This weekend the hallowed fields of Donington Park will welcome 120,000 metal heads to bang their heads, throw their horns and lose their minds to a who's who of metal, rock and alternative music.
The top of the line up takes the satisfying if predictable formula of Downloads past. There is the bonafide classic rock stars in Aerosmith heading up Sunday, the nostalgia card of Linkin Park performing their world conquering debut album 'Hybrid Theory', and finally the opportunity for a debut headline set for the ever popular Download favourites Avenged Sevenfold.
It's in the undercard though where this years Download Festival gets genuinely exciting as a host of the new generation of bands leading the way in to the future of music can be found playing the far more intimate Pepsi Max tent. I caught up with three of the hottest, unmissable acts to discuss the mayhem that lies ahead and funnily enough they're all tipping each other as the ones to watch over the weekend. I present to you California's own Letlive, Marmozets of Yorkshire and Arcane Roots from Kingston-Upon Thames, three bands with the biggest stages in their sights playing in a sweaty tent ready to bring Download Festival to its knees.
Is this your first time time at Download?
Jason Aalon Butler (lead vocals in letlive. playing Friday @ 18:50) :
"We played first in 2011. It was our introduction to the festival circuit. We'd never really played a festival in the calibre of Download before. Going in to it we had a lot of hype and excitement behind us and what we were doing and we always have to say thank you to the U.K. for receiving us in the way they did."
Jack Bottomley (Guitar in Marmozets, playing Saturday @ 14:45) :
"We played 2 years ago and it was the single most exciting festival experience of our lives. The thing with Download is it's such an amazing festival and just so much fun"
Andrew Groves (Guitar & Vocals in Arcane Roots, playing Saturday @ 16:25):
"Yes it is my first, as an artist and as a member of the public. I've never really been majorly in to festivals, I don't know why, I go to gigs I just never really did festivals. We have no idea what to expect at all."
You're playing the Pepsi Max tent, do you prefer the intimacy of the tent or the grandiose of the big outdoor stage?
"I think it's the environment that a tent brings to it, it's darker there's an ambience, I'd say I prefer a tent but actually at Slam Dunk South [2 weekends ago in Hatfield] the sun was setting and it was so beautiful that it came as a formidable opponent to the tent."
"It's one of those things when you're at the festival, you go in to this tent, you see a band play and you can't help but think I'd love to play this tent. Playing it is a dream come true."
"Always play in a tent. In tents you get that bass response, I like the idea of whipping up a crowd in that sort of atmosphere."
Can you see yourselves moving up to those bigger outdoor stages in the future and is this something you as a band aspire to?
"What comes inherently as an end goal for letlive. is to become as accessible to as many people as possible, and inherent in this is the qualification to play stages like the main stage at Download. A stage is a stage though and no matter what or where I'll always have fun playing in front of people. It's more the idea of accessibility: playing larger stages = playing to more people. For me none of this is about fame, none of it is about money, I've been broke my whole life, its just being able to speak with people and be a soundtrack, facilitating something where people can exist."
"It's what you're in a band for. To be able to look back and think, yeah we've definitely progressed from then. We've moved up a stage this year and even that alone is a massive achievement, it means so much to us to see the band still moving forwards after playing our first festival 3 years ago. Getting played on Radio 1 was also completely surreal, having someone like Zane Lowe just say our bands name is weird."
"Absolutely. We look up to bands like Muse and Biffy Clyro with huge stage shows and to play with those bands was the biggest moments of our lives. We watched them every night and it was a masterclass in how to be an incredible live band. It just cemented that that was the kind of band we want to be, to be able to mirror an album and make it come to life on a stage accenting the emotions and passion you put in to the music and the meanings behind the songs. You're making the music 3 dimensional, we always try on our shoe string budget to aspire to that already as you will see at Download."
How do you go about preparing for a show like Download or other festival sets? Do you adjust the setlist to a potentially more curious crowd?
"Nah, I think you just be true to everything you do, everything you write and everything you say. If you're honest every time the intrigue you peak should be natural."
"Being Download you feel naturally you want to play heavier stuff, it is a [metal] festival. The vibe is so good there. I imagine we'll play a bunch of new songs as well, the album is looking towards September for release."
"We span quite a lot of genres and styles so we can play with heavier bands, with poppier bands and with more technical bands. The Download festival crowd is changing catering to the influx of a younger audience. Heavy music is also changing it's not as black and white as it was, there is a lot more acceptance of different genres in your music and all the better, It stops music from becoming stale. We've joked about our 'Download set' for a while and it's been really heavy, but there will be as many people there for the melodic songs as much as the heavy ones and therefore I'd say It will be our most eclectic set."
As the frontman of letlive you have built a reputation as being one of the most captivating and explosive live acts in the world. Do you feel any weight of expectation going in to shows now?
"I think if I did it would dehabilitate what we're doing, it would become cumbersome and it would also make it contrived as I'd then have to think about what I'm doing. I'm actually on crutches right now and I'm still so excited to come play. I guess I want to prove it's not just the physical activity more so I'd like to think it was the essence and the emotion that I find to be so powerful in music."
Can we expect any special festival surprises from your set?
"There is something that we've been planning to do. Something awesome is in the pipeline, we've been planning it for a while and it hasn't quite worked out... yet. I'm a little hesitant to say it will happen, so as not to dissapoint, but we're still hoping to put in something special."
"I know Sam (other Marmozets guitarist) will be climbing up stuff definitely. He'll probably climb to the top of the tent and slide down it knowing him."
Are you going to stick around for the weekend? Who are you most looking forward to seeing?
"Yeah of course, I'm trying to see the homies in Bring Me The Horizon, Linkin Park play 'Hybrid Theory', trying to see Aerosmith. I'm pretty hyped. In the tent I really want to see Quicksand, they are awesome. I love the Marmozets as well they are such a breath of fresh air and such great people and I will for sure be watching them."
"Yeah we'll be there. Arcane Roots, we're lucky to be really great friends with those guys and they blow me away every time I see them live. I'm looking forward to Sunday for The Dillinger Escape Plan they just blow my mind, they literally are my favourite band. Me and my brother 10 years ago used to dress up like Chester Bennington and Mike Shinoda and sing along to the songs, dye our hair red and green like in the video, so it will be weird to see Linkin Park live, thinking about all that, making a tit out of ourselves and now we're on the same line up, it's surreal."
"Our good friends Marmozets are playing on the same stage as us and we're excited to hang out with them again. We also want to see letlive. and Feed The Rhino on the Sunday and we'll definitely be there for Dillinger Escape Plan. The nice thing about Download and metal music is there is a real brotherhood and at those kind of festivals you always find bands you've never heard of and fall in love with them."
The ambition, passion and emotion each band clearly put in to their music matched with an ever growing bubble of excitement, is reason enough to catch them on a stage like this while you still can. Across the weekend there are countless other highlights: Jamie Lenman now back making and performing music after the end of cult UK legends Reuben (playing the Acoustic stage on Friday). Experimental British nu-metal idols and influential djent trailblazers Sikth are also performing again for the first time in 7 years (headlining the Red Bull tent on Saturday) and the much anticipated return of punk rock heroes Against Me! on the back of their brilliant new LP 'Transgender Dysphoria Blues' (playing the Pepsi Max stage on Sunday) is sure to be a highlight.
Download Festival's lower stages are set to play host to some 'I was there when...' moments so do yourself a favour and make sure you're there to bear witness or just take shelter from the inevitable rain.
Download takes place from the 13th-15th June at Donington Park.