Against the Grain V, with festival founder Lee Gardiner: bigger and more diverse than ever

Just recently we caught up with Lee Gardiner, one of the founders of Adelaide's Against the Grain festival (and vocalist for Adelaide band Double Dragon), to talk about this year's event, its history, and what the future looks like. There are BIG plans afoot.


by LeticiaS and Foss


Against the Grain is a full-day metal festival that happens annually in Adelaide, South Australia. It's gradually gaining notoreity around the country, and this year features its most diverse line-up to date. But it's taken about five years to get to the point it has.


It started a bit by accident, and Lee had only been with Double Dragon for about six months. Lee is  good friends with Joel from the Jones Town Syndicate they often did shows together. When these guys got a date at the Bridgeway, which was eight months away, they started talking and gradually more and more bands joined the bill. Having the venue from midday until midnight, they could put the show on whenever they wanted to; and when Jason North (Truth Corroded) got his band in on the act, he started helping out - and before these guys knew it, they had the whole day booked.


'The first one was, like, crazy,' Lee recalled. 'I think we had 200 people there, and I think A Red Dawn played twice: they played at one o'clock and then one in the morning coz they just let us go all night. I think my mum was cooking a barbie next to the stage... the whole place just stunk like sausage and carcass and stuff.'


As Lee told us, the atmosphere of the day was so much fun: most of the punters were there from the start of the day until the finish, and a lot of the bands took the opportunity to network with each other. 


'We kinda knew from then that this was something that we could possibly do again, Lee said. 'Especially because The Red Shore played, and Shallow Grave and some bands that we were really into at the time, and because we got to hang out with them all day that tended to offer a lot of opportunities for us as well. So, we kinda figured, let's do it again and let's bring more bands out that we'd like to play with, from Australia, and just get 'em to come down here and hang out and party.'


The second Against the Grain was bigger again. By that stage, they were bringing bands to Adelaide from other states of the country. The on-flow benefit was that these guys would have a great day, and then go home and tell their mates. By the third one it was crazy.


'By then it seemed like every touring metal band in Australia wanted to play,' Lee told us.


But it wasn't until the third Against the Grain that these guys started to gain any expectations about working to grow the festival, and pushing it hard to gain that growth. 


'By the third one, people really started getting behind it,' Lee explained. 'We had t-shirts and when we got there, there was already a line-up of young metalhead kids that were all stoked for it. It was pretty much from then that we thought we really gotta keep doing this because there's really nothing like this any more around Australia.'


As Foss pointed out to Lee, this is especially the case in Adelaide. 


'Yeah,' he agreed. 'You know, we had Metal For the Brain, which was really big in its time, and when that dropped off, we thought it would be cool to try and build something up to that kind of standard. But we knew it would take a few years as well.'


In past years, the lineup has been primarily comprised of bands that the Against the Grain promoters knew or had some kind of contact with. But after the success of the 2008 Against the Grain, they decided that they needed to mix up the lineup - which has led to this year's festival showcasing many more metal subgenres. 


Because of the fact that Double Dragon and Truth Corroded have toured so much in recent years, both Lee and Jason have a good idea of what's going on in the scene around the country. This is part of the reason that this year's line-up is so diverse.


While the festival hasn't gained much notice by the press, this doesn't really phase Lee.


'We figure that until we really need it, we'd like to keep it kind of underground still,' he explained. 'Fowler's only holds 500, so we're pretty confident with the line-up that people are going to want to come and see some of them. Like Alchemist and Mournful Congregation,' he went on. 'They're bands that people are going to want to see, regardless of what show it is.'


Having noticed at last year's Against the Grain that there was a bit of an exodus around meal times, where people went out to get food, we asked Lee what sort of extracurricular things will be available at the event.


'Yeah, we're really keen on bringing the barbie back,' Lee enthused. 'That's one thing that's missing from the first ones since the Bridgeway. But yeah, there's gonna be more food for everyone - and there's going to be more stuff for vegetarians as well, because there are more and more. And especially with the younger kids,' he explained. 'We really want to make sure that they can eat something that's a bit more sustainable than a sausage roll or something'.


The goal that Lee has is to provide enough of everything in-house, so that the only reason people would go outside the venue is for a smoke. 


As with last year, Roadrunner have again helped out with the festival in terms of giveaways. But as for details on other things, you'll just have to wait until the day to find out.


'We've got other assorted goodies to be there on the day. And we always like to do a raffle on the day and get all the bands to chuck something in,' Lee explained. 'That usually goes down because whoever gets it gets a nice whack of merch and CDs.'


Given the rise of Against the Grain so far, it's not surprising to learn that there are big plans in the pipeline for the festival's future.


'We're actually talking - for next year - about maybe trying something different. Maybe either putting it outside or maybe even giving it a go in another state,' Lee mused. 'We don't know yet. The idea is to grow it and make it the best it can be with what we know of how to run a festival. As we get better at it, we want to push ourselves and see how far it can go now. But definitely, bigger again each year'. 


Against the Grain is happening on 19 September in Adelaide, South Australia. Pre-sale tix are still available and you can get yours from Venuetix and Moshtix.



Against the Grain V Line-up and running times:


Stage one – Derringers Stage   


11:45 – 12:05.  Arcadia

12:30 – 12:55.  Octanic

1:30 – 1:55.  Se Bon Ki Ra

2:35 – 3:05.  ‘Neath

3:40 – 4:10.  Empyrean

4:50 – 5:20.  Claim the Throne

6:00 – 6:30.  Ne Obliviscaris  replaced by Skintilla - read news item here

7:10 – 7:40.  Lord

8:20 – 8:50.  Double Dragon

9:30 – 10:05.  The Amenta

10:50 – 11:30.  Alchemis 



Stage two – DB Stage:


12:05 – 12:25.  Taunt

1:00 – 1:25.  In Death

2:00 – 2:30.  Gallows for Grace

3:10 – 3:40.  Separatist

4:15 – 4:45.  Bhelliom

5:25 – 5:55.  Lynchmada

6:35 – 7:05.  Truth Corroded

7:45 – 8:15.  Alarum

8:55 – 9:25.  Captain Cleanoff (last show!)

10:10 – 10:45.  Mournful Congregation