There is an almost family like feel to the community of Roadburn, gathered online in the Roadburners Facebook group page. This is were the Roadburners share stories, ask questions or complain about long queues. With this sense of community and togetherness in mind we sat down with a Roadbuner to hear a personal persective on this festival we all love so much.
It’s late afternoon on the Saturday of the festival, day three, and we sit down with Joep Schmitz at cafe ’t Buitenbeentje for a beer and a chat. He’s currently touring with his band/act Cairo Liberation Front, but their booking agent knows that there’s one week in April when he is unavailable: Roadburn week. So he’s here, like he alway is, enjoying the hell out of Roadburn.
By Lisa Gritter
What’s your Roadburn connection?
“I was brought up with live music. My parents were volunteers even when 013 was still Noorderligt and have been volunteering for Roadburn for as long as I can remember. My dad was always listening to music, some heavier stuff as well, so I’ve been into heavier music since I was young. When I was about 16 years old I saw these people come into my hometown every year with their black clothes and tattoos and it was everything I looked up as a young kid, so I was super intriqued by what they were about, what music they were listening to. I started exploring this music and that evolved into me playing drums in YAMA with which I even got to play the festival in 2014.”
So, you’re a local, your parents are volunteers and you played the festival once?
“Since a few years now I also volunteer. Me and my friends do shifts at the entrance every year. It’s a lot of fun and I get to see everyone who comes in, sort of hold their hand for a second. I like it a lot. I mean, it’s work, but we do it together and it helps not having to pay the ticket as well. Plus, it’s become part of our ritual. Me and my friends stay at my parents house which is around the corner. We have breakfast together, do our shifts at the entrance, spread out to watch the bands, have fun all through the night and we do it all again the next morning.”
You are sort of a tiny community within the Roadburn community?
“You could say that yes. But I still meet new people every year. Yesterday an American guy asked to buy a cigarette off me, he’d saved up to come to Roadburn after years of wanting to come. So I gave him a smoke and we ended up watching bands together the rest of the night. That’s not uncommon for Roadburn, it’s almost difficult not to meet new people here.”
Being involved for so long, what was it like for you to play at Roadburn?
“A weird dream come true. I remember when Walter asked us (YAMA) to play and at that very first band practice we just sat around being so overwhelmed and were too siked to play. It was actually Bidi (van Drongelen) who got us on the line-up, he was our agent. It was so sick to get to play this festival and be part of that legacy of musicians I looked up to since I was a kid, but also nerve wrecking. Having experienced all those different ways of being involved with the festival I can honestly say you are treated no different, really, being a musician, a volunteer or ‘just’ a visitor. Roadburn just takes really good care of everyone.”
It almost seems redundant to ask, but what does the festival mean to you?
“A lot. I don’t want to sound like I’m preaching, but for me personally Roadburn is just a very big part of my life and my upbringing. I don’t know if I would’ve been into music or playing music if it wasn’t for Roadurn. I definitely would’ve never joined bands like YAMA or Radar Men From The Moon (for which he plays drums) for instance. It really meant a lot to me growing up and I love growing up with it. And I get to experience it with my family and friends every year which is pretty awesome. My life would be different without Roadburn, for sure.”
That’s beautiful. Is there anything you’d like to add?
“My dad has this amazing playlist, can you put the link in the article?”
We sure can Joep:
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