For years, Houston industrial and electronic music fans have benefited from the efforts of promoters Past Present Productions and The New Beat. This Saturday at Numbers, they'll kick off the first of a two-night "Industrafest" spread over September and October, featuring performances by members of Revolting Cocks and PIG, a new group featuring several ex-members of KMFDM, just to name a few. To get an idea of how the event came together and what fans can expect to see, the Houston Press spoke to promoters John Housman and Robert Ehlinger.
Houston Press: How did Industrafest come to be? You guys bring in a lot of electronic bands, but this is the first festival type event you've ever done, correct?
John Housman: This is the first festival that we have done, and we want to make it bigger and better for Houston since there are not many of these [events] going on for this type of music. It is our love for the music that made us want to do this and if we were not, then we would be the type that would fly all over to go and see, so it makes it a lot cheaper to run one then visit one.
Robert Ehlinger: When we started out, we were booking a lot more synth-pop-type bands, and we wanted to expand.
Housman: We work with the Coldwaves festival in Chicago, who has all the contacts for the old Wax Trax label bands. We expect to use them for more concerts next year using these artists. A lot of them played with multiple bands, so when you develop a relationship with an artist like Richard23 of Front 242, you can also use them again with Revco since you have that relationship.
Do both of you feel like Houston has a large fanbase for this type of music, and is especially receptive to events like these?
Ehlinger: Past Present Productions and The New Beat had an extremely successful concert last year with Front 242 and so we decided to see what more we could do to bring back classic industrial bands to Numbers. In all honesty it has always been our goal to bring those bands back to Numbers. They've always been in the classic set list on Friday nights at the venue for the past 20 years.
Housman: The crowds are a little older and a lot less rowdy, but they still love the Chicago Wax Trax bands. We want to expand this into a full blown festival, but the first one is just mainly a large concert which we have plenty of experience running.
Ehlinger: Hosting a festival is not an easy task with so many parties involved. There are the logistics — the sound, lights and the list goes on. The challenges are worth it to us, though.
So it's fair to say that this may be the beginning of a yearly Houston-based industrial festival event?
Housman: Yes, that's the plan. Whether it stays as a two weekend festival or maybe a one weekend event is still up in the air though.
Ehlinger: Houston has always been home to lots of fans of Industrial Wax Trax-type music. We are hoping to make this an annual event and are already looking into our lineup for 2017.
While they're performing under different names, and the rosters aren't "complete. The Cocks and PIG are basically the classic versions of Revolting Cocks and KMFDM, are they not? Should fans expect to hear songs they love by those bands?
Houseman: This is the lineup that created that band and the sound of Revolting Cocks. Most of KMFDM will be there, and will play a lot of their old stuff as well. Fans should get a good feel for the '80s sounds of Revolting Cocks and KMFDM.
Ehlinger: Of course! We at PPP and The New Beat always do our best to bring Houston the most authentic lineups and bands that are available to us. And yes, there will be a lot of songs the fans can expect to hear, including KMFDM and classic Revolting Cocks songs.
In regards to The Cocks, this Houston show is one of only six they're performing anywhere, correct? That makes the industrial fest extra special, does it not?
Housman: Correct, and this is really one of two or three that the Cocks are performing with PIG, so it makes it extra special.
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Ehlinger: Absolutely! We're fortunate to be able to bring this original lineup of the Revolting Cocks to Houston. This performance is one of only six limited dates around the country.
Houston Press: There's a second night for the festival in October. What can fans expect from that?
Housman: "Part 2 of this Industrafest on October 1 is Meat Beat Manifesto with Clock DVA. It also includes a DJ set by Patrick Codenys of Front 242. Houston's own Underground Netwerk Intelligence will open at 9, so don't be late."
Tickets to both nights of Industrafest are available through numbersnightclub.com, or will be available for $30 at the door Saturday. The club will also observe "Industrial Strength Classic Numbers" at its Friday-night dance party.