Dave Cox, founder of the Dirty Weekend festival tells us why you should come to this years Dirty Weekend. The Dirty Weekend is a 100% DIY punk festival that was established in 2004 in the Dudley Arms, Rhyl. The festival is a two day affair featuring 60 bands over 3 stages. It’s £28 a ticket including camping, for a line-up featuring Oi Polloi!, Extreme Noise Terror and Citizen Fish. You would be a fool to miss it. The Dirty Weekend is a non-profit organization and all the money raised from the gig will be donated to various charities. A list of said charities can be found on the Dirty Weekends official website. Joe Hovis meets up with a very jet lagged Dave as he enjoyed packets of HP sauce (on their own!!! With a pint of bitter to wash them down) at Colwyn Bay Wetherspoons.
JOE: Hi Dave, how did the Dirty Weekend festival begin? Had you planned it to be an annual event or was it just going to be a one off?
DAVE: My old band THE COX with Leigh and Ste in 2002 is where it all began. We started putting on gigs so that we could blag our favourite bands to come and play in our town and give ourselves a chance to share a stage with them. There was nowhere for us to play and that developed as we got a place in the Dudley Arms in Rhyl to put on monthly gigs. When Dave Hollerhead heard about the gigs we were doing in Rhyl he gave us a list of good punk bands from around the north west that play for petrol costs, which was a great help. As the gigs grew with popularity our confidence grew and we became more and more ambitious. We just started inviting an increasing number of bands, pushing it and making all dayers. Within two years we aimed to put on a big festival in the summer and because of the success we decided to try and do it each year. Year after year it’s popularity and attraction for bigger bands to play has grown. More people have been getting involved. It has just grown from strength to strength.
JOE: How did the other people get involved with the Dirty Weekend? Talk us through the organizing stages of the early days in more detail.
DAVE: All 3 of us in The Cox would help out to some degree. Leigh helped out loads. He knew how to do the sound and stuff like that. When The Cox split, partly due to Leigh’s anxiety problems, we lost touch a little bit so I got used to having to sort things out on my own (sometimes people from the audience or one of the bands would help out with the sound, I never had any training in sound engineering so it was just trial an error when I was doing it!). People would get drunk (I am not complaining or anything) and forget that some shit needed sorting out, so I just got used to making sure everything was done. In 2008 I asked Dave Hollerhead (of D and B promotions – he was one of the ones that inspired us, one of the older lot that put on gigs in the West Shore and The Old Hall Club in Llandudno an gave us gigs before he’d even heard a demo) if he wanted to partner up and make a joint effort. He agreed. Due to the success of Dave’s first festival with us the expansion has grown from there. After 2008 we were struggling to find a venue for 3 years and then last year we found the Penny Black in Wrexham. I asked Elliot Capper (a promoter from Wrexham who has put on gigs for about 10 years) if he would also like to help run the Dirty Weekend. He was well happy to jump on board. I also asked Matt and Bo from Pumpkin Records (Dead Subverts, Black Star Dub Collective, 2 Sick Monkeys etc.) from Manchester and they were happy to jump in, so last year was a beast and organized really well. The expertise of all of the above combined just smashed it. This year it has been the same again, but I’ve been away in Thailand so I’ve left it with them and our Matt (Matt Misfit, also of Global Parasite) stepped in to replace me while I was away. I got back about a week ago so I’m getting back on it again.
DAVE: The first one was in 2004, then 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008. Then 2012. We had 4 years off where we couldn’t find a venue. 2009, 2010, 2011….so 3 years.
JOE: Shamefully I’ve only been to two dirty weekend festivals, one in 2005 and last year’s. I noticed there was a big difference in the style of bands. 2005 was very straight ahead punk and ska, whereas last year’s festival was more hardcore, Crust, Napalm Death style of punk. Would you say that was a conscious decision to take the dirty weekend in that direction or do you think its just a sign of the scene in general?
DAVE: That was a direct consequence of asking other people to get involved. I’ve always put on bands that I love and I’ve never tried to put on anything that I’m not fucking insane about. I put on gigs for myself. If there’s a band I don’t really like then I probably wont put them on, unless it’s like (laughs….) shit man! digging a hole here now! moving on. That was down to asking other people to get involved and you’ve got what they are passionate about as well. Its a mixture of different influences.
JOE: It wasn’t all crust last year you had Neville Staple, Roughneck Riot and Inner Terrestrials (despite the fact they pulled out. That is not a dig, just a band I absolutely love and I was gutted when they didn’t show up) amongst others.
DAVE: Yeah it’s good to be diverse and keep things fresh. It wasn’t all crust last year obviously, but with Elliot, Matt and Bo chipping in they’ve got as much of a say in what bands play as i have. Maybe people have more diverse tastes in punk than me (laughs)
JOE: Do you have any local band policy or is it purely based on the best bands get to play the festival?
DAVE: There is no set policy. Its unspoken, we try and help out local bands as much as we can purely because it wasn’t very long ago being in the same situation and the older bands helped us and we’d be pretty shit if we didn’t do the same. It’s not so we don’t look shit we do it because it is just the right thing to do and its good to support up and coming bands. It helps the next generation and makes a bit of a future.
JOE: What do you think of all these punk bands reforming? I’ve noticed at the Dirty Weekend you don’t really get the old reformed bands playing which is great, you get a lot of new bands generally. What’s your opinion on that?
DAVE: To me punk isn’t a nostalgia trip. Its a threat. Its something to say. Its a fist in the mouth and knocking your fucking teeth out. To me the old bands haven’t got it anymore they are all in their zimmer frames. Yawn.
JOE: I was going to ask you more on that but, you said yawn so I’ll move on.
DAVE: Go on
JOE: I was gonna say there are a few exceptions and age doesn’t always come into it.
DAVE: Yes of course there is…. there are definitely exceptions. I take that back.
JOE: You can tell who is doing it for the money and who is doing it for the passion is what I was trying to say. Moving on. At Rebellion last year Rancid and Social Distortion headlined which would’ve been unheard of in 2001/2002. It shows how their festival has grown. If you had the opportunity would you ever expand the dirty weekend to such an extent or would you want to keep it 100% DIY as much as possible.
DAVE: I think as much as I’d love to get some of my all time favourite bands on the bill, Sick Of It All, Leftover Crack, Subhumans (we’ve had them on before – they were brilliant as well. True to ethics of it all) most of the time what I’ve found when I book big bands is that I find myself being really disappointed by their attitude because they’re now out of touch with what it’s all about. Some have got a ridiculous contract with a massive rider and all this bullshit that just isn’t anything to do with what it’s all about. I don’t wanna name names.
JOE: Go on ……. you do!
DAVE: I Don’t really want to, but alright Neville Staple was demanding loads of crisps before he played last year. What the fuck is that about?!
JOE: What flavours?
DAVE: I don’t think he was picky it was just about humiliating us so that we had to go to the fucking shop for him. I had to watch the door so Elliot could go to the shop. I cant remember what flavours he got, but I do remember there weren’t any mutli-packs so he had to spend loads on individual packets.
DAVE: Yeah. Not that I wanna name names, but come on now……crisps. For fucks sake ( both laughing our heads off) Next question.
DAVE: I never look that far ahead. Normally I think “OK the next festival is in 9 months” if we are really feeling organized, which we have been these last couple of years, we’ll organize it in a year in advice when started to work on it what the fuck are you doing are you still laughing? about the crisps? We just go one year at a time. Could never look 5 years ahead fucking hell!
(Here we stopped the tape for 5 minutes because i got the giggles, the way Dave worded and told this story about crisps was absolutely incredible. Very much in the vein of Karl Pilkington.)
JOE: I think i’ve got all the laughing out my system now. Why should we go to the Dirty Weekend? Why not Rebellion? Why not Reading or Leeds? Why Not Glastonbury?
DAVE: No one is stopping you going to all those festivals. Glastonbury is on now what are you doing here… You don’t have to come to our festival, but we’re trying to make it as good as we can and as cheap as possible without ripping anyone off which most festivals that are quite successful in the UK don’t make a conscious effort to do. We try to get the best punk and ska bands, try and keep the line up fresh, try and keep the door prices as low as possible and include camping. We’re just trying to do it how we would like to go to a festival. Its £28 with free camping for 2 days, there is going to be 50 or 60 bands playing on 3 stages.
JOE: Who are the bands this year you are really chuffed about having on the bill? Who do you recommend we go and see?
DAVE: I am really looking forward to seeing Citizen Fish, Endless Grinning Skulls, Defcon Zero, Oi Polloi! Holiday from Manchester they’re a good band that formed this year. We were lucky enough to get Extreme Noise Terror, looking forward to seeing them on their only UK date this year. Lets think of more new bands… Dry Heaves I think they’re from Sheffield they’re hardcore punk. Biteback from Birkenhead featuring members of Instant Agony, but with more of a street punk/oi! sound and they do it well so. Like I say i’ve just got back from Thailand there are tons more, but my mind has gone blank!
JOE: Is this the first year you have had an acoustic stage?
DAVE: Yes it actually is the first year we’ve had an acoustic stage. I reccommend you go and watch Captain Hotknives and Louise Distras amongst others. It can be a good aural break from the plugged in bands now and again! Hopefully it’s something that can grow in the future.
JOE: Do you have any good anecdotes from Dirty Weekends gone by? Neil Crud was telling me that he was at the dirty weekend one year and everyone was sat outside a bit half arsed and you ran out pissing yourself with excitement grabbing people shouting “THE RESTARTS ARE ON STOP SITTING OUTSIDE GET IN AND WATCH THEM NOW!!!” at them!
DAVE: Yeah that was 2007 The Restarts were playing in the Dudley Arms in Rhyl. Due to the smoking ban everyone had to go outside to have a fag. So they were just about to go on (this was before we had 2 stages so we always had a 20 minute break between the bands) people would always have a cigarette then as the band was going on I’d have to run out and tell everyone in case they didn’t know the band was on and they missed the first few songs. That was routine for me to go running out before every band, but i was particularly excited about The Restarts, they’ve got some fuckin good songs and they came all the way from London so I didn’t want them to play to no-one! Even though it irritated the shit out of me I had to go and do it because otherwise no-one else would do it and people wouldn’t know there was a band on even though it was noisey! Twats.
DAVE: Subhumans is a good one, I fucking love the Subhumans. The Filaments. Not just the big bands, smaller bands that have done really well for themselves since. When we put The Filaments on they weren’t that massive and there wasn’t many in the crowd when they played in the Dudley maybe 60 people there. They played a really good gig and after the Dudley (well it wasnt AFTER the Dudley gig….coincidentally after) they started getting really big and got signed to Household Name Records.
JOE: There’s been a few bands like that hasn’t there? King Blues, Random Hand, Sonic Boom Six?
DAVE: The King Blues didn’t play because the driver injured his back. I remember specifically the reason why they pulled out, but madly enough that same weekend they did 3 or 4 gigs somewhere else.
JOE: They are from down south….
DAVE: Not that I’m bitter about these things! I just remember. I remember when people lie! (laughs) bastards….
JOE: This is getting silly
DAVE: who else? who else did you say?
JOE: Random Hand?
DAVE: I saw them the other day in Manchester they are still going they’re really good. I like Random Hand. Sonic Boom Six were complaining when they played in the Dudley that there was no backstage area. Now I’m complaining about them complaining so who is worse? I don’t know. I’m making a joke of it so maybe not me. So they complained the Dudley didn’t have a backstage area…now that is fucking ridiculous.
JOE: Its a shame some of these bands are forgetting their roots really. It’s turned into a mad one this interview it’s more of a conversation! Which bands would you like to have on in the future? I know you’re a big fan of Snuff would you ever consider asking them?
DAVE: Yeah! I’d loved to have Snuff on. They’re ace aren’t they? Good band. Sick Of it All would be nice too.
JOE: What about a band like……The Dead Kennedys?
DAVE: Well….. There is that whole thing with Gap Jeans and (sighs) not having a problem with child slavery and sweat shops. On top of that there is no Dead Kennedys without Jello. So until that issue is resolved, no thanks.
DAVE: No. We played with them in Gloucester and it was the particular comment “This one is about those Muslim twats” I thought no, don’t like this band!
JOE: Bloody hell! It’s all coming out. Have you got any more stories about any other bands you’d like to share because I think people would be fascinated by them?
DAVE: It’s a treasure chest of blurry drunken memories you’ll have to remind me another time!
JOE: I’ll have to do another interview with you and definitely jot down all the bands that Global Parasite have played with and I’m sure you could tell me a lot of great stories about these so called punk bands staying true to their roots because this is a bit of an eye opener for me. Is there everything else you’d like to say about the Dirty Weekend before we finish the interview?
DAVE: Yes you can either come or you can’t come, but we designed the festival as something we would want to go to: get the best bands that we like that have something to say and stick to it, have the right ethics, charge as little as possible and they do it for the passion of it. So go to all the other festivals have a fucking ace summer and everything, but respect the fact that we are doing the best we can, making it as cheap as possible and you will have a fucking good time. So it’s up to you basically. Bear in mind if you don’t support it we’ll get fucked eventually so it’s up to you.
JOE: Marvellous, Dave Cox thank you very much
For more info go to http://dirtyweekendfestival.org/