We managed to get Shy Kennedy, vocalist for Pittsburgh’s own doomsters Horehound, to sit down long enough to pick her brain about her latest epic project: a single-day doom, sludge, and heavy metal fest she’s dubbed Descendants of Crom. Within the interview you’ll find some of Kennedy’s favorite songs by a selection of the bands that are playing Descendants of Crom, September 30th in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
So Descendants of Crom unfolds Saturday, September 30th. And this is the first year for this doom- and sludge-centric metal fest. What inspired you to throw such a festival?
Pittsburgh is a great location for something like this and it needed to be done. There are so many “death”, “doom”, “true”, and “stoner” festivals going on. I want an event that incorporates a variety of music that can be easily crossed over by other fans. It gives people a chance to see other things they might not check out otherwise and find out just what they were missing. Wanting to get people together and forget genres and celebrate the riff and the moment is what this is about.
What made you choose September 30th for the date?
Really, I just wanted a time where this wasn’t competing with other excellent festivals. I don’t want to take away or compete with anything relatively similar. September seemed like a good time.
You’re bringing in both huge and unbelievable names as well as local bands from Pittsburgh and surrounding cities. Did the fest start out locals-only and then grow from there? Was it a perfect storm situation where several tours were converging on Pittsburgh at once?
I started this out with the idea of bringing in bands to our city and padding it with local bands that are working hard. This gives exposure to everyone and the mix of sound will lead to an interesting day of music. I hand-picked every band. No one was coming through on tour although some bands have made this into a tour. I know Archarus and a few other bands are hitting shows on their way in and out. When I asked The Midnight Ghost Train, since they were further out, I asked if they might be touring and they said they expected they would and confirmed a couple weeks later.
Are you big into Robert E Howard? How did you come up with the name?
I loved the Conan movies as a kid and never grew tired of them. When I was coming up with ideas I wanted to tie it into the work ethic here, but didn’t want to do something trite like “Iron City” or “Three Rivers”, etc. It wasn’t long before I started thinking of the Riddle of Steel and of Conan’s god, Crom. Aren’t we all just the descendants of some great metal god? At least we are influenced by something paradoxically heavy. Every band that plays this is, in fact, a descendant of Crom. This year and every year after.
Tickets are really affordable for an all-day fest with such a crucial line-up. Was that important to you, to keep it affordable?
It is important to me that the artists get paid and they get seen. The decision to go low was to increase attendance. There will be a ton of band merchandise and other ways for the bands to do well. I’d rather people be able to have a great time and come home with goodies.
Who drew/designed that awesome flyer?
I try to do all the art for the shows I book myself. It just keeps cost down and forces me to take a few hours to relax and be creative in that way. I am pretty DIY about things because, while I will promote my ass off for bands and shows, I don’t make money from it and I try not to call in for too many favors. I will say that I basically got the idea from all the Conan and Red Sonja comics. It was a comp of a bunch of images I found online, not very original.
What sort of vendors can festival attendees expect at DOC Fest?
Full Pint Brewery, Black Forge Coffee, and the Descendants of Crom/Blackseed Records tables full of goodies. As mentioned, the ever-talented Brian Mercer will be there with many of his original illustrations and artworks. The bands of course will have wearables and listenables for purchase. There will also be raffles for gift baskets put together by the sponsors. All of the proceeds for those help pay the bands, too.
Are you hoping that Descendants of Crom will be an annual event, or do you plan to go even harder with it?
This is the first time I’ve ever attempted anything like this but I am putting the work in to make it successful. I am hoping this year is a warm-up to a long time series of great events and that Descendants of Crom goes on annually, indefinitely. I’d like it to become a tradition that brings people together to celebrate our underground community. I want it to grow and while I see it extending to another day or two so long as it doesn’t become complicated and never loses the quality.