ISLE of Wight Festival promoter John Giddings is looking forward to an epic year with headline sets from Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, Pearl Jam and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.
How are things at Isle of Wight HQ John?
“Well we’ve sold nearly 50,000 tickets for this year despite this awful weather we’ve been having and people keep telling me we’ve got the best line up of the summer. Things are pretty good.”
You must be delighted with the line up?
“Absolutely. It’s a great combination with the American trilogy of headliners and the best of British pop music, plus some great up and coming acts. I actually came up with an expression the other day that it’s the best from the past, present and future. I don’t book it like that, but I just like music from different generations.”
How did the American trilogy of headliners come about?
“Completely by accident. Well I’ve been targeting all of them for about five to seven years and then their worlds collided! Once I’d got two, I just thought I had to get the other and call it an American trilogy.”
What are your top tips for acts festival-goers should look out for this year?
“Zulu Winter will be incredible. Spector. The girl band Stooshe will have had a couple of hits by then. Labrinth, although he’s not new anymore. We keep booking people and then they become successful before they get here, which is great.”
What looks good away from the main stage?
“The Garden Stage will be much more important this year. It’s better located by Penny Lane. There’s also the Field of Dreams again where we’ll be showing all the quarter finals of the European Championships, plus some films and footage from the other stages."
What was the thought process behind changing the date this year away from the Jubilee celebrations?
“Another accident really. The ferry company called me and said did you realise half term is a week later this year. They just wouldn’t be able to handle the festival traffic and the half term traffic. So I looked at my calendar, realised there wasn’t a Glasto this year and decided to put it back two weeks for one year only.”
Aren’t you worried you will get Glastonbury weather?!
“It was sunny for a while there last year, I was there! And after the weather we had on the Sunday last year, you never know what you’re going to get.”
That must have been a worry for you last year, but it turned into an incredible night…
“Yes I’m just so thankful to all the people who came back out and partied. They all took that awful rain in their stride in a Battle of Britain style and the atmosphere was just incredible.”
In terms of the wider picture, is it a tough time to be a festival promoter at the moment?
“It’s a tough time to be risking money on anything in England. Ticket sales generally are down 15 to 20 per cent, there’s the Olympic effect, the Jubilee and people are wary about the euro collapsing. I’m no economist, but people are definitely spending later this year. But it’s going to be an epic year and thankfully that’s reflected in our ticket sales.”
When you first resurrected Isle of Wight, did you envisage it being as successful as it has been?
“I had absolutely no idea. If I’d have known how many hoops I’d have to jump through to get where we are now, I’d never have done it. But we’ve done so much with it and I appreciate people coming back and enjoying it each year.”
What are your hopes for the future? Will there be any changes?
“Every year I go round the site and think if I was a paying member of the public how could this work better for me. I wonder how I could do better. I ask people on the forums and get constructive feedback on how we can go forward. I want to move it on for everyone. I’m now the only individual to own a festival on my own and I want to make it really enjoyable.”
What about 2013?
“Well I’m always working a long way ahead and I think I’ve got someone great for next year, but don’t count your chickens. Bands schedules change.”
What’s your dream band you’d love to book for the future?
“There are loads. I’d love to have the Stone Roses if they keep going, but how long is a piece of string?”