Michael talks to Virtual Festivals a week ahead of the festival about new faces in his life, a hidden piano bar, booking Beyonce and his plans for retirement.
Virtual Festivals: I think I should start with a congratulations…
Michael Eavis: “For the baby? It’s fantastic, George Albertst, what a knockout, he’s fantastic. What a nice present for Emily and for the rest of the family, it’s absolutely brilliant. We’re over the moon about it. He looks so good as well, he looks intelligent, handsome and tall.”
VF: Great. So how are preparations going for this year?
ME: “I’ve never seen the site look so exciting, it’s absolutely amazing. The energy these people that come down and make it work is just astonishing. It really is. They’re so clever, so creative; they work all through the day and night. The energy they use to drive it, in every single area, Shangri-La, Arcadia, Trash City, the bullring, the whole site, the green fields – it’s absolutely fantastic. The people here next week will not believe it. They will have never seen anything like it before. Never in their lives.”
VF: This is going to be the best yet I take it?
ME: “Totally, It’s leaping ahead every year year. The artists we’ve got working are incredible, all the graffiti artists, the painters, decorators, all the flag people, whoever it is they’re just on fire.”
VF: What are you looking forward to this year?
ME: “There are things like the Underground Piano Bar and the bull ring, all the things that are going down in down in what we call the travellers fields. It’s really, really breathtaking. I’ve just come back from there and it’s really breathtaking.”
VF: In terms of music what’s on your list to see this year?
ME: “Music is actually on the back burner for me at the moment because obviously when the show starts and we get the PA system going and the bands start turning up. We’ve got the wonderful headliners, U2, Coldplay and Beyonce, but then all the other things, Primal Scream, The Chemical Brothers and Morrissey, so there’s all various tiers of excellence. Right at the very bottom is the very low tech Underground Piano Bar which is just violins, banjos, ukuleles, real authentic cluck dancing, the real thing – so amazing. There’s no technology there, so we’ve got a whole real range of stuff; high tech, low tech, no tech.”
VF: Beyonce has been quite a different type of headliner for Glastonbury, how did that happen?
ME: “When Jay-Z came over a few years ago she came with him and she could see, she picked up on the atmosphere, it’s so electric. The audience are so good down here, they don’t get abusive, they don’t throw things, they’re so appreciative. My audience is the best audience in the world because they simply love it here, and there’s no anger here at all. They’re all here because it’s where they want to be – the best place on earth for the last weekend in June is Worthy Farm basically.”
VF: Do you know if she’s bringing any special guests with her on stage?
ME: “Well I do know but I certainly can’t tell you though.”
VF: How you do you feel about taking a year off in 2012?
ME: “I need a year to calm down actually! Honestly, I’m so hyper at the moment and I get so excited, I’m going so blurry eyed at the minute because I can’t believe what I see.”
VF: Does it put extra pressure on you when you know there’s a year off?
ME: “No, well I just enjoy it so much, there’s no pressure. It’s just pure fun, pure enjoyment for me really.”
VF: What will you do with the time off?
ME: “I’m going to calm down, but we’ve got a proper dairy farm and the herd has, just of last week, been named the highest yielding herd in Somerset and we’re the third highest yielding herd in the whole country. We hadn’t recorded the herd before so the first year of doing milk recording which the milk buyers are ever insistent on. So we come out on top in the very first year we record the milk yield of our cows, how extraordinary.”
VF: So there’s no time to take a long holiday next summer?
ME: “We are actually; Liz and I are going round in a little yellow mini with a black top, if you see it in Great Yarmouth or somewhere that’s us. We’re going round the coast from north to south, from east to west, so hope to take some real time out. She’s [Emilly] starting her own family with Nick, and also running the Park and she’s really got her head in the sponsorship and really diminishing the impact of the sponsorship, that’s Emily’s big thing at the moment. So she’s got her hands full, and what with the family and everything. Give her four or five years to have the family and watch this space basically.”
VF: That leads me on to the much-asked question, have you made any plans for retirement?
ME: “No, not really. While I’m enjoying it this much and we’re having huge success that we’re having with the public, the media and also the ticket purchasers as well, there’s no reason to change anything at the moment. Obviously I’m getting older and Emily will get more involved as she settles in with the family and everything, so the timing is perfect I would say for the two of us.”
VF: When that day does come and you have to sit back and watch someone else take head control will you enjoy it?
ME: “I’m sure I will do but I can’t envisage it at the moment, just sort of letting go, because there’s so much going on out there. It’s so hands on you know. But Emily, she’s hands on as well but she’s doing different things to me so we work very well together. We’re the perfect working couple really.”
VF: If you are a first time Glastonbury goer this year what’s the one thing you must check out?
ME: “The one I’m personally most excited about is the bullring, which is called Campo Pequeno which is a Portuguese name for a bull ring where they don’t kill the bull. So Campo Pequeno is for me personally, because I’ve been involved with it by recycling the lock gates from Devizes is absolutely beautiful. I feel a bit self-centered when I say that because I created this with the help of the people in the common that are actually running the field there. Having said that there’s so many things everywhere else, there’s nothing to choose between them, and also the Park is always a huge success and a lot of the great rock and roll stars stay up there and sleep in the tipi fields.”
VF: Finally last year Time magazine voted you in the top one hundred influential people in the world, how did that feel?
ME: “Well I’ve got to live up to it now. I can’t let them down and I’ve lived up to it this year I can tell you.”
Check out our Glastonbury preview pieces:
VF guide to hidden Glastonbury.
Things that only happen at Glastonbury.
Michael Eavis interview.
The great VF ‘Special Guests’ sweepstake.
My Festival Life… Greg Roberts from Dreadzone.
Long range Glastonbury 2011 weather forecast.
Photo blog: top 20 bands to see.
Photo blog: the mud.
Photo blog: the weird and wonderful of Worthy Farm.
Do Glastonbury 2011 as a scenester or a senior.
Glastonbury 2011 in numbers.
Glaston-buried by luggage: the ultimate packing checklist.
Glastonbury Festival Spotify playlists.
Video: top five acts to see on the Pyramid Stage.
Video: top five acts to see on the Other Stage.
Video: top five acts to see on the West Holts Stage.
Video: top five acts to see on the John Peel Stage.
Video: top five acts to see on the The Park.
Video: top five acts to see in the Dance Village.