Isle Of Wight Festival 2012 - the John Giddings Q&A

IOW mainman fills us in on what to expect this weekend...

Photographer:Mark Holloway

Chris Eustace - 20 June 2012

How do you plan the bookings for the festival?

Make it up as I go along! There are certain acts in the world that I target, and this year, three American acts came together at one time. It wasn’t deliberate, but I’d been talking to all of them for four or five years.

So they’d been on your wishlist?

Absolutely. In the same way that Green Day, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Stone Roses and Oasis, when they reform, are all on it. It’s a question of who’s available at what time, and who’s touring, you can never predict it.

Is it built around a headliner first then?

Yes, I would say you need to know who’s going to be headlining because you build it from the top downwards. After I got the classic American rock bands, I decided to get the best of British, and go with Elbow, Noel Gallagher and Biffy Clyro. Then, you look at chart stuff like Tinie Tempah, Jessie J and Lana Del Rey, because you want to provide acts for all ages – or I do anyway!

I personally think festivals stuck in one genre are boring, and I think part of the fun of the festival is discovering music you didn’t know existed as well as seeing things you like. A festival isn’t all about the music, but it’s important that the music is good.

I book different acts on the Big Top than I do on the Main Stage, because I think the atmosphere is different, and this year, The Garden stage has moved, and I’ve booked bigger acts for it. It’s like putting a city together for a short length of time, and making sure you’re providing as much entertainment as possible so people go home happy. The Beach will be much bigger because it was so successful last year, and you can discover things like the Zebra Bar. People thought I was mad to restart a festival you could only get to by boat, but I think that’s one of its selling points.

Do you have any tips on who people should see who they might not have heard before?

Zulu Winter, The Milk, Spector…It’s the biggest strength in depth we’ve ever had. I think you should you check out Elizabeth McGovern from Downton Abbey singing with Big Country, that’s going to be entertaining, and lots of people have been phoning me about Caro Emerald, Dry The River and Gretchen Peters.

Who were you most pleased to get this year?

Bruce Springsteen, definitely. I’m also pleased to get The Pierces back, and that Andy Fraser from Free is coming to play on The Garden stage.

Talk us through your typical day when the festival is up and running…

I get up about 7 in the morning, walk up the festival road to see it if it’s raining, walk round the site to check the bars to make sure everyone’s getting in gear, then I go in catering and have some breakfast, then we have a production meeting where we discuss everything from the day before and go through it with a fine tooth comb, then we have a security briefing, and then you start welcoming bands who are arriving, some of whom are still sleeping on the buses – I have a opened a bus door before and an artist has fallen out!

Then you go up to the main stage and talk to the production manager and the DJ, put the first band on then drive off in your golf cart and do the same for the rest.

You’re meeting and greeting people, you’re forever looking at the sky to make sure it’s not clouding over - you get a strained neck by the end of the weekend!  You look out at the river and swear at the boats getting a look in for free, but then you think they look good on the television.

By the end of the evening, you’re knackered but satisfied. I try and see one or two numbers of lots of the groups. There’s nothing better than wandering around the site and finding out what’s going on.

Is there anyone playing this year that you think could be future headliners?

The Vaccines definitely are, I think they will in the future. I think they’ve got it.

Some people are saying festivals are booming and some are saying they are in decline, what's your take on the current status of the industry?

I just think the market is saturated. We’re in an economic recession and no-one has as much money - young people are moving back in with their parents because they can’t afford a place to live, and this year there’s lots of other choices, so there’s bound to be casualties.

I don’t think Michael Eavis helped by saying festivals are over. It wasn’t a nice thing to say when he decided not to run this year. He might say something different next year when he puts his tickets on sale!

It’s nice to see that people are supporting us, we’ve sold out our camping tickets already and now we’re just praying for the weather.

You trialled the electronic RFID Wristbands at the Isle Of Wight this summer, will you be taking those further this year?

Yes, we trialled them in the VIP area last year, and we'll have a food and drink area this year where you can use them to pay for things this year. I think it’s the future of these kind of events.

You have a tradition of having local bands on, even opening the Main Stage...

My ambition is for a group from the Isle of wight to become internationally successful. Nothing would make me more happy. When we first came to the island, only tribute bands played there, and now there’s a thriving music scene, which we would like to help develop further.

Have you got any tips for people coming to the festival for the first time this year?

I would bring wet weather gear, hot weather gear, bring layers, make sure you have some money in your pocket, and make sure you’re not going to lose your phone easily. It doesn’t hurt to remind people, as once you’ve had a few drinks you’ll get sunburnt or soaked - I’ve done both myself!

The Isle of Wight Festival 2012 takes place from 21 - 24 June at Seaclose Park, Newport, Isle of Wight.

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Pearl Jam and Bruce Springsteen & The E-Street Band are this year's headliners.

Click here to see the full Isle of Wight line-up.

Click here for Isle of Wight stage times.

Isle of Wight Festival non-camping weekend tickets are still on sale, priced at £161.50 (including booking fee), non-camping child tickets (7-12) are available at £80.

Click here to buy Isle of Wight Festival tickets.

Camping tickets are sold out.

Want more? click here for the VF Isle Of Wight Festival Spotify playlist.


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