It’s time to ramp up our preview coverage of the Be Prog! My Friend festival with a more in depth piece with the festival organiser Juan Antonio Munoz.
(((o))): Where did the idea to start this festival come from?
Juan Antonio: First of all, thanks for your time and interest in Be Prog! It’s appreciated.
The idea started many years ago for a simple reason, I’m fan of these sorts of bands… but apart from that I can say that there are not many “boutique” festivals in Spain (neither in Europe) especial those focussed on ‘prog’… so the idea was to put on a festival that would mix the old legends of progressive music and the new wave of bands. At first some people felt this was a weird idea at the very beginning but they are more accepting of it now especially those that have attended Be Prog! My Friend already.
(((o))): The site for the festival is a little special. Tell us about Poble Espanyol.
Juan Antonio: A special event like this needed a special venue… as I said, I had the idea of the festival in my mind many years ago but I had to wait until I had the right venue to do it. I decided we needed to go ahead with the festival once I realised that the Poble Espanyol were making the place available for concerts and festivals I immediately contacted them… it’s an architectural museum, an amazing place and the perfect environment for this kind of festival. Great facilities, nice views… it’s just perfect and if you come this year, you will realise that!
(((o))): From the outset, you’ve booked a small number of high quality acts to play the festival. Are you ever tempted to expand the line-up, or is the aim to remain selective with your choice of acts?
Juan Antonio: We prefer to be selective… instead of a large line up with tons of bands, we prefer less but with them playing long, full sets. It’s the case this year with Jethro Tull, Marillion, Mike Portnoy, Devin Townsend and most of the acts playing their full length shows as if they’re headlining the event. Most of the audience at the festival like this idea so we will keep it!
(((o))): Are there any bands who’ve not yet played the festival that you’re keen to attract next year?
Juan Antonio: Definitely! there are a lot of great acts we would like to have… Yes, Mastodon, King Crimson, Gojira, Steve Hackett, Karnivool… there are a lot of great bands than should come.
(((o))): Diversity runs throughout your line-ups, which this year sees performances from right across the progressive and prog metal spectrum. Is this a deliberate move and do you enjoy introducing fans to bands they might not have heard before?
Juan Antonio: It’s totally deliberate! We like the idea of having a Camel fan listening to Meshuggah and vice versa… why? Because we do that! We are very open minded to music and we want this to be reflected in the artists we put on at the festival. Most of the prog “scene” are not very open to this, but we insist… there are a lot of great bands out there and we want people to listen to them.
(((o))): In Jethro Tull and Marillion, you’ve two of the biggest names in prog headlining the festival. Both bands have back catalogues full of standout moments. Can you pick a favourite album from each band?
Juan Antonio: Definitely! and we are very very happy for having them in the line up… It’s difficult but I could say:
Marillion-> Misplaced Childhood, Marbles and FEAR.
Jethro Tull-> Aqualung and Thick as a Brick.
But both bands have released great records throughout their entire careers which is awesome.
(((o))): For those coming to Barcelona for the first time, can you recommend a tourist attraction not to miss?
Juan Antonio: Barcelona has so much for you to see such as the Picasso Museum, Batlló House, Sagrada Familia, Park Güell, etc. There are many many interesting places for you to visit!
(((o))): Where do the locals go to unwind, away from the tourist trail?
Juan Antonio: Figueras at Costa Brava area with a visit to Dalí Museum…
Be Prog! My Friend takes place at Poble Espanyol, Barcelona, Spain, from Friday 30 June – Saturday 1 July, 2017