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Sound & Fury Festival: a Chat With Organizers Ray Harkins and Joey Cahill

Shelby Jacobson

America’s premiere hardcore and punk festival, Sound & Fury Festival, is back in it’s 7th and biggest year yet. The shows will once again take place at the Earl Warren Showgrounds in Santa Barbara, Calif. and span three days from July 20 through 22.

This year’s lineup will feature headliners and hardcore powerhouses Bane, Blacklisted, Comeback Kid, Earth Crisis, H2O, Terror, and Touche Amore, along with 50 other acts. Earlier this week, Noisecreep chatted with Sound & Fury organizers Ray Harkins and Joey Cahill and got some background on the festival and the work that goes behind it.

Sound and Fury gets bigger every year and this time out there are over 50 acts playing. But the main thing that sticks out about the roster or artists is the overall diversity of the festival. How important was that aspect of the festival when you decided to put this thing together?

Ray Harkins: You have to look outside hardcore in order to keep people coming. Obviously we don’t want to place pop bands on the bill but our collective tastes fall far outside hardcore 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and we want to reflect that. People come to the fest specifically for those bands that don’t make appearances that often at festivals like this so we want to keep it fresh and exciting from that perspective.

Joey Cahill: I think the diversity is one of the major pieces that separates Sound and Fury from other hardcore fests. Let’s be honest, 50+ hardcore bands over three days is lot to take in. I love the fact we can break up the day with bands like Seahaven, Basement, and Souvenirs. Also, diversity means more people at the fest which is a great thing.

Speaking of which, how much of a headache is it to put the festival together?

Harkins: More than could even be put into words. The most difficult is getting all of the moving parts to sync up and work together. It’s really difficult to get so many people on the same page focusing on the same goals. Obviously the pay off is watching people show up to the event and meeting many of them as they claim their tickets. Nothing can repay the feeling that I get when kids from around the world travel to this event.

Cahill: The biggest headache ever [laughs]. It’s a great time though. I really enjoy our early meetings coming up with our dream list, and going from there. It’s more work than people know, but at the end of the fest when everyone leaves happy it’s all worth it.

Watch Sound & Fury Festival 2012 Teaser

How important is the pre-sale numbers to something like this? I would imagine there are a lot of walkups.

Harkins: Pre-sale tickets to this show are important but is something we don’t make a huge deal about like other festivals. We have a big room in which we can have a lot of people fit in there, so we don’t try to scare people away from it selling out. But, with that being said it’s always nice to know that you have a ticket to an event like this because we did sell out a few days last year in 2011.

Cahill: We do get a lot of walkups, and that’s what makes presale tickets so important. We never know how many walkups we’re going to get, so the more presale passes we sell the less we have to worry about those walkups.

With so many artists scheduled to perform, you have to expect a few last minute cancellations. How do you prepare for that?

Harkins: You always plan for the worst and hope for the best and this year is no different in regards to the schedule. We have enough padding to make sure every band gets taken care of and then if a few drop off, we have some additional time for the headliners.

Cahill: The way I look at it is we always book a few extra bands than we need to. That way if someone cancels it’s like the spot is already filled. If no one cancels, great! The schedule is made assuming no one will cancel.

You’re holding Sound and Fury in Santa Barbara again. That’s not a city one would think of when they think of hardcore or punk. How cooperative has Santa Barbara been with the festival?

Harkins: You are definitely right, this city doesn’t seem like the most logical for an event like this but it’s been nothing short of awesome. Due to it’s beach town nature, most of the people we deal with at Earl Warren and the city in general are absolutely great.

Cahill: Santa Barbara has been great. We always have a couple sheriffs on site during the fest, and they seem to have a good time and are great to work with. The staff at the Earl Warren Showgrounds has been amazing, and very supportive of the festival. Most of the year the showgrounds host gem shows, flower shows, rodeos, etc, so obviously what we do there is a little different. This is the third year Ray and I have done the fest at Earl Warren since we took over the fest, and our relationship with them is as strong as ever.

Personally speaking, which bands are you particularly looking forward to seeing this year?

Harkins: I am extremely excited to see Minority Unit’s last show, Blacklisted, Comeback Kid, Basement and Single Mothers.

Cahill: I do 6131 Records, so clearly I have soft spot for all my bands, and can’t wait for their sets. Aside from 6131 bands I can’t wait for Comeback Kid (first time playing), Blacklisted (first time since 2009), Rival Mob, there’s so many. I think this is the best lineup yet, and I can’t wait for the weekend to get here.

Watch Comeback Kid’s “The Concept Stays” Video

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Sound & Fury is going down on July 20, 21 and 22 at Earl Warren Showgrounds in Santa Barbara, Calif. Head over to to buy tickets.

Full lineup:

Alpha & Omega
The Beautiful Ones
Bent Life
Black Breath
Born Low
Comeback Kid
Dead End Path
Early Graves
Earth Crisis
Everything Went Black
Fire & Ice
Focused Minds
Friend or Foe
Harms Way
Holy Fever
Hour of the Wolf
Ill Intent
Ivy League
Minority Unit
Mountain Man
New Brigade
Night Birds
No Tolerance
Piece By Piece
Rival Mob
Rotting Out
Sabertooth Zombie
Silver Snakes
Single Mothers
Suburban Scum
Take Offense
The Mongoloids
Touche Amore
Tough Luck
The Wrongside

July 19 – Camarillo, CA @ Rock City (2258 Pickwick Drive)
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