Speaking at Roskilde about safety and fence-jumping, the festival organiser also reveals who he has booked so far...

MICHAEL EAVIS visited ROSKILDE FESTIVAL, GLASTONBURY’s main European rival, last weekend on a fact-finding mission spurred on by the friendly rivalry between the two events.

And he has revealed that Rod Stewart has been booked to play the traditional Sunday-night veteran slot at Glastonbury 2002. He also spoke about Worthy Farm’s latest high-tech superfence designed to repel the problems with ticketless invaders which contributed to the cancellation of this summer’s Glastonbury.

Speaking to NME.COM at Roskilde today (July 1) Eavis claimed his first ever visit to Roskilde was partly inspired by criticism of Glastonbury in NME which drew unflattering comparisons with its Danish counterpart. “We had a great hullabaloo a few years ago, when we had the muddy years, and NME said why don’t we do it like Roskilde? I was a bit offended about that and said ‘But Roskilde’s not as much fun, we take risks at Glastonbury, it’s much bigger and more exciting and not so predictable…’ That’s what I said about it, but I think I went a bit overboard and was a bit rude to them.

“We can’t cover Worthy Farm over with tarmac but having been here today and yesterday I do see the benefits of having a permanent site. There’s mains water, flush loos, tarmac everywhere. It’s very nice and tidy and clean and orderly. There’s no-one getting over the fence. I didn’t even see a fence. Everybody pays to come in, which is brilliant.”

Eavis told NME.COM he was considering laying more tarmac roads at Glastonbury, and incorporating the front-of-stage pens for fans which were introduced at Roskilde this year to prevent the kind of stage crush which left nine Pearl Jam fans dead last summer. He added, “Bear in mind that we’ve never had a serious accident at Glastonbury, nothing life-threatening anyway. We had someone who broke her legs but she came back from hospital within a day. And drug dealers had a go at each other, I can’t really be blamed for that.

We have really got good record, but even so we mustn’t be complacent about the possibility of something happening.”

But Eavis also claimed that the crowd problems at Glastonbury are more than just a matter of organisation. “It’s a national difference. We were a lot more aggressive when we used to fight European armies. We went out there and hit them all in pieces, didn’t we? The French used to see us coming and run for their lives. Ha ha! It’s in the genes, basically. We can’t change that but we can change the fence. That argument that ensued in ’97 between the NME and myself made the case for a permanent site. I don’t want to do that at Worthy Farm because the cows are the main thing. My family have been milking cows there since 1894 so the cows are my first love.”

As for Glastonbury 2002, Eavis told NME.COM “we certainly want Neil Young, and we’ve got Rod Stewart doing the Sunday night slot. That’s really good fun. That’s already booked.” He is also confident of overcoming the council objections, which sank this summer’s festival. “We’ll get over that, it’s so important, for the whole of British youth culture. And also the economic benefits to Somerset are enormous.”

Eavis hinted that further crowd problems could be the end of Glastonbury. But a 50,000 word document about security procedures has been sent to the police, and another new fence is being demonstrated this week.

“You can’t tunnel under it,” Eavis told NME.COM. “It’s got a metal road on the outside fixed to the outside fence. It’s all interlocking, there are no nuts and bolts to it so you can’t take it down. All you can do is go over it. But we have to tell people that the free entry culture is finished. People have to listen to the arguments, because if we fail then we really have to pack it all in.”