Everything exceptional has at its heart one person who refused to give up on an idea: Mandela, Einstein, Bill Gates, Hitler, Eddie the Eagle. Now to add to this illustrious list is another name; Chris McCormack. This is the man behind Camden Rocks and GIGsoup spoke to him about joining a band with his heroes, escaping his brother’s shadow and Elvis’s penchant for peanut butter.
How long have you been working in and around Camden, does it hold a special place in your heart?
I’ve lived in Camden most of my Adult life… actually longer than i lived in South Shields at this point. I love being here yeah, It is intense at times though because i have so much going on and live right in the heart of it all. There’s nowhere quite like Camden, it has everything you need and a few things you don’t!
How important is it to make contacts in the music business, could Camden Rock festival have started without your close (including family) contacts?
Yeah, i guess so, as i say i’ve been here and working in the music business most of my life so know a lot of people… Camden rocks festival was born from me doing other things like club nights, showcases and other festivals. I moved to London to follow my brother Danny who played with The Wildhearts so he was a huge inspiration to me when i was younger and introduced me to a lot of people i guess… i was called Danny’s brother for many years until my band (3 Colours Red) took off. Then I was his equal. Hahaha.
You launched the first festival in 2009 then waited til 2013 to repeat it but since then it’s been yearly. What changed?
I teamed up with people i thought could bring something to the table and they let me know at a time when it was too late to go through with it… Stupidly i believed their reasoning and gave them another go in 2011 and the same thing happened. Sabotaged!
Which band are you most proud to have championed?
A great new band i’m completely in love with called M O S E S… they’re playing KOKO at 3pm. Great songs and everything. They’re playing all the major festivals, touring with some great bands and I think they could blow up next year.
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In 2013 you did a DJ set have you been involved as a performer since? Do you wish you could be?
I’ve actually just joined The Professionals which are the band Paul Cook and Steve Jones formed after the Sex Pistols broke up. Great band.
We’re playing the Electric Ballroom at 6pm. Feels really good to play again and with great people, Tom Spencer is singing in the band and we’ve always been good friends so it’s all very easy.
With the addition of Koko this year is there anywhere else you could move into as the festival expands?
I guess The Roundhouse but i’m concerned that it would completely change the dynamic of the festival… possibly make it a weekend event would be the way to do it.
There has been some criticism of the 2017 line up saying its gone too Indie, what’s your response to that?
It’s never been about one genre of music… In 2014 we had Bullet for my Valentine headline but that doesn’t mean we’re a heavy metal festival… Its about high energy guitar music and that means everything. I book the best bands available and sometimes the balance changes depending on who’s up for it. But it’s always great guitar bands giving it their all.
Who have you failed to book who you’d love to have on the bill in 2017?
I was close to getting the Hives this year… maybe next year! And Frank Turner would be amazing too… i just need to get him drunk enough to say yes!
Other than the music, what else has been memorable about the festival?
The atmosphere of the day is the thing that always stands out… all the bands hanging out and having a good time. Bands collaborating etc. There’s almost 2000 band and crew members at the event which always ends up as one massive party.
This year we’re having the main aftershow at KOKO which all the bands go to so i’m sure there’s going to be a few stories and hangovers from that
Where are you going to be on the day, is there a control room?
At that point I leave it to the production team… my work is done in the build up.
Obviously, I still keep my ear to the ground and if anything serious occurs they let me know otherwise I’ll be rocking out in The Professionals or holding up the bar and watching the bands
Living or dead, any era, tell me your fantasy three headliners and why?
The sex Pistols – Because they changed everything for me and give me direction and purpose. I can’t imagine what would have happened for me if I’d never heard Never mind the bollocks
The Beatles – great songs and it’d sell out with one facebook post.
Elvis – He’d bring the hot chicks, the drugs and the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
With some tickets still available and the running order being released, now maybe your last chance to book your place at the festival which celebrates the joint values of Unity, Diversity and Guitars! Viva Camden Rocks, long may you reign!