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June 2012

THE job of booking the 100 plus bands for the Download festival year after year is a full-time job for Andy Copping. The former Rock City promoter, who attended the very first Monsters of Rock Festival at Donington Park as a fan in 1980, is now vice-president of promotions for Live Nation, the company behind the annual rock festival which next weekend marks its tenth anniversary.
“I’m working up to the last minute on it, in case anyone drops out and there’s a hole to fill,” he says.
“And I’m already working on next year’s festival. I’ve already put offers in for acts. You have to be ahead of the game.”
He adds: “I think we’ve got another strong and varied line-up this year. When you’ve got bands like Soundgarden and Biffy Clyro, who are headliners in their own right, playing second on the bill... it’s a festival with five headliners, really.
“Metallica will be doing The Black Album, it’s Black Sabbath’s only show in Europe this year and it’s the Prodigy’s only show in 2012.
“A lot of people will go to Download anyway, regardless of who is playing, but competition is so fierce these days that you have to keep on top of your game and give your punters value for money.
“With Metallica I was aware that they’d played a lot already so needed to do something a bit different. I realised it was the 21st anniversary of the release of The Black Album, the album that broke them worldwide and is now one of the biggest rock albums of all time.
“I met with their manager who said they weren’t going to be touring in 2012 but I delivered him my pitch. He took it to the band and they absolutely loved the idea. So much so that they decided to do some other shows around the world playing The Black Album.”
In terms of the bands he wants to see at this year’s Download, aside from the headliners, are Soundgarden (“it’s great they are back together”), Slash, Chase & Status (“I think will be amazing), Refused (“that will be something special”) and Steel Panther “that will be one of those performances that people won’t ever forget.”

But what of the past nine Downloads? Here are his ten highlights...

2003 Metallica
When Metallica did the secret appearance on the second stage. Nobody knew about it. When they started setting up in the middle of the afternoon, people still didn’t get it - not until they actually came out on stage and started playing. That was amazing for our first year.

2004 Metallica
When they played without the drummer. I got a call on the radio telling me to come backstage and was told that Lars Ulrich wasn’t going to be playing because he was too ill. He’d suffered a panic attack on the plane over, the plane had to be diverted and he was taken to hospital. They decided to go on with guest drummers and I didn’t think they’d pull it off because it was such a big ask. But they did and people will never see a show like that again. Joey from Slipknot played for most of the set in his Slipknot mask, with Dave Lombardo from Slayer doing a few.

2005 Trivium
Trivium were a new act that no-one had really heard of. I’d given them the opening slot on the main stage on the OzzFest day, which had Black Sabbath closing. It was unbelievable. They had six circle pits going. It was a young band grabbing the audience by the scruff of the neck and really taking it to them.

2006 Prodigy
I’d taken a lot of stick for booking them, people saying they were the wrong band for Download and I’d lost my mind. And they ended up being one of the bands of the weekend. This was when the second stage was in a tent and people were climbing the poles. It was bordering on dangerous in there. The Prodigy now say Download is one of their favourite festivals because they’d gone from being a dance band to appealing to a wider audience. It totally increased their fanbase. I’ve done the same with Pendulum and, this year, Chase & Status.

2006 Korn
They ended up doing a Metallica because their singer was ill and they played on the main stage with the singer from Skindred, the singer from Stone Sour, the singer from Avenged Sevenfold.

2008 Kid Rock
He decided that he didn’t want to play that day. Various complaints included that the grass was too long backstage... all of that kind of stuff. It was quite a soap opera. We ended up making friends in the end but that was quite a funny one with him storming off. He wasn’t in a particularly good mood.
2009 Def Leppard
The first time their drummer Rick Allen had played with Def Leppard after losing his arm was at Donington in 1986. 2009 was their first show since then and it was a big emotional moment. He got quite tearful about it.

2009 Steel Panther
It was their first time at Download and they were in the tent, which was the third stage. And we couldn’t get everyone in there. It was mental. They ended up being one of the bands of the festival.

2009 Slipknot
I’d taken a punt and given them the headline slot on the main stage. And they really stepped up and delivered a phenomenal show. They released it on DVD and it’s one of the best selling live DVDs ever. And it was one of the last shows they did with Paul Gray, the bass player, before he sadly passed away.

2010 AC/DC
They just don’t play festivals so getting them at Download was amazing, especially with them bringing their own stage. A lot of it was down to timing. I’d called the agent and he wasn’t there, so I sent him an email. He just happened to be sat with the band’s manager in Argentina, and the idea just seemed to resonate with the band.

Download 2012 is at Donington Park June 8-10. for the full line-up and tickets details go

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