30-01-2014 – Reporter Michael got the chance to talk to the man behind the 70.000 Tons of Metal cruises, Andy Piller. He was quite busy though, so we did not have a lot of time. Nonetheless, we got a bit of new information out of him. Read about it below!
Michael: Thank you for your time, you must be very busy.
Andy: No problem. It has been a busy day with all the rain and adjusting schedules because of that.
Michael: This is the 4th 70.000 Tons, the 5th UMC cruise. Are there any specific ups and downs that you will be able to remember?
Andy:Wow, where to start. As you’ve noticed the weather on this last day has been quite bad. This has been the first time we had to deal with that and it has been quite an experience. But this way we keep learning every year. Every year something new happens and we manage to deal with it one way or another. The weather is hard to predict in this region and for most of the time it seemed as if the front would pass before we would be here. But as it seems, we are caught right in the middle of it, which resulted in the heavy rain and made it impossible to continue the shows on the Pool Deck. Two years ago when Venom played, we had to cut the set short because of the strong winds, but this was a whole new level.
Regarding a real highlight, to me that was during the maiden voyage of 70.000 Tons of Metal. After years of preparations, which were not easy, I was busy with a lot on board of the Majesty when I noticed we were moving. Actually I was in doubt whether I should continue with what I was doing, but I said to myself: “No, stop working and enjoy this moment.” So I went upstairs to the back of the ship and saw we were leaving Miami. And I must say, this brought tears to my eyes.
Every year people come up to me with all their stories. They tell them with smiles on their faces and this gives me energy as well. People keep coming back and I even hear of people getting loans to be on the ship, which on one hand, also scares me a bit. The stories of people making new friends and getting drunk with strangers, to me, are an indication of how this worked out better than in my wildest dreams. The idea was that people, no matter what nationality, would become one big family. And seeing the number of returning customers, I think we’ve succeeded.
Michael: Do you have any special plans for the 5th anniversary of 70.000 Tons?
Andy: Well, we always have special plans and this time will of course be special since it will be on the new ship, the Liberty of the Seas. So we will have a whole lot of exploring to do. But we are working on things that we have done before, like reunion shows and bands playing special/whole albums. Not only that, but there will probably be a present for our veteran cruisers, waiting for them upon their arrival. One of the things that I am really prouf of, is that we finally managed to get one band who was not able to be on any of our cruises before, because they were either recording or in the middle of a tour.
Another fun thing is that before the first cruise, a lot of band were hesitating to be on. Yet almost everyone of these bands came back on their hesitation, because all the bands that have been here, have been clearly positive. When we started to go on this ride, we always had in mind that for every ten guests, we wanted one musician. We dont want the festival te be too big, otherwise it will lose it’s personality. Thats why we decided to go for the Liberty of the Seas. We had to make the next step anyway, even though Royal Caribbean will keep The Majesty in their cruiseline for a couple of years longer. Fact is, we still want to be the biggest heavy metal cruise.
Michael: What happened to the previous style of announcements? Most of the times you had these “Scouting parties” being dropped somewhere so people could guess where they were going in relation to announced bands?
Andy: Sadly enough due to personal problems, I was out of the running for three months. The wildest stories were being spread, but let me assure you, it had nothing to do wil alcoholism, drugs or woman problems (laughing). But because I was out of the running and we also had some of our regular staff leave the company, it was hard to manage the announcements. As I have said before, we are learning from our mistakes and we have made sure that this will not happen again. Even if it were the case that I would be out of the running again, which hopefully will not happen and I’m not counting on it, there are people who can take over my duties now. That being said, I was thinking of these announcements. For some reason I have had this idea stuck in my mind that the scouting party will start in Finland and make its way down from there.
Michael: Well, you just gave us a big hint about a band to be announced. Luckily there are hardly any Finnish heavy metal bands, right?
Andy: (laughing) Yes, a lot to speculate on. Apart from that, we wil be a lot more active on Facebook and Twitter, so keep your eye out. The first big announcement will be made before the end of February.
Michael: It is known that you are active on the forums. Does this influence you in any way in the desicions that are made?
Andy: I do read on the forums quite a lot, but I do not always feel compelled to reply. But actually the forums are quite important to us. I am looking at people’s wish lists. If people keep asking for the same bands, there is a bigger chance that they will be concidered to be on the cruise. In a way this works way better than on social media like Facebook, because bands may ask people to promote them there.
Not only are the forums a good way to see what people want regarding bands, but it is also a good source of feedback. Naturally I cannot do anything with non-constructive feedback, but most of the time, people take a lot of time and effort to explain what they would like to see improved. We learn from that and take it into account during our meetings.
Michael: Do you have any personal favourite festivals?
Andy: 70.000 Tons of Metal of course. But all joking aside, I’m more a fan of outdoor festivals. Dynamo Open Air (The Netherlands) was always great, but sadly enough that one does not exist anymore. Smaller festivals like Rock Hard and the growing Metal Days have also been a favourite.
Michael: I think thats about all the time we have. Thank you for your time and untill next time
Andy: It was my pleasure, see you next time and thank you for your loyalty!
We also have some facts for the next version of 70.000 Tons of metal:
– The ship has changed. No longer will the Majesty of the Seas will be our vessel, the Liberty of the Seas will take her place. The ship is roughtly double the size of the Majesty.
– It will have three main stages, one on the Pool Deck, two main stages inside and at least one smaller stage like the Spectrum Lounge on the Majesty
– 3000 Tickets will be sold
– 60 bands will be onboard, each still playing two sets.
– Leaving from Fort Lauderdale, instead of Miami
– The Liberty has more power, so different Ports of call are a possibility
– Sailing from the 22nd -26th of January, which is Thursday till Monday
– Barge to Hell is NOT dead, and there are still ideas about cruises leaving from different places, different oceans.