We love hearing about Novocastrians doing cool stuff! When we got wind of Wicking Out! and found out it was a local running this awesome festival, we just had to find out more...
So we stopped Curator Jonathan McCallum to get the full story.
Jonathan, tell us a little bit about yourself?
JON: Hey! I'm a born and bred Novocastrian, now living in the Wickham area. I've been involved in music for a long time, whether that's going to gigs as a punter or helping out with slinging merch and working the door. It's also a topic I'm strongly opinionated about, as anyone who has talked to me could tell you, so at the start of this year I decided to put my money where my mouth is and throw myself into putting on shows. Campbell Burns from No-Fi Records and I have worked together to book this event, which quickly spiralled into the all-day behemoth of entertainment you see today.
I love the blurb at the end of the event that includes "If we did it, you can too. Book your own fucking life” is that your philosophy?
J: Absolutely. When my music taste started moving away from what was put in front of me, a band called Bomb The Music Industry! was a really big deal for me. I guess the more traditional example for this approach is Fugazi, but I'm an Internet baby, whatever. Anyway, all of BTMI!'s music is available for free, they didn't sell merch but would spray-paint a shirt for you at a show, and their shows were all priced reasonably. That DIY ethic has influenced everything in my life. If you want to do something, communities exist everywhere to help you get started. If they don't, make one yourself! This festival is the biggest thing I've booked, but it's been made so much easier by having the help of the local music community. I want Wicking Out! to be as transparent as possible, so anyone who wants to run something similar feels that it's within reach.
Can you describe what Wicking Out! is all about?
J: Wicking Out! is an attempt by to bring together different parts of Newcastle's DIY community, and similar groups in other locations. It's a celebration of independent culture, and a chance for punters to find their new favourite band. I get frustrated with the current wave of Newcastle's DIY "scene" pretty often, as I feel it's quite insular, so booking this festival was a way for me to force people to see there's a different way to do things.
Although I love a lot of Newcastle bands, I wanted a strong focus on interstate bands who otherwise might not have well-attended shows in Newcastle without a larger backing, or who may not come here at all.
I also thought it was important to actively book bands with members who identify as non-male. Newcastle seems to be ignoring wider trends in Australia, and all-male line-ups are continuing to be booked with no criticism. It's extremely obvious and mildly embarrassing when a booker announces a nine band festival that fails to include a single non-male performer, so I wanted to show that representing all kinds of people can be just as successful as booking the same men you know for every show. Our line-up isn't perfect, but we're working towards an event that is more representative of the community behind it.
Basically, Wicking Out! is about you leaving our festival and feeling empowered to do something.
Who are you excited to see?
J: I live with members of Vacations, so seeing them playing two blocks away from our house is as "hometown" as you're going to get, which will be pretty special. I've never seen Sweater Curse or SNAPE before, so I'm excited to try and watch both those sets. Most importantly, I've made sure I'm not going to be working the festival during Prizegiving's set. It's their first visit to Australia from New Zealand, and I couldn't be more excited.
Have any favourite Newcastle bands?
J: Jen Buxton is my favourite songwriter, so any chance to get to see her play solo or with her band is a treat. Conation is also a must-listen Newcastle band, progressive and aggressive in equal measure. Safe Hands released a criminally underappreciated album last year; everyone should listen to Tie Your Soul To Mine. I'll stop there, I could go on forever.
Who inspires you?
J: Oh wow, a big question, I love everyone. Tara Jayne who runs One Brick Today does more work to support non-male, queer, and other marginalised voices in punk and hardcore than anyone else in Australia, they're the best person in the world. Sarah Thompson from Poison City Records is one of the kindest people I know, and a shining example of how to navigate music industry bureaucracy while still maintaining your humanity; she's also the best. Mostly, any non-male people who are involved in creative communities inspire me. In the face of getting continually kicked in the teeth, they continue to work twice as hard as I'll ever have to.
Why should people come to Wicking Out! in Newcastle?
J: We've put in a lot of effort to make this festival an inclusive and safe environment for everyone to enjoy themselves. It costs five dollars, or nothing if you can't pay. There are twelve amazing bands playing, and half of them are coming from interstate to play this show. What have you got to lose?
DEAD RIGHT! NOTHING TO LOSE AND EVERYTHING TO GAIN FROM CHECKING THIS AMAZING FESTIVAL OUT JUNE 10TH!