You might wanna get out and see Mayhem Fest this summer because it might be your last chance to dance. According to a new interview with festival co-founder Kevin Lynman, Mayhem is "at risk of going away at any given moment." But why?
This year's lineup, which features Slayer and King Diamond as it's headlining acts is much smaller than previous years. There are only two stages instead of the usual three or four. The reason? Pure economics:
“Yeah, we had to condense it,” Lyman said. “The expenses of putting on those shows had gotten high, so we had to push it all into the concourses. They (venues) don’t want to build a fence outside (for third and fourth stages) anymore. Those things cost money.”
Lynman, who called this year's lineup "the best available for what we had to work with" says the reason for the trouble is the lack of true headliners in heavy metal. And he seems to have a theory as to why:
“The bands at the top all demand a certain level of fee to be on tour. Unlike punk rock, metal never knows how to take a step back to move the whole scene forward,” said Lyman, who knows the punk scene well courtesy of his experience as founder and organizer of the Warped Tour, the long-running traveling alternative rock festival. “That’s how punk rock was. That’s how we nurtured punk rock. Bad Religion would take a little less than they could on their own to bring the whole scene forward, so we could make sure we had a good (touring) package around them. Metal doesn’t seem to have that concern, never has, never has since I was working in the clubs in the ’80s. It’s always about a me, me, me thing.”
“What happened was metal chased girls away because what happened was metal aged,” Lyman said. “Metal got gray, bald and fat. And metal was about danger. When you went to a metal show, it was dudes onstage; there was some danger in it.”
Update: Lyman has since issued an apology and clarification for these statements also worth reading.
This is certainly a problem in heavy metal, something that even Metallica's manager was talking about a few days ago. I can't say I agree with the assessment that metal is a "me' culture… what about the New Wave of American Heavy Metal scene that brought us bands like Lamb of God, Killswitch Engage, Shadows Fall, God Forbid, Unearth, etc… that was a scene where everybody brought everybody else up. But, sadly, that scene is about 15 years old at this point.
Lynman brings up a great point about where the new headliners are, but I can't, for the life of me, come to terms with him saying a metal band should take a smaller guarantee "to help the scene." This is a business. What good is it for Slayer to take a cut if they can just go out on their own and make more money? Slayer is a business. We know this. And Slayer is all about doing business.
It's up the promoters and record labels to be bringing new bands to the forefront, and nurturing them. To blame it on the true headliners not taking a cut comes off a bit misguided. But at the same time, I am just a writer. I never had to book a huge festival and Lynman has quite a few under his belt, so he certainly has a better understanding than I.