Heavy-Vinyl Presents: An Interview with Gary Spivack, talent booker for Carolina Rebellion
Written by: David Locklear
The Carolina Rebellion landed with a boom back in 2011 on Charlotte, NC and rock festivals haven’t been the same since. Growing from strong but humble beginnings, it has exploded into a massive rock festival with every subsequent year, hosting some of the biggest names in music, from Slipknot to one of the final performances of the legendary Soundgarden last year.
Now they have announced their 2018 lineup, which has a perfectly balanced mix of emerging bands (Greta Van Fleet) as well as legendary statesmen (Alice in Chains), which means 2018 attendees may be in danger of hitting musical critical mass. Gary Spivack, the talent booker for the Carolina Rebellion, took a few minutes to talk with us by phone about the heavy slab of rock he helped curate for this year’s Rebellion.
David Locklear: Who you most excited about seeing play live on this year’s lineup?
Gary Spivack: It’s really about the sum of its parts with Carolina Rebellion, because we really want to cast a wider net of what we feel is rock n’ roll. There are all types of different genres: there’s hard rock, there’s metal, there’s alternative rock-and even alternative hip-hop! So when we’re curating the Carolina Rebellion, we try to have the biggest variety possible and I think we really did that this year. So what’s the number one band I’m most excited about? I have to say the wide variety of them, but if I were to break it down to an individual band, it would have to be Muse. Being it’s their only U.S. festival appearance in 2018, that’s a really big deal. But we’re also very excited about getting Queens the Stone Age, Incubus and Billy Idol. Billy was somebody we have been trying to get since we started Carolina Rebellion. He is the Rebel Yell. But to have the more straight down the middle rock n’ roll– which is so core to us–Godsmack, Five Finger Death Punch, Breaking Benjamin, Stone Sour, and finally a couple heroes from 90s rock: Alice in Chains and Stone Temple Pilots. You put all those together with some emerging up-and-coming bands...that makes for a hell of a rock n’ roll weekend.
David Locklear: With you guys putting these lineups together, how early in the year do you usually get started working on them? Or is it something that you build on over the course of multiple years?
Gary Spivack: It’s a 364 day feat. When Carolina Rebellion 2017 wrapped, we were already trying to figure out how to raise the bar and how we were going to make the Rebellion even better than it has been before. It takes a village to put together a festival of this magnitude on. We really create a “city” for a weekend.
David Locklear: And I’m sure everybody involved feels the pressure to bring a great lineup every year?
Gary Spivack: Yeah! And to also make sure that we’re not just one thing to one person. We want to be the rock destination rock festival for all of the Carolinas.
David Locklear: Last year’s Carolina Rebellion hosted one of Soundgarden’s last shows before Chris Cornell’s untimely passing.
Gary Spivack: That was so tragic-such a loss.
David Locklear: Did you have a chance to speak with Chris or interact with him during the Rebellion last year?
Gary Spivack: I did a little bit at the Rebellion, but it was more at the weekend after, at our other festival we host called the Northern Invasion, which was the last festival that Soundgarden played. He was lucid and charming and awesome, and that’s why was even more of a shock to anybody around to hear what he did...everyone was extremely surprised and bummed by it. But when they played Carolina Rebellion that was one of the best performances that we’ve seen from Soundgarden-it was better than the Northern Invasion...they gave a hell of a performance.
David Locklear: Yeah, they were really on fire! The way the crowd reacted; you could tell the band was feeding on it. It feels special knowing that I got to see that performance.
Gary Spivack: I’m glad you saw that. And it feels great that we’re back up to speed and we feel that 2018 is the best lineup and the biggest one we’ve had to date.
David Locklear: Yeah, I think so. I even heard it being talked about it on the Feedback show on the Volume channel of Sirius XM this morning.
Gary Spivack: Oh, the Volume channel? Who were you listening to? I like that channel.
David Locklear: Nik Carter and Larry Majewski’s show that comes on at 8 o’clock in the morning. They were talking about Muse being the headliner what a big deal that was. It was making the headlines this morning.
Gary Spivack: That’s great! We like to spread the word to everybody that the Carolina Rebellion is the top-of-the-line festival in America, and it’ll go toe-to-toe with any other music festival. I don’t know another festival that’s going to have Muse, Queens of the Stone Age, Five Finger Death Punch, Stone Temple Pilots, Godsmack, and Alice in Chains in one show.
David Locklear: And Billy Idol!
Gary Spivack: Of course!
David Locklear: I’ve been in nerd for his music since I was a little kid.
Gary Spivack: Me too. I read his book last year and I felt like we’ve got to have him. We’re honored to have Billy to be a part of this. I’m sure when he sings his hits, including Rebel Yell, it’s going to be one for the books.
David Locklear: Yeah you’re going want to wear a helmet for that one. It’s probably going to get pretty wild in the crowd. Well, thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me, Gary.
Gary Spivack: Of course.
David Locklear: I’m really looking forward to seeing this awesome festival and I think it’s going to be something that everybody is really going to enjoy.
Gary Spivack: Thanks so much for your support.