Six Reasons Why Indie Authors Fail

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Having returned from the helpful & inspiring Writers Conference in Nottingham and the Fifth Self-Publishing Conference in Leicester, I feel it’s my duty to list Six Reasons Why (I think) New Indie Authors Fail:

1: They haven’t adopted a Workaday Mentality

This is about failing to work to deadlines and not setting themselves SMART objectives. There’s nothing wrong with writing for fun, as an amusement, or for leisure. But it won’t make them rich or famous. To become successful they’ll have to remind themselves that it’s a business of work.

2: They haven’t gained the necessary Skill-Set

This is about admitting to themselves that they haven’t gained the knowledge needed for success. They will have to learn that writing is a constantly changing business. So they’ll have to keep their knowledge current. They’ll need to join groups & associations. Get guidance, and read about the experiences of others.

3: They embark on fruitless Flights of Fancy

This is about being led-astray and putting time, money & effort into less important parts of the project. And that’s because they haven’t learnt all that there is to know about their market nor learnt how to work within a limited budget and use precious time efficiently. They should target funds and energy at those areas that are deemed most important to the successful outcome of the project. [This means they’ll need to invest in the right skill-sets, see above and also build supportive relationships, see below]

4: They’re timid about forming New Relationships

This is about failing to understand the notion that their activities will almost always require them to go out and meet people. Real people. They’ll have to be open to the idea of ​​social networking too. And they ought to get into this mindset right way because these days authoring isn’t a “stay-at-home job ” — it’s about “going out and meeting folk.”

5: They’re poor at Teamwork Planning

This is about failing to build a strong team around themselves. They’ll need to get away from the notion that they’re all on their own. [see above] They’ll need to identify who is on their team… then get them working alongside. They ought to start building a team right away, beginning with family & friends, adding any supportive writers, then identifying and sharing with reader-fans, adding professionals to the team, then building themselves an email client list.

6: They lack the Talent

This is about failing to face the possibility that they’ll have to hone their writing skills. They will need to face facts — there’s a constant need to develop, improve and practice the craft of writing … They can do this by attending creative writing workshops, writing groups, classes and /or any other stimulating sessions. When they complete workshops they’ll marvel at the results. So will their readers.

Words: author @neilmach
Currently editing: The Bedevilment of Bertie Lunn. Due September 2017

Rock Hard

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I just found this old piece first published in 2008.  I think it still has currency.  What do you think? 


Rock Hard

When I saw local classic rock covers bands Blue Fuses and, later, Foulplay playing gigs at pubs in Egham and Staines on a Saturday night I started to realise that ‘looking like a hardnut’ helps a workaday rock muso, in their daily grind, to get through the concert without mishap.

For example, once you ‘come off stage’ gasping for a pint and maybe a smoke – you will need to stroll through an often hostile audience, whose temperament may be ill-disposed to you because you have done such a shite show.

In these circumstances, it pays if you don’t flounce through the bar-room wearing a one-piece pink shrug and nylon leotard looking like Darkness singer/guitarist Justin Hawkins. It also helps if you look a bit more authentic (auf-fentik) wearing, maybe, a sombre pair of dirty jeans and a plain T shirt, a bit of 24 hour old fungus on yer chops and a swagger that says, “do you want some, mate?” Obviously, if there are ladies at the venue, you are likely to get a drink from one of these admirers…but this will also invoke ill-feeling from the other alpha males in the room who will, naturally, suppose you are “out to get their birds” and give you ‘a good seeing to’.

All of these complications are far more exaggerated if you are playing a working man’s club or a drinkers boozer and all the punters at the establishment have an-inbuilt and overwhelming desire to “give you a good kicking” because you are a fairy, you are are other-worldy and arty-fart and you are a general neer-do-well.

justinhawkins-waxSo I have come up with a strategy for all you budding rockers out there who hope to get through to ‘last orders’ without having the contents of your nose splattered all over the flock wallpaper.

I hope this short lesson helps you to enjoy your concert safe in the knowledge and belief that you will be able to go out into the crowd for half-time drinks and puffs without fear of a bottle being cracked over your head or, at the very least, being ‘accidently’ tripped-up (ha! ha!) as you head back from the bar with a tray load of drinks for your bandmates.

Before I begin on Rock Hard 101, I do need to define ‘hardness’.

To the average British geezer a person who is ‘Rock Hard’ is anyone who can give a slap, if required, to a recalcitrant yob who jogs his arm ‘accidently’ as he passes. Or who can wink at a lay-dee but who also has the good grace to nod understandingly to the lay-dee’s bloke when he notices.

A ‘Rock Hard’ Fella can drink 2-3 pints in the ten-minute interval. He swaggers to the bog like a cross between John Wayne and Dr Dre and, upon entering said shite-house, he swings the door so violently that he almost takes it off the hinges. He rolls his own. He buys his own pints (and never drinks bottles of ‘poofy’ drinks like juice.) He wears a few livid battle scars on his face and/or arms. He looks like he can ‘handle himself’ in a bundle. He talks the talk and, far more importantly, he walks the walk.

It is best to start out on this lesson by saying that long hair is a no-no. I know you like it and you need it long so that you can headbang – but most of the gents in the quintessential British boozer either have NO HAIR or have No. 1 cuts.

Their attitude is that any man who has long hair is either 1) a hippy or 2) gay. They also have firm opinions about the cleanliness of long hair… so Bob Marley would not be welcome (notwithstanding his general ‘hardness’.) Neither would Who vocalist Roger Daltrey during his ‘Tommy’ days because he looked like a girl with a frothy head of golden bubbles. Although, Roger would be more welcome nowadays because he has almost gone bald.

[Who- Frothy head of bubbles not welcome!]

The Kinks circa 1970 would not be considered rock hard because of their long hippy hair. But, far worse, their clothes scream-out ‘dirty student scrounger’ and so they would not be welcomed. Neither do you want your clothes to mark you out as some kind of intellectual ‘arty-farty’ prat.

So Booker T. & the M.G.’s would not be welcome in any Middlesex public bar and neither would Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention. Your choice of clothes should either be a) understated and similar to the clientele’s own George at Asda-type choice or b) way over the top and military in attitude.

The circa 1966 Yardbirds would be very welcome because their style is understated (their hair could do with a wash and a cut though) as long as they left Eric Clapton at home- because he often looked like a bit of a hippy. Nowadays Eric looks a bit too ‘posh’ and so would be given a few smacks just for being ‘a rich city banker’ or words to that effect.

In the early 1970’s the band Slade looked the part too. In those days, before glam, glitter, top hats and stupid heels, this band looked like what they were… a bunch of Midlands hard-nuts with a grudge to settle. In those days you would offer to buy them a drink if they strolled into your bar, not just because you wanted to get ‘in’ with the lads but because you feared for your own safety if you did not.

[Slade- buy them a drink- or else!]

Noel Jones (lead singer with Blue Fuses) wore a sensible Black Pudding T-shirt to his recent Staines Working Mans club gig the other month. Last Saturday, at the Crown Egham, Noel chose to wear a sensible footie shirt. Another good choice. It is what I call a ‘camoflage’ clothing. If all the punters and punteresses in the pub are football fans you need to blend in.

Obviously, a good knowledge of soccer is also required – or you could make an almighty blunder. However, I have also seen Noel wearing a Cradle of Filth T-shirt in the past and this kind of shirt would be strictly a no-no in the saloon bar at The Crown. Not only has this type of T-shirt got witchcraft connotations, it also screams ‘I am a weird beard and I need my head to be kicked in’ to all the regular drinkers.

So here are a few simple rules about your choice of shirt. a) never wear pink (too poofy); b) never wear sleeveless shirts unless you are a hip-hop star or a rapper (too poofy); c) never wear a ‘funny’T shirt (they won’t get the joke).


Fat bastards, on the whole, look mean and aggressive …but…all the geezers in the pub know that they can ‘take you’ easily because you are out of condition. They like to quote Michael Caine in Get CarterYou are a big boy, I know, but you’re out of condition, one hit and you’re down’. Plus, the downside of being ‘comfortably built’ is that you are less attractive to the lay-dees. So, although Meat Loaf is one big tough slab of meat, he would not be welcome in my pub on the corner because he is a fat git with long hair and stupid ill-fitting pink-hemmed suit.

However, Buster Bloodvessel aka Doug Trendle is just a normal beer-drinking fat bloke who wears sensible clothes and has got a ‘boiled head’ (i.e. a boiled egg in the place of a head of hair.) So it is how you make your fatness work for you that counts. Mama Cass Elliot would also have been very welcome in The Wheatsheaf & Pigeon Staines any time because she is just a normal fat bird with everyday jumble-sale clothes and a big appetite.

Facial hair

Neither Billy Gibbons nor Dusty Hill from ZZ Top would be welcome in my local because they both look like Santa Claus on his night off. Your choice of facial hair should not be too gay (Freddie) or too outrageous (Frank Zappa). Frank may well have looked like a mean sonofabitch back in the day but your eyes would keep being drawn back to the dead hamsters beneath his beady eyes. In the end you would just have to ‘give him a good kicking’ because of his ‘stupid poncy tash’.

It is best to keep your choice of facial hair to a minimum. Stubble is great (remember how masculine everyone thought George Michael was back in his Wham! days with his face full of stubble?) Full-on face covering beards (like The Beach Boys in 15 Big Ones ) will make you look scary and killer-like (think Charles Manson) or, much, much worse … think Rolf Harris.

beach boys beards
[Beach Boys- killer beards?]


Your swagger as you cross the bar is more important than anything else you do. If you sway across the room in a pink dress teetering on vertiginous high-heels and you look like that bloke Rob Davis out of Mud then – in all likelihood – you will get your face kicked in.

But you can pull this swagger off if you look like David Daniel “Dee” Snider (out of Twisted Sister) because, although you are wearing a frock and make-up, you actually look like a Polish scaffolder on his night off… and as if you mean business.


Lemmy (out of Motorhead) is a man’s man. Warts, Nazi clothing, grizzled features, swagger, worn out thin build and a F*** You attitude.

He is the personification of Rock Hard.

– © Neil_Mach November 2008-

WOLFSBANE Live at Tamworth

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When someone asks you why you love HEAVY METAL so much – What do you say?

Well, I just say “Wolfsbane.” Because this is the band that always manages to tick every one of my boxes. They fit ALL of my required parameters.

Go through my Metal Checklist if you don’t believe me:

· Metal supplies the courage you need to face the day √

· Metal provides the vitality you need when you feel depleted √

· Metal awakens your senses √

· Metal forces you to think about life and death √

· Metal creates its own gravity so that you can keep your feet on the ground √

· Metal is strong enough to sweep away your nagging worries √

· Metal gives you the ability to smile at yourself √

· Metal makes you feel that you belong √

· Metal has a tradition and a culture that you can buy into √

– © Neil Mach –

DSC_0281So when I heard that these demigods of metal were playing live at their home-turf in Tamworth I just had to go up to the Midlands and honor them.  And to remind myself of the reasons why I am devoted to the Religion of Metal.

The band came out to rapturous applause and quickly took over the two huge trailers that made-up the big stage. Kicking off with ‘Limo’ (from the “Did It For The Money” EP) and those ridiculously powerful percussive rings – played along with the most vindictively sharp riffs this side of the Chattahoochee River – this song immediately reminded us of “The Bad Boys from Boston” playing a number written by Def Leppard. And we do not mean that disrespectfully – it’s meant as the highest complement.

Then ‘Black Lagoon’ (from ‘Down Fall The Good Guys’) thundered into play. This song has some roaring, penetrating guitars and wide panoramas of voice. And the “Black Lagoon” hook made so much sense to us … and it caused our knees to jitter and our heads to spin cartwheels of blurred delight.

The open field at Tamworth Castle Grounds was a dark and desperate place, even at 4 o’clock in the afternoon when these monsters came onto stage. It was a typical weekend in August. Wet windy and depressing. With an evil touch of cold in the air to weaken our bones. The dank sky really eroded any resolution we might have had. Yet, when when Tamworth’s finest started out on their ‘Blue Sky’ number from “Wolfsbane Save The World” we all started to believe in a better day. That startling introduction – a guitar solo from Jase Edwards – brought a smile to even the most derelict looking metal-heads that stood shivering in the big field. Then the relentlessly fat rhythms picked up. The accompaniment broke down for a few moments – so that Blaze could roar out the verse. And after that, a charcoal-black murmuring bass line started to chortle and wheeze, and we all headed (in concert) “For the blue sky…” Superb.

Money to Burn” was as fast as a laser beam fired inside a supersonic cockpit. And the guitars were as pointed and as sharp as obsidian hell. Then we were all treated to a bundle of classic riffs. And a voice that dripped sweat and glistened like syrup. Yes, we all sang: “I Like it Hot.” And we swayed together.

After that came a high point of the show. “Kathy Wilson”. It is the most ‘Maidenish’ of all the songs from Wolfsbane. It burns like sulfur straight from the ashes. The guitars create a mesh of barbed-wire vibrations – against which the story is lovingly re-told. In this epic piece, Wolfsbane manage to create a vividly real landscape – even though it’s total fantasy – but nonetheless it’s as mesmerizing as one of your own dreams – and totally engrossing.

Other great moments at Tamworth included “Temple Of Rock” and the life-affirming knee-knocker that is “Paint The Town Red” from the ‘All Hell’s Breaking Loose Down At Little Kathy Wilson’s Place” recording.

But the best moment of all was that howling viper of a song “EZY”. It’s like all the greatest classic rock moments that you have ever heard. Put into one basket. And delivered. It had the lot. Shimmies of drums, jiving riffs and piping hot vocals. And the“EZY baby…” chorus made us all wheeze,weep and wee in unison. Brilliant.

– © Neil_Mach August 2013 –


Hard Rock Hell Cirque Du Rock – My First Picks

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HARD ROCK HELL 2013 has been labelled … “Cirque Du Rock” …… a Rock ‘n’ Roll circus extravaganza of grotesquely monumetal proportions. Full of twisted darkened moments and unrivalled camaraderie – and laced with the kind of pure adrenalin pumping high-octane rock ‘n’ roll you didn’t think was still achievable. This is a festival created by a circle of people who continue to know how to do it. And do it well.

Aussie Rockers Airbourne and Tracer are set to join fellow countrymen Electric Mary for an all out Antipodean attack on our Homeland (Well, the principality of Wales, to be exact.) But fear not, because we have found five new tantalising treats from Europe’s darkest underbellies to tempt your tender tinnitus-sizzled ear-holes – and to get your snake-oiled boots a-groovin’. 2013 appears to be one of the best HRH bills yet.

Cage The Gods1: Cage The Gods

Cage The Gods are a sensational new British rock band that fuse together rock ‘n’ roll culture from the four corners of the UK in a thunderously blues-inspired fashion, laced with soaring Celtic rock vocals, all of which creates something powerful, something unerringly familiar yet instantly gripping.

They spent most of 2012 writing, producing, recording and mixing their debut album titled “Favourite Sin” due for release at the end of 2013. Not content with just making a great record they then mastered it, designed the sleeve, manufactured a limited edition fan version and proceeded to set about procuring management and live agents without a second thought.

Check out the consecrated blues number ‘Sacrifice’. With those patiently sanctified vocals that utter mucous-splattered musings before they pile on a bundle of junk-yard chords – that come screaming in at you like some kind of divine blessing.

When the verse lurches in, increasing your blood pressure and knocking the cuban heels off of your stingrays… you know you are witnessing something completely majestic. Something agreeably rock – but full of guts-and-blues unholy glory too. It’s like Bad Company has been mixed with Boston. And it all comes at you like a blood thirsty colocolo with revenge on it’s mind. Mercy me!

When: Saturday

Where: Hard Rock Hell


Alunah2: Alunah

Birmingham based ALUNAH is a psyche/stoner/doom band which unleashes an incredible paganistic sound characterized by thick guitars, a punishing rhythm section, and earthy and hypnotic vocal melodies. Sometimes groovy, oppressive, or downright grimy depending on what the situation calls for, the songs are dark and slow without being downers !

Try ‘White Hoarhound’ for a thick slice of eagle feathers and tar pit. Black vaporizing guitars bubble up like methane seepages. And the moonshine clarity of the vocal from Soph crystalizes your fancies and lifts you from doom-filled decay. But not for long

When: Friday

Where: Hard Rock Hell


Wildside RIOT3: Wildside RIOT

Rocky Shades’ Wildside RIOT is said to be the fastest growing Dirt-Trash Sleaze band in the UK. Rocky leads the “Riot” with his renowned louder than life character and his ‘bringing the party to you’ stage charisma! With him in the Riot is Joss & Jimmy on guitars, Gaz on drums and JC on bass.

The Wildside Riot official video (the name is the song) is a thicket of enamelled percussive sounds and ear-blistering riffs that will take the paper off your wall and get your spine steaming! The simple rock ‘n’ roll verse is magnificent in its uncomplicated joyfulness. Then those guitars snake in, and entwine you. And you will feel totally poisoned by all the gas, But, boy, it’s worth it.

When: Friday

Where: Hard Rock Hell


Grifter4: Grifter

Formed in 2003 Grifter have been tearing up the asphalt round Britain and playing kick ass gig all over this sceptered isle.

Braggards Boast’ has got that slimy eel-like guitar slithering all over it, and a sledge-hammering beat that will do permanent damage to your brain tissue. If you let it. Yes, this band will cause visual loss and make your jaws drop off.

Listening to this song is a like having your girlfriend smash a pick axe handle into your dough-balls.

When: Friday

Where: Hard Rock Hell


Gold5: Gold

Rotterdam’s GOLD have been confirmed to play their debut UK show at HRH. The band was formed in 2011 by singer Milena Eva and guitarist Thomas Sciarone (ex-The Devil’s Blood) as a means to express, not to impress. Long time friend Igor Wouters grooves things up from his drum stool and new kid on the block Nick Polak adds his virtuosity and sense of harmony.

Their debut album “Interbellum” is out now.

Love, the magician” reminds us of Uriah Heep (during their Demons and Wizards days) but the sound also has a lot of the hot sinfulness and blues-rock hardness you might associate with Saint Jude. In other words, they are unabashed 60’s and 70’s rock-junkies with some modern takes on the concept. (Ooh! And they’ve got a sultry video too!) Take a peek.


For more details and tickets go to or call 0203 287 6684

Handy Ripostes for Rock Journalists

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No, I did not pay for my ticket to get in
But I paid for my transport to get all the way here

No, I do not get paid for taking photos
But I have to pay for all my equipment

Yes, I go to many concerts and festivals
Yes, I use up all my leave and my annual vacation to go see music

Yes, I meet a lot of famous musicians
But I would rather be with my friends and family, like you are

Yes, I do hang out back stage at events
Yes, I’ll be working on my notes, typing stuff and backing up my files

Yes, I sometimes get free food and drinks
But I do not have time to drink the water, and the ‘food’ is mainly crisps

Yes,  occasionally I receive free merchandise
Yes, like this t-shirt that they told me I must wear. I have worn it for 3 days in a row

Yes, sometimes they give me a free CD
Yes, then I spend hours reviewing the music and writing up a piece

No, just because I’m a journalist, it does not mean that I know “every band out there”
No, I do not know your friend’s band, even if they are  as good as you say they are

Yes, you can give me one of their demos, if you really want to
No, I probably won’t get around to listening to it

Journalist At Work

In the Army Now

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On the way back home, from the successful Cleethorpes Blues Festival 2013 in Lincolnshire, I was thinking about the promoters and organizers of events and festivals. I was thinking that they have an obligation –  almost a duty – to be careful about who they put into their line-up.

Some bands have very, very loyal fans. These are the bands that I call the ‘Army Bands’. Their fan-base will follow them everywhere. They will follow through hell-and-high water, through trenches, across the enemy lines. These Fan-Armies are highly motivated, well-organised, and totally dedicated.

I remember once talking to a member of the ‘Quo Army’ a few years ago. He said, “I will go everywhere and anywhere to see my band. I have traveled all over Europe with the Quo army . I spend a small fortune on concert tickets, hotel rooms, beer and food. But it is worth it to follow my favorite band.”

When I asked him why he did not get tired of listening to the same old songs played over-and-over, he said. ‘Well, that is the fun of it. We know what they are going to play. Know every word and every note. We are loyal because they are loyal. It’s a two-way thing. We love them, they love us, and we all love each other.”

For us there is only one band  it is just Quo
I also asked him if he would like to go and see other bands play live. He said, “No, for us there is only one band. It’s just Quo. They are a part of our lives. Other bands have played at Quo events , but we spend that time meeting, chatting, getting drunk and having a good time.”

Other bands that have this same kind of blind following / loyal allegiance include (in no particular order):

  • Slipknot
  • Rammstein
  • Lamb of God
  • AC/DC
  • Slayer
  • Motorhead
  • Kiss
  • Judas Priest

You can probably think of others.  They are not necessarily all metal/rock bands either. Madness has an army.

This kind of fanaticism is largely a men-only affair. The bands that the lads tend to follow are the masculine equivalent of ‘crush bands’. For many of these ’dudes’ their original dedication probably began during their school days. The tribal instinct came first. Individuals noticed that, by following a particular band, they became accepted by the mass.  With the commitment that they demonstrated, there also came a sense of belonging.  They became members of a special gang. A family that was dedicated to one cause. Later in life, with more money and more time to spend, that devotion could turn into an infatuation.

Iron_Maiden_Army patch
The biggest and strongest army is the Maiden Army. Maiden fans have literally no other band in their lives. They remain exclusively loyal to Maiden. They sleep, eat and drink the band. I went to see Maiden when they were supported by Avenged Sevenfold. The place was almost empty for the A7X performance. The Maiden Army were in the various bars (or just hanging about outside the venue), necking pints, and getting loaded.

It is this ‘hooligan element’ that slightly disturbs me. Some of these fans have a pack instinct. Sometimes they behave like football supporters. For them, the music is secondary. Following their tribe is instinctive.

Fans have a pack instinct
It’s not about the music. The concert is mostly a chance for them to meet up with their mates, get pissed, feel that they are part of the team. They lark about. And play up. If my friend was able to buy a Season Ticket to see Status Quo play all their Away Matches – he would have been very happy.

If you are a promoter or organizer, and you become tempted to put on the kind of band that has an “army of supporters” you had better think of the consequences. Obviously, the over-riding positive factor is that those big bands sell tickets. By the bucket load.  These dedicated fans become heedless when it comes to following their passion. They will spend a large proportion of their income on their overpowering enthusiasm. They will travel to the venue in large numbers. They will consume huge amounts of alcohol (and scoff) and they will also eat up a Whole Lotta merchandise. (As long as it relates to their band.)

They will fill out the crowd. It will be noisy and rowdy. The place will be buzzing. They will have a good time. This is all positive.

But there are also negative aspects. They will not be very interested in other acts. They will come and go like a herd. One minute they will all be there. A minute later, the place may be empty. Since the whole herd has moved off to a pub down the road. I’ve seen this happen before.

Iron Maiden Trooper
They can become messy. They will certainly be volatile. Because of their herding instinct, they will almost certainly present a security or safety risk. As a large single-minded crowd, they can easily bust down barriers and breach security obstacles. They may confront and overpower security officers.

Perhaps the biggest down-side is that they could put off other participants from coming out to your event at all. Their band will probably be playing Top of the Bill. So the Fan-Army will spend all day getting pissed and larking about. Then, when their band is finally on stage, the army will assault the room/field – knocking people over to get to the front. And then they will start to become more-and-more intrusive and disorderly – as their band begins to play.

The reputation of these die-hard fans ( if they have earned it, or not) will have gone before them. Others will stay away. Worrying about the disorder. Or even fearing for their safety. They might even stay away from any future events too – once they see the kind of band that are presented on the line-up. But the promoter or organizer will not notice anything is wrong at first. Because they will be busily occupied selling tickets and dealing with the burgeoning crowd.

It is only when they see the results – in the cold light of day- the damage, the chaos and the confusion – that they will understand what they might have done.

And will the event be successful in future years? Well, perhaps not, actually. Because the high tickets sales – all those lucrative sales- was just because one act was on the line-up. That will not be able to be replicated again. The Army only came to the event because their band was playing. They will never be back.  Well, not unless their band is playing again.

It means that the promoters and organizers could end up having to book the same bands over-and-over. If they want to continue to succeed.

If they are not careful, they can get themselves into a cursed circle – an ever repeating cycle – of hiring the same big name band over-and-over. They might end up only booking bands that have hugely loyal ‘Go everywhere and anywhere’ followings.

And then their event becomes MaidenStock or QuoStock or RammStock.

Quo Fest 2011