Q&A: Austin Terror Fest Returns for Second Year

Last year saw the birth of a new, highly-curated extreme metal festival in Austin. As part of the Northwest/Southwest Terror Fest series, Austin Terror Fest was well-received and is back for a second year with bigger bands, a new venue and even more ambitious goals. Decibel spoke with fest organizers Dusty Brooks and Dorian Domi about what to expect at this year’s Austin Terror Fest.

Austin Terror Fest is related to Northwest and Southwest Terror Fest, which are organized by David Rogers (Godhunter/Battleground Records). Can you elaborate on how they’re connected?
Dusty Brooks (DB): David wanted to expand the Terror Fest brand to new areas of the country and what better cities to do so than Seattle and Austin? After he left Tucson, AZ and went back to Washington, he made Northwest Terror Fest a thing up there. I also build Worshiper Cabinets with Dillon Gerhardt and Jason Joachim, and we back-lined Southwest Terror Fest in 2015 and 2016. While working in Tucson for SWTF in 2016, David and I spoke about an Austin Terror Fest. David, knowing that I book shows here in Austin, thought it’d be worth a shot working together to plan Austin Terror Fest in 2017, and now here we are still kickin’ in 2018!

Dorian Domi (DD): I’d say on a curation level, we still work together to make sure we’re staying true to what Terror Fest is. David has helped with the logistical side of things. This is the first festival I’ve ever been a part of and David has helped both me and Dusty with things such as wristbands, hospitality and making sure everything goes smoothly.

This year’s lineup is varied, and features some pretty significant first timers, reunited bands and just general scene heavyweights. How did you go about putting together this lineup and choosing headliners like ANb, Exhorder, Acid King and Yob?
(DB) Well, my associate, Dorian Domi, and I started working together a little over a year ago, and we wanted to put together a very diverse and welcoming fest for all people in the Metal and Punk community. We wanted to craft a festival that would stand out among all the others, and with careful curating and planning I feel like we have accomplished that. We sat and discussed what bands would be perfect for ATF 2018, after some discussion and some emails, the offers started coming for potential headliners. We did not want to pigeonhole ATF into being a “doom” festival, which is where Exhorder and Agoraphobic Nosebleed being chosen as headliners come into play. BUT we also like Doom Metal, therefore Acid King and Yob are our Doom headliners, with other amazing acts like Buzzoven, Come to Grief, black metal act Krallice, blackened sludge nasties Primitive Man, terrifying avant garde masters Gnaw, and many many more.

(DD): Me and Dusty, I’d say are both music nerds in a sense and there’s many bills that we talk about wanting to make happen. We’re all about diverse lineups, genre-wise. So having Acid King play with Gnaw, Krallice and Primitive Man is something that we look forward too. That lineup alone includes doom, industrial, experimental, black metal and sludge. That’s something that we strive for. Headliner-wise, it’s very diverse in my opinion. They are all legendary in a sense. Having Exhorder play their first TX date since reuniting is huge to us. Agoraphobic Nosebleed will be performing for their first time in Austin. Yob is one of my favorite bands and having them share the stage with 40 Watt Sun and Bell Witch is insane. I’m a very big fan of Patrick Walker, and I never thought I’d get to see 40 Watt Sun and having them play Terror Fest is definitely a highlight for me on the lineup. Acid King are innovators of doom metal as we know it. I couldn’t be more excited.

There’s an incredibly vibrant music scene in Austin right now. Given that ATF’s lineup is so diverse, do you think Austin was the ideal location for such a fest?
(DB): I 100% think it is the ideal location for this fest. Austin has an awesome music scene and has for a long time, but it lacks in heavy metal fests. There used to be Chaos in Tejas, which was AMAZING, and Sxsw used to have killer metal showcases, but those have seemed to dissipate and there has been a lack ever since. Good metal shows come through Austin regularly, but a festival dedicated to heavy metal without all the big corporate sponsors is needed, and that’s where Austin Terror Fest comes in. Dorian and I, with the help from some local sponsors are completely doing this on our own because we love Austin, and we love heavy metal.

(DD): Definitely. As Dusty said, we had Chaos in Tejas. We also had Housecore. Not only Austin, but Texas in general has needed a festival that specializes in underground metal, and just music in general for a bit now. Now that Fun Fun Fun is gone as well as Sound on Sound, Austin has Austin City Limits, SXSW and Levitation. Levitation does a great job but I don’t expect them to book bands such as Primitive Man and ANb. I know me and Dusty both book what we want to see and what Austin wants to see and this is something that Austin’s music scene needs.

Why is the fest held at two different venues? Friday is at the Lost Well, Saturday at Barracuda, Sunday back to the Lost Well.
(DB): Year one (2017) was held exclusively at Lost Well, but with year two being a little bigger, we needed a larger venue to host ANb and Exhorder, which is why day two is at Barracuda. We also wanted to keep ATF at Lost Well because The Lost Well is kind of an anomaly nowadays… it is a smaller venue with a total capacity of around 400 inside and out, but hosts some of the larger metal shows in Austin. So it is only natural for ATF to be held at Lost Well too! We are also trying to expand our reach into other parts of the community and including another venue is an ideal way to do that.

(DD): Dusty put it best. Austin Terror Fest has grown exponentially in the past year and will continue to do so. Because of this, we need a stage to host bigger bands.

2017 was the inaugural year for Austin Terror Fest. What did you learn in that first year that you’ll apply this year?
(DB) In 2017, the fest was held during SXSW and this year, it is June 15-17, 2018. We will never do a fest during SXSW again. We want this to be an event that people immediately buy tickets for and are ready to come back to as soon as the current fest is over, and making that happen takes time, experience and patience. Also, at the end of it all, no matter how good or bad things may be, it is about having fun and I hope everyone who comes out to ATF 2018 this June does exactly that, have fun.

(DD): I second this.