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Eagles of Death Metal’s Jesse Hughes

So, yet again we’ve survived another Download festival. As per usual, the mud was biblical. We made our way up North on the Thursday before, where we stayed in a beautiful, rustic (but modern, if you must know), countryside cottage, feeling so incredibly happy about the fact that we were not camping.

Friday morning the team, which consisted of myself, Ella Stormark, A&R rep Dan Darby, lead amp designer and technical director Ade Emsley, as well as Marketing Director Charlie Cooper (who miraculously stayed dry the entire weekend despite wearing trainers – unbelievable!) woke up well rested and ready for three days of ringing ears and beers. We caught up with Orange ambassador and Blackberry Smoke bassist Richard Turner who rolled up for a post-show chat, as well as Clutch’s Tim Sult. We also witnessed a crowd split open like the Red Sea when rock ‘n’ roll royalty Slash and band passed through, before they played an absolutely spectacular show. Makes ya wonder how brilliant Guns N’ Roses must have been in their heyday.

Of course, having Eagles of Death Metal on site also means hurricane Jesse aka Boots Electric, who was casually sporting a white cowboy hat, aviators, cape and a god damn boombox blasting 90s hip hop, so nothing out of the ordinary, really. We also got the chance to finally catch Kvelertak with their new singer Ivar Nikolaisen, and what a performance! Swapping frontmen is dangerous territory, but they did it damn well.

Saturday was a wild one as both Slipknot and Die Antwoord was booked to play the main stage, the latter even questioning why: “When we were asked to play this festival we thought – why?! We play crazy hip hop rave music and don’t fit the bill! Still, you metal heads still seem to fucking love it, so let’s do this!” – agreeably a pretty controversial band to put on at a heavy rock and metal festival, but the crowd freakin’ loved it – maybe we all need a bit of bump and grind between battles? Come nighttime it was time for Slipknot’s set which was of course, a muddy masterpiece.

Sunday, sunny Sunday! Please don’t let yourself be fooled, we still had torrential rain on the Sunday too, but lo and behold, what the hell followed? Sweet, sweet sunshine! We caught Fever 333, Power Trip and Badflower, as well as being joined by pre-show Amon Amarth in full Viking gear for some shots of Jäger. All in all we had a great time catching up with old friends, meeting new ones, clearing the artist area out of tea and biscuits and listening to great music. Back in London and getting ready for round two at Black Deer tomorrow. No rest for the wicked!

Photo via Download’s website

Once again, Download festival is upon us, this time in it’s sixteenth year. Since the formation of the festival in 2003 it has seen some of the biggest acts in heavy rock and metal take the stage with acts such as Black Sabbath, Metallica, Iron Maiden, Motörhead, Kiss, Judas Priest and ZZ Top (yikes!!) among others, and this year is, of course, no different, although covering a wider spectrum within rock than the above.

Friday night sees heavy metal champions Def Leppard take the main stage at prime time, and can we just take a moment to appreciate how absolutely sensational drummer Rick Allen is for re-learning himself how to drum after loosing his left arm in 1985? Old news, but still pretty spectacular – personally I couldn’t keep a drum beat if my life depended on it. Saturday night, Orange ambassador Jim Root and Slipknot will be returning to the main stage. Sunday, one of the most secretive and most private bands in rock, prog- and alt rock connoisseurs Tool are closing the festival, just two mere months before their long awaited and untitled fifth studio album, which will be the first in 13 years, is released 30th of August.

Jim Root, Slipknot

Of course, a festival is so much more than its headliners and across the stages you’ll also find bands and artists such as Slash, Rob Zombie, Whitesnake, Eagles of Death Metal, Me First and the Gimmie Gimmies, Kvelertak, Clutch, Skindred, Power Trip, Smashing Pumpkins, Slayer, Dream Theatre, Anthrax, Beartooth, Graveyard, Black Peaks, Blackberry Smoke and oh god we could keep going but we’re out of breath. The festival line-up is pretty insane and we’re already ever so slightly stressed out and concerned about how we’re gonna manage to watch every single band playing every single stage, while at the same time, well, do our job.

Truls Mörck, Graveyard

There’s no secret that a weekend at a festival such as Download can take it’s toll as it might mostly consist of drinking, head banging and eating fried everything to feel less like death during those excruciating hangovers, and also in our case working – “working”, so it is with great excitement to find both DO.OMYOGA and Mindfulness Sessions at this year’s festival. DO.OMYOGA might be pretty self explanatory, but for those who doesn’t get the play on words; It’s yoga, to doom music. Leave the sea-sounds at home, ya know? As for the Mindfulness Sessions, they will be arranged several times a day and offers meditation, breath work, and sound baths – some sweet little escapes from the heavy rock madness.

There’s also a few other non-musical activities at the festival such as WWE NXT UK Live which in other words means wrestling, which is the obvious entertainment option between for example a sound bath and Opeth playing. There’s also outdoor cinema showcasing arthouse, classic comedies and documentaries, as well as metal movies, meaning there will never be a dull moment or a time where you’re at a loss for what to do – Download’s got ya covered!