Chania Rock Festival - Nikos Athineos

Chania Rock Festival - Nikos Athineos

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It is really interesting to take a look behind the scenes and learn a bit on how a festival is being put together and how it is run. So, METAL KAOZ submitted a series of question to Nikos Athineos, who is the one of the organizers of Greece’s ‘Chania Rock Festival’, which will take place in the middle of the old city of Chania (next to the famous old port of the city), at the beautiful island of Crete.

Chania Rock Festival - Nikos Athineos

Hello Nikos and welcome to METAL KAOZ! What was your motivation to put together a Metal festival? In my mind, I have a picture of three friends of thinking to organize an event with the bands they like.
You can say it happened like this, although the three persons would be me, myself and I (laughs). The first edition of ‘Chania Rock Festival’ in 2002 was basically the development of ‘Stargazer Metal Festival’ which was a small indoor event that took place in 2000 and 2001. But yeah, you are right, the evolution of the first and second installments of ‘Chania Rock Festival’ happened by talking to friends and trying to make dreams come true. In 2008, a cultural center was found to support the festival which was basically reborn in 2008 with an amazing sold-out show.

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the first years of the festival? How much has the festival improved / evolved all these years? I think it has been running for 11 years, right?
You are right, the festival is eleven years old. I can say that I remember everything; pulling all nighters, losing flights, facing numerous problems but in the end everything going well. The ‘Chania Rock Festival’ was hosted at the Chania National Stadium, and since 2008, we have changed four different venues. For the fourth year, the festival has been hosted at San Salvatore Bastion, in Chania, Crete, in Greece.

What can you tell us about George Manouselis who passed away in 2015? You have also a band competition running dedicated to his memory, can you tell us a few things about this?
First and foremost, George was a friend of mine. He was great music fan and seeing the great success in 2002, he could not but work hard to make it happen again in 2008. He did not take it lightly that five years were “lost”, so he worked really hard to make it happen. He was also the chairman of the cultural center that was founded back then. After his passing, the decision was made to setup this competition to honor his name and I think it was the least the festival could do for his hard work that also benefited the entire town. His work also contributed to the growth of the festival every years. With this way, we keep his memory alive.

How difficult is keeping the festival going money-wise? Is it more challenging to book bands as compared to the festivals held in Central / North Europe?
It is extremely difficult... The city of Chania is located at the island of Crete, South of Greece, so is a bit far from the central part of Greece. So, the flight tickets are quite expensive and, on top of this, you have to consider that the festival happens during the tourist season, so booking hotels is also expensive. Of course, the economic crisis in Greece has also affected the festival, however we've managed to keep it going without cancelling it. In 2015, we had a great billing but we also had to deal with the capital controls set at the bank transactions and the closing of the banks for three weeks - three weeks before the festival! But we got it going. Sure, the attendance was not as high as we would like, but isn't it how you build a reputation?

What is the maximum attendance for ‘Chania Rock Festival’? Do you get a lot of people coming from countries outside Greece?
The design of the festival is made having in mind the safety and the comfort of the attendees. I would say that 60% come from Greece, while the rest is from all around the world. This year we have people coming from Chile, Mexico and 15 European countries. This is an international event with international bands, so we have visitors from different countries. The festival has been recently added to the Canadian tourist guide under the list of the 21 most interesting festivals in Europe.

What would be the ideal ‘Chania Rock Festival’? Are there any specific bands that you’d like to have? Personally, I’d love to see Jon Oliva on the billing.
We would like to have a multi-stage festival attracting people from all around the world, and with different musical genres. Who wouldn’t love to have bands like MOTÖRHEAD, DIO or SAVATAGE with Jon Oliva?

How do you promote the festival outside Greece?
I’d say with the bands we have on the billing. However, we want to put more work on the promotion and be more organized in that aspect. I think we are getting better every year.

What is your favorite festival outside Greece? Is there something you see that you’d like to do at ‘Chania Rock Festival’?
There are a lot for different reasons. I can say ‘Sweden Rock’ for putting so many Hard Rock bands, ‘Wacken’ and ‘Hellfest’ for their size.

Are there any lyrics that you like that could represent the attitude of the festival?
That’s a tough question... (laughs) but I think “rock, rock ‘till you drop’ by DEF LEPPARD.

One last question; is the festival kids-friendly?
Yes it is. Each year, we have entire families coming to the fest and we could not be more happy about it.

Thank you Nikos for your answers - see you in a couple of weeks!
Thank you very much!