Interview: Wacken Vice-President Discusses Association With Bangalore Open Air

By Aniruddh “Andrew” Bansal

2012 has already been a great year for Indian metalheads, as new ground has been broken in the country’s scene with the launch of the Bangalore Open Air festival, powered by Germany’s Wacken Open Air. The event will take place at Palace Grounds in Bangalore, on June 16th 2012, and is set to feature Kreator and Iced Earth as co-headliners, along with a plethora of Indian talent. A few days ago, I caught up with Wacken vice-president Miriam Hensel to discuss their association with Bangalore Open Air. Read the conversation, and visit WOA and BOA on the web using the links posted below the interview.

Wacken Open Air’s association with India, in the form of Bangalore Open Air, is indeed great for all the fans here. First of all, tell me how did this association come about.

We had a long-term relationship with Salman U. Syed from Infinite Dreams. He already runs the W:O:A Metal Battle for India and is one of the promoters from B:O:A. He told us about his project and checked our festival structures during the past years to get a knowledge of what it means to organize such a project. It´s always been his dream to run a metal festival in India with European standards and we were very willing to help him with that.

Did you have a hand in picking the bands for the BOA line-up, or was it completely up to the local organizers?

The ideas for the international acts came from the local organizers because they know best, which bands fit the Indian market. We discussed those ideas and checked which bands are realisable. Then we did the bookings for those acts.The national bands have been booked by Infinite Dreams themselves.

In terms of its overall feel and structure, how closely do you think BOA will resemble the Wacken festival?

That is not possible. Wacken Open Air is very unique and more than just a festival. The whole village of Wacken is involved and this festival has grown for more than 23 years. For the metal community this is kind of a Holy Ground which you have to visit at least once in a lifetime. However we don´t think that B:O:A wants to be a copy of Wacken Open Air. They will find their own unique style that fits the Indian market and fans.

Do you see this being a long-term association, with Wacken-powered festivals taking place in India annually from now on?

That´s a question we cannot really answer. For now we´re supporting the B:O:A because of the strong relationships and our trust in Infinite Dreams.

As opposed to its German counterpart, I’m sure the Wacken-powered BOA is bound to face more challenges. In your opinion, what are some of these challenges?

Every festival, no matter where it takes place, can only elate their fans and the artists with 150% dedication. Artists as well as fans have to have the feeling that they are very welcome and treated the best the organizers can. That´s the biggest challenge for every festival worldwide.

The first ever Wacken Open Air festival was held in 1990, and had a total of just six bands in the line-up. Do you draw parallels between that edition of Wacken and the upcoming first edition of BOA?

The situation is totally different because for W:O:A at the beginning it was a party for friends and a chance to have the band from one of the promoters playing. And of course the market for festivals has been totally different. The guys around the first W:O:A didn´t had the intention to make it the biggest metal festival worldwide. This has been a growth over the past 23 years. However we think it´s the right way for a start-up festival to grow slowly.

From that six-band festival, Wacken has become the biggest metal festival in the world, and the 2012 edition is set to include at least 110 bands in its line-up. Do you honestly feel BOA has the potential to grow in a similar manner?

That’s something nobody knows yet. There are too many different factors that influence a growth and reputation of a festival. But of course we hope all the best for B:O:A and would be glad if this would happen someday.

There has been great hype and interest around BOA in the Indian metal community. Does this inspire you to take spread Wacken’s wings even further and take its name to other countries as well?

It depends on the chance, situation and partners possibly involved. What we definitely do not want is a copy of W:O:A in other countries, because as we already mentioned you can’t copy that festival.

Thanks for your support Indian Metalheads. See you at B:O:A or hopefully also at W:O:A this year.