Mayhem Festival co-founder Kevin Lyman says his annual touring event is in danger of shutting down as crowds turn their backs on “grey, bald and fat” metal bands.
The 2015 edition of the Rockstar-sponsored event – with Slayer topping the bill alongside King Diamond, Hellyeah and The Devil Wears Prada – sees the fest downsized from four stages to two and the overall lineup trimmed by about half a dozen bands.
Lyman tells the Detroit Free Press: “What happened was metal chased girls away because metal aged. Metal got grey, bald and fat. And metal was about danger. When you went to a metal show, it was dudes onstage – there was some danger in it.”
The promoter – who also co-founded the Vans Warped Tour – feels the bigger issue is the limited number of headline-worthy acts in metal, which, he says, has failed to produce a new generation of headliners.
He adds: “The bands at the top all demand a certain level of fee to be on tour. Unlike punk rock, metal never knows how to take a step back to move the whole scene forward. That’s how punk rock was. That’s how we nurtured punk rock. Bad Religion would take a little less than they could on their own to bring the whole scene forward, so we could make sure we had a good touring package around them.
“Metal doesn’t seem to have that concern, never has, never since I was working in the clubs in the 80s. It’s always about a me, me, me thing. Mayhem, it’s at risk of going away at any given moment.”
Slayer guitarist Kerry King says he was concerned about the packaging for Mayhem from the outset and convinced organisers to keep improving the lineup.
King says: “The King Diamond thing I was really into because King Diamond doesn’t play live that much. And for him to be a part of this, I think it adds to the cool factor because everything they were coming up with I wasn’t really into.
“We were at the point once where we were even going to completely back out of it because I hated it so much. We got them to keep thinking and tweak the list a bit.”
Slayer launch Repentless on September 11 via Nuclear Blast. The band will perform a string of UK dates in November as part of an autumn run in support of the project.
MAYHEM FESTIVAL DATES
Jul 10: Indianapolis Klipsch Music Center, IN
Jul 11: Detroit DTE Energy Music Center, IN
Jul 12: Chicago First Midwest Amphitheatre, IL
Jul 15: Toronto Molson Canadian Amphitheatre, ON
Jul 17: Pennsauken Susquehanna Bank Arts, NJ
Jul 18: Pittsburgh First Niagara, PA
Jul 19: Hartford Xfinity Theatre, CT
Jul 21: Holmdel PNC Bank Arts Center, NJ
Jul 24: Bristow Jiffy Lube Live, VA
Jul 25: Winthrop Xfinity Center, MA
Jul 26: Wantagh Nikon Theatre At Jones Beach, NY
Jul 29: Atlanta Aaron’s Amphitheatre At Lakewood, GA
Jul 31: San Antonio White Water Amphitheatre, TX
Aug 01: Houston Cynthia Woods Pavilion, TX
Aug 02: Dallas Gexa Energy Pavilion, TX