Just a few days after getting back from my trip to Belgium for Machine Head, my friend Cindy was to join me in the UK for a trip to Donnington racetrack near Derby for the UK festival of the year – Download. We hadn’t sorted where to stay or how to get home; we only knew we would be travelling there with my friend’s friend. But that didn’t stop us.
We arrived and put our luggage in Silverstein’s dressing room with the hope of securing a place to sleep during the course of the day and took a wander around the site. I found this super cool trike and insisted getting on to have a picture!
I got to photograph Bloodsimple from the photo pit and also side stage. We hung out a little after their set. I was introduced to a guy called Mike Gitter from America. He was really cool and we watched Bring me the Horizon as he hadn’t seen them before from side stage for all of about 2 seconds and then he decided he had enough haha. We went back to Silverstein’s dressing room to chill for a bit and I noticed that Machine Head’s dressing room was just next door. Some of the crew had arrived – I had recognised them from Belgium, it was really cool that they all remembered me as I know on tour you get to meet so many people.
A sudden influx of noise surrounded the dressing rooms when Motley Crue had arrived – just opposite Silverstein’s room and Slayer just around the corner. Motley Crue had 2 dressing rooms – Tommy Lee in one and the rest of the band in the other. Tommy had bought his decks and was pumping out music until they went on stage. He opened the door once to his security guard posted outside and I noticed there was a smoke machine in there as well. Funny guy. They had flown out girls specifically to sit around on the sofas outside their dressing room, to keep up the image. As if girls wouldn’t arrive from the UK to seek them out. Which of course they did…and i knew a couple of them. They were waiting to see Nikki and when he came out it was like bees round a honey pot! Time for me to go to the stage with Machine Head I thought ;)
Dave invited me to go on the shuttle bus with the band and watch from side stage. As we were waiting at the ramp having a chat, we were ushered off by security as they needed to get ready for the next band. The security obviously didn’t know that Dave was the drummer of the next band. I looked at Dave and he had a cheeky smile and looked at me as if to say, let’s play along for a bit. So Dave tried to say that his head was burning from the heat and could he wait in the shade for a bit. Security wasn’t really having it and told us to wait past the line on the ramp. Time for Machine Head to take the stage and Dave stepped up to the drum riser. The security guy looked at me as if to say “oh”. I laughed.
To share the shuttle bus back with the guys after they had just played was a real honour. To hear them talk about how the set went and the buzz from the crowd was enlightening, I just kept quiet like a fly on the wall, not to ruin the moment for them.
We stepped off the shuttle bus and I left them to sort out their sweaty clothes and have a breather. I bumped into Steve from Suicidal Tendencies and we found some storm troopers nearby. Cindy and Steve pretend to be arrested for a picture
I grabbed some lunch and sat on the sofas surrounding the dressing room area. Dave wanders out and comes to sit with me and have a beer. We talked more about tattoos, plans for new ones, how the set went and other random stuff. Then a very emotional fan came bounding over and declared her love for Machine Head and how their music has helped her through some really though times. She started crying and thanking him. I asked Dave later how that makes him feel when fans react like that. He said that it makes their job worthwhile and that without the fans they are nothing. It’s humbling for him. I liked that.
Lots of artists wandering around, hanging out and drinking. The perfect opportunity to go and say hi to some of my favourite artists.
Mike had drunk a little by the evening and we decided to raid Motley Crue’s dressing room. He found a plate of various sandwich meats covered in cling film and written on it was “Tommy Lee’s” in marker pen, it was absolutely hilarious. Mike ran around offering anyone and everyone he bumped into the opportunity of having Tommy’s meat. I think in the end we gave it to some girl in a fishnet dress who was high on drugs. She was upset by something and locked herself in a dressing room. I dunno.
Everyone was off to the Live Nation aftershow in the VIP area, Dave joked and asked me to be his “fun date”, we went along through the crowds of people and he was being stopped for autographs. I had a little drink then we had to leave for the cab to the hotel. Mike had sorted us out to stay with him as his other guests didn’t show up. I asked Mike on the cab ride back what it was that he did, he said he was one of the A&R guys from Roadrunner USA. I thought I had recognised him from a couple of DVDs!!
Not surprising after the first very long day we had overslept at the hotel and missed breakfast. So we grabbed a bite when we arrived at the festival.
Ill Nino had arrived and remembered me from back in April when they toured with Drowning Pool. Very charming guys and their stage show rocked at the Dimebag Darrell stage.
Cindy and I wandered round a little and stopped to see the people running the Atticus clothing stand and also Cancer Bats who arrived a day early to try out the amps etc in the music equipment tent backstage.
I photographed From Autumn to Ashes and KoRn.
After taking pictures, I watched KoRn from side of the stage. Joey Jordison was drumming for them and I was transfixed! The sound was astounding, the crowd went wild and started pulling the tent down as there wasn’t enough room to for them all to fit in. They really should have been on a bigger stage. Security was threatening to stop the show – which would have been so disappointing, but thankfully it had got under control. KoRn were the highlight of the festival for me.
I had lost my voice over the course of day 1 and 2, and was down to a husky squeak….time for an early night!
We woke in time for showers and breakfast at the hotel and even packed our luggage to take to the venue. At breakfast I met Mike’s friend Monte who I also recognised from the Roadrunner DVDs. He was a great guy with a very dry sense of humour, we hit it off immediately! We all grabbed a cab to the festival with our luggage and went backstage to see what the final day held, and how Cindy and I were actually going to get home!
Stone Sour were there and we went to go and say hi. Cindy knew them quite well and I had met them a couple of times. Corey was in a really good mood and was cracking jokes and dancing around. He’s great to be around when he’s like that.
Half of the dressing rooms had been curtained off with thick black velvet and everyone wondered what was going on. It was Evanescence’s section, they had a press table outside the curtain and no one could go near the 3 dressing rooms Amy Lee had. Interesting.
I jumped on a shuttle bus to main stage following Stone Sour and took a few pictures.
Post stage Corey was in a great mood, we found out we shared a talent with pulling faces, Corey called this the Mexican Wave!
I needed to eat something so went and got some hot food that would hopefully sort my voice/throat out. On the way to the food van I took a picture of Evanescence on stage from the crowd.
I sat down to eat and Corey came jumping around asking me to watch Iron Maiden with him. He was very insistent and couldn’t’ believe i turned down Maiden for my dinner.
Backstage the festival was winding down and people were thinking about leaving. It’s always best to leave slightly earlier at download as the jam of people trying to leave all at the same time is absolute mayhem. Cindy and I managed to sort a lift back to London and also somewhere to kip until transport was running to get home. We went with Stone Sour’s manager, he drove and we stayed in a hotel in Wembley for all of 2 hours. I passed out in the back of the car almost all the way back from Derby to London!
Mike, Cindy & I – The Download Crew!