Jessie David from Metal Wani had a chance to chat with Gary Spivack who is the Executive Vice President for Danny Wimmer Presents, which is a music festival production and promotion company. DWP has created some of the largest North American festivals such as, Chicago Open Air, Rock on the Range, Carolina Rebellion and Fort Rock.
Gary first got into this job due to his love for music. Gary said: “I was a frustrated drummer in some rock bands and decided to cross over, and if I was going to be a businessman it better be in rock n roll so I started working at record labels.”
Gary expressed that the reason they started DWP is because there were no rock festivals. There were great music festivals but no great rock festival. Not metal, not punk just rock n roll. They felt it was being under served so they started Rock on the Range. Rock on the Range has been going strong for almost 12 years. DWP has used Rock on the Range as a template which has led to other great festivals like Carolina Rebellion which is now in its 8th year.
He goes onto chat about how the process works when it comes to booking bands for festivals. They start from the top with the head liners and work their way down, but the support bands are also very important. Gary goes on to talk about how the goal is to give each rock fan the biggest experience of their life.
Gary said “We don’t want to water each festival down we want each festival to have their own identify.” Which is why, the only place you can see Muse at a US Festival will be Carolina Rebellion. Each will have their own identity, the Foo Fighters only at Rockville or Tool only playing Rock on the Range.
When it comes to picking the bands for the festival DWP listens to the audience. “It comes down to can we get them.”
During the interview Gary talks about how he faces competition but also the challenges they face when it comes to making the festivals different and better each year. They listen to the audience and at the end of the day its rock n roll and DWP want variety. Gary says “We try to have those special moments like Muse making their only US appearance at our festival next year, we care so much about variety and bulk. The headliners are important but also bands like Code Orange who just got a Grammy nomination, Andrew WK who has never been a part of our festival hell bring the party.“ It’s bringing the big bands and turning people onto new music as well. Creatively they remain different by keeping fresh and vibrant. Its part super-serve and part education.
When asked what some of the on the road stories, Gary talks about the Chris Cornell memorial that took place last year at Rock on the Range, though it was extremely sad it was nice to see bands and music goers alike pull together. They put together a 30 minute video with Corey Taylor singing ‘Wish You Were Here.’ It was an unforgettable moment.