I have this theory that when you read an interview which is boring, it’s usually because the interviewer has asked boring questions. Actually, perhaps ‘boring’ is not quite the right word – more like clichéd, or obvious, or tame, or the kind of questions the subject would have been asked so many times before that their answers are as good as scripted. When that happens everyone is a loser – speaker, writer, reader.
So knowing that I had a pre-arranged interview scheduled at T in the Park’s media launch with Geoff Ellis, the man responsible for running the festival, I came to the conclusion that the whole process would be far more interesting for all concerned if I opened up the questioning process to The Pop Cop’s Facebook friends, an opinionated bunch at the best of times.
I brought a list of all the suggestions into the interview and tried to get through as many as I could, so a huge thanks to everyone who contributed.
Murray Easton For the last few years the number of tickets available for T in the Park seems to have increased, yet the actual space for the site has stayed the same. Is there any scope to increase it to prevent crushes, particularly when people are moving from the Main Stage to the NME Stage?
Geoff: “In reality, the opposite has happened. The number of tickets hasn’t increased from 85,000 for three years and we’ve taken on a bit more space, particularly in the campsite. But it’s something we’re always looking at. Perception is very important and if people feel there’s not enough space then there might as well not be. We like to get that kind of feedback. If a lot of people are saying they feel it’s getting too busy or uncomfortable then we need to do something about it. Each year the site plan changes shape and evolves. This year we’re looking at having two entrances to the arena from the campsite.”
Tommy Hamilton Will a better system be put in place so that people who lose their ticket but still have a wristband get in?
Geoff: “We’ll be redoubling our efforts to make sure that if you’re a genuine person and your [lost] ticket has been invalidated then you’ll get in. Ideally, we wouldn’t have a ticket at all. It would just be a wristband with a little chip, but you’ve got to make sure you stay one step ahead of the forgers. China can turn around things really quickly, even with wristbands and chips. It’s a constant battle to look after the people who are genuine against the people who are trying to pull a flanker.”
Jonny Logue How much money do you make, and who gets what?
Geoff: “Tennent’s get it all! No, we’re not going to divulge things like that and no private business would, really. Think of a figure, half it and divide it by 100 and it’s probably nearer to the truth. It costs millions to put on an event like T in the Park. Yes, it’s profitable, but is it a way of anybody getting rich quick? No. Could it be? Yes, because we could spend half the money we do on bands and it would still sell out. But we’d rather spend the money and have people thinking T in the Park’s great value and keep coming back year on year. I want to be doing this for the rest of my life. As long as I can make a living out of it, that’s enough for me.”
Halina Rifai Will T in the Park be following RockNess and banning ned attire from being worn at the festival. And I quote: ‘DRESS CODE Strictly No Tracksuits or Ned attire.’
Geoff: “I think it’s probably tongue-in-cheek. What is ned attire? Do you say to Jay-Z he’s a ned because he wears sportswear? It’s not about what you wear, it’s about who you are. Listen, you can be a ned in a suit. If you take a ned to mean somebody who is out to cause trouble, those are people we don’t want to come to T in the Park anyway. We’ve no plans to put a dress code into T in the Park, that would be quite draconian. But neds are not welcome, just to clarify that.”
Michael Ferguson Will my band Letters be headlining any of the stages?
Geoff: “There’s the T Break Stage, there’s BBC Introducing, so I’d say make sure they apply, those are great platforms to be at. I do know the band. Are they going to be headlining the King Tut’s Tent or NME/Radio1 Stage or Main Stage? Well, no. But could they be headlining in future? Yeah. If they keep working at it then they could be.”
James Cranwell Will you be following Glastonbury’s lead [i.e. putting photographic ID on the ticket] to stop ticket touting?
Geoff: “It doesn’t work. I was sticking up for Glastonbury when they were doing it but, in practice, when stewards are doing searches and looking at people coming in, to then have to look at photos… in reality, people just go in [without being checked]. It was a bold attempt but all it did was make a lot of people think it’s going to be really hard getting a ticket so they didn’t bother. The year Glastonbury didn’t sell out [in advance] was when they introduced the photo ID. And then people blamed it on Jay-Z – it was nothing to do with Jay-Z. We try to do what we can. We put barcodes on tickets, but I feel we’re rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic in some respects. You can do things to try to stop ticket touting but the best thing, which is what we focused our efforts on, was to get the previous government in Westminster to change the law and make it illegal. But the government didn’t do it and they basically gave a green light to ticket touting.”
Robert Stitson Whatever happened to the Pet Sounds Arena? One year it was there, the next it wasn’t and there was nothing to replace it and no explanation for its disappearance.
Geoff: “Good question. We were spreading bands too thinly between the stages. There were acts who played to 200 people in the King Tut’s Tent, which holds 12,000. It’s not a good atmosphere to have small bands on at 4pm and not have an audience. So we’ve put the bigger bands who would have been in Pet Sounds into the other stages and the addition of the BBC Introducing Stage took care of the smaller bands who were displaced.”
Tommy Hamilton Will you be keeping the T Break Stage for just Scottish acts as a few English played it last year?
Geoff: “We got comments from some Scottish bands saying they didn’t just want to be on a Scottish-only stage, so recently we’ve put in a couple of international performers, partly to raise the profile of it and also so that bands felt it was cool to be in there, in that company.”
Dave Hunter Will there ever be another Connect Festival or is that one put to bed?
Geoff: “Yeah, there will be. As for when and where, I’m not sure yet. It will be a different format, potentially different time of year, different location. Next year will probably be too early, although I don’t want to say ‘no’ because if we can do it on a smaller scale we would do that and build it up.”
At this point, I’m politely told it’s time to wrap up the interview. George Kyle, head of sponsorship from Tennent’s Lager, has been sitting silently next to Geoff throughout, so I decide to direct my own, final question to him.
Pop Cop Is there any chance of having some better beers on sale this year? I’m quite a big fan of Kronenbourg, Grolsch, even Becks.
George: “Anyone can bring any product into the campsite.”
Pop Cop I never camp at T in the Park.
George: “70,000 people do.”
Pop Cop I’m not interested in them – this one’s my question!
George: “The thing for Tennent’s is the association. With that opportunity comes some protections.”
Letters – Pipe Dreams