Interview: Andy Copping

The Download Festival is a three day rock music festival held annually at Donington Park, England (which hosted Monsters of Rock between 1980 and 1996, and 2002’s Ozzfest) and recently Andy Copping, the man who books every band for the Download Festival, agreed to answer questions for EspyRock.

What’s it like to spend all year working for a 3 day event that comes and goes in 1 weekend?

When you put it like that I think I’m crazy!! I wouldn’t change what I do for the World and of course it’s an all year round job but you have to put the time & effort in to make sure everything is right & to ensure you’ve done the best job you can.

Is it as cool as the rest of us imagine to be the man booking all these incredible bands?

It’s really cool because you are putting a big jigsaw together and each band is part of that jigsaw. It’s a great feeling even though it is hard work.

Did you ever think of packing it all in and giving up on this festival malarkey?

Every day! Ha ha ha!! Sometimes it gets very frustrating (like any job!), so of course I think about throwing in the towel…then at the actual festival, you think this is awesome!!

Are there any format changes in the plans for Download 2011?

We’re always looking at evolving things and improving Download, so I’m sure there’ll be some changes for sure, although nothing to report at the moment.

After the scale of this year’s Download is it proving difficult to match that for next year?

Well we know we can go to 120,000 if needed but it will all depend on who I book…I think anything between 70,000-120,000 is a success…that’s a lot of people.

Are any of the current rumours anywhere near close for Download 2011?

I actually haven’t heard any rumours yet! However, I’m sure they’re going to be coming thick and fast soon!

With Sonisphere and Bloodstock now fully fledged festivals is booking bands more difficult?

Timing wise we’re in a good spot, so I don’t see those festivals or any others as competition. If bands want to tour at the start of the summer, then Download will be in their plans…if they want to tour at later times during the summer then the other festivals will benefit.

If you could have ANY three headliners of any genre who would they be?

OASIS, MICHAEL BUBLE, LED ZEPPELIN…now that’s diverse!

After the success of Napalm Death would you book more extreme bands again?

I would definitely book more extreme bands and have in the past…

Do you have any advice for anyone wanting to get into the PR side of things?

My advice would be…DON’T DO IT!! Seriously though, I would say work hard, put yourself out and just keeping trying to build as many contacts as you can…if you have a passion for it, something will come.

On the Download forums people have been asking about bands of all sorts of genre playing the festival such as Eminem, having had Lethal Bizzle play in the past where do you have to draw the line and say “This is Download, not TITP/Reading/Leeds”?

I would book Eminem, Dizzie Rascal, Cypress Hill, Bizzle (again!), Public Enemy, possibly even Jay-Z but would draw the line at things like Chipmunk and bands that are too poppy. I know this is quite controversial but a lot of the bands/artists I’ve listed are relevant and work the crowds really well.

Yourself and John Probyn are both very vocal on the Download front, especially on the forums, how do you deal with torrent of abuse that you incessantly get whenever you book a band someone doesn’t like or doesn’t think justifies their line up position?

Every single band I book gets hit for criticism and to be honest, I find it boring and insulting. I thought AC/DC was an inspired booking, regardless of the production headaches etc, but people still felt that it wasn’t that great to have them on Download, which I just find ridiculous. The fact that over 100,000 people put their hands in their pockets to buy a ticket for Download this year just proves we are doing the right thing. My booking policy will not change…I’m a music fan first and foremost and I book from the heart AND the head…I believe I know what I am doing and I have a real passion for what I do and love Download with a passion. There are enough bands across the week-end to cater for a rock music fans taste…I am flabbergasted by some of the negative comments and when they get personal, I just think the people are cowards. They would never come up to anyone and say some of those things to their face. Sadly, the internet allows people to become bullies.

A lot of people keep asking for “WJRR” bands from the US such as Three Days Grace and Breaking Benjamin. Most people know Breaking Benjamin is pretty much a no-go ever for a UK festival but do you try to book bands like Three Days Grace and what sort of replies do you get considering the drop in stature they would take to come over here?

I have chased and been chased by these bands before. A lot of it is about money but I refuse to overpay an act just because they are big in another territory. If they want to break big in the UK then they have to realise what their real value is…if they make the investment to come over, it will pay dividends for them in the long run.

Is there any one band who have almost made you want to quit music because they were so arrogant/ignorant of what they’d need to deal with?

Believe me there have been many and there will be no doubt many more.

In 2008 there was the big scandal with Kid Rock pulling out of the festival, do you have a problem when an artist pulls out that late for almost no reason (well thats where the scandal started anyway) and if so, do you get past it as a booker or do you see it as they’re an artist/band who won’t be playing Download again?

Kid Rock made a big mistake and he regrets it now. He could have broken the UK like he has the US had he played Download that year. He is phenomenal live and the 2008 incident was unfortunate. I would certainly book him to play again and he would be brilliant. Every year we have one artist or another pulling out at last minute…mostly it’s due to illness or transport problems. In Kid Rock’s case it was a deeper personal issue.

Is your personal life impeded at all by the job of booking so many bands?

My personal life is my job…sadly, I have no social life but that iis the sacrifice I have been happy to make. I am answering these questions at 11pm at night sat at my desk in the Live Nation office

I’ve seen you mention your tea-total (someone who abstains from alcohol), was that due to a past experience with alcohol or do you not see the need for alcohol?

I have never drunk alcohol and that’s because I don’t like the taste! If I have alcohol in my mouth, I have to spit it out! I don’t mind being tea-total…I actually think it’s kind of cool but of course I would say that!

What sort of feeling do you get when you see the 100,000 people arriving for Download knowing that you booked the bands who brought them?

Believe me, it was one of the best feelings in the world. I always take a little bit of time out every day of the festival and walk around the arena…it’s a fantastic feeling. When people recognise me and come and say hello…that is a really heart-warming feeling and I never grow tired of that.

The “rock” spectrum is quite a large, which band are probably at the furthest end of the scale each way for you, like your really soft, whose the softest, to your extreme’s?

That’s a tough one…I guess REO Speedwagon to Napalm Death is the best I can offer

In your opinion, who’s the best band live?

Rammstein…for me no one comes close

And in general who are your favourite band?

This changes on a day to day basis depending on my mood…but I would say David Lee Roth era Van Halen…I always loved them and enjoy their music.

There was a great deal of grumbling on the official forums regarding AC/DC’s omission from any official merchandise. Is this something that is likely to happen again? And also what was the reason for their omission

AC/DC made a big error of judgement regarding the merchandise this year and no it won’t happen again….I hope!

How much work had to go into getting the extra stage setup and did the airspace over Donington have to be shut for the fireworks at the end of AC/DC?

It wasn’t too much of a headache sorting out the extra stage and it had to be done. We work very closely with East Midlands Airport every year and we did even more so this year. We worked the fireworks around the flights…the planes have to take  preference

What would you consider to be the greatest and worst Download performance in history?

Slipknot last year, Metallica without Lars and Trivium in 2005 were the three greatest. The last two Marilyn Manson appearances have been woeful…he should hang his head in shame because he can be great.

In your line of work, you must be well-acquainted with some famous names. Which well-known performers would you consider to be friends?

I’m friends with Kasabian, Matt Goss (from Bros!), Joe Elliott from Def Leppard, Gail Porter, David Haye the boxer, Corey Taylor, Jay-Z, the guys from Pendulum and Machine Head, BFMV & Trivium…all good people and very gracious.

This year’s Download festival was the biggest to date. What were the main highlights for you, performances or otherwise? Were there any major surprises?

AC/DC were great, so were Rage Against The Machine…however, Slash was brilliant and better than anyone could have expected.

Is there any message you want to give the readers of EspyRock about Download or anything at all?

Any one who has supported Download by buying a ticket and being part of it gets a huge thank you from me…I do not take anything for granted and I truly appreciate people spending their hard earned money on Download. The festival is nothing without the fans.

We think we’ve covered everything we could and hope its satisfied everyone’s questions!

Download 2011 is currently being booked and rumoured dates are 10-12 June 2011.

     

About Scott

I'm a fun-loving 18 year old Student from the sunny shores of Scotland! I love almost all kinds of metal and rock and always looking for new bands. A website designer as well as wanting to do journalism, I can be contacted about anything and everything on either Twitter or by Email.

One Response to “Interview: Andy Copping”

  1. paulschlacter22 08/02/2013 at 5:37 am

    That’s great news! I will be lucky to get cheap Kid Rock tickets to see the singers Bob Seger and Kid Rock together! I love http://www.goodseattickets.com/Kid-Rock for offering me tickets at low prices!