The organisers of Alt-Fest had promised a big Christmas Day announcement and didn’t disappoint when they revealed self-proclaimed Antichrist Superstar Marilyn Manson as a main stage headliner.
Thousands of people are expected to flock to the grounds of Boughton House in Northamptonshire this summer for the inaugural festival.
Taking place over three days and spread across six stages, the festival will also see the like of The Cult, Gary Numan, VNV Nation, Killing Joke, Arch Enemy, Peter Hook and KMFDM join dozens of other acts.
“We’ve had an amazing reaction to the line-up,” explains festival organiser Dom Void. “We did polls online to get input from our fans about who they wanted to see on the bill, doing it for different stages. Manson was number one for the main stage.
“We approached his management but were told he’s taking a year off because he’s writing and concentrating on his film work.
“Eventually, we went back and said ‘People are continually asking for him to play, he was number one in the polls, we appreciate he’s busy but come and support the fans and play’.
“I think Manson himself checked it all out and went back to his management and said he’d do it.
“He’s effectively said he won’t be playing in 2014 and we’ll be his only date, or if he does anything else, it’ll be a few dates at the end of the year.
“We’ve ended up with a real coup to not only get such a large artist, but get him on a pretty exclusive basis.
“Whether I look at it as someone who likes Manson or from a business point of view, to get someone so well known is fantastic.”
As well as Alt-Fest’s main stage, the festival will have metal, industrial, goth and steampunk stages as well as the S.O.P.H.I.E stage, supporting the charity set up following the death of student Sophie Lancaster in 2007, and other arts and attractions.
Dom and his wife Missy run Club AntiChrist in London, one of Europe’s largest alternative club nights. Now in its 10th year, the club draws together different ‘alternative’ genres by providing DJs in multiple rooms.
“Before we established it, we were going to a lot of niche clubs, all battling against each other,” he explains.
“We wanted a club where whatever alternative lifestyle you follow, you could move from room to room and enjoy it. We’ve achieved a ten-zone environment at our club.
“We were on holiday a couple of years ago, had probably had one too many Sangrias and were chatting about corporate festivals and our views on them.
“We wanted to do what we’d achieved with Club AntiChrist in a festival environment. To treat the people who would come as the shareholders so it’s as much their vision of what they want and who they to see – a proper crowd-led event.
“We’d been promoting for a long time and had booked loads of bands. We bought the web domain and dived in.”
Alt-Fest secured its initial funding through Kickstarter, a website which allows people to help fund different projects.
Mr Void had been following a film trying to secure funding. He said: “It’s such a refreshing idea and we borrowed their process and used it for inspiration. Instead of having to rely on corporate funding, we chose to work with people and make it their event.”
Alt-Fest more than doubled its £30,000 target during the funding period.
“Some people have confused the crowd sourcing beginning and perceived we were raising money to run the whole festival,” he explains.
“We already had the support of a lot of the smaller bands. However, as soon as you want to move it to the next level and book more ‘known’ bands, you get into the realms of having to commit to quite large deposits. We looked at the bands we hypothetically wanted to book and then decided if we raised £30,000 we could book X, Y and Z.
“The whole process was structured in a way that every time we moved forward we could impact positively other forms of funding.”
Alt-Fest has since gained private investment to allow it to book even bigger names.
Mr Void said: “It was wonderful because it meant people were voting financially and shared our belief, ethos and ideas.”
Fans have also been consulted over what drinks they would like and what prices they will be willing to pay.
Alt-Fest is still to announce headliners on the goth stage, acts which will play on the metal stage and other main stage acts.
Mr Void added: “We’ve still got a package of announcements which together are probably equally as exciting as those which we’ve revealed so far.”
Alt-Fest hopes Boughton House will become permanent home
When looking for a site for Alt-Fest, organisers were after somewhere which wasn’t already associated with another festival.
In Boughton House, they hope they have found somewhere which will be their home for years to come.
“We wanted a festival site which was going to become known as the home of Alt-Fest,” explains organiser Dom Void.
“We didn’t want a site which was already ‘tarnished’ with being the home of someone else or associated with something else.
“There were lots of sites in use by others and lots had their own problems.”
By this time, Alt-Fest had already signed up with a production company which had also been searching the country for a site for a different project it was involved in.
Mr Void said: “They mentioned Boughton was amazing and the estate were keen and had been in discussion with the local council about how a festival could be beneficial to the community, tourism and all the positives it could bring.
“The site is massive and offered so much. There was the choice of five or six places you could put the site.
“We’ve got what we wanted – it hasn’t been used before and we hope that over the years Boughton will become known as the home of Alt-Fest.
“The estate management team there are wonderful and are very keen. It has the perfect combination of grassland, is nice and flat, isolated and not near residential areas and it’s beautiful.”
If this year’s Alt-Fest is a success, the festival will almost certainly return next year. Mr Void said thought was already been given to who might be available for 2015.
He said: “We have every intention of this being an annual event. We’ve already started thinking loosely about 2015 and who might be available based on some of those who maybe weren’t available this year and a couple of bands we approached who have said they want to play. We’ve started to pencil people in and 2015 will be a case of learning from this year and maybe even adding in more genres.
“We’ve had people asking about having a 1980s stage which we haven’t got this time.
“ Around June this year, we’ll have to start booking and then it becomes a never-ending process.
“Personally, I’d love one year to get a band like Rammstein here.
“Like Manson, they’re the perfect band, huge, have a broad appeal to the alternative genre and put on a great live show.”
Alt-Fest runs from August 15 to 17.
Early bird tickets, which include camping, cost £85 for adults. For full details of the lineup and to book, visit www.alt-fest.com.