Rock n’ Roll could stand on it’s own. We know that. However, it is almost always supported with louder than life production and other aspects that add to the overall vibe and feel of the rock n’ roll lifestyle. It’s a show. It’s an all around experience. So, how do you make your show stand out? On October 1st and 2nd, Louder Than Life, a Danny Wimmer Presents Production, takes place in Louisville, Kentucky and takes everything we know about the Rock N Roll culture and makes it both tangible and unique. Clay Busch, VP of Marketing and Sponsorship at Danny Wimmer Presents sat down with me to talk about Louder Than Life, how it came to be, his favorite food on the lineup and why it’s not your normal rock festival.
How did the idea of Louder than life come to be? Why Louisville?
Louder Than Life was kind of an accident, but a great one. We travel all over the country and one of the things that brought Danny Wimmer Presents (DWP) and Danny Wimmer to Louisville, KY was that we as a company were looking to start our own whiskey brand. Danny spent a lot of time in the city meeting with distilleries, going to a lot of bourbon and whiskey tastings. The more time we spent there and got to know the people, the culture and the food, we kind of all slowed down and circled up and asked ourselves ‘why aren’t we doing a festival here?’. It’s such a special area. You can only have this type of event in bourbon country. We just felt that it was the perfect market to have a one of a kind unique festival. You can’t do Louder than Life anywhere else.
What do you think makes Louder Than Life unique compared to other Danny Wimmer Presents events?
It’s the experience. Every event has its own unique experience and I think Louder Than Life (LTL) opened up our palette, no pun intended. That’s what DWP is. We’re all about providing a rock & roll experience, all filler no killer where you can’t get anywhere else. With us you know what you’re getting when it comes to the music but it’s really what else you get at our shows that is the unexpected. In the past, we’ve had wrestling, celebrity chef demos, art installations, and in this case the world’s biggest bourbon festival built within a music experience with an incredible gourmet man-food village. So, you get a bourbon festival, a food festival and a music festival.
Louder Than Life’s growth has really escalated for only being in it’s 3rd year. Last year, it sold out. How will this year continue it’s legacy?
It’s all about us pushing the limits. Last year, we had an incredible bill with ZZ Top, Shinedown and Lynard Skynyrd. A lot of classic rock elements tied in with current rock & roll and what’s going on in our culture. I think this year is a little more heavier. You’ve got Cheap Trick and you’re getting a bit of the classic that way but you’re getting the two types of hard rock that are really current. Metallica is the biggest band in the world when it comes to hard rock and metal but Avenged Sevenfold and Slipknot are respectively the two titans of hard rock right now in America and it’s the first time they’ve ever headlined a festival together. There’s a lot of great up and coming bands on the bill too. We’re pushing the fan experience a little more this year. We’re stepping our game up in bourbon world and VIP. And we’ve got the big ferris wheel coming back too so hopefully people will take a ride and get a nice view of the grounds.
Who is your dream headliner?
Hahaha, My dream is Led Zeppelin but that will never happen.
Is there a certain strategy behind who you book for Louder than life? - looking at what the fans want on social.
It’s so funny because I’m a little bit removed from it. It’s really us watching social media and seeing what our fans are saying and who they want. But it’s really about availability. We had Red Hot Chili Peppers play our show last year at Rock on the Range and our show in California we have Tool headlining. There’s a couple bands right there that have never played LTL that we’ve booked in the past. We just put on our thinking caps and shoot big and hope we have some surprises for you.
So would you say your booking strategy is based off of social media and what your fans are requesting?
It’s a mix. We look at what people are listening to on Spotify, we look at what people are buying in record stores. With digital media coming in and streaming, people still go to the stores and buy so we talk to everybody. We talk to the fans. We talk to the bands and the bands they’ve toured with to find out what would be the best bill. But, it starts with Danny Wimmer and Gary on our side where they start targeting those headliners. Once they get those headliners locked in then the show is kind of programmed and built after that. Then we get to work.
We know you’re stoked about having Slipknot and Avenged Sevenfold on the lineup, but who is another artist you’re really looking forward to having on stage at LTL?
For me, I’m really excited to see a couple bands playing. One specifically being Chevy Metal. If you’re not familiar with Chevy Metal, that’s Taylor from the Foo Fighter’s all star jam band. We’re not sure what he has planned for this weekend but i’m sure it’s going to be incredible. It’s always fun to have a Foo Fighter on site. He’s one of the most incredible people and a fun guy to be around. One of my favorite bands, that is kind of up and coming is this band called 68. They’re a two piece and put on an incredible show. So, if you’re a fan of Royal Blood and those type of artists, this is more of a harder version. I like to call them Royal Blood on steroids. There’s so much cool stuff that people are going to discover. Even like, Them Evils which no one really knows about. They’re an incredible band that hopefully people will get there early to check out. These bands have the potential to play a mid level stage and to play other DWP events not just Louder than Life in the future.
Tell us about one of your favorite louder than life moments?
Year one, the most rockstar move ever! It’s actually a combination of two moments. So before we launched LTL, and we’re setting up the stage we invited the Mayor of Louisville to see the grounds. We also had a gentleman named Dr.Bill who worked for Fender guitars at the time, now he is retired, on the grounds. He presented a guitar to the mayor and the mayor presented a bottle of bourbon to the guitar company and we married bourbon and guitars on stage by smashing the guitar and the bottle on stage. That was one of my favorite moments ever not just for this show but just in general. It was such a cool moment. Fast forward a couple days later and the mayor comes out to talk to the fans and welcome people to Louisville. He’s on stage to open up a band and announce A Day To Remember and he puts the mic out towards the crowd and just drops the mic. The mic drop and smashing guitar are probably my two favorite moments.
What food are you looking forward to trying in the Gourmet Man Food Village?
Oh, man. My favorite restaurant in that area is Doc Crow’s, so i will definitely be eating everything they have there. Momma’s BBQ is one of my favorites as well, it’s a can’t miss. And then Aporkalypse Now which is one of our Gourmet Man Foods that kind of travels with us. Those are what i’m most excited for. My stomach and heart probably won’t be happy about it but my taste buds are just salivating thinking about it now.
What’s a Logistical challenge you’ve faced and how did your team overcome it?
Not a challenge but a preparation. There are so many challenges every day. I mean, it’s a big endeavor for everyone on the staff from site and production to weather, traffic and making sure everyone is safe. It’s not really the challenge but it’s the preparation that we’re doing everything we can to provide a safe environment for the fans, bands, the people working, anyone that sets foot on the grounds from me to the people cleaning up trash. The fan needs to be safe and walking off the grounds super happy and wants to return and experience it again.
As DWP’s first employee, how does it feel to have gone through the growth of the company to a state where you now have 12 established festivals? -
It’s exciting. I love waking up every day. I’m very fortunate to work with people who I consider friends. I’m very proud of everyone and really happy that Danny and I came together 5 years ago and made me an offer that I had to come over to. I’m just proud that the company has been able to grow the way it has and we’ve been able to maintain our brand integrity and do what we think is right and what we think is right for rock and roll culture. I’m more proud that we’ve stood our ground and have done things they way we wanted to do it for the benefit of the community. A lot of people chase rock and roll and look at it in a certain way. We position and brand rock and roll the way we want to brand it which is sexy, dangerous, all killer no filler. It’s an experience not just a genre of music.
Do you drink coffee? If so, how do you take it?
I drink espresso and i like it as a shot. Usually it’s a double.