For almost fifteen-years, Bloodstock – held annually at Catton Hall, Walton-on-Trent, Derbyshire – has been the little festival that can. We went looking for fun in the pit
Not as big as Download, but still the most fun you can have with a pot of corpse paint in a field, Bloodstock has long stopped being the British festival scene’s best kept secret and is now widely acknowledged as a bona fide, properly mega, weekend-long-hyper-riot, where metal and rock reveals the broadness of its brilliance and everyone who plays the main stage has loads and loads of fire.
With a sold-out capacity of 20,000, its site is small enough to feel like an extreme music social club, with stages so close to each other you’re never short of something to do. In the unlikely event that you do get bored of the music, you can (legally) go throw axes at things, get drunk on a pirate ship or maybe just get a tattoo. But you won’t get bored, ever. Basically, Bloodstock is what Ozzy Osborne hopes heaven is like.
To better understand why Bloodstock is so beloved by the British rock scene, NME decided to pay this year’s festival a visit and stick a dictaphone in the faces of bands and fans. For those about to rock, we salute you…
Rob, from Bristol
Wotcha Rob. Why is heavy metal the best music ever?
“For me, it’s all about the community. When you get into heavy metal you’re not just getting into a style of music, you’re joining a family.”
That sounds a bit like you’re part of a cult…
“Not at all. I just mean that everyone in this scene is very welcoming. Everyone is so friendly. Places like Bloodstock and Download Festival are where I feel most at home. I prefer being here and feeling like that to being in the real world.”
What was your way into heavy metal?
“It was the nu-metal boom. Limp Bizkit, Korn, Linkin Park. I’m much more into deathcore now but everyone has to start somewhere don’t they?”
Finally, if heavy metal was a food, what would it be?
“Um… spicy chicken nuggets?”
Winston McCall, Parkway Drive
Winston, you’re from Australia where all the animals want to kill you. What’s the most dangerous?
“Crocodiles. No question. They’re real life dinosaurs.”
What about sharks?
“I see them all the time. Every other time I surf I see bull sharks and reef sharks – they come so close you could touch them. My mates had a bad time with shark attacks last year. A Great White took all of my mate’s calf muscle.”
“The ones you have to worry about are the small ones, the ones you can’t see. The big ones are just scary.”
“They’re not around generally.”
“They won’t kill you. They’ll kick the shit out of you though.”
“They’re lovely! They fuck up the snakes!”
Has growing up in Australia made you tough?
“Dude, I’ve been in one fight in my life. I punched a guy in the face in the surf because he was acting like a jerk and putting other kids in danger.”
You’re like Aquaman!
“I’ll take that.”
Shall we talk about music for a little bit?
“If we must. It’s been a weird few years. The band has experienced growth like we’ve never known and I think what that means is that we’re able to be more creative and go to more new places than we ever have been. We just want to give ourselves time and space to really make the most of that. We’re not scared of trying new things right now. When we were younger we literally used to write music to pump us up before surfing. Now I’m older I want the band to stand for more than just adrenaline. I want to show some vulnerability.”
To wrap this up, what do you think about where heavy music finds itself right now?
“I think there’s loads of awesome music about and loads of awesome people working within the scene to get the music heard. But that’s always been the case. As far as perception goes, I have the same frustrations I always have had. You’ve still got politicians who think it’s an evil form of music – just look how metal was rolled out as a motive in the recent Dayton shooting. You’ve still got record labels who are happy to take the profits of record sales, but won’t promote the records properly, like they’re somehow ashamed of it. We’re playing to 20,000 people this weekend. This isn’t a niche music. This music means the world to the people who love it.”
Lee, from Somerset
Hello Lee. Why is heavy metal the best music there is?
“I just bloody love it. I love the community of the scene. Everyone is so friendly. There’s no egos. Everyone is just out for a good time.”
Are you out for a good time, Lee?
When did you get into metal?
“I was five-years of age. I heard the Sex Pistols and that was that. I’m probably more of a punk than I am a metal fan, but anything that’s noisy and heavy is alright with me. Would you like to see my tattoos?
If you’d like. Finally, if heavy metal was an animal, what animal would it be?
“A lion, because it’ll fuck you up.”
Kelly and Nicola, from Glasgow
Hello you two. Why is heavy metal awesome?
Nicola: “It’s inclusive, it’s fun, nobody gives a fuck…”
Kelly: “It ticks all the boxes!”
Everyone has said ‘community’. It’s getting boring.
Nicola: “What I mean by that is, like, Kelly has green hair and tattoos and in Glasgow you might get shouted at in the street for that, but here there’s old ladies into the music and little kids running around in Metallica t-shirts. Everyone’s welcome.
Kelly: “There was a problem with Cradle Of Filth getting onstage today and instead of everyone standing their moaning, everyone started doing the Cha-Cha Slide. That’s awesome.”
Is Glasgow very heavy metal?
Nicola: “It’s more heavy metal than Edinburgh.”
Kelly: “Edinburgh is for posh goths!”
Finally, if metal was a superhero, who would that be?
Nicola: “I don’t agree.I just think he’s shite. You’re funny. We get it. Now fuck off.”
Kelly: “Who would you say, then?”
Nicola: “Batman. Bats are very heavy metal.”
Kyle and Aaron, from Stratford-Upon-Avon
Ruddy hell, you’re scary…
Kyle: “This is my friend Aaron. I was going to come dressed as a horror character, but I forgot and now I feel a bit silly.”
Let’s make this quick. Why is heavy metal the best music of all the music’s?
Kyle: “I’ve been coming to Bloodstock for seven-years and it’s just the best time. I feel safe here. I was bullied a lot when I was younger. Metal was my refuge. These are my people.”
Let’s wrap this up; if heavy metal was a fruit, what would it be?
Kyle: “Probably a lime”.
Why a lime?
Kyle: “Because I like limes”.
Liam Cormier, Cancer Bats
Hello Liam, are you having a nice time at Bloodstock?
“Oh yeah. Bloodstock is the ultimate gathering of every genre of heavy music in one big field! It’s a place where a hardcore band like Cancer Bats can play on the mainstage and a band like Evil Scarecrow can go on after us and the crowd is well up for both! It’s rad being at something like that!”
What heavy bands are exciting you right now?
“I really like bands like Gouge Away, Loathe and Amyl and The Sniffers. Bands that take their influences and do something different with them. I love heavy music for that release it gives you. I can blast out all my energy to the music. That’s why I’m such a mellow hombre 90% of the time.”
What’s the most heavy metal thing you’ve ever done?
“Well, I recently rode a motorcycle from Birmingham in the UK down to Marrakesh to rip around the deserts of Morocco. It was a two-week off-road adventure and I dropped off the bike and played in Tenerife – with the aid of an airplane – that same day. That made me feel like a total metal warrior!”
Dana and Gracie-Marie, from Norwich
Hey up. Are you having a nice time?
Dana: “I’m having a lovely time!”
Gracie-Marie: “I’m having a lovely time too!”
What is that you’ve written on your face?
Gracie-Marie: “It says PWD, for Parkway Drive, and it’s a guy on a surfboard because they like surfing.”
Have you ever been surfing?
Fair enough. Why is heavy metal the best music?
Dana: “It’s because there’s so much talent there. People play their own instruments and write their own songs. I used to be into people like Akon before I discovered it.”
Gracie-Marie: “I got into it when someone I knew who liked it died. I feel like I’m enjoying the music they can’t enjoy now.”
That’s really quite lovely. I’m not going to ask anymore stupid questions now.
Gracie-Marie: “Thanks. I love heavy metal!”
Dani Filth, Cradle Of Filth
Hello Dani. Do you prefer Dani or Mr. Filth?
“Just Dani please.”
Okay then. There’s a tonne of people sporting your infamous ‘Jesus is a Cunt’ t-shirts today, the grandma upsetting, must-have merch accessory of 1994. I’m surprised they’re in such good nick…
“Oh don’t worry, we’re always reprinting. But I have seen some wearing the original ones today. Fair play to them. They’re twenty-five years old and there was only 150 of them printed in the first place. They must have been looking after them. We did really well out of those t-shirts. They paid for the Maserati.”
It’s nice to have Cradle Of Filth around in an era where so many are so offended by so much…
“Thank you. It’s a weird time isn’t it? On one hand all the ultra-violent video nasties that I struggled to get hold of as a kid like I Spit On Your Grave and Cannibal Holocaust are now upstaged by the opening five minutes of The Walking Dead. On the other, the social agenda is very safe and very PC.”
When was the last time you think you offended someone?
“I don’t know, really. I don’t go out to offend people. Probably when I forgot to turn up to my mother’s for Sunday lunch…”
Tell us what have Cradle Of Filth got planned for the rest of the year…3
“Well, it’s been quite the year. We’ve been busier than I think we’ve ever been. We’ve been home for about eight days in total I think. We’ve been and are going everywhere; India, Tel Aviv, China, New Zealand… And we’ve just announced a very special show at the London Palladium on October 19th where we’re going to be playing [the band’s seminal 1998 release] Cruelty and the Beast in full. We’re going to be launching our clothing line. Our beer too!”
What does Cradle Of Filth beer taste like?
“We don’t know yet. It’s still brewing. It’ll be strong though.”
I was hoping you’d say spiders.
“No, not spiders.”
Anthony, from Manchester
Hello Anthony. That’s a lovely jacket you’ve got. Tell us why heavy metal is the best music?
“It just makes you feel good. It’s a good hobby to be into; buying records and going to gigs. It’s better than stamp collecting.”
I dare say it is. Who are your favourite band?
“Ever? Probably Motörhead. I think I saw them sixteen-times. I don’t think music ever gets any better than Motörhead, really.”
Okay, look, you’re the last person I’m interviewing for this piece, so let’s make this good. If heavy metal was a brand of supermarket, what supermarket would that be?
“Aldi I think. It’s quite Germanic isn’t it.”
Bloodstock 2020 takes place between August 6 and 9 next year. Get your tickets