By Eric Mackinnon
Sunday, June 11, 2017
So many of us who attend the Download Festival consider our fellow festival revellers as family. All one big moshing brood forever joined together by a love and a passion for all things rock and metal.
But that feeling is reciprocated by the bands and acts we all love.
When TeamRock, the radio station and media company which also owned the magazines Classic Rock and Metal Hammer, went bust with staff being let go without any wages the rock n' roll world linked arms and joined together.
Leading the charge for the TeamRock staff was Orange Goblin's Ben Ward. The metal frontman was the catalyst for a chain of events and fundraising campaign which showcased that like all of us who stand front of stage at Download, those on the stage feel all of us under the rock n' roll umbrella are one big family.
Ward launched a crowdfunding page with a target of £20,000 to help pay some of the TeamRock staff's missing wages. The campaign snowballed within the rock community as he raised 443 per cent of his total, raking in almost £89.000 with high profile backers including Machine Head, Avenged Sevenfold and Halestorm.
It was a remarkable show of community but Ward modestly says it was something he felt compelled to do.
“When I set it up with my girlfriend we thought that the initial £20,000 target was a bit too optimistic but it went crazy and really snowballed within a few days,” he tells The New Rock Times.
“I think the fact that it was Christmas helped as people were off work and engaging with social media a lot more than they usually would and word spread like wildfire.
“To get the attention we did from national and international press and bands such as Queen and Rush was just a huge testament to how well respected the staff and the magazines at Team Rock were and still are.”
He continues: “Pretty much everyone in the London office there is a good friend of mine that I have associated with over the past 20 years, either via Orange Goblin or on a social level in the pubs and clubs of London.
“When I found out that they’d lost their jobs just a few days before Christmas I thought it would be nice to try and give something back to the people that have always supported my band and my friends bands. It didn’t feel like doing anything out of the ordinary and I thought that even if I hadn’t done something, someone else would have.”
Later this summer, the morning after the night before and their Download Festival Main Stage slot, Orange Goblin will open this year’s Metal Hammer Golden Gods.
The band will kick off the 15th annual event at London’s IndigO2 at The O2, an accolade Ward believes the stoner rockers have earned.
“Well, I’d like to think that the band have earned the right to do something like this anyway as a result of our 22 years and eight studio albums,” he said.
“Whatever the reasons, it’s a huge honour for us as a band that have attended pretty much every awards in the past anyway. And now they have added the likes of Clutch, Mastodon and Avatar, it really is a great event to be a part of.”
Steering the conversation back to the Download Festival where Orange Goblin will follow Fozzy on the Main Stage, Ward is clearly excited about returning to Donington Park.
“When you’ve been around as long as we have, festivals are always a great way of catching up with friends in bands that we haven’t seen for a few years,” he said.
“It’ll be great to hang out at Download with friends from Clutch, Red Fang, Opeth, Mastodon and more. I think every band wants to play the major festivals in the summer as it’s such a great way to play to a huge audience, many of whom may never have heard your band before so you tend to pick up a few new fans along the way (or enemies!).”
And is there anyone Ward and the Goblins are especially keen to see this summer?
“SLAYERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!” he roars.
“I'm always keen to see Slayer and they rarely disappoint. Regardless of the line-up, the band are usually pretty sweet but I do tend to prefer it when the set-list is a bit heavy on the older material from Hell Awaits, Show No Mercy and Reign In Blood!”
Three years have passed since Ornage Goblin last released a studio album but the wait may be ending for fans as Ward reveals the band have plans to get back into the studio.
He adds: “We have discussed starting to work on a new album so that may see the light of day by some time in 2018. That’ll be exciting as it will be our first since Candlelight merged with Spinefarm / Universal so we are keen to see what the clout of a major label will be like.
“The bulk of this year ifs just filled with festivals and the occasional club tour. Because we all went back to working day jobs we really can’t tour as much as we used to so festivals are a great way to let off some steam!”