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Interview

Kaltenbach Open Air Celebrating 10th Anniversary With Marduk, Dark Funeral, Krisiun And Rotting Christ

Photo of Dark Funeral

Band Photo: Dark Funeral (?)

The Austrian underground metal festival "Kaltenbach Open Air" (K:O:A) is celebrating it's 10th anniversary. Reason enough for Wolfgang Bartl (Rottinghill-webzine) to have a chat with K:O:A organiser Thomas Spiwak below.

Wolfgang: Hello Thomas, and thank you for taking the time for this interview! How are you?

Thomas: Hello Wolfgang, thanks for asking. So far so good and after the somewhat strenuous booking phase, it has become a little quieter again in the meantime . Preparations are rolling according to plan and we are confident that we will be able to deliver a great festival once again this year.

Wolfgang: What is currently going on in Kaltenbach?

Thomas: Currently, we mainly focus on promoting the festival but also the first hot phase of selling pre-sale tickets is gearing up already. Interviews are to be given, accreditation requests to be worked through, and also the first merchandise booths are getting booked. Concerning our infrastructure the first contracts are signed and our festival site is taking shape already virtually.

Wolfgang: Last year you appeared to be somewhat uncertain concerning the revival of the festival, whether and how well it will be received by the fans. In retrospect, how did it all work out in the end?

Thomas: Yes, the atmosphere was a quite tense during the last days before the event. While we all were cautiously optimistic, experience also taught us that anything could happen and also go terribly wrong. Declining attendance of many other smaller festivals also was not a good omen for us too. And the weather also always is an unpredictable determinant. But in the end everything worked out great and both the fans and we the organizers were able to draw a positive conclusion.

Wolfgang: The 2015 edition of the Kaltenbach Open Air, is not just another Kaltenbach edition, but is in fact already the tenth anniversary. At this point, congrats on this anniversary! What's going on in your mind when you think of this edition being the 10th anniversary already?

Thomas: Of course we are proud to have achieved this milestone in some way and certainly are a bit nostalgic too looking back on the years and past years' editions of the KOA. Many memories are connected with the festival and a look at past billings make me smile from time to time. Each of these festival editions has a lot of stories to tell and everyone who was attending the festival knows what I'm talking about. I'm sure that the oncoming edition of the KOA will in no way be inferior to the past stories, and maybe will also outshine them all.

Wolfgang: For those readers who have never visited the Kaltenbachgraben: What makes Kaltenbach Open Air so unique compared to other festivals or open-airs and why would you say should someone attend the KOA?

Thomas: A big advantage of Kaltenbach Open Air is definitely the unique setting and the festival site itself. It's just awesome, being able to enjoy your favourite bands surrounded by mountains and forests while you're cooling your beer in Kaltenbach creek. This festival is just family and in my opinion also has a comfortable size. Not too small but also not too crowded. The waiting times are within limits and you can comfortably have a party with like-minded metal-heads or just enjoy the bands.

Wolfgang: Do you have planned something particular as a surprise for the tenth anniversary, so also regular visitors should definitely consider attending the festival again in 2015?

Thomas: To be honest we are still in the midst of the planning-phase here and therefore I can not tell too much, since the feasibility of some plans still have to be coordinated. But we will try to have some surprises for you on the spot. And as soon as we have more information, we will announce all the latest news on our website.

Wolfgang: Concerning local bands you managed to book some awesome bands again. Selbstentleibung, Hellsaw and Darkfall just to mention three of them. What have been the selection criteria?

Thomas: It is not easy at all to select the fitting bands from all the applications, but basically a well received new album or a special anniversary for example is of advantage. But also the mix of bands must be right. We want to cover as many extreme metal genres as possible. The ratio of veteran and new uprising bands must be consistent for us.

Wolfgang: Also top international acts such as MARDUK, GOD DETHRONED and AGALLOCH are to be found on 2015's billing. Are you proud of one of the bands in particular to have them on the billing?

Thomas: It may sound a little corny, but we are proud of each band on our billing. Each band is an asset to this festival and was selected with care and therefore booked. As in previous years, we have tried to create a diverse mix so as to have a top-class billing on stage.

Wolfgang: Was the fact of celebrating an anniversary on the 2015 edition of Kaltenbach Open Air , making the search and booking bigger, well-known band easier, or would you say this would have worked just equally easy without this special background?

Thomas: No, this fact does not play a major role when it comes to booking a festival of this magnitude. The bands or their bookers of course don't have our approach or connection to the venue. However, the conditions and the figures must match our demands to a certain extent. There is only limited room for sentimentality.

Wolfgang: How likely are chances for small, emerging, local bands to get booked, compared to famous bands? When is a band dignified to enter the Kaltenbach stage from your point of view?

Thomas: For so called bigger bands, it is of course more likely to get our attention, but also smaller bands are not without a chance. Persistence or boldness are rewarded and absolutely get noticed.

Wolfgang: Besides three days of finest metal of course one thing must not be forgotten: the provision of sustenance! What can we look forward to?

Thomas: In addition to the mandatory basic foods such as beer, wine and schnitzel-rolls there will also be a variety of high-percentage or soft drinks, but also other suitable festival food will be there of course. For recovery or in between there will be coffee and cake and also concerning the vegetarian meals we will be offering more variety.

Wolfgang: Looking back at the past nine editions of the Open Air: What were your personal highlights all these years?

Thomas: Concerning bands , we really had a lot of highlights over the years and it is actually impossible to name them all here. For me personally it has always been something special only to have played an active role here. It has always been an awesome time and we can only be grateful for all the support from the fans and our crew. I made a lot of friends and acquaintances, and after all these years it's still nice to watch visitors having fun and getting home with a smiling and content face on Sunday. These moments make up for much and I am very grateful.

Wolfgang: And what do you expect for 2015? Do you think there will be many more memorable moments that will make the tenth edition of Kaltenbach Open Air to be remembered as legendary or a long time? What could that moments be?

Thomas: Honestly? I really have not thought about such things so far. I just try to prepare myself as good as possible for the events at the venue and deliver a good work. The billing in my opinion guarantees excellent and unique shows, plus all the gimmicks around, will hold a special highlight for each visitor. I just wish the event to be rolling smoothly, and that everyone is having a proper party for three days and enjoying an awesome Kaltenbach Open Air.

Wolfgang: How much time do you invest into the planning-phase, or more specifically, how short after the 2014 edition did you have to start planning again and preparing this year's anniversary event?

Thomas: Actually after the event is before the event. Except for a few weeks off in September it started right away again with new plans and first meetings. We discussed potential for improvement, posts and opinions from the fans, trying to draw lessons from it. Then first talks about the billing follow and a little later you are already in the midst of booking bands. There is always something to do and it's never getting boring for anyone.

Wolfgang: How many people does it take to run this year's edition taking into account all the planning and implementation and security staff, stage-hands, technicians etc.? Just roughly.

Thomas: All in all probably around 150 people will be employed to implement this year's Kaltenbach Open Air. Plus another 200 people have to be taken into account from bands, press, and merch stands. And for all of them you have to provide sufficient infrastructure, space and food. In other words, things are really happening there.

Wolfgang: Probably an unanswerable question, but according to your wishes and dreams, how would the Kaltenbach Open Air look like in 2025? Could it be the 20th anniversary?

Thomas: Let's survive 2015 first, then we'll see from year to year. Unfortunately we're not getting any younger and also obligations aside the festival are not decreasing. As long as everybody is having fun and everything can be arranged to some extent, there will be the Kaltenbach Open Air in this constellation. But it would be irresponsible to look too far ahead from now.

Wolfgang: From last year's interview with Matthias, I know that you yourself rarely ever have the time to watch the performing bands. How does it feel not being able to enjoy the results of your work in the end that kept you busy for months before?

Thomas: You have to consider that on the spot actually you don't have the time to think about that, as there is always something to do and you have to be on call all the time. It's just different, but not less interesting. You have to communicate with bands or fans about this and that all the time and I am actually busy throughout with coordinating things. If there are periods of some spare time in between I may have a look at one or the other song or a band and having a quick beer with my colleagues.

Wolfgang: Has there been any band in the past years that you have never seen before live on stage and you could not even watch on your own festival? Was that annoying for you?

Thomas: Since I'm not a 100% sure what band I have seen or not, I have to dodge something here now. Well at least I can say that I was able to watch some of the songs of Sodom and Malevolent Creation last year and would like to see parts of the shows of Marduk, Dark Funeral and Krisiun. Let's see if I will be able to reach this goal this year.

Wolfgang: Thomas, thanks a lot for taking the time. I wish you and the entire Kaltenbach-team all the best for 2015 and may this year's anniversary edition of the festival be a successful one! Here's to ten more rounds! I'm leaving the final words here now for you!

Thomas: Thank you for this very interesting interview and the support of your magazine all these years. Also, a huge thank you to all the fans. Here's to a brilliant 10th anniversary edition 2015!

LugalKiEn's avatar

Lugal Ki En is a die hard metal fan since the early eighties. His musical taste ranges from NWOBHM, thrash metal, death and black Metal to deathcore.

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