Interview with Mo Sheerin and Voyd Naught of Henchman Promotions
July 27th, 2015
By Melanie Brehaut
Monsters of Rot V Festival will be hitting Northern Ireland like a battering ram this weekend. Featuring acts from all over the island of Ireland, as well as headliners Xerath, this one day festival at the Halfway Inn in Letterbreen, Co, Fermanagh has been a dark and slimy delight for locals for many years now. Metal Rules sat down with Mo Sheerin and Voyd Naught of Henchman Promotions (the festival’s organisers) to talk about this most ‘monstrous’ of music events.
So, congratulations on the stellar line up of Monsters of Rot V! How does Henchman Promotions go about choosing bands?
Voyd/Mo – For the Monsters of Rot lineup, we always have a few bands in mind that we’d really like to play the fest, so we get in touch with them and assuming that they can play, these bands will get priority. We get inundated with requests from bands from all over the world that want to play the fest! The requests come mainly from Ireland, but we’ve had quite a few bands from as far as Hungary, Venezuela, Germany, Austria and more…
Overall we’re looking for bands that will contribute to an awesome lineup for the fest. We look for bands with pedigree, and we also look for bands that aren’t as established, but deserve an opportunity to be heard.
Aside from all of these factors, it’s all about money at the end of the day, and we have to try and secure bands that will draw a crowd in order to help us cover our costs.
This is one of the factors that limit the feasibility of having international bands playing the fest. They might be brilliant, but if we can’t be guaranteed that they’re going to pull a crowd, then unfortunately we can’t take the gamble of putting them on the bill. As we look to grow the festival in the future, this is something which we will be able to approach in different ways though.
Tell us a bit about the history of Monsters of Rot. How did it begin originally?
Voyd – John and Annika McSevenny first spawned the festival back in 2010, and they had the luxury of being able to use the Blaney Spa Centre as their venue for the first two years. The venue was a spa and yoga centre, and is more accustomed to wind chimey meditation music, than the mind shredding cacophony that John and Annika unleashed on it. It was very DIY at this stage, which really helped to establish the festival as something unique. It was a one day event with camping, and showcased genres including punk, doom, death metal, noise and more!
One of the often told tales from MOR 2 is about the tiny caravan close by to the venue. About 10 revellers gained access to it and recreated the Father Noel Furlong/Riverdance scene from Father Ted. I think they were unsuccessful in their attempts to dance it onto its side though.
John and Annika moved to England, and the fest didn’t run for 2 years. It was sorely missed, so Voyd asked J&A if they would mind if he took up the mantle, to which they were only too happy.
For Monsters of Rot 3, the venue was changed to The Halfway Inn, Letterbreen, where it remains today for MOR 5, and the spirit of the fest lives on!
Did you ever think you would get to festival number five? Does it get easier or harder with each new year?
Voyd – I organised and funded Monsters of Rot 3 and 4 pretty much by myself, and there were definitely times whereby the pressure was really piled on. If it weren’t for the fact that so many people within the scene banded together to help the thing come together, it possibly would have got too much, and it would have died. This didn’t happen, and I am really thankful for everyone’s efforts to make MOR happen!
Thankfully this year the dedicated crew of Henchman Promotions are working really hard to cover all aspects of the festival, and it is getting bigger, and going more smoothly than ever.
It hasn’t got any easier to be honest though. If something like this gets easy, then you’re not putting enough effort into it!
It’s quite a coup to get Xerath this year. How did that come about?
Mo – As a team at Henchman we all felt that the fest needed one more pinch of spice to add a bit more strength in the lineup. We all suggested headline worthy bands (It was a TOUGH decision). I pretty much kept pestering Voyd and the rest of the team about Xerath. Based on the fact that they’re a big UK band with a strong pedigree, that are popular internationally, but especially in Dublin, given that their guitarist Conor McGouran is from there. That and the fact I’m quite a big fan of them. So when they were confirmed, excited girly squeals were a given. The Xerath lads are really civil too, so I’m excited to be able to chill with them on the day and let loose when they play at the end of the night.
Henchman Promotions is in the business of promoting local acts, both locally and hopefully further afield. How do you feel about the level of talent that the Northern Irish/Irish scene offers?
Mo – Ireland has one of the most interesting scenes ever. Like, for both sides of the border that is. What makes it unique is that it’s just such an awesome, close knit network to which myself has made so many close friends within it in the last year or two. It’s feckin’ class! LOADS of bands came to us about a chance on Monsters of Rot, (some from places as far as Ecuador, which is bizarrely brilliant!!) and loads of bands still do in order to get a chance to play in Enniskillen and other venues within Fermanagh. Ireland as a whole is definitely not lacking in talent. I can tell you that.
Can you tell us a bit about Henchman Promotions?
Voyd – Henchman Promotions is made up of a team of 8 people. We’ve got musicians, artists, photographers, music producers, web designers, label/distro collaborators and more!
All of our members have been in bands for years, ranging from playing covers, to punk, hardcore, grind, death metal and more! We all have a keen appreciation of the amount of effort and imagination that it takes to make original music, and we want to take that further by putting on events like Monsters of Rot and more.
I ran Monsters of Rot 3 and 4 by myself, but it was clear that in order to grow the festival it was going to require a bigger effort, and so Henchman Promotions was born! We’re all volunteers, and we’re all very close mates with a genuine passion about music and the scene. We want to see underground music thriving, and we’re determined to play our part.
Does Henchman have anything in the pipeline that you can talk about?
Voyd/Mo – We’ve already started planning MOR 6! Apart from that, we’ve got plenty more gigs and other events such as our rock table quizzes in the pipeline. We’re also planning to start doing gigs for kids under 18, as unfortunately they’re missing out on our main events because of the strict ID policies. Not only do we want to include them, but we want encourage and create opportunities for them encourage them to get into music. We want to provide an environment which they can work in and draw inspiration from, and hopefully in the long run, this will help to grow and strengthen the scene.
Henchman Promotions are in this for the long run!
Finally, do you have anything to add about Monsters of Rot V to any potential punters reading this?
Voyd/Mo – Just go to it!! You’ll be welcomed with open arms. If it’s one thing at every Monsters of Rot festival, it’s the sheer social side of it! It’s the type of environment where no one gives a shit where you’re from, or who you are, and you could bump into someone who’s at their first metal gig one minute, and be drinking a pint at the bar with one of the bands the next.
It’s gonna be insane craic, meet new people, chill out, listen to some of the best music about and enjoy the visual elements that ourselves at Henchman have been working on. You’re gonna love it. Venue design is something we’ve taken very seriously this year. There’s a few hints lurking about on our Facebook page at the moment too. Check it out!