Last year family, friends and fans gathered to pay tribute to fallen Asomvel frontman Jay Winter at the inaugural Full Moon Dog festival, a rock and metal show designed to honor Winter and what he loved. Fine Print’s feature article about the event can be found here.
On the eve of Full Moon Dog 2012, Fine Print caught up with the family behind the event, the Robinsons – Lenny (Jay’s bandmate for two decades), Deb (Jay’s sister, Lenny’s wife) and Stel (Lenny and Deb’s son):
Visit www.fullmoondog.com for more information.
Q: Were you happy with last year’s festival?
Deb: Last year’s festival rocked! We had a great turn-out – everyone was in good spirits (in spite of the lack of air-con and it being one of the hottest days of the year – it really was excruciating!) and the bands played a blinder. Given that we organized last year’s in a hurry and on a very tight budget, I really don’t see how it could have gone any better. The feedback I had from the bands and everyone who attended was mind-blowing – actually, the support we’ve been given generally, by people who really appreciate what we’re trying to do, has been overwhelming.
Lenny: It was better than we could have hoped for. The turnout was fantastic from all Jay’s friends and people who knew about him from the music from all over Europe. We had great bands, some from overseas that we brought over, like the mighty Procession and Hooded Priest, who played for no fee, ‘cos it was for Jay. That kind of attitude is priceless and you have to take your hat off to bands that will drop everything and answer the call.
Q: What (if anything) did you think could be improved for this year’s?
Deb: I knew that this year the festival needed to be taken up a notch, so we cranked up the caliber of the bands and booked a bigger venue. And when we looked at the bands for this year, we thought about bands that my brother, Jay (Asomvel founder and front-man) would listen to and appreciate – he was old-school, so we booked the bands with that in mind, and I am very pleased with the line-up.
Lenny: We wanted to up the ante as far as the scale of it; as in the bands, the venue. Making it memorable for the kids who are supporting the event is foremost in our minds, along with keeping ticket price down.
Q: Has the goal for the festival changed at all from when the original plans were put together?
Deb: Not at all – the goal will always be the same, to remember and honor Jay and his music, and to put on a festival at a price that’s accessible to all fans…and if that mission changes, shoot me!
Lenny: There will only ever be one goal: to keep the memory of Jay-Jay Winter alive. He would do it for us, it’s the very least that should be done for a bloke that was head and shoulders above anyone I have ever met. It’s very easy to harp on about how amazing someone was when they die, even if they were a bit of a letdown. Unless you met Jay, you can never understand just how cool he was in everything he did. Nobody ever got the better of him, he had an answer for everything. Even Lemmy, who we met a handful of times over the years was no match for Jay. He even told Jay once, “You remind me of myself 20 years ago!” To let people forget about a bloke like that would be a horrific crime and we don’t aim to forget him.
Stel: The goal for this festival has not changed a bit. Deb, who is organizing this festival is my mum, so I’ve seen firsthand all the hard graft she’s done to make this whole thing happen. Every time she had a decision to make, she would always ask ‘What would Jay like?’. If my Uncle wouldn’t have liked it, it aint gonna happen at Full Moon Dog. This festival has always been about Heavy Metal and family and it always will be.
Q: This year’s festival will be taped. What’s the plan for that?
Deb: Madder Than a Full Moon Dog will certainly have live band footage, but the film will also focus on the genre and the fans – and with six cameras, there’ll be nowhere to hide! We’ll see all the interesting and hilarious stuff that always happens at these festivals, but usually goes by unnoticed…and then we’ll make sure the whole world sees it! Of course, there’ll be the usual music, band interviews, and crowd interviews – but my main aim is to show the stuff you don’t normally see …
Lenny: All too often there is a ton of lunacy going on that nobody gets to see, ‘cos it’s gone in the blink of an eye. I’ve gone to gigs and kids are up to all sorts. It strikes me that documenting this behaviour can only be a good thing. If there’s some bands making a noise, all the better. As this festival is really about keeping it affordable for the kids and giving them a good deal, it makes sense to record them and give to them at a fair price. Profits go back into building the festival and keeping it inexpensive…
Q: Asomvel have continued on with Rob “Conan” Threapelton on bass and vocals. How has the last year gone, and what does the future hold in store for the band?
Lenny: Well, meeting Conan and him joining the band has really saved the band, ‘cos it takes a certain personality to be in Asomvel. Jay, Ian and myself always were on the same wavelength. We never had to discuss certain things, they were just taken as read, it just worked. Conan has the same attitude, the same ability to rely on instinct. I have never had to tell him what I expect him to do, he just delivers, he does things on his own terms, his way and it just so happens to be the Asomvel way. Amongst all this Conan has nothing but total respect for Jay, which puts him in good company. We’ve played Hammerfest with him and gone down well. The old fans who saw Asomvel with Jay are excited, ‘cos they thought it was over, but Conan is showing them that Asomvel are contenders. We are not trying to create some sounds of the seventies, we do what comes natural, we always have. We were never popular, ‘cos we didn’t play what was in vogue. We’ve always been the alternative to the alternative, waiting to catch a break. We’re gonna record some of the new songs we’ve written and some old ones we wrote with Jay that didn’t see the light of day, hopefully an album. There’s a few things in the works for gigs in Europe, so be there or cut ya hair!
Q: What would be your wish list for 2013′s incarnation of the festival?
Deb: My wish for next year, the year after, and every year after that, is to have great bands, a great venue, and a price affordable to all – and each year has to be better than the last.
Like everything else in life, money is always the deciding factor, and it’s a constant concern – FMD will always be as good as I can afford it to be – if people want this kind of festival; a festival done for all the right reasons – they need to support it! We had so many bands apply this year who wanted to be on the bill – and I’d urge them to come and support us this year, (wear your band T-shirt, get in the film) – and help us make this even better next year – next year might be the year your band plays….
The fans who complain how nothing was how it used to be – well, we’re trying to bring it back, if you want it as much as you say you do, get off your arse and support it! Don’t just spout about the good old days – these are the good old days!!
Lenny: As far as specific bands; we haven’t even thought that far ahead. We do have a strong desire to keep the bill as traditional as possible. By that, I’m talking about heavy metal bands that fit the criteria of what Jay thought a heavy metal band should be. If there are bands following in the paths of Saxon, Motörhead and the like and producing songs with riffs and catchy choruses, then that fits the bill. You can keep your screamin’ nutters!
Stel: I would love to see a line-up full of Jay’s favorite bands. Having Cathedral or Wasp would really be a dream come true. At the rate this festival is growing it doesn’t seem unrealistic either. And of course it wouldn’t be Full Moon Dog Festival without the mighty Asomvel.
Q: You mentioned keeping prices affordable – that’s a huge difference between Full Moon Dog and a lot of other metal festivals. What other differences do you think set it apart?
Deb: I think we care more in general – the bands are very important to me for example. Having been around bands since I was thirteen, I’ve seen how it works – The only criteria for us is that you’re a great band, and every year we’ll include up and comers, and I believe they deserve the same as the known bands. So many times I’ve seen really good bands playing to ‘one man and his dog’ and that’s a sin! Often as bands get a little recognition, they become prima-donnas – have a sense of entitlement, or feel superior, that won’t happen on my watch. That band that turns up in the beat-up old van after playing the music they love for 20 years and getting nowhere is as important to me as the known band that shows up in a tour bus with their own driver, roadies, and technicians. The only difference between them is one band got a break, and the other didn’t – yet. All bands are equal – so long as they’re good!
And while I’m talking about bands, I wanna give a shout-out to Hooded Priest from the Netherlands who paid their own way last year to come and support us – they believed in us, our festival, and the reasons behind it – I will always be grateful.
Also Mercenary – good friends of Jay’s from way back who are reforming after 25 years to play FMD this year, and honor their friend in the best way they know – that blows my mind, and I know Jay would just love it – I hope he’ll be around watching, because I know he’d get a kick outta seeing Mercenary again after all this time!
FMD is about bringing people together to celebrate Jay’s life and the genre he loved – and having a good time doing it….that’s the only motivation. There’s no politics, it’s not about money, there’ll never be any ‘pay to play’ nonsense – we have honor and integrity – it’s a celebration – that’s what sets it apart.
Lenny: This is not a money making scheme. We are never gonna put anything before the kids. Jay and I really respected the fact that kids from all over Europe would take time off work, book flights, hotels, buy a ticket and show up enthusiastically to a gig. We could never let people down when they are so dedicated. This festival is from the heart and you can take that to the bank.
Q: Lenny, you mentioned some new songs you’ve written since Conan joined up - how has that gone?
Lenny: Well, it’s been very easy writing with Conan from the start. He’s totally in tune with the way I think, so the songs almost write themselves in a way. We’ve got quite a few riffs on tape, but we haven’t had the time to work on them properly yet. In the past I always came up with the riff, we’d get the drums on, which would usually change things a little. Ian has a big role in the writing; he’ll put a beat on that I could never have thought of and it will alter the song dramatically. Then Jay would write the lyrics, which were always great. The three new ones we’ve got so far were done more or less the same, except it’s more throwing ideas around and I’m getting involved in lyric writing for the first time. “Knuckle Duster” was the first song after Jay died. Jay came up with the title, but we couldn’t find his lyrics. I’d written the riff and one day the lyrics just came to me. It’s about Asomvel really and not giving up, even when you think it’s all over. “Shoot Ya Down” was a song Conan had written for his old band. I liked it, but thought it could do with a little reconstruction, so we gave it the Asomvel treatment. “Waster” happened while I was getting a sound outta my amp at rehearsal. I was fooling around with a riff and Conan and Ian joined in. We had the music in about ten minutes. Then Conan wrote the lyrics and I put a few ideas in.
Q: You mentioned getting good feedback from some of the bands who played – what input did they have as to any changes made for this year’s festival?
Deb: The feedback was fantastic, the only thing they suggested to improve the festival was moving venue – the venue last year had no air-con and the festival was on the hottest day of the year, the venue was packed – it was hotter than the bowels of hell in there! We had always intended to move to a bigger venue this year anyway, so it was a none-issue. And if the British weather was the only complaint from last year, well, I consider that a roaring success!
Q: How have pre-sales gone for the planned DVD?
Deb: Pretty good so far! The first hundred pre-orders will be credited on the DVD as The following people have been officially declared, ‘Madder Than a Full Moon Dog’ – we have a few credits still available, but they are fast running out, so anyone who wants that dubious honour needs to move fast!
Q: Stel, your band Stiletto Farm was originally planning to play the festival last year and had to drop off the bill. Were you adamant about playing this year’s incarnation? Also, would you like for the band to be a part of the lineup in future years?
Stel: We were really excited about playing last year, but we were left high and dry without a drummer last minute. We were gutted we couldn’t play. We still went of course and we had a great time. I gotta admit though, having to stand and watch did sting a bit. There is no way we are gonna let anything stop us this year, even if all our arms and legs fall off we will drag ourselves onstage with our teeth. That’s a promise. I would like Stiletto Farm to be part of this festival every year. So the pressure is on us to stay worth it, haha.
Q: Any plans for 2013 you’d care to share at this point?
Deb: The only plan I have for 2013 is to make it bigger and better – and every year when you ask me that question, the answer will be the same! Though the way 2012 is panning out, we’ll have our work cut out for next year!
Full Moon Dog 2012
+44 (0) 113 244 1573
1:00-1:30 – Mercenary
1:50-2:20 – Screaming Eagles
Up and coming rock and roll band handpicked by the organizers over other applicants.
2:40-3:10 – Dark Forest
One of the brighter heavy metal acts to emerge in recent years, with soaring and classy songwriting.
The Green Knight from the album Dawn of Infinity.
3:30-4:00 – TBA
4:20-4:50 – Eliminator
Hard-rocking metal in the vein of Raven, Battle Axe, early Tygers of Pan Tang, etc.
We Rule the Night, from the EP We Rule the Night.
5:10-5:50 – Stiletto Farm
Gleefully hedonistic rock and roll in the vein of Hanoi Rocks, Smack, early Mötley Crüe, etc.
6:10-6:50 – Stuka Squadron
World War II-themed heavy metal stalwarts gearing up for their forthcoming second album, New Sound of War.
“On the Volga Bridge” from the album Tales of the Ost.
7:10-8:00 – [Asomvel](www.asomvel.com)
Brawling heavy metal channeling the rock and roll spirit of early Motörhead better than anyone since early Motörhead.
“Waster” from a recent rehearsal.
8:30-9:50 – Orange Goblin
Long-running stoner rock band, heavier now than ever before and headlining in support of their recently-released album A Eulogy For the Damned.
“Red Tide Rising” from the album A Eulogy For the Damned.