Wacken Celebrate 25 Years: Part Two - "our dressing room was right near a truck that was pumping raw sewage out of the toilets"

"I just kept my head down and played my guitar, I did my part"

Wacken is fast approaching; there's  a mere 35 days to go to liftoff - however in the minds of the lucky few (100,000 odd) it is 35 days too long. By now punters have booked flights, packed up the tents and have shined those boots. The last minute preparations are in full swing in what can be one of the most intense four days on the metal-head calendar. One who knows all too well of the chaos of Wacken after their first performance is American beer metal band Red Fang; Bryan Giles takes us through their introduction to the infamous town of Wacken. “The whole festival is very intense. Just driving through the small town to get to the venue, you see how much this tiny village is transformed into a heavy metal city. There are 100,000 people there. And the tent we played is apparently the largest tent in the world. There were lots of people, and everyone is so focused on metal. It is quite the sight. It truly is a City of Metal that springs out of nowhere. Other festivals may be oriented towards metal, but this one just feels 10 times bigger and more focused”.

Relaxation is a massive part of Wacken and although you may be trying to cram in 30+ bands in one day, there is plenty to stick your feet up to. Be it the tranquil sounds and smells of the Wackinger Village or sleeping off a dirty arse hangover in your tent with the muffled sounds of anarchy playing right next door. However Red Fang’s relaxation attempts were difficult to say the least “It was hard to relax because it was pouring rain, and our dressing room was right near a truck that was pumping raw sewage out of the toilets, but I suppose it’s just finding some friends and hanging out shooting the shit, as it were”. [Laughs]

Playing Wacken Open Air truly is the gilded notch in one’s belt, many bands the world over have established a platform here with fans no other festival can match. Where were you in your career at the time of playing Wacken? “Hmmm I suppose we had established ourselves as a small but noteworthy band in Europe but we had not toured Australia or been to South America yet. So we were still kind of little fish. We are still rather small, but I feel like we might be getting a bit bigger. It is hard to be objective about my own career, I suppose.We have played fewer festivals as large, but I suppose we have moved up the ladder regarding our slots on the other festivals we've been playing. Also, playing a festival like Wacken, because the crowds are so huge and they are generally quite open minded, you have a chance to be seen by lots and lots of people who might otherwise never have a chance to hear you, and it can help spread the word a lot. And the attendees come from all over Europe and the world, so it can go a long way to getting your name out there”.

Like all ‘well planned’ events, sometimes things just don’t go according to plan and although Nile gave 100% to an indebted crowd in 2003, Dallas Toler-Wade gives us the insight on what really happened in those four days “When we played Wacken in 2003, it was kind of not the best representation of us due to circumstances beyond our control. The airline lost a bunch of our stuff so we literally didn’t get our guitars or drum pedals till about 45 minutes before we played, we still played ok but we would love to play Wacken again just because we’ll probably have our shit together a little more by then [Laughs] it was an amazing show... the crowd was huge! It didn’t really occur to me until I got off the stage just how many people were out there, I was just like oh my God! I just kept my head down and played my guitar, I did my part”. [Laughs]  

Regardless of some mishaps Nile fondly look back at their time at Wacken Open Air “When we played Sarcophagus the crowd really lit up, I remember the chant, you know the Hey!... Hey!.... Hey!! Just the overall feeling, it’s just a good sense of brotherhood and it’s just so many people it was insane it really was. That would have to be the most memorable moment for me, when we played Sarcophagus. I would love to go back as a vacation that would be kinda cool [Laughs] too busy though no time for that yet. Damn”.

Another one of metal’s favourites also yearn to head back to the fields of Wacken is Mikael Stanne of Dark Tranquility, who thinks that nothing else in the world of festivals even comes fucking close!  “We played Wacken Open Air in 1999 and 2001 I think and we haven’t been back since, so I’m guessing we did something wrong, maybe we stole someone’s beer? But it’s such a cool place, there is nothing like it outside Europe, This metal festival in European terms - nothing comes close, it’s just so unique. It’s ridiculous, just tens of thousands of people gathering on a dusty field, drinking beer, screaming and staying up all night, it’s just metal. I’ve tried to explain it to people who haven’t been to a metal festival before and they just don’t get it and of course we have festivals like it in Sweden but not as big – man Wacken is just the coolest”. If this wasn’t enough to get your jaws wagging and stretching those neck muscles, try this on for size. “It was amazing being on stage; we played two different stages at two separate times and one was the main stage and it was incredible, one of the highlights of our career for sure. I remember in one day (I think it was in 1999 because we only started touring in 1995) in one day I met my biggest hero; Miland ‘Mille’ Petrozza from Kreator I was ecstatic, I loved it, it was amazing!”.