In the Alma Inn in Bolton, there is an event that takes place every year called Riff Fest which brings together quality bands from across the metal spectrum, but one whose heart is in the Sludge, Stoner and Doom scene. Last year, I spoke to one of the masterminds behind this festival, Adam Swarbick, to talk about all things Riff Fest.
Jack: Hey Adam, thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. How are you doing?
Adam Swarbrick: Yeah good thanks dude, this time of year is where all the exciting bits are sorted out so I’m feeling good about Riff Fest 18.
Jack: Before Riff Fest, did you put on any gigs yourself?
Adam: Yeah, dude, as tends to be the way, I started to put gigs on as a means of ‘gig swaps’, don’t tend to get that so much anymore but hey ho. I really do do it just for the fun of it now though really.
Jack: What made you want to start Riff Fest?
Adam: That’s easy man. I remember being sat in the pub one day and I said to my trusty right hand man Jim, ‘let’s get all our mates bands down for a party’. Simple as. I do this just for the buzz of a great gig and to see everyone have a great day, bands and fans alike.
Jack: As someone who has played in bands before, does the experience of playing in a band make organising gigs easier as you know what goes into them or how to treat a band?
Adam: I guess so, maybe in the sense that, as I said, a lot of these guys are good mates anyway, so the booking process usually runs like this. ‘Yo dude, you guys wanna party this summer?’ [Laughs]
Jack: The first Riff Fest took place in 2014, how did it go?
Adam: The first one was a surprise to be honest. As I said earlier, it was honestly just supposed to be a few mates, but it blew up straight away and it did surprise me to be honest. People were talking about it all the time and what a great time they had.
Jack: How has it evolved since its inception?
Adam: Evolving and growing is really important to me with this. Being the person that I am, I want the latest ‘work’ to be better than the last. I’m confident each Riff Fest has done that. I’m really proud of it.
Jack: Riff Fest takes place at the Alma Inn in Bolton, what makes the Alma a great location?
Adam: The Alma does hold a special place in my heart for sure, it’s a place I’ve been knocking about since I was younger and where I first really experienced the ‘unsigned/underground’ scene and I fell in love with it from the very first show I saw. It works well because the staff there really are a family, the work they put in on the day is insane and I don’t mind saying I couldn’t do it! Jim has ensured the venue is kitted out with the best gear possible and the sound in there is phenomenal. And loud as fuck.
Jack: How many people are involved with Riff Fest?
Adam: Myself and Jim, then the staff at the Alma.
Jack: How did this year’s edition go?
Adam: 2017 was awesome, there’s always the normal anxieties on the day that any event organiser would have, but I was thrilled with it yeh dude. There was some real stand out performances.
Jack: When it comes to Riff Fest do you approach bands, bands approach you or is it a mixture of both?
Adam: Bit of both to be honest, I tend to have a few bands I really wanna nail down, then build around that.
Jack: How far in advance do you book the bands?
Adam: Man, one of the bands for 2018 has been nailed on since before Riff Fest 2017! [Laughs]
Jack: Does the announcement of Corrupt Moral Altar show you are moving away from the sludge/stoner/doom and are embracing a wide range of bands?
Adam: Not really man, I don’t see it as being limited to bands that might fall in to that category. I mean, we had Def Goldblum on in 2017, if you’ve never heard them, try that shit out! Amazing rap artist backed up by a tight metal band behind him. It’s in the name really, ‘Riff Fest’. If the band has solid riffs, game on. We had Foetal Juice on in 2016, as well as After the Abduction. That was awesome. Quality Death/Slam bands respectively.
Jack: When can we see a headline announcement?
Adam: Early next year dude.
Jack: Finally, what is the dream band for Riff Fest?
Adam: Bongzilla, Yob, Mastodon and Pig Destroyer.
Jack: Thanks for your time Adam and I hope the rest of the planning for the festival goes well!
Adam: Thank you dude!
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