The above flyer for Punk Is Dead 2013 sufficiently testifies to the potential awesomeness of the inaugural edition of the upcoming Lancaster, California confab, but we decided to dig a little deeper anyway and asked organizer Zack Barrera about the vision behind his self-described “truly underground, DIY festival.”
Talk to me a little bit about the origins of Punk is Dead Fest.
There were a couple factors. I wanted to start something that would have a home here in the Antelope Valley. There’s not much going on here.Not to say that there is nothing but for music, sometimes up here in the High Desert it feels exactly like that: A desert. Second, I wanted to see if I could organize a festival comparable to the majority of heavy music festivals going today, but without the usual corporate sponsorship. I feel that has no place in punk/hardcore/metal and it always disturbs me when I see a smaller hardcore festival resorting to sponsorship from beer companies in order to make ends meet. I can understand why the larger fests may need corporate sponsorship in order to function, but it always makes me wonder when I see a smaller fest doing the same.
Have you ever done anything like this before?
I’ve been booking and promoting shows independently for four years now but this is by far the biggest thing I’ve ever attempted.
Why did you choose to call the fest Punk Is Dead?
The festival moniker comes from the Crass song of the same name. What I and the festival stand for is perfectly encapsulated by the message of that song. Which is that punk has been co-opted by the labels and corporations who could care less about its spirit and ethos and are only concerned with the lining of their own pockets through the hard work of the bands. There will always be the small core of true believers who through their own hard work keep the spirit alive but for the vast majority of “punks” all it means and all it ever will mean is T-shirts, pins, and patches.
Obviously you’ve got some really heavy hitters playing, but also a slew of newer, more obscure acts. How did you approach the booking?
I want the festival to be showcase for the newer bands. I want to bring in people with the Nails and the Banners and then expose them to the lesser known up-and-coming acts like Primitive Man, Children of God, and Bio Crisis. Of course, it was exciting to book bands I’d grown up listening to like Nausea and Godstomper. They certainly didn’t have to sign on and if the fest is a success it is due in large part to them. I booked all of the bands personally with the exception of The Banner and Bone Dance, both of whom are on the roster of one of my sponsors Melotov Records. Melanie over at Melotov has been a big help to me as have all of my sponsors — To Live A Lie Records, Give Praise Records, and Mannequin Rein Recordings.
As we enter the last few weeks before the fest, what is your greatest hope and worst fear?
My greatest hope, obviously, is that everything goes well — the show runs smoothly, it’s well attended, every band kills it. That’s what I want the most. And my worst fear is that the opposite happens — amps blow out, no one shows up, and every band brings their B game.
But I don’t think that’s going to happen.I have a good feeling about this one.