Tony Weinbender (The Fest organizer) -...

Interviewed by
Tony Weinbender (The Fest organizer) -...This interview was conducted over the phone with Tony Weinbender, creator and organizer of The Fest, on 10/23/11. Tony has been working at No Idea Records since 2002/03 (he can't remember), has done Fest since 2002. We focus on anticipation for the Fest's 10th anniversary and Hot Water Music's homecoming performance. Here is the article the interview was used for.

The Fest is now in it's 10th year. That's pretty crazy - the 10th anniversary of anything is a huge deal, and this event has grown massive in that time. What's the anticipation like to finally get this thing going in a week?

A week out from Fest, I’m confident that we have everything ready. We have a good crew of volunteers who are willing to put in the work. Right now, we’re getting ready for the small stuff. Today I did inventory on everything from Sharpies and notebooks to duct tape and everything else. We’re doing a lot of lists and paperwork. It’s a lot of work to put the thing on, but it’s been a huge year. I never thought we’d sell out of tickets or sell out the hotel as fast as we did and that was really incredible. This is by far the biggest Fest we’ve done, and the biggest thing I could imagine putting on.

So wait, did you say there that this is the biggest Fest ever?

Oh yeah, it’s definitely the biggest in terms of attendance, the caliber of the bands playing is crazy and it’s the most money we’ve ever spent on bands. It’s the biggest one we’ve ever done.

I guess this is sort of a cliche question to some extent…but every year, there are rumors that fly around every year about "Oh, this is going to be the last Fest." What sort of keeps you keeping on year after year?

I look at Fest year-to-year. Obviously right now, I’m only looking a week ahead of time because we’ve got it coming up, but if it goes smooth and runs well and we’re happy with the product we put out, being a three-day event, there’s no reason to not do it again. It’s not something we do for a living or for a career. If this becomes something that’s too much of a pain in the ass, we just won’t do it anymore. If you come to Fest and you want it to keep going, just be a part of it. The Fest is very much a living organism that could easily die if people don’t act accordingly when they’re here But luckily, we’ve never really had any problems with that. We’ve never had a fight at the actual Fest. Everyone who comes in respects each other, and everyone who comes from out of town really respects the city and puts a lot back into the city. It’s a huge weekend for the economy here and in the end, it makes the town look pretty cool.

To sort of narrow it down a bit, Hot Water Music is probably, in my mind, the band that most accurately fits the description of "Gainesville punk." To you, what does that band mean to this city and to this punk rock scene?

Well, they came up through here. Not all of them still live here, but I grew up in bands in Virginia, and we played with Hot Water Music a lot. Chuck [Ragan, Hot Water Music frontman] was one of the first people I met when I came to Gainesville. He gave me a tape of their first demo. I actually have lived with three out of the four guys in Hot Water Music at some point, have been their roommate, and they’re some of the people I’ve known longest here. It’s awesome to have them playing again because they haven’t played since Fest 3. They were busy a lot and, of course, for a few of those years they were inactive. It’s awesome to not only have them come back, but to have Against Me! come back. Kid Dynamite, Bouncing Souls, it’s awesome to have all of these bands playing, Less Than Jake as well. This is like everybody’s homecoming year. This is the alumni year.

How appropriate, I guess, or maybe a sense of coming full-circle, is it to have Hot Water Music playing the 10th anniversary? They haven't played it since Fest 3, and I know they first played it back during the Fest 2 when you were only a 2-day operation.

It’s awesome to have Hot Water back, like I said. They have a special place in my heart. It’s been a while since they've played a show in Gainesville – it’s been even longer since they’ve played a big venue here – but I think it’s a big opportunity not only for the people who live here, but people all around the world to see them. It’s awesome to have them back home and hopefully they enjoy the time they’re here, the couple days in town when they get to see their old friends.

Now going back to the grander scheme of things, Chuck Ragan said that now the Fest is very much a globally known thing, where HWM fans everywhere know about it and where it takes place. What can you say about the legacy that the Fest is leaving behind?

I’ve been to Europe twice in the last three years, on tours with bands, and everywhere we went it’s like, “Oh, you’re from Gainesville? I want to go to Fest. I’ve been to Fest.” Of course, I never tell them that I have anything to do with it, but it’s amazing to realize that people everywhere care about it. It’s great that what we’re doing every year is a positive thing and that when people go to back their hometowns – to Boise, Idaho, or Exeter in the UK – they tell their friends about what a great time they had and how great it was. We still have the DIY ethics when we put this thing on so it’s awesome that we’re doing this great thing and that it’s grown worldwide. This year alone we have about 660 attendees coming that don’t live in the US. That’s not including all of the bands we have coming from like, the UK and Canada and we have a band coming from Greece and bands coming from Asia. I never would have thought that 10 years ago, it would get to a global level, or that we’d even still be doing this in 10 years. I’ve never been a part of anything this big in my entire life.
No one has commented on this interview.
You can be the first.

Search News
Release Dates
Best New Music
Submit News
Mobile Version
AP.net Logos
Encore Podcast
Free Music
Sports Forum
Technology Forum
Contact Us
Copyright Policy
Terms of Service
Privacy Policy
Twitter | Facebook | RSS
Encore Podcast on iTunes
Encore on Overcast
AP.net on Tumblr
Chorus.fm | @jason_tate