Posted on by Oran

This year’s Bloodstock Open Air is fast approaching and with a whopping 30 Metal 2 The Masses regions happening across the UK, Republic of Ireland, Poland and Norway, the New Blood Stage is fast becoming one of the highlights of the annual event. 

Simon hall

Overdrive caught up with booking agent Simon Hall to get the low down on how he thinks this year’s M2TM artists will bring a ‘grand slam’ level of undiscovered artists to the festival.

OD – Thanks very much for talking to us Simon. To kick off, what are the expectations of the Irish m2tm from BOA headquarters with regards to the standard of bands that have appeared as a result of the competition?

SIMON – I guess when I first came over several years ago, it was an open book as we had no real indication on the strength of the scene and the quality of the bands in the country – that soon changed and to be honest the date is one of the highlights of the calendar for me as I know I’m going to be witness to a showcase of really hungry bands.  So I’m expecting the works!

OD – In terms of growth, have many new chapters joined the collective that is m2tm? Do you have any projected growth plans or aspirations for m2tm with regards to unsigned bands?

SIMON – Yep year on year I’ve brought new regions in, some of which have been waiting in the wings for a couple of years.  Thing is I like to switch it around occasionally as I’m totally aware that no one region has a finite amount of developing talent, so sometimes it’s best to take a breather and let the bands develop.

This year we’re welcoming regions such as Peterborough, Milton Keynes, Stoke and Somerset so should be interesting to see what’s happening in those areas. The fact is it’s as important for us, and I believe the wider metal scene, to give opportunity’s to bands in regions that aren’t necessarily the major cities.

OD – Do you feel that the standard of bands is increasing as groups progress through the competition and go through to the main event?

Simon Hall

SIMON – You know what I really do and it’s down to one thing …. trust!  The fact is this year will be my 10th year of running the event and it’s now become a main event in the diary for, not only the UK and Ireland, but also Poland and Norway and that’s down to the fact it’s trusted by bands, promoters and fans alike.

So, therefore, more established bands, by that I mean bands that have been going for say 4 or 5 years (who have established fan bases are well into developing their sound and stagecraft) are now entering the M2TM, because win, lose or draw it’s a great platform to showcase and network.  Is it me or can I smell wee?

OD – As a result of bands watching their peers do their thing, do you feel that standard is down – in some part – to an example set by the bands onstage that are already in the competition or on the hobgoblin stage?

SIMON – We all have so much ease of access to watching music from across the globe nowadays, so for bands to pick up on their peers is a given, but I guess the live environment is the only true place to pick up on the energy required to deliver the real deal.  This is what this platform is all about … by energising and promoting the live music scene on all levels.

OD – You last spoke to us 3 years ago, which was two years after Overdrive and Jetrocker took over the running of M2TM Ireland. Between then and now, can you reflect on how each year has affected the BOA scene?

SIMON – Mentally, physically and emotionally Oran (Overdrive) and Kev (Jetrocker Events) have changed my life and the lives of so many. Such wonderful ladies (laughing).

OD – What has your favourite band been from the Irish camp of M2TM in all of the years that you have been coming here?

SIMON – I’ll be totally honest I couldn’t pick out a favourite …. I have a huge soft spot for Ten Ton Slug and of course Dead Label, but then I could easily say the same for zhOra, Na CruithneTwo Tales of Woe, etc…. Genuinely good bands and decent people to work alongside.

Click here to 'attend' Dead Label at Bloodstock 2018!

Click here to ‘attend’ Dead Label at Bloodstock 2018!

OD – What would you like to see more of in terms of metal genres regarding entries to M2TM?

SIMON – I guess when you’re being introduced to new sounds, then you can’t really have a wish list of what I’d like to hear or see. In the respect my personal tastes I would edge towards the melodic, however, if a band offers me pure extreme then I sure as hell know when it’s good and will automatically pull towards them going on to the festival – all genres are fair game and again I think that helps towards the trust element.

As for genres I struggle to pigeonhole bands (outside of the obvious differences such as Doom/Power metal etc) so  I think the thing I do look and hope for is that bands don’t look at the M2TM as a finishing point to their journey and more that it’s just the start.

Anyway, I’ve had countless occasions when I’ve chosen a band to play at the festival and they’ve taken it on as a launch pad to progressing as a band, both in the studio and on the road … that is something I love to see.

OD – When last we spoke, we touched on favourite bands that you would like to see appear at m2tm and you mentioned Twisted Sister, who played a “blaze of glory” farewell set in 2016. Sadly we are seeing more of our rock and metal heroes pass on or retire as time goes on. Has anyone slipped your grasp as a result of either death or retirement?

©Down The Barrel Photography, exclusively for Overdrive © 2018

©Down The Barrel Photography, exclusively for Overdrive © 2018

SIMON – I never got to see Thin Lizzy …. That still pisses me off.  But I think the one that really sticks in my throat right now is that we’ll not see the Nevermore reunion so many had hoped for.  As a singer, Warrel Dane was up there for me as one of the great – sad loss.

Lemmy's Bar BloodstockODLemmy’s Bar was opened in 2016 by Phil Campbell, and it was an emotional event for everyone who knew and loved Lemmy and Motorhead. How close was that event and it’s meaning to the crew at BOA and also, what did that mean to BOA in terms of a tribute to him?

SIMON – I’ll openly admit that when I stood there and Phil Campbell opened the Lemmy Bar a couple years back I had to hold it back … truly emotional and like so many Motorhead fans, losing Lemmy was a kick in the guts. But we have to be realistic and appreciate that these guys are not as immortal as we hoped, but what we can do is celebrate Dio, Lemmy and all the others and raise a glass, raise the horns and take influence from what they did offer for so long.

OD – Moving forward BOA has sold out the entire 3-day weekend and the 4th day (Thursday) is getting pretty busy too. Are there any plans for increasing the length of the festival, or would you like to keep it small scale and true metal?

SIMON – Four days is quite enough, thank you! My feet are fucked by the Monday as it is (laughing)!  We’ve always said that we want to keep it to a size not much bigger than where it is right now. Mainly due to the fact we can attract a quality of band without having to face the headaches that some of the larger festivals face.  Anyway, four days is quite enough for you don’t you think?

The Metal 2 The Masses Irish Grand Final takes place on Saturday, May 12th in Dublin’s Fibber Magees with performances from Black Dawn Rising, Creep, Element X, Rouen, Sectile and This Place Hell, all gunning for a slot on this year’s New Blood Stage. Also, we are delighted to have very special guests, Animator close the night’s performances before the 2018 winners will be announced.

© Down The Barrel Photography 2018

© Down The Barrel Photography 2018

Click the graphic link below and hit the ‘going’ option. See you in the pit! Admission is €5.00 between 7pm/9pm, €10 thereafter.


Tickets for Bloodstock 2018 are selling fast with VIP packages completely SOLD OUT. With performances across the weekend from Judas Priest, Gojira, Nightwish, Kamelot, Suicidal Tendencies, Emperor, Jasta, Wednesday 13, Fozzy, Venom Inc, Onslaught, With The Dead, Dead Label, Alestorm, At The Gates, Cannibal Corpse, Watain, Doro and many more! BOA banner May 2018

Shaun Martin

*Bloodstock / Metal 2 The Masses photos ©Down The Barrel Photography 2018

Aerial BOA pic / Lemmy’s Bar Pic / Simon pic’s © Bloodstock 2018 2018