Backstage at Sonisphere 2011 with Tazzala! Print E-mail
Written by Tazz Stander   
Tuesday, 26 July 2011 05:00



Perhaps we should get the 'media-hasn't-been-looked-after-this-year' bitching out the way first? Seriously, a 40 minute walk between our campsite and the press area was more than a bit of an issue. It's not just because I'm a lazy bastard, it was utterly impractical by any stretch of the imagination. Coupled with the walk, no hot water in the showers and no lights in the toilets, it made anything other than looking like something that the dog dug up virtually impossible and I'm sure the splatters on my suede boots weren't just down to the rain either. Unpleasant bits over  ... Sonisphere 2011 was a fucking great success ... well almost.


Kicking off Sonisphere, where history is made - The Big Four for the first time ever on UK stages and UberRockTV gets launched. I still don't know which one I'm more excited about?! 

Diamond Head open the stages and I'm standing in a crowd of about 30,000 revellers being utterly enthralled by 'Am I Evil' and I'm totally focussing on my Brian Tatler interview that is happening in an hour's time, pondering all my questions that I'm armed with and wondering how feasible it will be to change some of them at such short notice. I head back to the press room as he leaves the stage and I just get to hear Anthrax sans the little Scott Ian kicking in with 'Mosh Pit' and my heart is honestly beating faster than any riff he's ever written. The press area is already abuzz with journalists and cameramen literally creaming their pants as to how Diamond Head have owned the opening slot - lots of talks about whether we can expect DH back on stage in a Big 5 moment, made historical in Europe by the Big 4 last year. I get a text off the PR guy saying that the interviews are being pushed back as Mr Tatler needs to eat something. Fair enough, even rock stars need to eat, but it's also a forewarning, interviews are all about 'hurry up and wait' or "let's do a phoner on any other day than today." With that my mobile phone tazzuber1rings and a voice from the Deep South belonging to none other than Barley Scotch booms at me that Hayseed Dixie are looking for me outside the press area. It's not quite Brian Tatler but let's get our rednecks out in celebration, right?


What a bloody hoot they turned out to be! I've learnt about wangs being made bigger and a host of other stuff that only a real brother of Kleatus could teach you in 5 minutes. Don't try any of what they teach you in the video at home though, it's just life threatening! I'm totally ready for a hoedown once the interview was done but I've still got Killing Joke and the mirage of Tatler to get through before anything else can happen!


I miss Megadeth and Slayer unfortunately because of waiting, talking, waiting and waiting but I can hear them from the press area ... it's a bit like live radio really! Youth from Killing Joke comes over and we have a pretty damn cool interview where I learn that he's the founding father of Psy-Trance and that he's never had an interview like this before ... yeah, we're on a roll now folks!


I head to the Bohemia tent as Sky London, my cameraman, keeps on bothering me about Blood Red Shoes. Two people in a band, making more noise than you can shake a stick at, and one of them is a girl. Absolutely blew me away. Keep up to date with them, for sure; they are the new White Stripes without sounding White Stripes-esque!


Tatler is a no show unfortunately.


Metallica takes to the Apollo stage and it's a real Metallica show. Nothing more, nothing less. Good old Metallica. Well done boys, you still rock steady, hard and sound good! The Big 5 moment happens, YEAH! They did cut the song by about 3 minutes and there were loads of disappointed fans about but it rocked my (lack of) cock anyway.




I try to get back into the Bohemia tent to watch Hayseed Dixie but it's on lockdown, a recurring theme of the weekend and I end up having a boogie to them on the outside instead. Once again, it's live radio style!


An early night for us as we have the amazing Vintage Trouble's interview at 10am.


Nalle Colt, the legendary guitarist, literally stumbles off their double decker tour bus and into my arms. I've worked with these amazing guys in the past and they've become a bit like family now. We set off looking for coffee and breakfast - what else would you be doing up at 9.30am on a Saturday at Sonisphere? Slowly the guys appear one by one and Rick tells meslayersoni that Ty says I need to give him an extra 5 minutes. This time is spent with the boys regaling me of the party last night which doesn't start with cigarettes and booze apparently. I'm unprepared for this interview but knowing the boys like I do, they will carry me in their spirit, which they do with sheer finesse. It's a pretty full day today and I don't really have time to gather my thoughts before we're mid-interview and bands are lining up to have their fun with our cameras.


It's like the who's who of the rock and metal world backstage and everyone is still talking about Diamond Head joining the Big Four on stage. Richard Cheese was the best background music of the weekend - I stumbled across him a few months ago on Spotify and was instantly in love with his jazz geniusness. Once again I had to listen to live radio though as schedules were moved, rock stars were lost and bands were jostling for a spot in front of the camera ... we're just about keeping to schedule, but I sense that I need to get my rock on if I'm to have an even outlook on what's actually happening today.


LA rockers Vintage Trouble pulled a massive crowd and I certainly felt like a proud mamma dancing in the crowd watching more than 95% of the people singing along to their pelvis pushing rhythms. I suffered an arm ache until Tuesday night from all the fist pumping I did ... there is a 1st for everything, even at my age!


Caught about three of Weezer's songs - all the hits, in my opinion - and then legged it back to Bohemia so that I didn't get locked out again as the next band, even though it's not the 'real' band, are one of my favourite live bands ever. Ginger and Friends literally tore new flaps in the Bohemia tent. Rich Jones, who is family here at Uber Rock, is on guitar along with Chris Catalyst of Eureka Machines/The Sisters of Mercy and Random Jon Poole of Cardiacs fame on bass. Guest appearances were made from Leila K of Sonic Boom Six and Dave McPherson of INME on '29 x The Pain'. What an incredible way to start off the beers and mud bath I say. I slip out to watch The Mars Volta who was absolutely incredible - no afro though which was a bit disappointing but that is all that I can complain about in their set.




Mon the Biff - what an odd headliner, even though they are 'up there' in my favourite bands list. They actually owned Knebworth for the entirety of their set. Next year's headliners have a lot to live up to with Metallica, Biffy Clyro and Slipknot. I've been playing 'pick the headliner' with myself and I still can't work out three bands that I'm confident enough to say, "they will kick the ass out of 2011." I challenge you to try but I will also say, don't exclude Green Day in your 2012 line-up!


Pootopia, I defy you to find a better party. Hailed as the dub-step bog by festival organiser Stuart Galbraith - the camera crew had an amazing party with hilarious tales to tell. Alas, they are the animals in the family - I was still working. I watched Dave McPherson of INME's acoustic set which was neatly followed on, albeit stupidly late, by Ginger's acoustic set. Both of them had their good and bad qualities. I headed back to my tent at around 2.30 and listened togingersoni various tales from unknown voices in the dark as to their highlights and craziness of the day.


Sunday started with a long walk and even longer queue to get into Rock Royalties showers. Hot water and a hairdryer later and I'm ready, with a latte to take on Sunday's interviews. I'm terribly excited to catch up with Rich Ward, one of my favourite men in metal. The other person that I can't wait to see is Liam from Cancer Bats ... I'm lucky enough in my job to meet such amazing people and remain friends with them and it's been a while since I've seen either of these boys.


A lot more of the hurry up and wait happens and we manage to sit in on the press conference that Stuart Galbraith holds. Questions were asked, questions were answered. That's about all I can tell you except that ticket prices will go up again next year and the dates are the 6 - 8th July 2012. Early bird tickets go on sale on Wednesday at this year's prices and you get a t-shirt thrown in.


A 2 minute silence for Paul Gray of Slipknot has been advertised and we're all queued in to pay our respects except for one daft journalist speaking to Chris Jericho: on recorder mind, so she could have paused it at any time - Shame on you girl, whoever you are! A fitting moment, not long enough to think all the thoughts you would about such an iconic man. Wurzel and others that aren't with us anymore were in everyone's thoughts too, I think. Big cheers and it's back to the job at hand. Interviews are finally done and dusted for the day which only means one thing: How much rock can I fit into the rest of my day? We leg it back to the tents to drop off the cameras and on the long and winding road back, we hear ... "We're Motorhead and we play rock 'n roll" ... we make it in time to hear Lemmy pay respects to Wurzel (RIP) and they kick a blinding set off to this, the beginning of my party.




Cancer Bats is next and I've rooted myself in the middle of the tent - I'm not getting locked out for this set, for anything. They blew the tent off its stays and they had the biggest circle pit of the festival! So impressive considering the first time I ever saw them live they scared the shit outta me and the first time I was 'forced' to interview Liam, I was absolutely petrified. Watch the interview, he still, after all these years, takes the piss out of me! Sadly I'm locked out again when Cancer Bats cover Black Sabbath as BAT SABBATH and I didn't hang around in the rain to even try and catch a tune.


I watch Fozzy tear the Jagermeister stage apart and it dawns on me, in this huge crowd, that a lot of the bands were showcased on the wrong stages. The Defiled played this same stage and even though we were in an open field, not everyone actually got a lot of what they had to offer. If you weren't in the first 30 rows of people, you couldn't really hear anything - such a shame!

The biggest surprise of my life unfolded in front of me watching Bill Bailey. What a dark horse this bald man with long hair is. He covered Lady Gaga - changing the lyrics, using his own accent, making pop his bitch. 'Scarborough Fayre' starts off and then he decides he rather prefers the cover that Rammstein does and launches balls deep right into a German cover. His bratwurst is on fire to say the least! Another highlight was his cover of Gary Numan's 'Cars', sung in French with car horns. It was a test of staying power watching comedy in the rain but Bailey achieved this with his fun-pokery and I'm sure he is going to be featuring at a lot more festivals from now on. Skal and horns to you Bill. 




Back to the Jaeger stage to watch Black Spiders - how could I not after spending the whole weekend bumping into the boys amidst, "Fuck You, Black Spiders" from all of us? Once again, an injustice to the band: Sonisphere, have a word, get another tent for next year, that stage has had its day. It's hard not to sing along, even if we are more off tune and ahead of the pace due to not hearing them all too clearly:  ballsy anthems, a fitting way to end as a headliner on the Jager stage.


Slipknot, it's what we've all been waiting for. Top that for a last night headliner in a wet field - you can't really! The sheer amount of fans in Slipknot apparel almost rivals the excitement of the Big 4, old and young fans are testament that metal needs Slipknot more than ever. A full energy set list with songs from all four albums, the masked heroes ended on an incredibly emotional note, paying tribute to No. 2 with his jumpsuit, bass and mask, which were hanging in front of the drum riser, being brought to the front of the stage whilst 'Til We Die' plays over the PA. Posing for photos with the crowd as a back drop, Joey Jordison hugs the now empty suit and the lights go down leaving a giant No. 2 illuminated in red. My wet cheeks, along with 50,000 others, weren't just from the belting rain. Corey Taylor started the set saying that tonight was all about a celebration: yes it was, but only if you are made of bricks and mortar.


The guest tent seemed to be the hangout after the final notes were played. What a night, what a weekend, what a festival ... so good in fact, it's the first time I've ever left my tent standing in a field!




Photo kudos to; Trudi Knight Photography (Metallica, Ginger); PG Brunelli (Weezer, Slayer, Anthrax, Big 5); Producer/LiveLondon (Hayseed Dixie)