One of the most exciting trends I’ve seen in the progressive music world is the emergence of several brand new prog festivals, each with stellar lineups and great participation. I’ve had the honor of profiling several of them in their flagship years, and I am proud to help support the Very Prog Festival in Toulouse, which hopes to be the premiere festival in France for progressive metal acts. In their flagship year, they have snagged several heavyweight acts (among them Sons of Apollo and Persefone), as well as other local French acts, which are profiled below. We spoke with Romain Castel and Pauline Candelot about how the festival came about, their background with prog, and their hopes for future festivals.
How did Very Prog Festival come about?
Pauline Candelot: I am a prog metal enthusiast. I have been writing reviews for The Progspace and manage an online prog community which gathers people from all around the world. At an early state of the project, Romain asked me to join the small yet efficient team (we’re 3 people) in order to deal with PR and preparing other aspects of the festival.
Why was Toulouse chosen as the host city?
Romain : As mentioned before, there was no equivalent in the Toulouse area. It is a pioneering festival which has no precedent, France has featured metal festivals (Hellfest), prog rock (Crescendo) , extreme metal festivals, but really not prog metal oriented festivals. Toulouse is sort of in the middle of Saint Palais where Crescendo is held, Marseille with Prog Sud Festival (both more prog rock oriented) and Be Prog my Friend in Barcelona (with whom we shared Sons Of Apollo and Persefone on the line up). So we knew there is a prog community here and elsewhere who would rejoice at the idea of having a prog metal festival.
Tell us about the venue.
The Metronum is a 600 person capacity which belongs to the city of Toulouse. It was created in 2014 aiming at programming a great variety of bands (some professionals, others amateurs) in quality circumstances as far as sound, lights and other equipment. The venue welcomes French bands and international acts all year round and has its own in house, professional, talented crew who are used to working with different types of musicians. In Toulouse, you’ll either find venues of 150/ 200 capacity or else go straight to bigger venues of 2K+. We decided the Metronum would be a fitting location to host our first time edition. It will be indoor,s as you never know about the weather in October but the venue also has an outdoor area. There are 2 stages: a big one where the bands will be perform and another smaller room which will be dedicated to merchandising and signing sessions. On top of that, we will also have drinks and snacks.
Very Prog Festival appears to be more catered to fans of progressive metal. What are your personal histories with progressive metal, or progressive music in general?
Romain : I have been playing drums for more than 20 years and discovered Dream Theater and this type of prog metal in the late 90s. I was hooked by this style and love discovering new bands. I also enjoy prog rock but as much as metal as I feel prog rock lacks this powerful element , which is also why I have been a Metallica fan since I am 14. Therefore the line up took a prog metal oriented direction . I don’t wish to mix rock and metal at the moment, the idea is to create a bill that will please metalheads and progheads .
Pauline : I came from a musical family, my dad being a drummer , guitar and piano player. He is also a fan of Dream Theater that he took us to see live on many tours. My musical interest today goes beyond prog metal as I enjoy prog rock, post rock, doom, stoner, avant garde and experimental bands . I get sent lots of materials for reviewing and therefore listen to a lot of different genres.
The idea to include both international acts and French progressive metal bands is a great idea. Tell us about the French bands and the French progressive metal scene.
Romain : Having a France based prog metal festival without French acts was unthinkable ! That’s why 3 bands out of 8 are French : Amon Sethis, Taotopia and Spheric Universe Experience. These bands are different in terms of their history and career. SUE has been chosen for being one of the pillars in the French prog scene , they have performed in internationally acclaimed festivals such Prog Power USA, Crescendo, Prog Power Belgium, Raises Fest. They are recording a new album as we speak.
Pauline : I hope this year’s edition will be a great success in Toulouse, we already have plenty of positive feedback and people will come from France but other countries too ( NL, Spain, Italy , England). We want to make sure both bands and audience have a great experience and we are working hard towards that goal with our partners Useless Merch Pride, Metalorgie, The Progspace and Music Wave ! Prog Box Studios has designed a beautiful website where you can find lots of info about the festival. Finally, we also have had the support of the prog community and other prog festivals like Be Prog! My Friend, Mid Summer Prog Festival, UK tech Fest , Crescendo or Prog Power Europe, whether it is for helping us promoting or giving us advice. We are lucky to evolve in a strong and loyal community of people who love prog music.