gatherings or public spaces, I had to ask Thomas if there were any special preparations that had to be taken care of.
Wacken Open Air has seen some of the world’s biggest rock and metal bands perform there. Iron Maiden, Ozzy Osbourne, Megadeth, Alice Cooper, Whitesnake, Scorpions, Europe, Rammstein all performed at least once. A couple acts such as Metallica or AC/DC have not visited the Holy Wacken Land yet. Since Thomas recently wrote a postcard to Lars Ulrich sending him greetings from Wacken in a recent video, I had to ask whether Lars received it and whether he will be visiting the festival with Metallica anytime soon.
All the questions are answered in the video below. Click play and find out whether Wacken Open Air ever run out of beer.
Check out our previous interview with Thomas Jensen here.
The next edition of the festival is taking place 2 to 4 August 2018. Tickets are available here. Confirmed bands so far include Nightwish, Arch Enemy, Doro, Watain, Sepultura, Running Wild, Firewind, Belphegor, In Extremo, Dirkschneider, Amorphis, Epica, Knorkator, Deserted Fear and Bannkreis.