Interview with Mearfest organiser Brian Mear

Do you live in london? Do you love NWOBHM? Do you want 6 bands for a tenner at Borderline? Of course you do, so have a read of this interview with Mearfest organiser Brian Mear. Not only will you see he has put together a great bill for your early 80s reminiscence, but the proceeds go to an amazing cause. Please have a read and check out the festival link at the bottom of this page.

Book your day off work in August and splash out the £10 from your next wage. You will not regret it.

Hi Brian. Thank you for taking time out of your schedule to speak to us. We really appreciate it. Now, MearFest is now in its fourth year, did you see this as being an ongoing thing when you set it up?

“I initially set it up just after my mum died of cancer. I wanted to raise some money for the hospice she was in . I just went out and asked for help. I got a nice pub and huge field for a venue. I was given a caravan which I put on site . I took a week off my job as a paramedic, and put marquees up. Built a stage, got a P.A and lighting rigged, got posters, back stage passes and banners done, got 14 local bands to play over three days, contacted radio stations and local press, and put the first Mearfest on for a fiver for three days. The whole thing cost me £34.20 to do, all on my old Nokia phone. I lived in the old caravan for a week and we raised £2.000.”

Can you tell us your thinking when you originally set this up. It was obviously emotionally driven.Was it a way of dealing with the situation?

“Totally. I was at a very low point in my life. My mother had just died after a very long and painful illness, my marriage had broken down, and I had nowhere proper to live. The festival was something for me to focus on to create something positive.”

The focus has changed now due to the your circumstances. Can you tell us a bit about the background?

I have raised money for various cancer charities for many years through putting on rock nights, and then the Mearfests, raising £30.000 in total. When we lost our daughter Molly, full term, we were both totally devastated. I did no more fund raising for two years. I then thought we could do some good by raising money for this cause.”

I have to say I was completely taken aback when I read about The Willow Support Group. Just the fact that something so important was unkown to me, as it will be to many people. I think it is fantastic that you are highlighting this brilliant service, and the people involved. Can you tell us a little more about the amazing services they provide?

“They are a tiny charity who help fund a special room at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading. It’s for couples expecting a still born baby. They help provide an additional bed for partners, a special cooling cot so you can have the baby with you all night. Take hand prints ( Our logo for Mearfest) a snippet of hair, take photos etc. It helps a great deal with such a traumatic experience.”

Personally, I think the rock and metal fans are very much a family, and one of the most heartfelt people you could meet. Every year through music and gigs I am introduced to more and more people. Do you get a good deal of support from the fans?

“Yes. We have our close friends who help in many ways, but this is such a departure, musically, that we are gaining new friends and helpers every day. The response has been stunning.” From what I have read on your social media sites you get a lot of help from family and friends. Are they the festival’s unsung heroes? “We couldn’t do this on our own. We ask for help, and it comes in many forms. By being able to do this interview, we are spreading the word. Thank you !!!” You’re welcome. Now, for the nitty gritty. I bet most people (myself included) have no idea what putting on a festival entails. Can you give us a quick (if that is possible) rundown of what makes a festival tick? “Faith, belief, and a vision. Lots of hard work and endurance. This Mearfest is the first where I have focused on one music form, NWOBHM.” What really puts a smile on your face, and what grinds your gears, regarding the festival? “Getting our message out to new people. Bands contacting me from all over the U.K and abroad always excites and enthuses me. Last minute problems or let-downs are the toughest things to deal with.” I take it you still have plenty of bands to announce? When will you be releasing the next raft of bands, and are you getting excited about giving out the news? “We have just one evening at the Borderline in London. I had hoped for a three band line up. We have doubled that to six, and extended the hours . If things go well, I’d love to put on many more bands over several days next year.” From a personal viewpoint, what do you class as a success for the festival? “I want it to be a sell out 330 people. That’s what I’ve set out to do this year and that will be my mark of success. Then onward!” How much time do you spend a week on festival business, and when the time comes do you really get a chance to enjoy it to the full, or are you too busy? “I spend some time every day… it varies. It’s exciting and fun, and gives me something positive to focus on. On the day, it’s always over in a flash. I will enjoy a beer or two when it’s done.”

Finally, what would be your dream for the festival? What would make you the proudest?

“It’s already exceeded my initial expectations . I’d love for it to continue to grow. It’s named after my mum, so I’d like to keep it going in her memory as well as Molly’s . I’d like to put on every band who’s offered to play over at least two days, if not three.”

Once again, thank you for your time, and also for the wonderful job you are doing. It makes me love this music business that bit more and I really feel you are doing something very special here…keep up the good work.

For more Mearfest info and tickets click HERE

Interviewer: Ritchie Birnie


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