We want to give people the full story on Fort Rock, and for some reason, that is incredibly hard to do without sounding ungrateful, or like we're bragging. We swear we are not bragging in the slightest, and are incredibly grateful for all the experiences we ever receive through Immortal Music. That being said, every show where we have a pass is incredibly stressful, and things do go wrong. That goes for any show, but when you just attend as a fan, you don't see all the behind the scenes stress and drama. When you go to a show for any form of work, you experience the bonus things that aren't normally seen.
I, Ariel May, the owner of Immortal Music, would not get to do any of the things I do if it weren't for the people who 'follow' me and my work. Because of that, and the fact that the stuff I experience at shows is not commonly seen by all, I like to share the full story. Maybe its interesting to someone out there, maybe it would inspire someone, or just open their eyes to a whole other world they've never experienced. Who knows. I sure don't. I think that's why these 'recap' blogs have grown to be so much more of a challenge for me. As my experiences grow, the more there is to say, and the more it could be taken wrong. Fort Rock 2015 is the biggest event Immortal Music has gotten to fully cover to date, and for the first time ever, I will admit -I am lucky I got this.
A big part of the selection for who got passes for Fort Rock, was the promotion. The more you posted, the more they saw the excitement you had for it. Due to a lot of things, I did not promote Fort Rock a lot. Another thing I admit was I had been nervous to go to this show, due to past experiences with the venue and this festival, and stress surrounding this year as well. Nothing too serious, but it adds up, and festivals always a bit more stressful than normal shows. It just sort of makes sense really, when you have hours to fill, multiple bands to schedule for performances, signings and interviews, something is bound to get forgotten, moved around or altered in some way. Having done this before, we expected that to happen. For some reason, despite that fact, that didn't make us ready to take the world on. It made us even more anxious and on edge.
The real stress started the night before. One interview got moved from 12:15, to 4:00, and two others got picked up last night. We quickly scrambled to come up with questions for the these last minute interviews that got picked up.
We had four interviews, which happened in this order; Lola Black, Young Guns, Starset, and VAMPS. They all happened back to back, which ended up working far better than we expected it to. We were supposed to interview Lola Black just after they got off stage, but apparently I needed an escort to my interview and the plan to just walk back with the band was not possible due to the stage set up. Then their signing ended up going on for two and a half hours, rather than the half hour it was originally scheduled for. Incredibly exciting for Lola Black, but slightly frustrating for an already stressed out journalist.
The time finally came though to go back to the media tent where interview would occur, and that was an experience. We walked back there, and were chatting with other journalists as we waited on Lola Black to clean up and come back to the tent. As we were waiting, a bunch of people came in and one in particular walked straight to the center of the tent. I'm guessing someone must have given him a funny look, because he all the sudden looked around and said, "Sorry...I had to get over here, its fucking hot." He was in all black (as most of the people at the festival were), and had long, curly black hair, so it wasn't really a surprise that the Florida sun, was getting to him some. I laughed and said, "I hear you on that. Smart move to stand right there -stay there." We chatted for a minute about the festival and the heat, before he went and sat down at a table designated for a local radio station. It was then, as he and the rest of the band sat down, that I realized who I had been talking with. Ben Phillips, the guitarist for The Pretty Reckless.
It was one of those moments where I kind of just stared blankly into space and thought, "And this is one of those 'well that just happened' moments." Thing things do happen -you never know who you're going to meet when you're given access to special areas.
Eventually, The Pretty Reckless departed to get ready for their performance, and Lola Black did come. Nobody was actively just walking up to them. So, I did. I walked up to their guitarist, and bassist and flat out asked, "Hey, are we all waiting turns for interviews or is it more like 'hey, grab a band member and start talking'?" Their guitarist smiled and said, "I like that option."
I won't explain the interview, but this is the first time I ever got almost an entire band in one interview. You can watch it right here, if you're interested. Moments later, Young Guns tour manager Brendan found me and walked myself, and a friend of mine who was acting as my camera person, back to their dressing room. There, we met Gus, the incredibly interesting singer for Young Guns. Again, you can watch the interview by clicking here. All I want to say about the interview was Gus is a very insightful, deep person and I definitely would not have minded talking with him for much longer. He just was interesting to talk to, and that was something I greatly enjoyed.
On the way back to where all festival was actually happening, we past the media tent. In there, was Starset, and I had been approved to get an interview with them. I had also promised another friend to bring her back to film it. Her and her husband both are very big fans of Starset, and she had promised to be professional so I agreed to it. Not only did she do wonderful around them, despite the fact that she had never experienced such a thing and is a huge fan, but Ron from Starset pretty much made my day.
I walked up and introduced myself as Ariel from Immortal Music, and he instantly smiled and said, "Hi! We knew you were coming." Nobody had ever even vaguely known who I was when I had walked up to them before. That was a milestone in my career, even if he had just been told my name and outlet, and it is certainly something I will not expect. The interview went very well, and considering the fact that Motionless In White was on stage at the same time and wasn't far away, the audio isn't terrible either. You can watch that right here.
Basically straight from that, we met up with VAMPS tour manager and walked back to their tour bus. VAMPS is a Japanese band, and their tour manager warned us that they genuinely did not speak English, and he would be translating everything. That was easily the most interesting interview I have ever done, and I implore everyone to check it out. We (myself and the friend that was with me), felt as though we learned a lot about Japanese culture and the music scene over there. You can watch that here, and are encouraged to do so.
After that, I was honestly in the best mood I had been all day. All the interviews were done and had gone wonderfully well, Breaking Benjamin would soon be taking the stage, and I could just take pictures and enjoy the rest of the night. All the stresses were gone! What's really cool is a friend of mine was near the barricade when I walked up there for Breaking Benjamin and took a picture of me while I was up there. He later told me the reason he wanted a picture of me up there was he could see the relief on my face, and just wanted a picture of it to exist. He had seen me when everything was up in the air, so he said it was nice to see the exact opposite. It was nice to be feeling the exact opposite as well.
Getting to cover Breaking Benjamin was actually quite the silent honor as well. Breaking Benjamin was at the first rock concert I had ever been to, which was now five years ago. It was sort of like everything came full circle in a way as I was snapping pictures of them on stage. I was very impressed with their performance as well. When I saw them in 2010, Benjamin was not well. He sounded amazing, but was not strong enough to get off a stool very much through out their whole set. At Fort Rock, however, he was all over the stage, just having the time of his life. As someone who remembered him as a sick person, I actually was very proud of him to be loving life and rocking out. Breaking Benjamin is back and stronger than ever.
During Papa Roach, I got a picture that is arguably the best photo I have ever taken, and then several other great ones. I also did something during their set I had never been brave enough to do before. Their song "Scars" is my all time favorite song, and right before they started playing it, Jacoby said, "Maybe you know this song." Somehow I just knew they were about to play "Scars", and started craning my neck around people to see. Then it started and I just jumped up, trying to see. A friend of mine, just picked me up and put me on his shoulder. I am terrified of heights, but actually stayed up on his shoulder for the entire song, and got to record it. My friend put me down just after the song, and yelled in my ear that he was so proud of me for doing that. I had always been too scared to get on someone's shoulders before, but did it. I wasn't fear free, but hey -face everything and rise, right?
Another cool moment during their set, was just a couple songs later. We got in line to get some water, and they started playing "Forever." At this point, I think I dropped the whole professionalism thing. I was just having fun at that moment, I wasn't being a journalist. Basically from the moment I walked away from the press area, I was felt like a fan. Which is honestly nice, I don't experience that much anymore. Despite the fact that I have never been to a show where I wasn't a fan of someone at the show, I rarely go to a show anymore without a pass. So, the work that comes with the pass tend to take over. Its still fun in the long run, but there's more situation stress.
I digress. Anyways, during "Forever" I was in line to get water and was honestly paying no attention to the line, and was still facing Papa Roach. I was singing along, and a girl in the line next to me just looked miserable. Probably was exhausted, clearly was sun-burnt and just needed a water and a spot to sit in the grass. I was happily singing along though and happened to make eye contact with her. All the sudden she went from looking miserable to singing along with the biggest grin on her face. I wanted to hug her, or at least high five her. That right there was the power of music being shown all over again, and it was just wonderful! Its a shame I wasn't filming when it happened! Take my word for it though -I swear it happened.
Just before Godsmack, I got a text message from the tour manager (possible press person) for Slipknot, asking for everyone to meet her by the barricade at 8:15 to get our Slipknot wrist bands. That proved to be an interesting experience in its own right. I ran all the way across the festival, fought my way through the crowd, had to shout at a couple people, "Move! I'm sorry but I have to meet someone right now so I can cover Slipknot's set later!" Surprisingly, that had a lot of power, because people got out of my way after shouting that. Some even helped me push past others who refused to move. I got up there, and could not find her. Baffled a drunk woman because I thought she was the lady I was looking for. She wasn't. Thankfully, other press people were up there and knew what she looked like. I called her and she was still close, and as I was on the phone with her, one of the other press people shouted, "Ariel! Right there she is!" I looked up and saw a woman on the phone, so I just told her to turn around. She gave me my wristband and it was all good. A drunk man behind me was adamant that he should get to get in front of the barricade for Slipknot too. I said, "You need a pass." He said he had one, and I just told him to prove it. He stumbled over his words and said, "Well...give me yours." I kind of hit the roof with that one. Normally I'm fairly polite, but this was after a long day of running all over, doing a ton of things, in the heat. I guess my filter was just gone, because I responded with something along the lines of, "Fuck no. I fucking earned this." He said he did too, or something like that, and I think I rolled my eyes and told him that was not happening. Like I said, not my usual way of handling people, but I also momentarily thought he'd take my pass, so I got a bit defensive.
I tried to push to the entrance for the press pit, and people were not budging. Here came another first -I had to hop the fence to get up to the pit. I'm short, so the fence came up fairly high on me, and I had to actually have a guy help me over it, because I couldn't get my leg up that high. Surprisingly no security guards said a word, even though at least three saw me do that. One of them had seen me before, so may be that helped. Godsmack did well, though I actually only paid attention to the first three songs. Due to the hectic crowds, security let us press people stay side stage for their set. I, being exhausted, decided to sit my happy ass down on what was probably one of Godsmack's equipment boxes. I could not see anything from where I sat, and did get up a time or two to see what I was missing, but then sat back down. I had seen Godsmack before, and could still hear them just the same no matter where I was, so it was alright! Before I actually sat down though, I had to double check that it wasn't one of Breaking Benjamin emblem lights because I didn't want to risk sitting on that and breaking it. This box, and their light were the same color, so I had a moment concern there.
Then it was time for Slipknot, and I honestly don't have a lot of commentary on them. I was too focused on pictures to pay attention to what they were playing while I was in front of the barricade, and after that I was running around trying to find friends that were leaving, and was extremely tired. They did a great job, and I was very impressed with their stage set up. The spinning drum platforms were something I had never seen before and it was very cool. I do have a little commentary to add; 1) Its still ungodly impressive that Mick Thomson, after everything he's been through is touring. He was full on rocking out, and his dedication with everything in mind is mind boggling. 2) Corey Taylor is very good at looking at cameras. Nearly every time I pointed my camera at him, he turned and looked at the camera. Pictures where the main focus is actually looking at your camera are slightly rare, so when you manage to get them, they're special. Also, perhaps this was because I was exhausted at this point, but his mask was so realistic and it was slightly creeping me out here and there. That's the point, of course, but between that, and the fact that his eyes are blacked out, were creeping me out. Honest to God, I had to remind myself the first time he looked my direction that I knew who was under the mask, he's nothing to be scared of. Silly, I know. Like I said, I was exhausted, had I been fully awake, it probably wouldn't have even crossed my mind, since I knew about the masks long before ever going to the show.
So, let's recap. We missed watching the sets of In This Moment, The Pretty Reckless, Young Guns, Starset, and VAMPS, but got to cover Lola Black, We Are Harlot, Breaking Benjamin, Papa Roach, Godsmack and Slipknot. We Are Harlot, by the way...I'm just going to flat out say this once more, is such a better use for Danny Worsnop's talents. I did see Asking Alexandria once in the past, he did not sound nearly as good at their show as he did at this show with We Are Harlot. They put on a great show, and I was very glad I got to cover their set. Sorry, had to throw that in there. We just realized we forgot to mention their performance at all, and couldn't figure out a place to smoothly throw it in. So, here seemed fitting.
We interviewed Lola Black, Young Guns, Starset and VAMPS, had someone finally know who I was when I walked up (vaguely, but still, its a milestone as a journalist), got a video of my favorite song live, while facing a life long fear, and had everything I thought was going to happen proven wrong in the best way possible. I couldn't have asked for much more. Also, I didn't mention this at all before, but I finally have a picture of me in my element too. My manager from my day job accidentally got me in background of a picture of herself. In the background, I'm taking a picture of Jerry Horton, Papa Roach's guitarist, while they were performing. I've never seen a picture of myself doing what I love before. I'm not in focus, and you can't see my face at all, but that picture is something I will treasure forever.
Fort Rock 2015, you blew me away. I went into it insanely nervous, and frankly almost left. Thanks to great friends talking me out of giving into that feeling, I had one of the best festival experiences I have ever had over all. This was the biggest event I have ever gotten to cover, and this is still only the beginning.
Be sure to check out the interviews with Lola Black, VAMPS, Starset, and Young Guns, along with all the pictures, the vlog and the video of "Scars", live. Big thanks to all the bands, their tour managers and press people, my friends, and everyone who made this possible. Thank you for letting Immortal Music attend this festival, we honestly really did enjoy it. Hopefully all of you out there enjoyed this long winded story of all the adventures!
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