25th Hardmetalfest 2019: José Rocha - Interview with The Man behind the scenes

Updated: Oct 14, 2018

Many great names have set foot on HMF’s stage over the last 24 editions, some already featured in Interviews on Global Music Club’s website… like Tygers of Pan Tang & Convulse. Others soon to be featured.

Well, Global Music Club has decided to take you behind the scenes & let you get to know more about the man who has been there since Day 1: José Rocha. He has literally been on every single production of the Hardmetalfest since its 1st Edition back in 1997.

Sepultura, Moonspell, Lacuna Coil & Behemoth are just some of the names he has worked with & his business, Rocha Produções, is also responsible for events like Viseu Rockfest, Thrashmania & Moshfest as well as gigs in major Portuguese indoor stages like the RCA Club in Lisbon & the Hard Club Porto.

From left to right: João Ribas (Tara Perdida), José Rocha & Paul Speckman (Master)

Crow Xp: Hi, José. Tell us a bit about the history of Hardmetalfest. I believe 25 editions speak for themselves, but there is certainly a background to them that our readers will love to read about.

José Rocha: You are right. 25 editions is a lot of background. We have had many bands over. Readers can check the event posters on our website (www.hardmetalfest.pt). It is not really about how it came to be, but how far we have come.

Crow Xp: Has it become easier or more difficult over the years to put up an event like this?

José: Actually it has been getting more difficult. There’s a lot more paperwork to be dealt with and it also seems to be getting harder to please everybody in the audience. There have been a lot more Metal events which is a good thing. But on the other hand it disperses people. Besides, underground isn’t what it used to be. People value things less, but are more demanding. Supply often surpasses demand. On a more positive note, new technologies and social media make it now much easier to publicize an event and get its named spread on a global scale.

Crow Xp: What is it like to be behind the scenes of a festival as a promoter?

José: I like being discrete. I don’t like to appear on stage and I don’t give interviews unless they’re in writing. I like to watch everything and make it happen. It gives me great pleasure to organize a successful event. But sometimes things don’t play out as expected and that’s not so good, considering the effort & energy we put into it.

Crow Xp: Over the last years Portugal has been flooded with festivals. In comparison HMF has remained somewhat true to its roots. Much like an annual metal family gathering…

José: Yes, as I said there have been more festivals, but not all of them have the soul of an HMF. Every year new visitors and young people come here and mingle with the older underground crew. They transmit to the younger ones the spirit that has been almost lost over the years. We are really proud to have people with us that have been attending HMF since its first edition back in 1997. True HMF veterans!

Crow Xp: HMF is usually held in January. Any particular reason for that time of the year?

José: It wasn’t always in January, but back in 99 we did our first festival in January. After that we wanted more foreign bands at the event and ended up letting their tour dates decide the date of the festival. We then realized it wasn’t worth it as it was just becoming another event geographically close to other events around the same time. Not many cared but no one was really profiting from that. So we decided to get it back to January. One of the unspoken ethic rules of the Underground,,, which many people have forgotten, unfortunately.

Crow Xp: You organized a 1st Open Air Edition in June 2016, I believe. Is a 2nd Open Air in your future plans?

José: It’s not in our plans, but who knows… We did that particular edition because we had Ratos do Porão on tour for a Saturday in June. We just decided to have it in Mangualde, though we could have easily organized it in Oporto or Lisbon.

Crow Xp: What other events do you take part in?

José: Besides some sporadic gigs that show up and which I usually take to the Hard Club Porto or the RCA Club in Lisbon I organize the Viseu Rockfest and Tondela Rocks.

Crow Xp: You have been doing this for over 20 years now… What changes have you personally seen?

José: People are more accommodated. Not many travel 700 or 800 km to attend an Underground Festival nowadays. Even in Lisbon I have noticed that people are somewhat reluctant to leave the city center unless there are public transports they can use. Same is happening in Viseu. Two thirds of the radio stations and magazines that existed in the 90s have disappeared. On the other hand people are behaving better haha In the old days Festivals used to end up in violence. Now they are more peaceful. More Party-like. People have become more civil I guess. Metal is also a better accepted genre nowadays, which shows a slow change in people’s mentalities.

As in other areas I see many lobbies in the music business… press, promoters & bands, but I guess that’ll never change.

Crow Xp: I know for a fact you also perform as DJ Rocha “The Rock”. Wanna share a bit about that?

José: Yeah, it’s a hobby. I did underground radio shows for many years & I have always liked to share with others what I consider to be good music. Currently I take it a bit more seriously and don’t just play what I want to. Haha! I have 2 completely different sets: one on Rock/Metal and the other one more into 80s Pop/Rock.

Crow Xp: You must have loads of stories to tell… Any particular moment or event that comes to mind?

José: Behemoth stealing grapes outside the HMF facilities, people sleeping on the street covered in grass with just their caps sticking out, the driver for Master being drunk and moshing a few hours before taking them to the airport… it’s quite a huge list.

Crow XP: One final question… What do you have prepared for the 25th Hardmetalfest?

José: We will have the legendary WASP Guitarrist, Chris Holmes, with his MEAN MAN (which is a personal dream come true).

HMF will also feature Steve Grimmet’s GRIM REAPER on their first visit to Portugal… as well as the French AGRESSOR and the German NIGHT IN GALES. GAMA BOMB will present their new album; BALMOG will present us with Black Metal from Spain & a lot of anger. And then our excellent national bands IRONSWORD, BASALTO, DARK OATH, ANALEPSY and AFFÄIRE.

Crow Xp: Thanks for this nice chat, José. Global Music Club will definitely be at the 25th Hardmetalfest!

José: Thankssss!