Greetings guys! Hope you`re all well. Please introduce yourself to our readers. Let`s start!
Zenn: Here’s Zenn, ¼ of the GO!FEST crew. I’ve played in several bands in the past (one of them, Compost, was reviewed in this website years ago) and I write reviews and interviews on The New Noise (Italian) and Touch of Evil. I’m also a UX/UI designer and Front End Developer with very bad music tastes.
Pompeo: Hi, I’m Pompeo, for 11 years one of the people in charge for Go! Fest, together with Daniele, Andrea and Siro, who joined us this year. I also play guitar in Taste The Floor and Verano’s Dogs (in this year’s lineup) and in the past with xKATExMOSHx and Dilution.
So what is Go Fest? When did everything start? What`s the history behind this party?
Zenn: In the summer of 2011 I met Pompeo and we started to talk about making a festival together. Our main idea was something like the Gilman Speed Trials or Fastfest, a grindcore/power violence event but in a city like Rome, not well prepared to host something like this. The first edition was in November of that year at CSOA Ricomincio Dal Faro with just three bands from outside Rome and only 80 people came.
Two years later we brought our friend Andrea in the organization and we decided to do a second edition, with a lot of bands from different parts of Italy, that took place at Bencivenga Squat. We expected 100 people and then 300 came, so it was an unexpected success for us.
After two more editions we moved to Spartaco, that has been our powerhouse from 2015 to 2019 where we’ve booked many foreign bands (Avskum, Riistetyt, Asocial, Reproach, DS-13, Extreme Smoke 57, Whoresnation, Moom, Ona Snop and so on). Since 2021 we organize at Strike and we have now a fourth member in the crew, Syro, a close friend with a strong experience in organizing metal/hardcore shows in Northern Italy (Rotten Flesh Fest or Fight for Metal).
Pompeo: Go! Fest started almost like a joke when Daniele and me started to know each other a little more. We both played in bands that didn’t fit with most of the underground scene in Rome, so it was quite obvious to start a festival that had to be different from all the others we had here. We already had great examples that inspired us, like September To Dismember or Grind The Nazi Scum or Obscene Extreme obviously, but we didn’t start with the idea to become a big festival. We had a bunch of bands of friends that we wanted to bring in Rome and show that there was something different and maybe more excting than hardcore or average metal shows.
This year’s lineup is impressive. How did manage to get these names? Is it hard to work with bands outside of Italy?
Zenn: We were in contact with Squash Bowels, they should have played at the 2020 edition but then the pandemic came and made impossible to make it. We were also in contact with Yacopsae but couldn’t be possible to have them here in the past. About Endless Swarm, we booked them here in Rome during their tour with Nothing Clean in 2019 and they said they wanted to play in the festival too so we decided to all them for this year.
In grindcore is not that hard to work with foreign bands, we do everything DIY so we talk directly to them to find a right deal.
Pompeo: Generally all the bands that play at Go! Fest are made by people we know peronally. In this case it’s been a bit different, we got in touch with Yacopsae and Squash Bowels years ago but we didn’t know personally. Anyway it’s not hard to work with non italian bands, personally I feel like we’re part of a big weird family and I don’t feel any gap given by nationality. Being italian for me means nothing, a nation or a flag will never be part of my identity.
As far as I know, this is gonna be your 11 festival. But are you satisfied with how this beast has grown over the years?
Zenn: After almost 12 years we can proudly say that GO!FEST is a landmark for grindcore in Italy. We’ve booked almost all the bands in the scene and also many foreign bands we didn’t think we could bring here. Almost 400-500 people came from different parts of Italy and from abroad to have fun and mosh for 12 hours.
In the same time it’s not possible to have something like the 1999-2008 Obscene Extreme in Italy and people in our scene don’t want to spend that much for a festival. We know GO!FEST can’t grow that much but in the same time it has grown to a way bigger level than what we’ve expected. So I can say to be at 80% satisfied of what we’ve done during all these years.
Pompeo: Definitively yes, when I go abroad and I meet someone it’s easy to say Go! Fest and people immediately understand. The best part is when great bands that maybe have been playing for 20 years of more say good things about us. Everything made here is driven by our passion for grindcore, powerviolence and similar stuff, we made errors sometimes but probably people can feel that we work with our hearts.
So tell us more about the festival location, please.
Zenn: Strike is a big place located close to the Tiburtina Station. It’s not in the historical center but it’s really well connected with underground lines and bussed. During the years we booked other shows there but only in the small stage. They have a room with a small bar and a stage that is perfect for underground shows. It’s like an abandoned factory so it has also a very big room that is perfect for big events. Other bands like Doom or Vitamin X played there in the past.
Pompeo: This year, like the last one, the squat Stike will host us again. It’s a big building, a sort of abandoned factory, and it’s run by a collective of lovely and supportive people. All the other venues and collectives that helped us in the last years have been great with us, so I thing it a good time to say thank you to the old friends of Spartaco and Bencivenga.
Infrastructure is a very important thing, do you help fans from other towns/countries to rent apartments and give info/advice about good supermarkets, caffe ets?
Zenn: We gave several infos to who wrote us asking where to sleep. Rome is big so all we can recommend is to rent a room using air bnb or booking.com
Pompeo: Actually we never gave informations in a sistematic way. Fortunately the festival has always been in areas full of shops and it never lasted more than one day, so I think people just go on the wed and look what’s available in the area. We try to give advices about the behaviour of attendants inside and around the venue: be respectful with everyone, don’t fight with anyone, be polite, try to get not too drunk if you can. I’m glad to say that in many years no one gave us any big problem, the athmosphere is always great here.
Covid made you postpone your 10th (first big anniversary) festival, which sucks… but grinders all over the world found the way. They made digital festivals. And I want to know your opinion about that kind of festivals.
Zenn: Personally I don’t find them interesting at all, things like Global Grindcore Alliance Fest are a good way for bands to have a professional live recording but I find it really boring to watch.
Pompeo: I respect the idea and I loved anything that was made in that years to keep all of us closer. Sometimes I watched some of those shows but it’s not really my cup of tea. Grind shows are something to live in the old way, I don’t even like to take pics when I’m enjoyng a band.
You started in 2011, so how you formed the idea of starting this festival that year? Was it hard to start?
Pompeo: It wasn’t hard at all because we already had a venue and a bunch of great bands of friends that were ready to join us. It was almost like “let’s do it, it’s going to be a lot of fun”. Maybe now the fun for us is a little less, but you can imagine it’s become much more complicated 🙂
Zenn: We didn’t think about making something big. In 2011 there wasn’t a proper scene for grindcore/power violence, the DIY hardcore shows were boring as fuck, local bands were really lame. In the same time xKatexMoshx started to play and To Live A Lie Records was releasing many good records of bands like Get Destroyed, Archagathus, Backslider or Sex Prisoner. We wanted a place in Rome for this kind of stuff and to gather here those Italian bands that were into this thing, but divided in different parts of the country.
Making a show with 80/100 people was considered a success and we didn’t expect to have more than this for our festival. We started at fourth edition in 2014 to have foreign bands because we wanted to be sure we could financially handle it.
How many people could hold your venue and how many people do you expect to see this year?
Pompeo: Stike can hold even 2000 people maybe, it’s hard to say because it’s a squat and we don’t have a certified number as a club. Last year, at the same place, we had around 1000 people and honestly I’ll be happy to confirm this number. Last year Go! Fest was the first big show in Italy after the end of the lockdown so it was quite easy, but I hope people will come again because of the linepu, we worked hard on it.
Zenn: The venue can hold even 1000 people because it has a lot of open space. Personally I don’t want to have expectations about this year, let’s see.
I bet that people could enjoy the local beer and snacks at the fest, right? What people can eat/drink there? Any vegan menu?
Pompeo: Food inside the venue will be made by an animal sanctuary from Tuscany where they help many anymals giving them the life they deserve. They need a lot of money to run it and everything is made by volunteers, so a message to everyone: buy fod from them and support these great humans.
Zenn: Food and beverages are not organized by us, the people in the Strike collective will think about that. All that I can say is that you will drink there and eat something for sure.
Maybe it`s too early for a such question but what are your plans for the next year?
Pompeo: Ahahahah generally after the end of the festival I don’t want to hear anything about it for 2 or 3 weeks, I just get too stressed sometimes. Anyway I’m sure we all have already ideas, but it’s really too early now to think about it.
Zenn: Too early to talk about that.
What are the hardest things in organizing this kind of events? Maybe you can give some tips to the people who want to start their own deal?
Pompeo: The only tip I feel like giving is keep everything diy. Contact bands by yourself, try to build a relationship with them, avoid any kind of booking agency, be fair with the bands and with anyone involved in the festival and find good friend with the same passion that support you and can understand when you’re in troubles.
Zenn: Probably the hardest thing when something is growing is to find the right headliners and having a good deal with them. It’s full of small bands but very few “big” bands that can have an audience outside grindcore fans.
All I can recommended is this: don’t care about trends, follow your ideas and to form something than reflects what you like. If we wanted to do something popular we would have booked horrible Oi/skin punk bands that most of people like here.
What Go Fest is for you? A business or fun and explain to us why?
Pompeo: It’s part of something that I try to give back to say thank you to what we can call the “scene”. Without grind, powerviolence, thrash, hardcore and other stuff I’d be a totally different person. This music and it’s community gave me more than I could ever expect since the first day, and I’ll never be greatful enough to all of this. So Go!Fest is a sort of present for you all.
Zenn: As 50 Cent said, Get Rich or Die Trying 😀
Seriously, we prefer to stay DIY and even if we wanted to live with this in Italy it’s not possible. So we continue to do this shit jut for fun.
Thank you so much, boys! Hope one day I`ll be able to visit your fest and share a beer with you!
Pompeo: You know, whenever you want we’ll be happy to have a great time together here! And thank you again for your work even in this bad times. I hope we can spend a good time together in the future and just be happy after this useless war is over.
Zenn: Thank you for this interview and for having one of the few serious website for this kind of music. Hope to meet you in person and to have a beer with you someday!
Contacts: Facebook page / Official site / Instagram page