Talking to James Moody, Co-Captain of HMS Fun Fun Fun Fest
In Texas, only a few major music festivals cater to the punk and indie subcultures. Houston's own Free Press Summer Fest, Chaos In Tejas, 35 Denton, maybe the free and freaky day parties of SXSW, and Fun Fun Fun Fest, put on by Transmission Entertainment in Austin.
FFFF began in 2006 as a two-day festival, and last year for the fest's inaugural weekend at Auditorium Shores, expanded to an ACL-like three days. Obviously FFFF is a lot more chill compared to ACL, which is big on gigantic heritage headliners like Neil Young and the Eagles, but light on acts like Converge, Slayer, and A$AP Rocky.
You also won't be paying ACL prices for either tickets or concessions, no offense to the wine-guzzling oldsters and CamelBak-boozing frat guys at Zilker Park spazz-dancing to Michael Franti and M83.
Plus the weather is always better for FFFF -- it's either cold or sorta-warm -- and the streets aren't clogged with Californians in ill-fitting cowboy boots, and hot dogs don't cost $10 bucks on the street.
James Moody and Graham Williams founded FFFF by accident in late 2005 after overbooking a huge show at Emo's in town. They moved the large bill to nearby Waterloo Park and made a festival out of it. It's now grown into a huge event that attracts misguided children from all over the country.
Rocks Off will be of course covering the fest here in a couple of weeks, beginning November 2. In a few days myself and photographer Marco Torres will be giving you the lowdown on our must-see picks for the fest.
All I can personally think about is seeing is Turbonegro.
This week I reached out to Mr. Moody to talk about the history of FFFF, the lineups, the surprises and of course, Danzig's tantrum last November at the park. Death-bug my ass.
Rocks Off: Every year since I started covering the festival, it's just gotten bigger and better, without losing its sense of community. How has FFFF kept that spirit alive?
James Moody: We book our acts with a sense of that community or scene in mind -- always looking at what is interesting and changing in independent and sub-popular music. I think people appreciate that about us because we relate to them and what they listen to -- because it's also what we listen to.
We also are an extremely small team that has an open, honest and casual approach to communication. I think people find us very personal and approachable.
Plus, having things like taco cannons, mechanical bulls, and Porta Potty photo booths doesn't hurt.
RO: Porta Potty photo booths? Explain that a bit more.
JM: Basically, we have converted an unused porta potty into an intimate photo-booth experience. It has a nice chair, and the photographer joins you inside. Its cozy, and special. You can [take] either one or two pictures.
RO: Have there been some bands that you guys were just in the grasp of getting but fell out of your hands?
JM: Yeah, plenty. I would tell you about them but it might reveal some ideas for future years.
RO: Did you guys try for the Iggy & the Stooges this year?
JM: Nope. We knew they were playing ACL. But, we did have a close deal with them last year that fell apart in the last seconds.
RO: Have any really big, non-FFFF type bands approached you guys about playing?
JM: Yes. Every year. We would list them, but that would just be plain mean.
RO: You guys seem to have so much room at the new place. Anything come up along the way logistically that surprised you with more space?
JM: It actually helps us with sound bleed and production space. It is more of hike from the black stage to the orange stage or the front door, but otherwise we needed more space and people seem to dig it.
RO: What has been your favorite year/lineup since FFFF started? Or are they all your children and great in their own ways?
JM: I have never had a bummer year. I have always had so many acts to look forward to and been very proud at the end of each fest.
I don't really think of it in years, but more memorable bands like the Descendents, Les Savy Fav, Public Enemy, Slayer, Reggie Watts, Dead Milkmen, the National, Weird Al, Bad Religion, Yelle, Henry Rollins, Jesus Lizard, Spoon, Mastodon...
Who excites you most this year?
JM: You always hate to say a headliner, but I do feel like the Run-D.M.C. reunion is a big deal and it will be amazing to see them on our stage doing all those songs. I mean, they are as close as we have to rightful heirs to the throne -- true and undisputed hip hop royalty in our midst.
Outside of that -- Araabmuzik, David Cross, Superchunk, Japandroids, The Promise Ring, Tomahawk, Converge, Hannibal, Nicky Da B, Diamond Rugs, and Tia Carrera are all personal favorites. I think that Japandroids, Danny Brown, and Converge are waaaaaaay better than people think. I saw Refused in L.A., and I think they are going to really blow people away in Austin.
RO: Will Danzig ever play anywhere in Austin again?
JM: I'm sure Danzig will return to Austin one day. It just probably won't be at one of our shows.
See more at www.funfunfunfest.com.
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