by Jason Kolins and More Betty
“I wanted to start a festival that showcased some of Vancouver’s aggressive underground scene,” says local metal musician and ANION front man, Johnny Matter. In 2010 he had just started a new band, about the same time a slew of recent ones were also forming from the ashes of previous groups. Thoroughly impressed with this influx, he came up with an idea to give these new bands some exposure. Rather than looking out of the city at larger headliners, festival organizer Matter draws his attention to our own rich talent. "I'd like to keep Diecember Fest always local. To support the local scene and shine some light on new bands generating in Vancouver," says Matter.
Year one started with four hard-hitting bands playing their first show. “The first Diecember Fest was almost too big for Pat’s Pub. The place was packed and the sound system limited,” explains Matter. “I'd needed a larger venue. I got hold of my good friend Denyss McKnight at the Rickshaw and with his help we made it happen. The growth came naturally with adding more bands, which in turn brought more people out to the show.”
Anion, Burning Ghats and Galgamex return to the fest along with newcomers Abriosis, Mendozza, Life Against Death, and featuring the first shows from both Ancients and the Villain Avian Symphony. The third year moved to the Biltmore Cabaret with a substantial jump in attendance plus lineup additions of Cathar, Memorial, Silverback Gorilla, Sabrael along with alumni.
"All my fests, I try and have some what of a theme or do something a little different,” explains Matter. “I think the possibilities are endless. I just try to be creative about it and give people another reason to come out to the shows."
He runs Apocalypse Sunrise Productions and does two festivals per year: Diecember Fest in the winter and co-produces the well-liked summertime bash, Burgerfest along with Scott Bart.
Last July, with a bit of help this full time chef-musician turned promoter made 400 beef and vegan burgers from scratch for the event. When asked what he likes most about doing Diecember Fest every year, “for me it’s about helping out the bands and to try and get everyone out for a good time,” he answers. “I keep the ticket prices low enough,” says Matter. “After costs, I give all the money to the bands…. it’s a labour of love for me.”
In 2012, the popular festival is expanding once again. “I’m doing two nights at the Rickshaw, 10 bands a night,” says Matter, who hopes to see another hundred new supporters.
“We will also be accepting non-perishable food items for a local food bank this year in exchange for five dollars off the already affordable door price,” says Matter, encouraging everyone coming to bring something in. The festival will showcase returning artists: Abriosis, Burning Ghats, Galgamex, Life Against Death, Memorial, Cathar and first timers: are Mete Pills (punk alternative), NEEDS (post punk noise rock), Harvest the Infection (tech death metal), Elevator Compactor (experimental noise), Astrakhan (progressive rock metal), The Nautilus (progressive metal) Anchoress (hardcore melodic punk), WTCHDR (hardcore grind), Aquanaut (ambient doom), Excruciating Pain (death metal thrash), Dig Your Graves (hardcore metal), Bear Mace (stoner metal hardcore), Night Mother (ambient noise), Dungeons (doomy metal). “I like to try and mix up the shows I put on,” says Matter, and he’s done just that. Head down with your food-bank donation for two days of 20 heavy bands. You can’t lose!
DIECEMBER FEST 2012 is December 6 and 7 at the Rickshaw Theatre