“Are you going to Hellfest?” The cute Brazilian photographer asked me after we emerged from the photo pit at the Cannibal Corpse show at Janus Live in Tampa, Florida. “It has an amazing lineup.”
Two bands at the concert were schedule to play the festival, both Cannibal Corpse and Tribulation. Of course, the first person I knew who was scheduled to play the festival was Dani Filth of both Cradle of Filth and Motionless in White. Before I could go to the website, I would learn of others playing there.
A few days after the Cannibal Corpse show, I had forwarded a funny text to my buddy Kevin Bond of Superjoint, just to make him laugh and asked what was new. He responded, “SJR is going to France in June to play the Hellfest Festival. Pretty exciting.”
Kevin Bond and I have kept in touch over the years, and for those who may have heard the story of what happened about a decade ago, when Lamb of God was playing the Sounds of the Underground Tour, it was Kevin Bond who helped instigate the bloody tampon incident, as I had called him for advice on the situation. Yes, Lamb of God will also be playing Hellfest, but I have to say, for guys who are supposed to be hardcore, they sure do get high pitched squealing schoolgirl voices when faced with a bloody tampon. I think they’d react better to someone pulling out a severed head than a bloody tampon…
I had asked Kevin what he thought of the upcoming trip. “Superjoint has never played France, or anywhere in Europe for that matter, so I think it’s about time,” he said. “The rest of the guys have played Hellfest and tell me it is awesome, so I am extremely stoked to get there and jam!”
By rest of the guys, he is referring to bandmates Phil Anselmo - the former frontman of Pantera and lead singer of both Down and Philip H. Anselmo and the Illegals – as well as Jimmy Bower of Eyehategod, a band that recently celebrated 25 years and will also be playing at Hellfest.
Just thinking of the New Orleans crew makes me think back to when Pepper Keenan of Down and Corrosion of Conformity was touring with Motorhead, another band that will be playing at Hellfest. Pepper, Motorhead and I wound up getting invited to Peabody’s in Cleveland to hang out with the guys from White Lion and Enuff Z’Nuff. Mikkey Dee taught me how to make pyramids on a beer can, and I remember leaving the bar, with Lemmy Kilmister taking the lead, circling back to the same bar, with Lemmy explaining, “this is the last place they will look for us, the place we just left!”
Motorhead is classic, and their antics are hilarious. Another hilarious person to hang out with is Corey Taylor of Slipknot and Stone Sour. Slipknot will be playing Hellfest, but I remember chilling backstage with Corey in Detroit and Toledo when he was on the Stone Sour tour; he can definitely make you laugh.
Five Finger Death Punch’s frontman Ivan I recently saw in Wisconsin at the Rock USA Festival in Oshkosh, and he was one of the only performers who took time before their set to greet fans. Nobody expected it; he just walked up to the gate to sign autographs. That’s another band that can get a crowd going, another great band to watch at Hellfest, but I will say Ivan is approachable enough, as I first met him in Michigan when the guys from Battlecross were grilling out in the parking lot after a festival.
Meshuggah is another Hellfest band that brings back memories. I had interviewed them before we wound up touring together on Ozzfest in 2002. I will never forget the concerned band member that pointed out the bruises on my flesh from a situation that does not need to be discussed at the moment.
Now, High on Fire, you gotta love. Not only do Matt Pike’s fingers just dance across the neck of a guitar in a fury, but he is a sweet guy. The first time I interviewed him was the day after he had tried absinthe for the first time, and when I asked him about yogurts and unicorns, he said he felt like he should have studied for my interview, which just made me laugh.
There are so many bands on the Hellfest lineup that I have interviewed throughout the years, like Arch Enemy, Tribulation, Mastodon, Children of Bodom, and so many more. I remember meeting Judas Priest’s frontman Rob Halford with the guys from Therapy? in Toronto at the North by Northeast Festival after one of the guys from Kids in the Hall took over an interview he was doing. Heck, I remember seeing Rise Against, covering them when they were playing The Shelter in Detroit, back before they were ever a radio band, and covering them co-headlining Metallica’s Orion Festival in Detroit; just watching bands like that come up through the ranks and dominate makes you feel so proud of them.
Hellfest this year has such a strong lineup, I encourage you to hop on a plane and jet to France. It’s three days of heavy metal that encompasses so many of the greats; it’s hard to pick out a favorite. I’ve mentioned only a handful of the bands on the festival, but there’s so many more that are worth seeing.
Any of you who know my mother’s Maiden name knows why I would suggest seeing Alice Cooper. Plus, there’s bands like Anthrax, Godsmack, We Are Harlot, Bloodbath, Dying Fetus, Necrowretch, Enthroned, Dead Kennedys, Scorpions, ZZ Top, Slash, Ace Frehley, Butcher Babies, Marilyn Manson, Faith No More, L7 – who knows a thing or two about throwing bloody tampons – Obituary, Venom, Trigger Finger, Biohazard, Korn, Limp Bizkit, Cavalera Conspiracy, A Day to Remember, Hollywood Undead, Nightwish, In Flames, The Haunted, Samael, Life of Agony, Weedeater, NOFX, Snot and so many more. You have to check out the lineup for yourself at www.hellfest.fr to really get the full scope of how massive it is.
This has one of the best lineups in the world, literally. It’s the place to travel to for the summer. There’s still time to plan your trip, and believe me, you won’t want to miss this show.