It has been a dream and a fighting ambition of M4A (aka: www.metal4africa.com) for all of the years since our inception to play a larger role in getting bands from Africa out into the world beyond our own shores. Of course, without access to heaps of money, this has been a difficult mission to see fulfilled.
Our news platform at www.metal4africa.com has served fair purpose over the years. Small victories have included being contacted and used as a resource by numerous radio stations, television agencies, journalists and academics over the years from lands such as Italy, France, England, Poland, the USA and more. One of the larger victories was being told by the producer at Banger Films (Metal: A Headbangers Journey, Global Metal, Iron Maiden: Flight 666, etc) that this website was their primary source for research into African metal. We have also involved ourselves into projects like the Wacken Metal Battle: South Africa which has complimented our own dreams of seeing South African bands travel to Germany to participate in the international finals of the global battle at Wacken Open Air itself.
However, the dream has always been to engage internationally and to try and facilitate some sort of a band exchange project; a dream which in 2016 shows signs of promise that it will finally come to life in 2017. We have been approached by a willing financial partner, Wrath Inc, who is a lover of South African and Metal in general. With a possible source of funding in place, and a reputable and growing festival force in Europe in the form of Rockstadt Extreme Fest taking a similar interest, M4A is locking minds with Rockstadt (which is also a club/venue) to see about building a bridge of heavy metal between Rockstad‘s annual Rockstadt Extreme Fest and our own annual SummerFest concept. We spoke with Donovan from Wrath Inc:
“Wrath Inc is being developed as an entity without borders and which is open to promoting Rock and Metal music. When I attend concerts, I notice how many of the crowd are actually local bands, and this got me thinking: ‘what can I do for the bands?'” ~ Donovan (Wrath Inc)
Donovan went on to explain how Wrath Inc‘s primary objective is to serve as something of a stepping stone to South Africa’s bands who have earned their keep locally, and to try and help them to set their eyes towards bigger things.
“What I’d like to see is the country’s top bands having a chance to travel to another continent where they can play in front of foreign fans, promoters, agents and record labels from all over Europe at a truly unique festival like Rockstadt Extreme Fest. It would be great to offer the same to the locals over there who host them.” ~ Don
Similarly, we at M4A hold the same view and agree that in order to gain this kind of foothold, something should be offered in return. To this end, our goal is set in motion to host a Romanian local band at our own SummerFest’17, which we know the South African metalheads would welcome with warmth and enthusiasm.
“This should expand both countries bands fan bases and bring metalheads from different cultures and continents together. Ultimately, I’d like to build towards an entity which is self-supporting and a band exchange program that sees bands from both continents touring every year and growing into something.” ~ Don
Whilst Don want’s to see it grow into something which can sustain itself, he is committed to private input for a time. He is also known to have been assisting local bands since even before relocating to Romania.
“I have no talent when it comes to music. I would kill to be able to play an instrument, but alas, I was not born with musical ability. I am fortunate enough to have a great job and when I have extra cash, I like to help out. That’s what I can do. For those who I helped before, they know ‘the devil made me do it'” ~ Don
We asked him why he chose to approach us at M4A and were very pleased to learn the impact we have had on his life:
“M4A’s SummerFest and WinterFest, and Rockstad Extreme Fest all have something that is very special and unique; they are not just events that you go to get blasted by the music and go home. They are more of a social family-type gathering of metalheads. These festivals have a friendly fun vibe; the metal playing is just the cherry on top as the entire experience is just epic; people talk about who they met, the shots and beer funnels they had, the laughs and good times as well as the awesome bands; its not just a case of ‘oh yeah, we went we saw this band and they were great and we went home’. You leave these fests with memories that will last a life time.” ~ Don
As to why he is so determined to share Rockstadt Extreme Fest with his South African compatriots:
“Rockstadt Extreme Fest will blow your minds! A metal festival set in the forests of Transylvania. Beer, food and metal. As you stand looking at the stage, the Rasnov Castle is silhouetted above the stage on top of a hill with mountains and forests surrounding you; it truly is a unique experience.” ~ Don
We have been invited into the dialogue to assist in hosting the Romanian counterparts who are planned to visit South Africa at our annual SummerFest shows, and to assist in building the proverbial bridge between the two festivals.
At this time it is not clear exactly how bands will be selected in the future for the trips either way, however, putting feet on the ground and initiating the concept will take place with Mind Assault – a band known to be connected to M4A via Mind Assault guitarist and M4A newsman Patrick Davidson. Whilst this may be regarded as a controversial decision by some, the objective for the band exchange is actually to begin officially with SummerFest’17 in January 2017. The 2016 inclusion of Mind Assault at Rockstadt Extreme Fest ticks many boxes to getting the process started, including not only that a highly experienced South African band will serve as the ice-breaker, but also in that a face-to-face dialogue is possible between the parties involved to lay a road map towards a hopefully bright future.
The objective at this time is not to work selections by means of a battle or public poll, but more towards setting up very specific criteria in terms of accomplishments to determine eligible bands. The thinking behind this approach is to encourage local bands towards bigger thinking and more global industry-aligned conduct, thus equipping them with skills which they will require if opportunities should open up abroad.
“Happy to see metal is alive and well in Africa. Hopefully this will be a first step into taking more South African bands to Europe, we are just as much excited as you are.” ~ Stefan (Rockstadt Extreme Fest)
See more commentary from Stefan at our previous article which announced Mind Assault at Rockstadt Extreme Fest, where he talks about Romania, metal, and Dracula’s Castle!