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T IN THE PARK COVERAGE LATEST NEWS:

Vince Power - the Benicassim boss


Spain Spain | by Steve Jenner | 20 July 2009

Virtual Festivals: So tell us, Vince, what’s been filling your time since you sold Mean Fiddler and with it your festival empire a few years back?
Vince Power: “I never really stopped doing festivals, when I sold Meanfiddler – Reading and Leeds and all that lot, I went straight to Spain and bought this festival called Benicassim from the two brothers that owned it. It’s been a long time trying to turn it round to my operation.”

VF: How have you found running an overseas festival compared to the ones over here?
VP: “Totally different really. The Spanish and the Spanish authorities are totally laid back. Basically what they do is let you go ahead and do it and if you make any mistakes, they just put you in jail. So you feel more responsible. It’s all about risk and health and safety. It’s all very well having the bands and its nice having the really good gigs, but the stuff that goes on to make a festival like Benicassim or Reading; there is a phenomenal amount of stuff - all this boring stuff like security and camp security and toilets. But it is really interesting when you put it all together and it takes a huge amount of people to pull it together. It is a bit like having a ship and a crew of a ship really and you just captain it make sure everybody else is in it.

The great advantage of being at Beincassim is the weather. The big problem with festivals in the UK is the restriction on sound and the curfew times. The authorities here expect you to have a really good time, but you’ve got to be in bed by eleven. It’s shite really. The good thing about Spain is a lot of kids come back from Spain and say the band was so much better, but it’s only because they were able to turn up the volume. The Spanish tolerate it and say it’s a benefit to the area so we’ll go with it, but here they’re always looking to close you down. So if you go over two or three minutes past whatever the stage time is, it’s a £5,000 fine. So in a way it’s a breath of fresh air and it’s great to be able to put an act on at two am and some of the dance acts go on until eight in the morning! By that time people are ready to go again. It’s like a guaranteed mixture of Reading and Glastonbury in the sun. It’s very chilled out with everyone on the beach all day.”


VF: And so many bands tell us how much they love it too...

VP: “Yeah I think the lads that sold it to me recognised 15 years ago, when they opened it, that they needed to put together a really attractive facility for the band. They put a swimming pool in the big backstage area and once bands start talking about it, others want to play, so it has worked really well."

VF: It has quite a big British contingent now.

VP: “Yeah, huge. It’s 40% British now.”

VF: So has the festival been affected by the current economic climate and weakening of the Pound against the Euro?

VP: “No, not at all. At the end of the day, we’ve been lucky enough to have a really great bill on there in way of popularity with the likes of The Killers, Kings Of Leon and Oasis. But it hasn’t really affected us. We’ve sold out now and we could probably have another 15-20,000 tickets. But the problem is not the size of the site, but the problem is camping – we haven’t got any more camping.”

VF: Will you be able to expand that in time?

VP: “Oh yeah, in a few years. Everything goes really slow in Spain; it’s very hard to get people to do anything. It is very bureaucratic, nothing fazes them, they just relax. It’s taken me three years to get it slightly changed.”

VF: Do you think you’ll be having more festivals in Europe?

VP: “I think there is a whole new opportunity. I think the UK is pretty saturated but there is a whole opportunity in Europe and there’s the new Europe. I’ve been looking at festivals in Lithuania. There is definitely an opening there and because bands now have to play live because they’ve got no other source of income, they’re always quite willing to open up new territories – new places with new festivals. I think it’s the way forward really.”

VF: Do you have any plans to stage a twin location for Benicassim?

VP: "Yes, I’m looking to twin the festival next year in fact. I’ve got a location in mind in Seville, which is becoming the new Barcelona. So it makes sense, it’s a no-brainer for the bands – they’ll get twice the money. There’s a big demand for the bands – especially the American ones – to do Europe. It’s interesting how it’s only British and American bands that control the whole of Europe’s popular music industry. Ok, there’s a few French bands and we have one or two Spanish bands on at Benicassim but they don’t mean anything to the Spanish, even. The Killers will be as popular in Spain as they are here.”

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