Ken West, promoter for Big Day Out, has opened up on the difficulties he faced putting together the festival’s 2014 program over the past year, juggling egos and expectations to deliver the “impossible” lineup, headlined by Pearl Jam, Blur and Arcade Fire.
Sitting down for an interview with Music Feeds at last night’s Big Day Out launch party, West disclosed that he’s been trying to book Pearl Jam since 2000, and after negotiations fell through the festival has been trying to lure them back ever since:
“It’s been a dream that hopefully they would come back to embrace the idea of the festival again and luckily they’ve been through that cycle of only doing their own shows, not doing festivals, into coming back into it again, knowing that a lot of things have changed in 10 years in how festivals are produced.”
Big Day Out CEO Adam Zammit added, “Getting Pearl Jam’s harder than auditioning for A Chorus Line. It’s really tough.”
West also gave some insight into managing the expectations of headlining bands, saying, “Blur and Arcade Fire had made it very clear for years that they’d only be on the show as a headliner.” But eventually they both came around, with West explaining that both bands were happy to share the top billing with Pearl Jam because they knew how good the tour would be.
Speaking to FasterLouder earlier in the week, West said that piecing the lineup together was an incredibly difficult task unlikely to be met by any festival in the foreseeable future:
“It’s the most impossible lineup we’ve had because, if you think about it logically, there’s no other place in the world where you’d get these three acts on the same bill unless it was Live Aid. That’s the only other time you can get the egos pushed out of the way…”
You can watch our interview with Adam Zammit and Ken West below.
Interview: Adam Zammit and Ken West talk Big Day Out 2014 lineup – Part 1
Interview: Adam Zammit and Ken West talk Big Day Out 2014 lineup – Part 2
Big Day Out 2014 Lineup
Pearl Jam (US) - The first of the three 'white whales', Pearl Jam are well overdue for an Australian tour. Their headlining slot at BDO 2014 will be their first stint Down Under since 2009, and couldn't be timed more perfectly with their upcoming album 'Lightning Bolt' set to be released in a matter of weeks.
Arcade Fire (Canada) - With a new James Murphy-produced album locked in for an October 2013 release, Arcade Fire are returning to our speakers in a big way. This will be their first show on Aussie stages since 2008.
Blur (UK) - Considering the band haven't been in town since 1997, many fans thought Blur had simply forgotten about Australia. With the band recently reforming, keep your fingers crossed that their mysterious new album will be done and dusted by the time they hit BDO!
Snoop Dogg (AKA Snoop Lion)
Snoop Dogg AKA Snoop Lion (US) - As The Lion, Snoop has been hard at it, working with a bevy of high-profile artists for his reggae-infused 'Reincarnated' LP, though the Dogg is said to be making his resurgence. It hasn't been too long between drinks with Snoop's last appearance here dating back only as far as 2011.
Major Lazer (US) - The last time the Diplo-led duo were in town was 2012, but it doesn't take much to realise how out of control these shows will be. One listen of 'Free The Universe' or last year's smash single 'Get Free' will leave you with the incurable desire to bust moves.
Steve Angello (Sweden) - On his own, it's been an age since Angello was last in town: his last stint was meant to be 2010 but that never eventuated. 2008 was the last time he was here solo, and he popped his head back in earlier this year with the now-defunct Swedish House Mafia. Expect new tunes!
Flume (Aus) - Having recently wrapped up a massive headlining Australian tour and a huge Splendour set, Harley Streten will be well and truly ready for a run of shows early next year when he returns from his international touring commitments.
The Lumineers (US) - Only making their Australian debut in March this year, The Lumineers have clearly found traction amongst their Aussie following and will be returning again in early 2014. Their self-titled 2012 effort should see a follow-up by the time BDO rolls around.
Tame Impala (Aus) - Do these guys really need a write-up these days? If you haven't heard their latest album 'Lonerism', there's simply no hope for you. The band has kept a regular live presence all over the world this year, though it's safe to say there's no such thing as too much live Tame.
Dillon Francis (US) – The Los Angeles-based electronic music producer rose to fame after being noticed by Diplo, and is credited with pioneering moombahton, a fusion genre of house music and reggaeton. The 25-year-old will be dropping his debut album later in 2013.
Mac Miller (US) – Or Malcolm James McCormick to his mama. He’s a rapper from Pittsburgh with two studio albums under his belt; you’ve probably heard his single 'Donald Trump'. Miller also currently stars in a reality series titled 'Mac Miller and the Most Dope Family' on MTV2. As you do.
Ghost (Sweden) – Nobody does heavy metal quite like those Scandinavians and Ghost are no exception, with the Swedish 6-piece drawing comparisons to Black Sabbath and Blue Oyster Cult. The band members' identities are a secret, and the vocalist dresses as a Roman Catholic cleric while the other five members play in hooded robes. Won’t that be fun in an Aussie summer?!
Grouplove (US) - With sophomore full-length 'Spreading Rumours' expected to drop any moment now, Grouplove were destined to head Down Under at some point and, well, here we are. Big Day Out will be the band's first Australian show since 2012.
Flosstradamus (US) - Australian audiences are yet to fully recover from Flosstradamus' run of club shows earlier this year. The last release from the hip hop DJ pair was 2012's 'Jubilation 2.0' EP, so we'll most likely have some new jams to wrap our heads around by 2014.
Portugal. The Man (US) - P.TM are fast becoming festival favourites in Australia, with the psych rockers just in town for Splendour In The Grass. Their 2013 album 'Evil Friends' is a cracker, sure to still be pumping come BDO.
Toro Y Moi (US) – It’s time to get your chillwave on. Chaz Bundick, aka Toro Y Moi, brought his brand of genre-mashing electronic tunes to Australia last March for a killer set at Golden Plains festival, off the back of his latest release Anything In Return. He’s been described as everything from psych pop to tongue-in-cheek electro, with the only guarantee being that your booty will be shaking.
DIIV (US) – Brooklyn indie rock doesn’t get much hotter than this. DIIV, originally named Dive after the Nirvana song, dropped their debut Oshin last year to critical acclaim, making Pitchfork and Stereogum’s Top 50 records of the year. Originally the solo project of Zachary Cole Smith’s, DIIV are influenced by Krautrock, world music and – oh yeah, Nirvana.
The Naked And Famous (NZ) – What, have you been living under a rock or something? The synth pop outfit from Auckland took over the world with their single Young Blood in 2010 and played the Big Day Out in 2011, as well as a string of sold-out sideshows. The Kiwi quintet have just announced that their sophomore studio album, In Rolling Waves, will be released this September.
Big Gigantic (US) – The Colorado-based duo, made up of saxophonist/producer Dominic Lalli and drummer Jeremy Salken, mix up electronic beats with live saxophone and drums to make tunes that reach all the corners of livetronica, hip-hop and jazz. They’re renowned for their high-energy live show and are festival favourites, bringing their futuristic wall of sound to Lollapalooza in 2012 and getting audiences on their feet.
PEZ (Aus)- It was just this year that the Aussie hip hop figure broke his live-show drought, announcing a massive set of live shows to shake off the cob webs in time for his upcoming album 'Don’t Look Down', expected to drop early November.
Mudhoney (USA) - The Sup Pop stalwarts will be returning Down Under to showcase their '90s grunge greatness for yet another festival crowd. After 25 years in the game, the band have their live show and stage presence down pat..
Cosmic Psychos (Aus) - When Nirvana pump your tracks, it's clear you're onto a good thing. Successfully penetrating the Seattle grunge scene was just the beginning for punk icons Comic Psychos, who have spent 30 years at the top of their game. With a career-spanning doco in the works, and a back catalogue that extends well into the '90s, we're sure to get a good cross section of the band's timeline come BDO.
Northlane (Aus) - Since dropping their latest album 'Singularity' Northlane have risen to the top of the pile at a meteoric rate. Bringing the best elements of the djent world into their metalcore sound, the band possess a presence unlike anything else on the scene. The band has found serious traction with the overseas crowds but remain loyal to their homegrown fans, making sure a tour is never too far off.
The 1975 (UK) - Known for their genre-bending sensibilities, The 1975 simply refuse to be pigoenholed. "Pop, but not as you know it" is the most accurate description but you'll have to give their self-titled debut album a solid crank to form your own opinion. Their brand-new music video for single 'Sex' is a glorious NSFW affair.
Loon Lake (Aus) - These guys spent much of 2012 sharpening their live performance skills as they zig-zagged across the country on a national run of tour dates. Demand is at an all-time high for the band after their single 'Cherry Lips' killed it in the Triple J Hottest 100. Their debut album will be released this coming October.
Kingswood (Aus) - From humble beginnings in Melbourne, Kingswood have gone on to see heights very few of their peers will ever witness (like supporting Aerosmith, no biggie). The band killed it in 2012 off the back of a run of hit singles, and kept the indie rock vibes coming with the 2013 EP 'Change Of Heart'.
Bo Ningen (Japan/UK) - "Pure music" makers Bo Ningen released their latest album 'Line The Wall' in October 2012, but since then the band have kept heavily active in all sorts of creative areas. They're widely regarded as London's best (and perhaps most freaked-out) live band.
The Algorithm (France) - Focusing on the new breed of sub-genres including IDM, chiptune and breakcore, The Algorithm boasts electronically charged breakdowns with a beefy djent chug all over it. This project from upcoming French DJ/Producer Rémi Gallego has managed to hit all the right buttons - give the 2012 album 'Polymorphic Code' a spin if you feel the need to have everything you once thought about EDM and metal totally flipped.
DZ Deathrays (Aus) - Raucous thrash poppers DZ Deathrays conquered hearts and minds with 2012 debut 'Bloodstreams', and the record is still producing crash hot singles. Their live performances have put them in hot demand on the Australian touring scene.
Peking Duk (Aus) - These Canberra-bred electro/house upstarts tore up clubs all over the world this year. Recently voted In The Mix’s #5 DJ for 2013, the Duks have promised that studio time is on the cards very soon. Did someone say "smash-hit summer single"?