"It's All About The Festival Feeling"
Suiciderock: Can you give us a little introduction of your job?
Toni Virhia: I`m a producer. I`m basically shaping up the festival, which means that a producer in the festival industry is similar to a movie director. You have a story and than the director uses this story and makes it looking like something. I, as a producer, have the same job. It consists of gathering the equipment, gathering the people, the professionals. Furthermore I have to decide what kind of lightning and sound equipment we choose and of course, I also have to control if we can afford it or not. It´s also a part of my job to take care that we don`t waste a lot of money or that we don`t take too big risks. It's important to find good investors to support us. I also have to choose which artists are gonna play. Actually it's the mainjob of the promoter, but we do it together, because it's all about fitting and the line-up. That's it.
Suiciderock: Who had the idea for Simerock?
Toni Virhia: Simerock originally started in 2002. It was a crazy idea of Sime, the promoter of the festival. He arranged a big party in his backyard, but it happened that there were so many rumours that about 1500 people came. As the party took place in this backyard it completely went out of control. The police came and the party had to be cancelled. That's the original start of Simerock. In the years 2002 and 2003 everything was done by completely voluntary workers. After that time we started to make it bigger. So it became a real festival. It still has the same spirit if you compare it to the first 2 Simerocks. There are still a lot of voluntary people working here. Our maingoal for Simerock is that the people like this festival. They just should come here to have a good time. The profit is the second important thing.
Suiciderock: How many people are working at the festival?
Toni Virhia: At the moment there are about 350 people working here. The maximum is 400 people. We have almost 200 voluntary workers and the rest is professional security, crew, technicans and so on. There are a lot of security guys because we have this camping area at the festival. The people are here for 3 days, 24 hours a day, that takes a lot of man power to keep everything safe. We have this open fire places, where people can make their camping fire.
Suiciderock: Do you need a special allowance for the camping fires?
Toni Virhia: We have built up 6 campfire places. They can be used no matter what kind of weather we have. It`s safe because it's made extra for that. People are also allowed to use their grills if they want to. It's not allowed at some other festivals here in Finland, but here in Lapland we still have the possibility and the space to do that kind of stuff.
Suiciderock: You have many big bands on the list for this weekend. Is there any band you want to see yourself?
Toni Virhia: Yeah, there are plenty of bands, I want to see. I really like metal a lot and I like to watch some newcomers, which I personally think sooner or later bands like Deathchain and Profane Omen will become known. Profane Omen won the fin expo award last year for the best newcomer metal band. So we also want to support bands like that. That`s also why we took many of them to the line-up of Simerock 2007. But of course, I want to see Hanoi Rocks.
Suiciderock: Is there some band, which you haven't been able to add to your festival list?
Toni Virhia: Well, I have to convess that I haven`t even thought about it, because we got everything we want for this year. We decided not to take international artists. Our complete line-up consists of band from Finland. Some of them are also very popular abroad. This year we kept it as a domestic festival, next year we are planning to go one step forward. We will look for international artists and let's see what happens than.
Suiciderock: What makes Simerock so special? Why should people come and check it out?
Toni: The place is special. Simerock takes place at the Arctic Circle. It's interesting for the people from abroad. It`s held in the middle of wilderness. You`re able to camp their with all your friends. You can do a lot of things, which are normally forbidden at a rock festival. We have this saunas in our camping area, which is quite rare on festivals as well. You have the chance to book a sauna for one or two hours, so it's like a whole vip sauna cottage. You can drive and camp in the middle of the festival area. We have a festival club, which is open until 3 o'clock in the morning. It's a four days tripp and you can have nice festival experiences at Simerock.
Suiciderock: What is the best about Simerock for you?
Toni Virhia: The feeling. When you go to the festival area you find this peacfull and calm feeling around the people there.