Organizer of ProgPower USA
Interviewed by EvilG
Thanks to Ice Maiden, Los Muertos, Crashtest,
The Punishment Due, etc. for question suggestions!
Glenn, we spoke about Metal-Rules.com interviewing you last year
right around the time of PP III. Since you are gearing up for promotion
for Prog Power IV, I thought now would be a good time to get the word
out in metal rules about PP with this interview.
Glenn, although some may know this, please tell us how you are
affiliated with “ProgPower Europe”?
Europe was started as a "fan-driven" festival in Holland by
some friends of mine that I had met via the Perpetual Motion Board. They
were looking for more of a "prog" oriented festival as there
really wasn't a festival in Europe dedicated to that genre. There first
year was a mini-success and they have grown every year. At the time of
their first show, the States didn't have anything towards the prog/power
scene other than Powermad. I had been a faithful Powermad attendee since
Keith Menser's 2nd show. I kept waiting for it to take a step up in
terms of quality, but it never took off and was starting to die to be
honest. With the help of a few beers and some encouragement of some
friends of mine, I decided that I'd like to take a shot at running a
festival. That's where PP Europe comes in. I contacted them and asked
them how they went about starting from scratch. It took off from there.
Do they let you use the ProgPower name for free?
Absolutely. The idea was to get as much international publicity for
both festivals since we were in a similar situation. We decided to share
the name and present that to corporations in hopes of sponsorships. That
part never took off, but the name recognition did. We are 100% complete separate
entities and only share a name and a friendship.
Why did you choose to go with that title as opposed to say another
famous festival name or one of your own?
I thought that "ProgPower" was a rather cool name as I was
able to twist it a bit. The European version is more slanted towards
"the power of progressive music." On my side, I went with a
hybrid, Progressive and Power Metal. The name is suppose to be read at
two words even thought it's written as one.
Do you still travel to other US (or European) metal festivals?
I have yet to attend a European show. I simply haven't had the
opportunity, but I hope to visit behind the scenes to see how the big
boys pull it off from a logistical stand point. As for the U.S., once
Powermad died, I started ProgPower and never looked back. I'm not a fan
of the Metalfest series and there really aren't many other metal
alternatives that aren't dominated by death/black metal bands. There is
nothing wrong with that, but I'm simply not the biggest fan of those
styles. I hope to make it up to the Brave Words show though.
Why does PP take place in Atlanta?
The first PP was in Lansing, Illinois. It was a bitch to pull off
even on a small scale due to the logistics of the gear, travel, etc,
etc. I made the decision to find a city that has a major international
airport, public transportation to the venue, and a quality area for the
venue. Plus, I wanted a first class venue. After some investigation, I
realized that Atlanta was perfect. It also helps that I live about 60
miles from there. You do the math.
Why don’t you take PP on the road and have it in 3-4 different
cities? Maybe that is something that you’ll do in the future?
This festival is paid for out of my own pocket. I front all of the
cash and take every bit of the risk. This is a very expensive show to
produce as it is completely different from every show in the States. I
have a first class venue. I pay all of my bands. I pay for hotels for
bands and crew. I pay for catering, backline, etc, etc all out of my own
pocket. I simply cannot afford to take this on the road without a
corporate sponsor. That is damn near impossible here in the States. I'm
slowly getting some national attention via recent articles in magazines
like "Modern Drummer" and via word of mouth. Once I develop
the show to where it is a proven financial success, then I can look at
the logistics of taking it on the road. I could see me doing a show on
the East Coast and Chicago. I don't think the U.S. could handle more
than that to be honest.
Have you traveled to ProgPower in The Netherlands? If not – why
not? If so – what did you think of it and how does it compare to
I'm afraid not. The only thing that really stands out in my mind as
the difference between the two festivals is the type of roster we book.
Europe really goes after the progressive acts (across genres) while I
book traditional power metal bands. Of course, the big difference is
that the headline bands that I get can be booked at a far cheaper price
than in Europe. Blind Guardian is not going to get the same payday here
in the States as they will anywhere else in the world. Sad, but true.
What do you see as the role of ProgPower in the American metal
I simply want to bring a quality show to the fans. I'm a fan first
and a promoter second. I have found a niche in the U.S. market and I am
going to run with it to the best of my ability in bringing over bands
that the U.S. would never see otherwise.
According to the FAQ on your site, you broke even with PP III.
Does this just include paying the bands and for the venue? I assume your
own time is donated for free?
As I stated earlier, I pay for everything. I treat the bands in a
manner they would never get here in the States (or in Europe for quite a
few of them). I usually put 6 months into these shows. It's a labor of
love. Of course like all businesses, you have to establish your name and
go through some growing pains before you can turn a profit. I'm almost
Besides yourself, how many other people are working behind the
scenes to make PP USA a reality?
I have a dedicated crew. I essentially have two generals in Deron
Blevins (my webmaster and graphics guy) and Chris Roy (my stage
manager). They have helped me turn this festival into the most organized
and best run gig in the States. Of course, my faithful crew at the live
show keep things running smoothly. We work up to 18 hrs per day to pull
this off. How many other festivals can you think of that soundcheck
EVERY single band on the roster before the doors open. I am nothing
without my crew.
What do the list of “associate sponsors” help with? Are they
the ones that actually pay the band’s bills (air fare, hotels, cost to
have them play, etc??)
Associate sponsors either donate money or an item needed for the
festival that would otherwise cost me money. They do not cover the
complete cost of specific band or item.
Some other festivals (NJ Metalfest comes to mind) have made some
of the smaller bands “pay to play” with the band having to sell so
many tickets in advance or something like that. what is your opinion on
that, do you do anything like that with any of the bands?
I think it sucks total ass. Of course, I am not a fan of that style
of festival to begin with. Koshick must do quite well with the formula
as he's been doing this for quite a while now. I simply have a different
philosophy on just about everything in terms of comparisons.
I wonder, do the bands charge the same to play in the US at a
smaller venue as they do in the large European venues?
It depends on the band. Most people look at festivals and think that
these bands play in front of 40,000 on a regular basis. In truth, the
big dogs probably hit the 2,000-3,000 seaters in the major markets and
half that in the smaller ones. In the U.S., unless your name is Dream
Theater you are going to have to play the shit club circuit to crowds
from 200 to 1,000 when you first start here. Those bands that check
their egos and bust their ass reap the rewards. In Flames comes to mind
How does it feel to be responsible for being the first place to
bring in many Euro prog/power bands who have never played in the USA (or
some in North America as a whole) ever before?
When I see them up on the stage, it's pure magic during their set. Of
course, as soon as its over, I yell for them to get the fuck off my
Please give us some detail on the band selection process.
That's a delicate process. In truth, I choose. Period. I tend to look
at multiple variables including marketability, buzz-factor,
availability, track record, and to be honest, I usually have to like the
band. That may seem selfish, but those are my balls that are on the line
in terms of ticket sales.
Some might say: ”wouldn't the festival grab more fans if you
included death and black metal bands on the bill?” BUT, isn’t the
whole point of ProgPower to showcase a form of metal that isn't very
"popular" in the US, which is what makes the festival
different from Milwaukee Metalfest, for example, which is almost all
death and black metal bands. That's what makes ProgPower special!! Isn't
Correct. If you want chicken, go to a fast food chain. If you want
Filet Mignon, then come to the steak house. That said, I do like to
throw the crowd a curveball every year. There will always be one band
that I book that makes people go, "WTF?"
Have you ever had a band on the bill that you were not personally
a fan of or is your liking a band the #1 criteria?
Cost is the number one criteria. :)
What bands have you tried to get for ProgPower but so far you
haven’t had any luck?
To be honest, this year was the first time that I haven't gotten a
few of the ones that I pursued. I went after Stratovarius, Iced Earth,
and a few others. It just didn't work out.
Have you tried to get either Rhapsody, Lost Horizon, or
Stratovarius to play at ProgPower since these bands are fairly popular
(outside of North America) but have yet to play in North America???? If
you have – what happened? If not – why not??
Stratovarius was my #1 target this year. I tried like hell for months
to get it done. No dice. I do not ever see them playing the States to be
honest. They are not going to get a better offer than what I made them
unless they do a full tour over here and hell hasn't frozen over to the
best of knowledge. As for Rhapsody, I could probably get Kiske to rejoin
Helloween before I book them. Rhapsody employ guest musicians on the
live shows. Thus, Rhapsody is expensive as fuck. Period. Lost Horizon
may see these shores one day.
Do you expect the festival to grow larger and larger every year?
do, but not by much. I'd like to move it to a 2,000 seat venue and leave
it at that. The intimacy is what makes this show unique in the world.
All of the bands hang out and party the entire weekend. They mix and
mingle at the local hotels, in the lobby, and at the bars with the fans.
In fact, every single band from ProgPower III attended the pre-party on
Thursday night at the local bar. You couldn't turn around in there
without bumping into someone from one of the bands. How many other
festivals can brag about that?
I've heard the festival is going to be in a different venue this
year. Last year at Earthlink Live it was the most well-run show some of
our reviewers had ever been to. Logistically, how will adapting to a new
venue affect the show??
I decided to stay at Earthlink. I have the forumla down to a science
and it's hard to move unless there is bigger ($$) motive.
year ProgPower was the "point of entry" for various European
bands who had never played America before. For future festivals would
you prefer to get European bands that have never played the US before,
or host other bands that have been on US soil for a while??
The list of "name" bands that have never played the States
is getting smaller. Thus, it's going to be a challenge to put together a
roster that keeps everyone happy. I have the pickiest damn fans in the
world and that is fine with me.
Regarding last year’s line up, do you regret having DEVIN
TOWNSEND on the bill since his music didn’t seem to go over well some
of the listeners?
no. In fact, I loved it. You are never going to please everyone. I'm
certain that Devin's fans loved his performance. On an aside, Devin is
simply the greatest guy in the world to work with and he has been my
favorite artist to work with. You wouldn't believe how awesome his
sound-check was. I was in tears from laughing so hard.
At the 2002 festival, the CD vendors, promotional people and even
the interaction among the fans themselves was an extremely important
aspect of the experience. What goes into selecting what labels, zines,
etc. will be represented?
Well, I could give you some bullshit political story about the good
of the scene, etc. The bottom line is that it really works itself out on
its own. I don't do much but offer the opportunity.
Perhaps you can share a little more info on yourself. I'd like to
know what are some you YOUR favorite bands.
The festival is a hobby that I'd like to turn into some sort of
business one day. As for my faves, I'll list ten of them: Nightwish,
Rage, Symphony X, Evergrey, Circle II Circle, Vanden Plas, Secret
Sphere, Mercenary, Pagan's Mind, and Redemption. Otherwise, I've been a
Jimmy Buffett fan for 20 years now. I'm a parrothead till I die.
When did you get into metal and what bands first hooked you on
I grew up in the glorious 80's. I was a hair band freak that started
off on Pyromania, Bon Jovi, etc. Somewhere along the lines I found Iron
Maiden and Queensryche. I never looked back (ok, I still listen to Jon
Do you only listen to prog and power metal?
No, but they are my main concentration. I dig all sorts of music
except for pure death/black metal. I can't handle the vox.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned as a result of being
in the “business” end of the metal industry as opposed to only being
It's a dog-eat-dog world and I'm wearing milk bone underwear (credit
Norm). In the biz, you better have your shit together or you get eaten
alive quick. Your reputation is everything so you had better deliver
what you promise. It's also quite the experience to work with bands that
you idolize. Of course, you have to kick a few of them in the ass after
you kiss it.
Do you promote or work on any other smaller concerts throughout
the year? If so – what bands have you worked with? If not - why not?
Nope. PP is a big enough pain in the ass.
What do you do when you are not “progging and powering”? Ha!
Do you maintain a 9-5 job to keep your metal habits alive?
I'm a trauma nurse in the ER. Thus, you can see where I get my
"take no shit" attitude.
Where do you see yourself in say five or ten years in terms of
your work in the metal field?
No clue. I'm just going to try and enjoy the ride.
Did you always dream of being a concert promoter? How did you get
into this, was it haphazardly or did you “learn the ropes” from
I've always wanted to do something in the music scene, but I never
knew what. This promoter stuff basically fell into my lap. As for the
ropes, I learn something new every year. I like to think that I set the
standard instead of following it.
Any closing comments for the metal-rules.com readers?
Tickets for PP IV go on sale May 5th. See you in September!
ProgPower III Review