ShrEd­mon­ton fes­ti­val fo­cuses on re­gional talent

ShrEd­mon­ton presents an in­ti­mate three days of re­gional metal bands

Edmonton Journal - - FRONT PAGE - FISH GRIWKOWSKY fgri­wkowsky@post­ twit­­foto

Let’s be very clear: de­spite the jagged name, ShrEd­mon­ton is here to help you, not hurt you.

Fes­ti­val or­ga­nizer Tyson Travnik notes re­peat­edly the three-day metal show­case and con­fer­ence is all about giv­ing a boost to re­gional bands hop­ing to hit the next level, at the same time en­er­giz­ing au­di­ences and keep­ing the stead­fast metal fam­ily strong, rel­e­vant and clasp­ing fists like Klin­gons full of Red Bull.

“We’re try­ing to cross that bridge be­tween peo­ple hav­ing to pay a lot of money to go to shows like Iron Maiden and show­case bands hap­pen­ing right here in our back­yard,” says Travnik, 30. Sim­ple enough.

At $50 for a weekend pass to see 16 bands and the in­dus­try show­case, the Fri­day-thoughSun­day event at the per­fect lit­tle box of the Mer­cury Room (10575 114 St.) is a ridicu­lously good deal.

The blood-and-steel buf­fet in­cludes Van­cou­ver’s fe­male-led Un­leash the Archers, Winnipeg’s Psy­chotic Gar­den­ing, Ed­mon­ton hor­ror-metal Blëed — and don’t for­get Eye of Horus, Leave the Liv­ing, Voltang and 10 other wide-rang­ing wor­ship­pers of fu­ri­ous sound.

There’s a free sam­pler al­bum, in fact, at the fes­ti­val’s site. In the words of the an­cient ones: “Play it loud, mutha!”

This is tech­ni­cally ShrEd­mon­ton’s sec­ond year — but it’s spir­i­tu­ally the fifth, hav­ing evolved seam­lessly from three years of the Far­maged­don Open Air Metal Fest.

Travnik and his crew are clever sur­vivors, shape-shift­ing through var­i­ous chal­lenges, learn­ing as they go along.

The or­ga­nizer, drum­mer for Mi­nax then Iron Storm, is also run­ning the sound­board dur­ing the event. Wait, a drum­mer who’s a sound­man — did he use proper ear pro­tec­tion?

“Ab­so­lutely,” he laughs as we get into it.

Q Tell us what ShrEd­mon­ton is all about.

A We started off do­ing Far­maged­don Open Air Metal Fest to help pro­mote some of the lo­cal metal bands in west­ern Canada — some of them are start­ing to come to light on a global scale. Also, one of the big­gest things against us is metal fans are seen as trou­ble­mak­ers, even though we have no prob­lem when you com­pare us to coun­try mu­sic fes­ti­vals and things like that. We’re try­ing to change that idea.

Q Whoa, that’s funny — back in the day, there was this kind of Tip­per Gore back­lash against metal. There’s still a stigma? That seems to be such a mid’80s thing.

A No, there ab­so­lutely is. But we’ve had no is­sues at all — it took us about half an hour to clean up the en­tire (Far­maged­don) fes­ti­val grounds with vol­un­teers. Peo­ple come for the mu­sic.

Q Why did you take Far­maged­don in­side last year?

A The over­head is much less. We were go­ing to do it as a bi­en­nial thing with the Open Air Fest, but the econ­omy hasn’t quite turned around yet, and we want to stay ac­tive.

Q How did you pick the bands?

A We tried to fo­cus on the bands that work the hard­est — bands that are stay­ing rel­e­vant in the scene, with proven track records. A lot of the metal scene is still pretty un­der­ground. If we bring in Can­ni­bal Corpse, yes, we’ll bridge that gap and get peo­ple in just to see them. How­ever, we scaled our bud­get down this year and are re­ally try­ing to fo­cus on pro­vid­ing a re­ally in­ti­mate and high cal­i­bre set­ting.

Q I’m in­ter­ested in the in­dus­try con­fer­ence, the pan­els, can you talk about those, who’s on them?

A Ev­ery­thing from Tim Water­son, he’s from Ed­mon­ton, at one point the world’s fastest dou­ble bass player, to gui­tar and bass clin­ics, a vo­cal clinic from Un­leash the Archers, a record­ing clinic by my­self and a few of the other tech around the area — ev­ery­thing from pro­mo­tion and how to get into fes­ti­vals, what they’re look­ing for. We learned last year what peo­ple were in­ter­ested in and geared it specif­i­cally for the bands that want to take it one step fur­ther.

Q Let’s talk about the head­lin­ers. What do you like about Un­leash the Archers?

A I’m a power metal guy, so they’re my per­sonal favourites. I was a sound tech on one of their first shows here and they blew me away. They’ve re­ally blown up lately, put a ton of work into all their own ma­te­rial. Any suc­cess they get they de­serve; that’s re­ally the point of this fes­ti­val, to high­light bands who are cross­ing that gap from a hob­by­ist band to a full-time pro­fes­sional band.

Q Psy­chotic Gar­den­ing?

A They’re from Winnipeg and head­lined the first Far­maged­don, so I de­cided to make it a com­plete cir­cle and bring them back. To this day, that is one of the coolest mu­si­cal ex­pe­ri­ences I ever had — it was late at night, cool enough at night but hot enough dur­ing the day, that all this steam rose out of the grass, four fog ma­chines on full tilt. They’re kind of doomy death metal, the tem­pos aren’t

su­per fast, but the play­ing is fast. They’re rad.

Q OK, and the lo­cal boys, Blëed, all cov­ered in blood …

A They’ve been friends of mine for quite a while. In the last cou­ple of years, they’ve jumped that ex­tra rung to be one of the top bands in the city. It’s the en­tire show. It’s cool to have a band like that, es­pe­cially on the all-ages day. I wanted to try to have a band with this hor­ror thing and still be able to show peo­ple who want to bring their kids, es­pe­cially if they’re new to the scene, and see that these guys are en­ter­tain­ers. They’re the nicest guys when you talk to them af­ter — but on stage they’re hi­lar­i­ous, just a to­tal freak show.

Van­cou­ver power metal band Un­leash the Archers is play­ing ShrEd­mon­ton on Satur­day at the Mer­cury Room.

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