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We Talked to Andy Animal About His Meltasia Festival

It's basically the anti-Coachella.

by Zachary Lipez
Aug 3 2014, 9:34pm

In the twisted post-apolyptic landscape that is contemporary garage rock, Andy Animal stands nearly alone. After years of fronting green room trashers/onstage fistfight havingers, Stalkers, Animal has made a name for himself throwing legendary parties upstate where the musical line-up was always immaculately curated–and by being an unofficial spokesperson for Yankee Candle. Now Andy Animal’s vision has expanded: This year marks the first ever Melatasia Fest, at Cherokee Farms in LaFayette, Georgia.

Meltasia is a three day festival–which takes place September 5-7 this year–of psych, rock, punk, garage, rap, camping, and debauchery. The lineup is insane: Hank Wood and the Hammerheads, Crazy Spirit, Black Oak Arkansas, Nik Turner’s Hawkwind, Shazzula, the Coathangers, Black Lips, Cherie Currie from The Runaways, and about a trillion other bands that you will thankfully never see at Coachella.

Mr. Animal was kind enough to explain the thinking behind Meltasia. You should be kind enough to yourself to attend.

Let’s get the basic stuff out of the way, what’s the general idea behind the festival? How is it different from others–especially now that we have a weird almost glut of festivals?
For starters we started the planning about six months later than your usual last minute festival, which I think makes the whole vibe pretty exciting. There will be no VIP packages or guest list. That's boring. This is not your normal mix of bands either. We got psychedelic, hardcore, classic rock, punk, country, Quintron...We even got some New Orleans bounce happening. Vockah Redu! I also got a young rapper from California called T3rd. He sent me some stuff and I thought he sounded like Kool Keith so I thought 'okay this will work.’ I don't know really how it's normally done but I made a huge list of bands that I thought would be good for this, called them, most agreed, booked them, made an announcement on Facebook and then got slammed with emails from bands across the country. I sifted through all of them and picked which ones I thought were most suitable to complete my vision. We got Shazzula coming out from Belgium to curate a whole psychedelic cannibal themed village. That's where the DJs will be doing their thing. I can't wait to see it. Price of admission is cheap, you have the option of camping in a quiet area, you can be as close to your car as you want, we got food, we got toilets, we got showers…Oh, and we got swimming and we got Black Oak Arkansas!

Tell me a bit about the earlier festivals you did that were basically just your birthday parties writ cosmically huge. What did they teach you about what to do and what NOT to do for this Meltasia?
It's called "Andy Animal's Meltdown Funabration" or different variations of that. The last one was called "Andy Animal's Filthy Meltdown Funabration Weekender 3D Part 5 Starring Gumby & Santa Claus!!!! In 3D." It started five years ago at a cool spot I discovered in Phoenicia, New York called Uncle Pete's Camping. It's more of a word of mouth party. You would not believe the shenanigans those people put up with over there.

The first time we did it, I just bought a bunch of tiki torches and solar ground lights from Wal-Mart and my crew and I set up one tarped area, we made some funny signs and I blasted music from my car. The second year we got a PA and hooked an iPod up to it, third year we put up a big tent in the field and got some bands to play, fourth year I got a ton of bands with Mungo Jerry as the headliner. This last one we cut it down to 3 bands a night for 2 nights, so I could give people more time to run around and play in the river. Cherie Currie, Apache, Bloodshot Bill, Long Knife, Daddy Long Legs and David Peel and The Lower East Side. Cherie stated numerous times that it was the best party she had ever been to. The whole thing has always been a real freak show. Funny hats, costumes, naked women on motorcycles, Roman candle fights, Sex Pistols Saturdays (blasting The Sex Pistols on a Saturday morning.), psychedelic Mylar pathways, torches EVERYWHERE.

I always give people a list of what NOT to bring, which includes dogs that bite, bad vibes, cocaine, heroin and stuff like that. Hard drugs and the woods do not mix. I did cocaine the second year and ended up leaving my own party to go hide. That was the last time I ever touched a hard drug. It's just ugly to me. Most experienced Melters would agree with me. I wasted a ton of money on big fireworks this year. Little crackers throughout the day were always fine but there was a situation with the police that prevented us from lighting the big ones at night. Looks like I'm gonna have to go ahead and bring them to Meltasia. Another cool thing is if there is someone at the Meltdown that you don't like or just don't feel like being around, it's really easy to avoid them. I haven't really been through that because I love all the Melters. But there is just so much going on all over the place. The only thing is that I always wish I could spend more time with so many people but I'm usually riding up and down the paths on my motorcycle assuring that everything is running smoothly. Other than that it's a fucking magical experience, but I'm gonna lay that party to rest for a while so I can focus on some bigger opuses in different places. I'm so psyched for Meltasia, man. We are really going above and beyond with this one.

Did you have to have some sort of personal relationship with them or just like the music?
I guess I do know a large percentage of the bands. Lot's of them I have gotten to know due to being a fan of their music. If I like em I book em. Within realty of course. If all goes well then maybe we can get AC/DC or something next year. The other percentage where booked through my business partner Richard McSherry who runs Onward Indian Touring out of Asheville NC. He's kept me hip to lots of cool bands down south that I'd been unaware of.

What’s the deal with Hawkwind? Is it Hawkwind? Why are people upset?
This is Nik Turner’s Hawkwind. He is an ex member of Hawkwind who has put together an outstanding lineup that plays the Hawkwind classics. Included are the guitarist and the drummer from UK Subs who are another personal favorite of mine. The other more official Hawkwind has continued to cancel appearances across the US for way to long now. Nik Turner and his crew have been delivering the goods with no complaints...except for this little crew of British bozos that go around trolling any online Turner related events that they can. Saying things like 'he is not allowed to use that name. You are both breaking the law. Nik Turner doesn't deserve this or that' as if I have any control over it. Telling people not to go as if this whole festival revolves around Nik. They are like a bunch of 12 year olds. Here is a picture of one of them. Most of them look like this (Andy sent me a photo of a square dude that I’m not gonna post. But dude looks square.). That guy is one of the biggest threats in my life right now so shit is pretty good. Fact is Nik Turner's Hawkwind are the ones who will actually show up and play. I have seen them and they are outstanding. Next question!

How important was it to you that you avoid sponsorship? Was that even an option (if this counts as finances to you, feel free to skip?
[Laughs] Where the Hell did you hear that. We got some sponsors being finalized. Yo sponsors! Contact us! maryclaireginn1@gmail.com. That goes for vendors as well!

What’s helped you more in booking the fest: being in Stalkers, having done your annual birthday bash, or being an online candle celebrity?
I feel like the candle thing brought me more attention than anything else ever has. I dunno. I love a good party and I wanna party with all of you. Let's hold hands.

Zachary Lipez will definitely be attending Meltasia. He's on Twitter - @ZacharyLipez.

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Want more festivals?

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Anti-Coachella