IT may be only February but Andy Copping is already having sleepless nights.
Then as the head honcho of the mighty Download festival he carries the can for ensuring one of Britain’s biggest outdoor music gatherings continues to roar.
Although not set to lay siege to Donington for a full four months yet, with a budget of some £15 million to deal it isn’t surprising Andy has a lot on his mind ahead of his ninth Download June 10-12.
“I haven’t slept for three months,” he admits.
“The budget is huge but it soon gets swallowed up because these bands are so bloody greedy. They want paying and they want paying big.
“It costs between £10 to £15m for everything from hiring the venue to building the stage and doing the advertising.
“We come and we bring a town/village. We create our own infrastructure for a week. It’s huge.”
In 2010 the offspring of the old Monsters Of Rock witnessed its most impressive line-up, resulting in its biggest crowd as it celebrated 30 years of rock at Donington.
So how do you follow a bill that included AC/DC, Rage Against The Machine and Aerosmith?
“Every year is hard,” he admits as he reveals Linkin Park, System Of The Down, Alice Cooper, Korn, Bullet For My Valentine and Pendulum for 2011.
“Last year was hard going from the previous year. This year is hard going from that. You have to set yourself goals, set the bar high.
“All you can do is deliver the best festival line-up you can with what’s available to you and we seem to be in good shape.
“What we’ve got this year... certainly the vibe we’ve had back so far has been great.”
Besides booking big-hitters Andy has tried to oversee a more diversified outlook for a festival traditionally associated with heavy rock.
“Two or three years ago I made the decision. Rock’s a very broad church, if you go for one style within that you’re really slimming your chances of being able to grow.
“So I’ve always tried to put a bill together that satisfies many different tastes. I pride myself on that.
“I want to have something that’s got a wide-ranging appeal so more people feel there’s something for them, a good cross-section of bands.
“We’ve scored a lot in the past where people have ended up watching a band they wouldn’t normally go and look at and have ended up as a fan; people in a Slipknot shirt going and watching Def Leppard or a guy in a Whitesnake t-shirt going to watch Marilyn Manson.
“The beauty of it is people are really taking the blinkers off and going ‘We trust this festival’.
“I want to have new bands on there, contemporary bands, some of the heritage acts.
“When you’ve a festival that’s got Alice Cooper and Thin Lizzy on one side of the coin, Avenged Sevenfold and Linkin Park on another, Pendulum and Hollywood & Dead on another, you’ve rap rock in there and dance, classic and nu-metal with bands like Korn.”
Of course, this diversity hasn’t always worked out.
Indie scamps Kids In Glass Houses still cite their Download experience on their learning curve while rapper Lethal Bizzle laughs about his bombardment by a crowd armed with promotional tubs of Mueller Rice.
“It’s down to the bands to deliver.
I’m giving them a platform for them to open up, play and deliver a great set and hopefully win people over. That’s what it’s all about.
“If you want to become a bigger act you can’t keep playing to the same audience. You’ve got to widen things up a bit. And we have a very young audience at Download who are strangely enough getting turned on to the older acts.”
High velocity chilled rice puddings aside, Download seems to be low down on crowd trouble and bother in general.
“You don’t get any aggravation at Download,” states Andy. “There’s a spirit, no question about it. People have said it for years.
“There’s just a really uptempo, positive, upbeat vibe and this goes back to the bands as well. They enjoy hanging about chatting and having a good time.”
With the final main stage headliner to be announced, among other acts, Andy says Led Zeppelin are still top of his wishlist for Download, alongside the Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, and a close to original line-up of Guns N’ Roses.
Last year has answered many when Angus Young and boys returned to the site.
That said, it came with conditions, including an entirely separate stage to accommodate their enormous set and the omission of AC/DC from Download festival merchandise.
“For some reason they didn’t want to be on the shirt. They were obsessed with selling their own shirts,” he confirms.
“I think they made a huge error by not going on it, but if that’s what they wanted to do it was their loss not ours. You get this with bands and you shrug it off.
“It didn’t stop their performance being amazing and us having a fantastic weekend.”