Keeping Faith With Sonisphere

Switzerland: Former Free & Virgin partners Harry Sprenger and Stefan Matthey are keeping faith with Sonisphere Festival, although their company filed for bankruptcy with debts of about 500,000 Swiss Francs ($558,000) after last year’s edition.

“It was a bit of a bummer,” according to Sprenger, who formed the Zurich-based promoter 40 years ago.

“It was like a divorce or having a partner die,” he explained. “I know that sounds very dramatic but for me it was very dramatic.”

Last summer Free & Virgin was the local partner for the European traveling festival’s two-day visit to Basel, which attracted 9,000 on the first day and 17,000 on the second.

The company hit the wall almost immediately after, but Sprenger and Matthey are now with Starclick, a new company set up by media giant Ringier and Peter Schwenkow’s DEAG.

Ringer and DEAG are already partners in Good News, Switzerland’s biggest concert promoter, but decided to start Starclick to specialise in hard rock and also concentrate on developing new talent.

For this year’s Swiss Sonisphere, which has Metallica, Motorhead, Slayer, and Mastodon, Sprenger and Matthey will work with Good News and move the event to the French-speaking part of the country.

Using Opus One – Paleo-Nyon Festival’s concert-promoting wing – as the local partner, they’ll stage Sonisphere 2012 on a huge open-air site on the banks of Lake Neuchâtel at Yverdon-les-Bains.

Other acts in the Starclick calendar include Korn in March, Judas Priest and Lostprophets in May, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Guns N’ Roses and Motley Crue and Slash in June, and Blink-182 in July.