SLUG asked CrucialFest's Jarom Bischoff some questions about CrucialFest 4, slated for June 4-7. We also interviewed Gaytheist, Kowloon Walled City and Call Of The Void, available to read here!
SLUG: How has CrucialFest grown and how will it be different this year compared to previous years?
Jarom Bischoff: This year, we decided to put a huge emphasis on the lineup. We enlisted the help of Nicole Dumas to help us reach out to more national and West coast bands, and to help me, personally, better communicate with booking agents (some of whom I tend to get frustrated with). Her and I have been working tirelessly—sending out endless e-mail invitations to bands, labels and booking agents. At the same time, CrucialFest as a concept has really proven itself to me, so much that this year I decided to go out on a limb and spend about seven times as much on guarantees for bands as last year. It's a huge gamble, but I'm confident. This year's line up should be noticeably more incredible than the past three years combined. I think the showcases of CrucialFest 4 are going to get high marks on the excitement scale.
SLUG: What were your objectives for getting bands for this year’s CrucialFest 4?
Bischoff: I've sort of figured out a formula for this. There are four types of bands that I will always seek to include in CrucialFest. First, big-name, national touring bands like Red Fang, Big Business, Kowloon Walled City, Helms Alee, and Call Of The Void. These bands help the festival grow and gain recognition, and they're enlivening. Second, up-and-coming touring bands. These are bands that you may or may not have heard of, but when you see them, you won’t likely forget who they are again. Third, local reunions! I always want CrucialFest's main focus to be on celebrating Salt Lake City’s music culture, past and present. We've had a number of reunions or pseudo-reunions each year. This year we have Parallax, Iceburn, Borasca, and Rail Spike (I think that's it). So yeah, if you know who those bands are, I guarantee you’re pumped! And lastly, but most importantly, solid locals—the bread and butter of CrucialFest!
SLUG: It seems like the sonic curation for CF4 is a bit more streamlined than that of previous years. Please comment on the sounds that exemplify CrucialFest.
Bischoff: In an effort to include a more diverse community, CrucialFest has experimented with including a broad range of genres from hip hop and electronic, to indie and singer/songwriter, to whatever. While I'm glad we've tried this, in the end CrucialFest is about mean, loud varieties of rock and metal! Fans of that kind of music are the people who come to Crucialfest—I've got three years of proof. For whatever reason, fans of all this other stuff just don't have the interest, in general. Not to mention the fact that rock and metal, LOUD music, is the kind of music I like, and it's the reason I started Crucialfest in the first place. I think in the years to come, you can expect to see Crucialfest stick to rock, metal, punk, hardcore, and doomy, gloomy, sludgy, gritty what have yous. It's where we always knew our niche was, but we had to experiment to be sure. At the same time though, this year we branched out more into the metal side of things, including bands like Gravecode Nebula, The Obliterate Plague, Visigoth, and Wolvserpent. So even in the genre tree we've chosen, there's still room to diversify. This isn't to say we'll never include other genres, they just have to fit. Hip hop akin to Dalek, or singer/songwriter stuff like Chelsea Wolfe would still fit because it's heavy in it's own right.
SLUG: We’ve got Call Of The Void, Gaytheist and Kowloon Walled City ready to throw down. Who else are you excited about?
Bischoff: Shit. There are so many bands I'm excited about seeing I don't even know where to start. The Parallax reunion show is going to be off every chain in the slaughterhouse! I'm also pretty excited about Helms Alee! Let's see... It's always nice to see the Denver boys and we have a good group coming this year: Call Of The Void, Abrams (ex Black Acid Devil), Of Feather and Bone, and Reproacher. I dunno, I'm excited about every band!
SLUG: Up to CrucialFest’s fourth year, the fest has experimented with multi-day formats. What’s the formula this year? Are you trying to get a format that sticks?
Bischoff: We have experimented a lot. The second year we did two consecutive weekends in a row... dumb idea. The problem was that there were just so many bands that we had to figure out a way to fit them in. I think the Wednesday through Saturday format with a variety of shows sort of building to all day affairs Friday and Saturday is a good formula for now. I can only see it changing from this point to accommodate growth. Moving forward I could see us potentially taking the day time stuff to The Gallivan Center, or maybe even The Fair Grounds eventually. The other possibility is to go for more of a The Fest/SXSW feel where we get more shows going on around town and fans can just have a choose-your-own-adventure hay day with it. I guess we'll see.
SLUG: Where can we expect to catch CrucialFest showcases this year?
Bischoff: 6/4 - Club Metro. 6/5 Bar Deluxe & Burt's Tiki Lounge (sets staggered). 6/6 The Afla Art Garden (Utah Arts Hub) in the afternoon, and Bar Deluxe in the evening. 6/7 The Shred Shed & Wasted Space (sets staggered) all day, and The Urban Lounge in the evening.
SLUG: At this point, what does CrucialFest provide for the SLC and Utah community?
Bischoff: Obviously it provides a one of a kind festival experience, with no travel required! That's the beginning and end goal, just to have a badass festival here. But past that, it provides a huge boost to the local economy. Each year we have paid out significantly more to bands, helping them support their nasty habit of writing, performing, and recording music. We also aim to get deserving bands all the exposure we can. CrucialFest also helps local bands to network with regional bands, which helps foster a more healthy touring environment for all parties. It's good for the venues too. We bring in hundreds of people to venues, often times introducing them to cool spots around town where they will return again and again. Our local sponsors likewise benefit from the exposure. Another thing to consider is that festivals like this bring in tourism to their hometowns. No one can deny that major festivals like SXSW, Coachella, or Sasquatch bring in thousands of people and provide a huge boost to their local economies. Yes, that's more of a looking forward benefit, but we've definitely seen a major increase in national interest and attendance. I personally know of about 20-30 out-of-towners planning on attending this year (many of whom are coming to see Parallax) and we've already sold tickets to people living as far away as Boston and Canada. Moving more to the community side, CrucialFest brings all the fans and rock/metal community members together. These are people who may or may not know each other, and who are semi-active in the music scene. It's a time when I see a lot of faces that I haven't seen in a while... since the last CrucialFest I suppose. I think the music scene here is way bigger than people generally think, it's just a bit discombobulated. CrucialFest shows what can happen when our powers combine. CrucialFest brings together fans of similar music (yet of different scenes/social groups), local businesses, artists, and the curious part of the general population. It mixes it all together, and what comes out of it, I think, is rather beautiful.
SLUG: What are your goals for CrucialFest through the upcoming years?
Bischoff: To grow, sustainably. To increase attendance. To keep the line up ever more impressive. To attract a national audience. To support local music! On a personal level, and take this with a grain of salt because it might sound selfish, I want to make enough money with CrucialFest to make it my full time job, and it's in the foreseeable future. Imagining what CrucialFest could become if I could work on it full time throughout the year excites me a lot. Also, it's getting to the point where I'll have to do that if I want CrucialFest to keep expanding.
Thanks so much, Alex! Thanks so much, SLUG! You guys have supported CrucialFest from year one, giving CrucialFest your vote of confidence, and it is much appreciated!