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This local organiser is making waves in the metal scene in SA

2017-12-22 12:16

Cape Town – ICYMI: Jam Packed Productions were the guys behind the sold out Our Last Night tour in aid of Rocking for Rhinos earlier in 2017. 

And in October they announced that they will be bringing out five international bands over the course of 2018. These bands are, in no particular order: Hands Like Houses, Fit for a King, Secrets, Our Last Night and Dance Gavin Dance. Ranging from rock to metalcore, the bands they’re bringing will provide a wide range of music for SA fans.

We recently sat down with the co-founder of Jam Packed Productions, Craig Atkinson, to chat about Rocking for Rhinos, metal music and bringing over these bands to SA.

Check it out here:

How did you get involved with Rocking for Rhinos?

So basically Rocking for Rhinos was founded in 2012 by a guy named Gareth Putter. He is still the current CEO of Rocking for Rhinos, which is a Hoedspruit NPO organisation. In 2012, funny enough, the reason I got involved was obviously due to my passion for animals. I saw the festival that Gareth and his team at the time were hosting in Hoedspruit, so I basically reached out to him and said, look I’m in a band, we can jam at the festival, we don’t mind, we’ll cover our own costs. And then I kind of spread the word between the local bands. And then probably six or seven Joburg bands went to support the cause. 

In 2016 the Rocking for Rhinos festival also added a three-city tour to raise more funds, how did that come about, what’s the story behind it?

So, the location in Hoedspruit is exquisite, if we could get the numbers there it would be majestic. There’s absolutely no better location, but people don’t want to travel that far. The first festival’s turn out wasn’t too bad, but obviously it being an outdoor festival, having a big outdoor stage, having massive bands play there; you kind of break even, make a little bit of profit. 

And so it built up. 2016 came and I said to Gareth, look we don’t have time, rhinos are dying, this festival of yours is a brilliant long-term plan, but for crisis management we really need to make sure that we can actually solve this problem as soon as possible. This led to us moving, we’re still doing the Hoedspruit one, still building the brand there, but we thought, let’s do a Joburg show, Joburg, Pretoria and Cape town. 

Our first one we did was in 2016. We did everything right, booked Arcade Empire at the time. And I don’t know which international artist came but, it was like just 2km down the road and we just lost so many people… That year we also broke even, so it was tough. 

After the 2016 turnout I was just completely bummed, I took like a month off just to mourn I guess. And then I woke up one morning and I was just like, 'you know what, screw this I’m gonna fill up these venues I’m not gonna stuff around anymore'. So after chatting to Our Last Night in 2013 already via Facebook, we finally booked them. So, I got a team together and told them which band I’m bringing over and that’s when everyone was like, okay this is real now. It’s been the most incredible team I’ve ever worked with, everyone just brought their A-game, two weeks before the show in February this year, everything was sold out. We raised R440 000 profit. 

After this year's success, what’s the plan for next year?

So, on the tour this year Our Last Night invited me to join them on their Warped tour, because they said look, we love what you’re doing, how can we help you. I went with, and being who they are, they could introduce me to a lot of other bands. I kind of just networked and spoke to people and started making agreements right there and then. Which led to lining ourselves up for 2018 and early 2019. So what we decided to do is, because we’re doing five events, we’re going to do one 100% Rocking for Rhinos event, which is going to be in September. And then we got a whole bunch of other ones that we are doing in between, where we’re taking profits from that and adding it to the Rocking for Rhinos budget. So our entire goal for 2018 would be minimum to raise a R1m. That’s my target.

The bands that you are bringing next year, how did you decide on them, how did it happen?

All the bands I actually met personally and I made personal relationships with them as well. But what was cool about the tour was, I wanted to give South Africans a taste of the best of the best. I’m not trying to sound funny, but the bands that we’re actually bringing over are handpicked. I was watching them and this is exactly what South Africans would enjoy. The people in the scene know exactly who the bands are, so it made sense to them. We’re trying to attract a very similar market to the Our Last Night market, which worked for us.

What do you want to achieve by bringing these bands over to SA?

I want to change people’s perspective of metal music, or rather heavier music. Our whole goal behind everything, even Go The Rodeo, because we’re not a heavy band, is mixing with the heavy bands. It’s not going to be, ‘I’m going to a hardcore show’, it's just, 'we’re going to watch a show'. We’re going to watch bands regardless if it’s chilled or if it’s heavy, so you’re going to appreciate the moment. So even the mixture of bands we’re bringing over next year, it’s not really hardcore, not metal, like Fit for a King is completely different to Hands Like Houses. In normal society you would never put those bands together, but I’m bending the rules and I’m gonna have these bands in different genres just coming out and performing on the same platform. 

When is the first show next year?

So the first band that’s coming launched their world tour, they’re called Secrets, and they will be performing in April like the 16th and 17th and then they’re coming to Cape town. 

Where can fans find out more?

If you want to get 48 hours notice, you can buy tickets even before it goes out into the world, go to our website and join our mailing list here.

ALSO READ: We chat to US band Our Last Night while on tour in SA

For more info like Jam Packed Productions on Facebook or follow them on Instagram.

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