Deccan Rock- IV is scheduled to take place on September 24th, 2016 with the legendary Polish Extreme Metallers BEHEMOTH headlining this edition. The tickets are set to go on floors soon and here’s an interview with the organiser who has been the main pillar behind brand Orka Networks, Renu McGarry, who has been responsible for bringing down bands such as Amon Amarth, Textures etc., to India over the years. This edition promises to be the biggest one, focusing on Global Warming and other environmental issues. Speaking about how things worked all this while and what makes the Indian crowd different from the West, the Touring agencies and of course the risks involved in putting up huge festivals such as this. Excerpts-
MJM. What was the idea behind Deccan Rock? What provoked you to work on a big scale event such as this?
Renu- Orka Networks started out in 2007 where we worked with local artists doing smaller pub shows but in 2009, I watched Opeth at Saarang which actually got me and my partner back then to start working on our own festival. We contacted so many bands including Testament, Arch Enemy, Nile, Morbid Angel, Meshuggah, Children of Bodom to name a few! Eventually managed to book Amon Amarth and Textures. To be very honest considering we had absolutely no experience in handling such a vast scale event we were hands down so bad at managing things. Thanks to some of them at the festival who stepped up to help us out! A big shout out to Naveen Deshpande and Anupam Roy for being absolute legends!
The idea behind Deccan Rock was always to bring down bands that probably would never have had a chance to tour India (obviously things have changed now drastically). Another important thing for me is promoting awareness on climate change and making this India’s first eco-friendly metal festival. This would be our 4th attempt and I have a positive feeling we might be able to meet this target.
MJM. You have been organising festivals for many years now, what is your most treasured memory?
Renu- I’ve been asked this so many times, I think with each festival and artist we worked with we have had memories good and bad. Two of my most treasured memories happen to be with – Textures who have been so supportive during my first ever international gig. The advices they’ve given me still help me to this day. Second being with Gojira – I remember listening to them for the first time at a friend’s house party after Deccan Rock II and telling them that it would be me bringing them to India. Probably drunk talk but I still did it, that festival was all over the place and my team had to handle everything little thing including production that wasn’t our responsibility. I’m glad it turned out that way though because we’ve had so much to learn.
Team Deccan Rock with Gojira
MJM. By having the legendary band BEHEMOTH as the headliner for this year, how difficult was it to book them?
Renu- Considering we have a very good relationship with the agencies around the world it wasn’t very difficult to book Behemoth. Having said that I’ve been talking to Nergal (Adam Darski) for over two year now to work something out and I’m glad everything fell into place.
MJM. You have worked with many big names in the past, dealt with many international acts. How was the experience? How excited are you to work with BEHEMOTH this year?
Renu- As mentioned earlier, every festival we have worked with has had its own share of good and bad experiences and I wouldn’t want it any other way. As with any business its ever changing there is always these new challenges to face. Not everything is book learnt especially in the live music industry. One needs to take positive lessons from your hardships/failures – like my Dad would word it.
I am super excited to work with Behemoth they are so ridiculous live! I watched them in London along with Cradle of Filth. India is up for a very big treat! Consider this as an early Christmas present from Orka (No Pun Intended).
MJM. What motivates you to pull off massive festivals such as this?
Renu- I’ve been doing this long enough that this is has taken up a big part of my life – I just wouldn’t know what else to do if I had to stop doing this. Or I could just say ‘beer and bitches’.
MJM. What are some of the most challenging things that go down the line?
Renu- Every tiny aspect that goes down in organising a festival can be challenging. Even a smallest thing like not having enough water could create so much trouble for you in the end. Mostly I’d say not having an efficient team and enough money to back you up are the biggest challenges.
MJM. I guess this is the most commonly asked question. How do you choose your artists?
Renu- It’s mostly bands that I want to work with but also we follow up with the crowd here as well as the popularity of the band in the country. When we are working with our clients it’s usually what their choice of artist is.
Festival Promoter- Renu McGarry (Orka Networks- Deccan Rock)
MJM. What makes the Indian crowd different from the others? Besides, Orka Networks extends to the UK as well.
Renu- I’ve heard so many bands say that Indian crowd is so much more passionate and I couldn’t agree more.
MJM. Orka has also been responsible for organising many successful tours for several international bands in India, one of the fewest ventures to do so. In your opinion, why is it hard to build a strong infrastructure for touring agencies in India as compared to the west?
Renu- To begin with our country is a lot bigger than the West. We do not have the kind of transport to travel to the next city in a few hours unless the promoters can afford flights. There’s no way promoters can recover the flight cost.
I’ve had this discussion with a few musicians around and they always said it’s difficult to carry back line between the cities. I agree but I think small changes could bring a touring culture in the country. For example, in the UK all backline (amps/drumkit etc) are provided by the bands performing at the gig. Surely the local bands supporting the headliner can provide this sort of equipment to help promoters and other musicians.
Here in India, the promoters are expected to provide the entire tech rider, flights, swish accommodation and a fee – in return just earn 10,000-20,000 on the door sales, keeping in mind that metal gigs have no sponsorship.
In the UK the promoter just pays the band – the band has to take care of their travel, accommodation, backline, van, food etc. The bands in the UK are open to idea of couch surfing so they save a bit on their accommodation. A lot of fans help out in putting the band up after their shows in their respective cities.
Perhaps there’s room for fans, promoters and bands to work together to make the touring culture more realistic.
MJM. Tell us about your team Orka.
Renu- One of the most best efficient teams I’ve had for a while. Mayur Agarwal heads the Hyderabad office and handles most of our college/university clients and also tour manages the International bands.
Sukumar (famously known as Pandu) has been with Orka since I started out in 2007 – He handles ground production. Harin Abhinav handles sponsorships and also fills in for tour management while Mayur’s away.
Baiju Philip who joined us in 2010 and has been handling local gigs/tour management and was also a major part of Deccan Rock.
Our latest addition to the team is Prarthana Venunathan who handles media and PR in the company.
We also have Pratika Prabhune who’s now freelancing for Deccan Rock IV and handling social media marketing.
Lastly, Paul Mcgarry – my husband who deals with my anxiety and craziness during events.
MJM. Thanks for speaking to us!
Renu- I look forward to seeing you guys at Deccan Rock IV!
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Deccan Rock is the first Annual International Metal Festival in support of Global Warming.
Full lineup for Deccan Rock 2016 – The Fourth Edition, September 24th, 2016: