Obscene Extreme Festival – Interview with Curby
Interview by Kirsty Birkett-Stubbs
For the last 15 years Trutnov, Czech Republic has been the spiritual home to the Obscene Extreme Festival – an open-air event dedicated to extreme metal and grindcore. From the initial seeds sown by organiser Curby and nurtured by the blood, sweat, and tears of each successive year’s festival patrons, 2013 sees Obscene Extreme Festival mark its anniversary in the best way possible – by expanding with, not one, but three new international entities; South America, Australia, and Asia.
Talking us through the immense challenge of delivering four festivals across four continents, Curby explains how Obscene Extreme Festival has grown beyond all expectations, but not away from its original ideals.
‘In Grind We Trust Since 1999’ – Obscene Extreme Festival (OEF) has a pretty long history in the European festival scene – how much have things changed since the early days?
Curby – OEF has just grown up from a little kid to a teenager [laughs]! But in general we went a long way from a small festival with the stage on a flatbed truck to the status we are in now… but the vibe is still the same, kind of freaky and conspiratorial if you know what I mean… when I look back then I can really enjoy a rich history of an underground festival and to be honest I never imagined that back in 1999 when I started to do OEF.
Why the choice to focus on extreme metal and grindcore – did you feel those genres weren’t as well represented by other festivals?
Curby – Well, grindcore is simply my thing… I still remember when I heard ‘Scum’ [by Napalm Death] for the first time… of course even before that I was into extreme metal like Sodom, Assassin, and so on but then ‘Scum’ came to my life and I was like “wow” this is the music for me and I love it up to today and I will probably forever. It has everything I love about good music, power, intensity…. and the other extreme metal styles? I was born on fast and brutal metal so I just follow my heart and do what I like.
This year is a new chapter in the Obscene Extreme history as I understand as well as Europe you have expanded into a worldwide event with dates in three other continents – South America, Asia, and Australia – why now though?
Curby – It’s very easy, it’s the 15th anniversary in 2013 and there’s no better year to celebrate it all around the world!!! I was thinking a couple of years about this “expansion” and so last year I just said, come on, let’s do it and not just talk about it… so here we go!
Why did you decide to add three extra countries all at once, instead of starting off small with just the one?
Curby – Because I’m probably not smart enough [laughs]! I can understand now it could’ve been done easier, especially when all 3 festivals are in a row. I’m going to Mexico, the I’ll come back to Czech Republic for like 12 hours and then fly to Jakarta and then to Melbourne… crazy but my friends in those countries wanted to do it on those dates because it’s a good time for weather and vacations.
How did you choose those three locations – Mexico, Indonesia, and Melbourne? Was it difficult to negotiate putting on a new festival in those places?
Curby – I was looking for a good scene where they haven`t got many open air festivals or a real DIY festival like OEF and of course I wanted to make it special so that’s why America, Asia and Australia. I believe it could be much easier to do the fest in the USA, in California for example, but I visited Mexico one year ago and could see several shows there and I really enjoyed every single day there. This scene absolutely deserves an open-air fest to move on!
Difficult? Almost everything, each festival is far away and the mentalities are totally different from what we know in Europe. Things I’m able to solve in a 15 minute call mean weeks of talking in Mexico, simply another world, the same with Indonesia… it’s a big challenge to do good festivals there!
What’s the reception been like to the announcement so far – from the industry and the public?
Curby – As anywhere else, we have some super loyal fans that are more than happy that we are coming their way and some sceptical people around… it’s nothing new at all. But most of the reactions especially from the bands are very good and that really matters I guess!
Some of the bands on the line-up’s are the same but in general each festival has a different set of acts playing – was this deliberate? Did you want each festival to have its own identity?
Curby – Sure, if you see Mexico then it’s easy to understand that we have to invite most of the bigger bands from the USA as it’s close to Mexico… even that way the travel expenses are fuckin’ high… so my original idea was to simply put together a good festival in each country but the budget is very important. It’s a mix of those elements. You can see that in Indonesia we have bands from the whole of Asia so I believe this will be even more interesting for the fans as you can enjoy bands from other countries of Asia, make new friendships, bands can talk and agree on some cooperation and so on… it’s pretty much happening here in Czech Republic in the backstage pub! Then Czech bands can tour Europe and international bands can come to Czech Republic. It’s a big plus for the scene…
Are you looking to bring in a lot of local and regional bands for each? Do you think Obscene Extreme will be a good platform for new acts and to maybe bring them to the attention of the wider market?
Curby – Absolutely! That’s how we started here in Czech Republic… supporting the local scene or so called “small” bands. It is true that no bigger festival cares about smaller bands as everyone wants just big names, to have lots of attention and being a new band is a pain in the ass. You need a big label that can squeeze you in everywhere.
The first of the new festivals is kicking off in Mexico just next month, followed by Asia and Australia in April – how are you feeling in anticipation of this? These dates are quite a bit earlier than the European festival in July – is that to give them some space to shine outside of that established shadow?
Curby – It’s all about good weather in those countries and of course I want to have time for Czech Republic’s festival. We have to offer something special for our 15th anniversary!!! So we are preparing a doom festival for Wednesday with Hooded menace, another soon-to-be-confirmed great doom band and some other special things!
What are the logistical challenges of organising four different festivals across four continents at the same time?
Curby – Time is a huge enemy!!! The biggest problem is that all the 3 festivals in Mexico, Indonesia and Australia are one after another… it just turned out like this because vacation in Mexico and dry season in Indonesia. Then Australia has to be a week after Indonesia as we have the same headliners (Rotten Sound 7 Birdflesh) in Jakarta and Melbourne.
In terms of the future, if the new dates are a success will those locations become a permanent part of Obscene Extreme?
Curby – Yes!!! But all depends on this years volume, if the kick off is fine in those countries we will keep grinding there… so now it’s in fans` hands … support us or let us die [laughs]…
Do you see the potential to expand this even further in the future? Could we see an Obscene Extreme festival on every continent?
Curby – [Laughs], not sure, this is really a massive ask of me… I’m just a small boy and a loyal fan of extreme music from a small village in the middle of Czech Republic… but you never know! Actually, my life is like a dream… so as I say quite often “Nothing Is Impossible”!!!
Cheers and thanks for support!!!