Download promoter Andy Copping Interview

…a band that people will go “why has be booked them?” But then go and see them and go “Wow, now I get it. Not only do I get it, but I’m a fan of this band.”

Now it’s officially British Summer Time (putting the “wind” back into “sit back and unwind”) it’s almost festival season. We wanted the word from someone who’s already completely involved in the whole thing, so we got on the phone to Andy Copping, who is the promoter of one of our favourites – Download!

 

This year’s Download is headlined by Slipknot, Iron Maiden and Rammstein. How easy or difficult is it to get these massive bands? I know it’s Download so people want to play there…

You’re giving me a head start if I’m being honest! Bands are aware of the festival, bands are aware of the festival site. They’re aware of the history with Monsters of Rock. They’re aware of me, I’m a concert promoter so I’m out there promoting bands throughout the year doing their tours, etc. I know the management companies, I know the agents, I know the venues, I know the record labels. Lucky for me and the festival, we’re high profile enough that I’m not just some new guy starting out that hasn’t got a track record. Download has a lot of history and Donington’s got a lot of history and that does give you a bit of a head start. It’s not easy, you have to fit around band’s schedules and all their touring. If they’re not touring in June, I’m not going to get them – it’s as simple as that. None of these bands come cheap. It’s a huge investment from us and commitment and I call it fishing expeditions. I have to go out and go fishing and I’m either coming back with a little tiddler or I’m going to come back with a great white shark. Sometimes it’s harder than others; you’ve just got to keep yourself in the game to make sure you get the best you can.

Of those bands you’ve managed to catch this year, who do you recommend? Who are we looking out for that maybe we haven’t noticed on the line-up?

There are some good young bands out there that are worth checking out. There’s a band called Hacktivist, which people should check out. They’re new and up-and-coming. There’s a band called Buffalo Summer that you should also look out for. Fidlar is another one; they just got announced this week. Huntress – another one to keep your eye on. We’ve got a good cross section of young and new bands coming through that you never know could end up being… oh Palm Reader. That’s another one I’ve been watching just lately and we’ve booked at Download. Empress is another one. Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats – there’s a huge buzz on them at the moment and I booked them 2 or 3 months ago so I’m glad they’re on the bill. We’ve got a really good cross section and variety of bands.

 

Maybe this is putting you on the spot a bit – what is your favourite stand-out live performance you’ve seen? Not just during your time as a promoter. What performance sticks out in your mind and inspires you when you’re booking a band?

It varies really. I saw some amazing performances by, certainly the left field stuff – Prodigy, Pendulum and Chase & Status. When I saw those bands I knew that I could transfer that, put them into a rock environment and it would really work. I took a lot of stick and a lot of flak for booking those bands and guess what, thankfully they’ve all come through and they’ve all delivered. So that’s quite inspiring for me. I want to find another band that’s similar, they don’t have to be similar to those musically… but a band that people will go “why has be booked them?” But then go and see them and go “Wow, now I get it. Not only do I get it, but I’m a fan of this band.” It’s always good to look for something like that.

 

The very first time I saw Rammstein I knew I had to get them to play at Donington. They’re a tailor made act for Download. Hugely, hugely important to get them. I’ve tried for a number of years, I haven’t managed to make it work but finally they’re playing for us this year. Just when you come across things like that you know they’d fit for the festival.

You’re at Live Nation, do you think that is a fitting title for a company that promotes festivals in the UK? Are we a “live nation”?

We’re very much a live nation. There’s no question about that. If you look at it per mile, there is no country in the world that has as many music festivals as the UK. Nowhere in the world. Try and pick it, you won’t find it. From the middle of May until the middle of September there are at least 3 outdoor events of some musical standing, somewhere happening in the UK.  Every single weekend. There’s nowhere in the world like that. We’re a very musical nation and that is totally underlined by how strong the live business is over here.

With the failure of Sonisphere is there concern for the industry?

I just want to better what we’ve done and that’s not easy because we’ve had such successful years one after the other and you always try to better the event you’ve done the year before. You can only book what bands are available to you and I try to book the best I can with the budget I’ve got and the bands that are available and are touring at that period. I can’t lose that focus, the minute that I do there’s the possibility that the festival could grind down and I’ve got to keep on top of it. It’s a 24 hour, 7 day week, 52 week a year operation. I’m already talking to headliners for 2014. In fact, I was even talking to a band this week that might be playing midway on the second stage in 2014. I have to be that far ahead so my main focus is on that at all times.

When’s the earliest you’ve ever had a headliner booked?

Well if things go the way that they go it will be next year. Because I actually have offered a headline act… they want to play and I’m saying “yes, I’ll have them.” We’ve not 100% inked the deal as yet but if I do that’s way, way ahead. In fact, I was talking to them in 2012’s festival – they weren’t playing then by the way, I was talking around that time – for them to play in 2014. That’ll be nearly 2 years.

So they weren’t playing in 2012… any other hints? Any other clues?

I’m afraid that’s the best you’re going to get my friend!

It was worth a shot.

 

Andy Copping (@Maverick_AC) is the booker and promoter for Download Festival, which takes place 14th – 16th of June 2013 from Donington Park. Tickets are available now.