Formed by musicians for musicians, Knockanstockan has grown from strength to strength since its inception in 2007. Co-founder Peter Keogh tells how musicians are doing it for themselves.
Who could know better what musicians want and need than themselves. Recognizing the iron clad barriers that stand in the music industry, the Primal Jelly Social Club was formed by Keogh and fellow musicians in 2006 with the aim of getting as many bands together as possible to gain strength in numbers and make a stand for independent artists. Dismissing any rivalry between groups, the idea was to band together and showcase all their musical talents through a series of gigs. Wanting to take it a step further, a weekend of music with 40 acts was held in the Ballyknockan Inn in 2007. It was a taster of what was to come as a three day festival showcasing over 100 acts was to take over the Blessington lakes each July, the following years.
The festival still maintains it’s original non commercial ethos and hopes to continue this. The strong group of volunteers, many of whom have been there from the start have skills "second to none", says Keogh. For bands hoping to make the lineup the standards have risen. This year they had the “mammoth task” of whittling 800 submissions down to 150 acts. Bands submit their application through the website Knockanstockan.ie by uploading songs, pictures and a bio. Sometimes the quality of the recording can make it difficult to decipher the true sound so a filter gig is held. "A live gig is the true test", says Keogh and as well as the talent, he looks out for bands who enjoy themselves and don’t take themselves too seriously. As applications are closed for this year it gives plenty of time to perfect the sound for next year.
"The best thing a band can do is get out there gigging" Keogh says, not only is the experience invaluable the opportunity to get to know other musicians and be influenced by other bands is just as important. He recommends gigging in as many places as possible, enjoy playing with your mates and take inspiration from other bands and their sounds. As with most things passion is key to success, "if you don’t enjoy it from the start it won’t work", he says.
Although Keogh admits things have gotten worse in the wider music industry he thinks the upsurge of festivals and regular gigging opportunities provided by the likes of Sweeneys and the King Kong Club is brilliant and offers plenty of possibilities for young bands to get on the festival circuit and make a name for themselves.
Knockanstockan offers more than just music with performance art and hot tubs among the extras included. The event is family friendly and Keogh believes having something to do other than just looking at bands adds to the enjoyment of the overall event. "It’s important to create the environment that’s conducive to enjoying the experience",he says.
Among the acts playing this year’s festival, July 27th-29th, are The Riptide Movement, Sal Vitro, The Salad Circus, Raglans, Blind Yakety and The Strypes, to name only a few. To whet your appetite further log on to Knockanstockan.ie where you will find over 100 videos by artists, full details of the lineup are available and The Knockanstockan 2011 DVD is available from Monday.
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