Jensen To Export Wacken Brand

Wacken Open Air chief Thomas Jensen is talking to promoters about staging the huge heavy metal bash in territories other than its home in Germany.

"We had so many requests from the worldwide metal community to take the Wacken spirit around the globe that, in the near future, we’ll be talking to promoters who we think are professional and who we can trust to set up a whole series," he told Pollstar as he announced that this year’s 70,000-capacity event is close to being sold out.

"The main concern is that the fans and the bands see that we choose partners that understand Wacken. The fans must trust that what flies under a Wacken flag is Wacken – and true to the spirit of Wacken," he explained.

Without naming promoters Jensen said he has already had preliminary talks with interested parties from Serbia, Croatia, Brazil, Spain and the U.K., although – in the last case – talks are believed to have been with a U.K.-based media partner such as Metal Hammer.

Jensen doesn’t expect there will be a Wacken staged anywhere other than Germany until at least 2009, although this year his Dörpstedt-based ICS Festival Service GmbH is teaming with Agentur Marema, its regular local promoter in the northwest of the country, to stage a second Wacken event in Germany.

"We have worked with them as a local promoter for ICS tours for 10 years, and they understand what Wacken is about," Jensen explained, following the announcement of Wacken Rocks Seaside, a one-dayer on a huge open site near the coast and the Dutch border at Aurich.

"Everybody jokes that Wacken always has Motorhead and Saxon and so they were the first two names that we put on the bill," he added. Apart from Motorhead and Saxon, which is managed by Jensen, the smaller version of "das größte Metal-Festival der Welt" (July 5) will also have Machine Head, Torfrock, and couple of additional support acts that are still to be announced.

"If it is done right then the event will be well-received in the local area," Jensen said, pointing out that the small village of Wacken, in Schleswig-Holstein, northern Germany, is proud of the local three-day festival.

"It may be 70,000 nutters dressed in black, and a heavy metal fest isn’t popular everywhere, but all the villagers of Wacken absolutely love it."

The local Wacken authorities also love it and are offering to part-fund a gravel base for the stage area. The council and the festival are both keen to avoid a repeat of the euro 500,000 mud-clearing operation needed for last year’s event to take place.

"We will be on site earlier this year and we’ll have plenty of time, even if the preparation work has to keep stopping because it’s pouring down with rain," Jensen explained.

Wacken Open Air is July 31 to August 2 and the lineup includes Iron Maiden, As I Lay Dying, Nightwish, Children of Bodom, Avantasia, Gorgoroth, Before The Dawn, Dream Of An Opium Eater and Excrementory Grindfuckers.