Pennyblackmusic interviews Endorse It In Dorset founder, and Pronghorn member, Flounder, to find out what it’s like to run one of Britain’s best small festivals and how it has changed since its inception in 2003. Endorse It is on from 12th to 14th of August and headliners this year include the Rezillos, New Model Army and Subgiant.

PB: Now in its eighth year, how has the festival grown since the initial festival back in 2003?

F: The initial EIID was a one day event on a much smaller site. The office was the local scout hut, which was in a right mess. (Part of our charitable side was to enable them to rebuild this building, which has now been done). A year later we went to the full three day event.

We had no idea about band booking but managed to pull together a very strong line up on a shoestring budget. The winning point was getting Desmond Dekker and Zion Train to headline, also re-launching Desmond’s career. It really put us on the map. It became obvious that we had outgrown that site, so the next year we moved to the present location. It’s a lovely bit of land with woods and views. The festival works hard to keep as much employment as local as possible, so that the local economy can also benefit.

In regard to the music, we have stayed close to our roots of punk, dub, ska, and rockabilly. At the time, no-one else was doing this sort of thing, but the last few years have seen a rise in the popularity of this type of music and there are now several other events with similar line ups. Having seen one festival with nearly the exact line up of a previous EiiD, we decided to take it as a compliment.

PB: In 2009 you stepped in after the late cancellation of Big Green Gathering, offering reduced entry to wristband holders. Were you pleased with the outcome of that and would you be prepared to do something similar again?

F: It was all a little strange. I rang the BGG organisers just as the event had been given its cancellation notice.The offer was put forward to them which they accepted. We have similar punters so it all seemed appropriate. Then all of a sudden one of the corporate festivals was offering punters the opportunity to upgrade their BGG tickets to their event.

We were a bit puzzled by that move, as the events were totally different, but it appeared that a deal had been done somewhere along the line. It was the beginning of more corporate events snapping up the outstanding tickets from a number of festivals that went down that year. It was not really our style and so we stepped back from the melee and let them get on with it. If the opportunity arose again, we’d handle it in a different way.

PB: Endorse It In Dorset has been described as an old school festival. Has the impetus come from the free festivals during the 1970s and 1980s?

F: The idea of the festival was to create an event that we would like to be at. Most of the organisers are musicians, which puts us in a unique position. We all play the festival circuit, and a lot of the people that you meet along the way were indeed involved in the free scene. We all bring different ideas and skills to the event, but the old school feeling isn’t something that can be created, It is as much down to the punters as anything.

We have such a wide crossover of different types of people who normally wouldn’t mix at all, all getting on and having a lovely time. Recollections of events like Treworgy and Torpedo Town were of a great time, but also a chaotic mess. We have an old school vibe but behind the scenes is a tightly run ship.

PB: You have increased the size for this year’s festival from 3,500 to 5000. What organisational problems has this created?

F: The licensed capacity has remained the same at 4999. A few years ago we had a cut off point of 3500 as that was what we had budgeted for. This year we have the infrastructure to cope with more people, so we can expand the ticket sales a little more, without losing the intimate feel – it’s not been a problem at all.

PB: Can you give any potential festival goers 3 reasons why they should rush out and buy tickets today?

F: Apart from the line is only £78 per ticket. Once you’ve been, you’ll want to come back. It’s the best party in a field and everyone is invited!

PB: Who would be your dream act to put on at the festival and why?

F: We’ve already put on a few (RDF, Symarip, Billy Childish previously – New Model Army and Zodiac Mindwarp for 2011) but I think for most of us the Stray Cats would be pretty near the top. Pure indulgence and brilliant musicians.

PB: Thank you.

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