Stuart Galbraith Interview

We caught up with Sonisphere booker, Stuart Galbraith. Check out the interview below.

With a lot of bands playing every year, when do you start planning who to book for the festival?

It’s a continual process to be honest. We’re already having conversations in regard to headliners for 2012. The bigger the band, the longer it takes. The conversations with regards to the bands we have at Knebworth this year, certainly started taking place during the summer of last year – So anything up to a year.

The majority of festivals take place during the summer, how do you deal with the competition from the other rock and metal festivals in the UK?

I think one of the concepts with Sonisphere, is that it’s a touring project. We try and book as many bands that can play as many Sonispheres as possible. In that respect, we potentially have the ability to offer bands multiple festival offers. So if we take for example, this year we have Slipknot who are playing nine Sonispheres. Metallica are playing two and Iron Maiden are playing seven. I think that gives us the ability to offer bands something more, than just one festival.

How is planning for this year’s festival going and how have ticket sales been?

Planning is going very well. We’re on track. Each year we do it, it becomes a little bit easier. We’re always looking to improve upon previous years. The team is also engaging with the police, the local authorities, the land owners – so planning for this year is going very well. With regards to ticket sales, Knebworth and most of the other Sonispheres throughout Europe are ahead of the sales patterns that we had last year. Knebworth is 60% up on this point last year and I think we’re actually heading for our first ever sell out.

What is it about the Knebworth site, which gives Sonisphere that special atmosphere?

There’s great musical and rock heritage at Knebworth. With the exception of the O2 show they did a few years ago, it was the last place Led Zeppelin ever played. Bands like Queen have played there, Deep Purple and Pink Floyd – so it’s a name known for huge rock acts. But also the way we’ve got the site mapped out, it’s absolutely beautiful countryside and I have to say it’s one of the most picturesque settings for a festival. The campsite in particular, is much prettier and a much nicer environment in which to spend the weekend.

If I were to start a band tomorrow, what would you look for in booking us, to play Sonisphere?

I’d look for great music in the very first instance and I’d also look to see where you fit in with the rest of the bill that we have at Knebworth and Sonisphere throughout Europe. Sonisphere is very much a rock festival rather than a metal festival. We want it to provide a broad based rock weekend as we possibly can. So it’s deliberate we have bands at the one extreme, such as Biffy Clyro, Weezer and You Me At Six, all the way to Slayer, Slipknot and Anthrax at the other end of the scale. The primary criteria is that you’ve got to be a great band and be able to play great music.

Renegades (Feeder) played a secret set at Sonisphere last year, have you got any surprises planned for this year?

We’re planning on two or three things, but if I told you, it wouldn’t be a secret!

Who are you personally looking forward to seeing over the weekend?

From doing seven Big 4 shows last year through Eastern Europe, undoubtedly the Friday night is going to be stupendous.  To see Metallica return to Knebworth, is going to be great. Then to see them play as the culmination of the Big 4 is going to be fantastic. I’m not just singling out big bands here but, the fact that Slipknot are together after Pauls horrible departure and the fact that they’re together as a unit. And then of course Biffy Clyro’s first ever major headline festival set. Those are going to be 3 enormous highlights for me. We also have stuff booked, like the 30th anniversary of Sisters of Mercy which show, even more musical diversity – probably the ultimate band to come out of the late 70’s/80’s Goth era. They are phenomenal, live. I’m looking forward to it as a fan and not just an organiser.

If you could pick 3 headline acts as your dream bill for this year’s festival who would they be?

They would be Metallica, Biffy Clyro and Slipknot!

Thanks for your time Stuart, and all the best with Sonisphere 2011.

Fore more information on the Sonisphere Festival, head on over to the official website.