Interview with JP Wood
Noctis 666 – Lucifer Rex Metal Festival
by Monika Deviat
The 7th and final installment of Noctis Valkeryies Metal Festival is about to descend upon Calgary Alberta on Sept 19th, 2013. Titled Noctis 666 “Lucifer Rex”, the three day festival is bringing one of the most impressive line ups so far and building on the interactive part of the festival for heavy metal fans, aspiring musicians and the heavy metal support crowd (edit this shit). Terese Fleming, the owner of Scarab Productions and architect of the Noctis festivals recruited metal-rules.com managing editor and Megawatt Mayhem host JP to be Scarab’s Production Assistant. Just before the festival I sat down to chat with JP about his new position and what is in store for Noctis this year.
How and when did you get involved in Noctis?
I’ve been involved in some capacity as a volunteer from almost the very beginning, each year getting more involved.
Your role with Scarab Productions for Noctis changed this year. How did this come about?
I was looking for a change from my previous career in retail and law enforcement, and this was the year that the role was available. It has been very interesting going from being involved as a volunteer to behind the scenes, seeing really how much pre-work goes into an event this size. I have more admiration for Terese and her staff than ever before.
How do you balance your role in media (University of Calgary radio show Megawatt Mayhem, Metal-Rules) with your work at Scarab?
Well, my wife says “I don’t”, but as there is an office for Scarab where I work and I have a fairly traditional (but relaxed) job atmosphere where I get up, commute, go to an office and put in a day working for the Festival, so that helps keep the distinction. It’s nice to be able to listen to music and make new contacts for the radio show and website and just plan extra features and interviews. It can blur together at times.
This is supposed to be the last Noctis. Is it turning out as you expected?
Some might say, nothing ever goes as planned but our main goal was to make this the biggest, best most interactive Noctis yet and I believe we are succeeding in that goal. It is turning out very well – we have had very few setbacks so far this year.
What do you see happening in the future for Calgary metal without an annual Noctis festival?
As much as this has become a flagship Metal event in Calgary, there are still the core elements to make the Calgary scene strong. There are still a number of quality, organized local promoters such as Big Nate Productions and Orchard Hill, and tons of fans and strong support from local media, so I believe the fans, media and organizers will rise to the occasion and fill the void.
What are you most looking forward to this year?
As always knocking a few more bands off my ‘must see’ list. The big picture is looking forward to seeing it unfold and work and everyone have a great time as we blow the doors off the last one!
What is your favorite past Noctis moment?
There are so many little ‘behind the scenes’ moments that stand out across the years: having dinner with Venom at a fancy steakhouse, hanging out with British author Joel McIver in Banff on a sunny Sunday after the fest, a late night meal with the organizers and the guys from Melechesh, record shopping with Mike from Slough Feg, and countless quick moments bumping into Metal royalty in the elevator or setting something up. Even simple chores of picking up people from the airport to give them a friendly face and some Western hospitality as they arrive to Calgary, often for the first time, can be very rewarding. Actually that sounds lame and not very metal… change that to… doing body shots of a wasted hooker backstage with members of various Black Metal bands after we sacrificed a goat. With black candles. In a pentagram. At midnight.
How do you decide on what bands to bring in?
As always it was a combination of a bands’ schedule, exposure, credibility and/or reputation and even sometimes price. There were some fantastic artists that I felt priced themselves out of the market or too high for a mid-size fest with a small population base. We can’t compete with the population density and budget of a European fest that can bring 10,000+ people. I feel we are a bit like PowerProg USA where we keep it cool, medium sized, and sell out each year. Accordingly, because of our capacity, we can’t bring the giants like the Manowars and Iron Maidens of the world. So working within our self-imposed limitations we made a few offers to bands that were reasonable and cool to work with. It was excellent timing that our Saturday headliner, Carcass is releasing their new album Surgical Steel, just two days before Noctis starts.
Noctis always brings in some unique headliners and lineups in general for (Western) Canadian metal fans. Can you tell us a bit about this year’s choices as they seem to have caused an extra bit of excitement this year?
Because we knew it was our last year, we wanted to knock a few more big bands off the list. We made some long lists and did quite a bit of research about when a band was here last, (if ever) and taking into consideration factors such as maybe some of veteran Metal bands who have been around over 30 years may not be active too much longer. It might be a case of now or never! To summarize, our choices focused on those legendary innovative bands that really were active in the early days in the history of Metal or ground-breaking in some way, and not necessarily, because they have never been here before. Let’s face it, probably 80% of all the Metal bands in the world have never been to Calgary before!
This year there are a couple elusive black metal bands playing fest, like Revenge and Blasphemy for example. How did you manage to get them on the bill?
Remember that goat sacrifice at midnight from a few years ago that I mentioned earlier? It must have worked because a couple of the elder gods Blasphemy and Revenge came out of the dark to see what we are all about. I do believe our reputation for being professional, organized and not too big, plus bringing acts to the region for the first time ever (or the first time in a long time) added to our ‘Metal Cred’, so we are just happy they can join us.
The conference has run for a few years, and this year an expo has been added to the festival. Where did this idea come from and what do you expect fans/musicians to get out of this part of Noctis?
One of the more enjoyable parts is having meetings with Terese and the advisory board, a panel of local Metal fans, trendsetters, opinion-makers and experts. We meet and throw out all sorts of crazy ideas and an Expo was not that much of a stretch to add to the existing conference. The Expo will be the most dynamic and interactive part. We have an Art show with Dan Seagrave , the well-known Death Metal cover album artist, a World Premier Metal Movie courtesy of Billzebub Productions, lots of vendors with cool metal gear, leather, jewelry, music, and of course autograph sessions almost all of our big name international artists.
Are there any particular talks or interviews that you are going to make sure to attend?
I’m really looking forward to hearing Dan Swano talk. We counted and he has been involved in over 100 projects in one capacity or another. Sam Dunn has promised to bring a very special, world exclusive, sneak peek at the infamous ‘Lost Episode’ of his TV series Metal Evolution. I’m also looking forward to hearing Dr. Deena Weinstein’s presentation and Dr. Vivek Venkatesh’s presentation on Black Metal. Lastly the Laina Dawes/Sarah Kitteringham presentation on Women In Metal will be very cool. I’m a bit of a Metal nerd I guess.
There is a bit of emphasis on women in metal this year. Can you tell us a bit about the sessions and why this issue is being featured this year?
This year we have our Women In Metal panel/presentation a free event on Thursday, Sept 19th featuring Laina Dawes and Sarah Kitteringham and the event will be hosted by Dr. Sutler Cohen and we will have Dr. Weinstein in attendance. There will be some crossover and repeats of various presentations during the two-day conference as well. It goes without saying that women have been an integral role in Metal as artists and in every role imaginable since the beginning. This might be the year where we help smash that outdated stereotype of women in Metal being relegated to secondary or support roles. When Terese saw Deena and Laina present earlier this year in Bowling Green she said, “We have to get these people for our conference!”. I think the increase of women participating is just a natural evolution and a nice coincidence.
Any advice for fans to get through the weekend?
Drink your milk, plenty of sleep the days before, eat your vegetables, have a light workout and a nap…no wait a minute… I mean, what has worked for me is take a day or two off work before do some mild to moderate pre-drinking and listen to the catalogues of all the artists appearing. Then by Thursday night you are hitting your pace, lots of greasy junk-food on the fly, steady flow of booze, keep sleep to a minimum, and just ride the Metal buzz until 3:00am on Saturday night until you get kicked out of Vern’s Bar where the last after-party is. And bring your entire life savings to the Expo.
Anything else you’d like us to know?
Noctis will have its most successful year because of the fans. When they come out, participate, meet these artists, come to the Conference and Expo and clinics, it adds a little more variety and unique flavour than just filing into a hall and watching a show. Of course the music is the most important part but all the other extra features that we arrange are just as important to make a unique event. Come enjoy the whole festival and everything it has to offer.