Forging Ahead: Tim Charles talks to us about Sonic Forge 2010

This year sees the second coming of Melbourne-based metal festival Sonic Forge. With over thirty metal outfits playing across three stages for a paltry entrance fee, metallers from all around Australia will find this an irresistable proposition.

However, the event is about more than just chugging beers and banging heads; Sonic Forge is intended to raise money for the Center of Hope children's orphanage in Haiti. Metal as Fuck chatted to festival organiser Tim Charles to find out more about the biggest event he's ever put on.

'We actually did a Sonic Forge Festival in 2007, but that was only 13 bands & one stage. Welkin [Entertainment, Charles's promotional company] also did a number of Progfest events throughout Australia in 2010, but this is definitely a fair step up from everything else we have done previously'

Did Sonic Forge 2010 come about because Melbourne was in need of a decent metal festival, or was the need to raise money for the children's orphanage in Haiti more important?

'Well, they were more two separate desires that married into the one event. I have had it in the back of my mind for a while that I would like to do a charity event to help some of those in need, and I’ve also been wanting to create a big metal festival in Melbourne for several years now.'

The 2010 Haiti Earthquake in was one of the worst natural disasters in living memory, leaving an estimated 100,000-plus dead and 300,000-plus injured. The magnitude of this catastrophe is something that affected Charles, a man who has a less-than-positive attitude to the way international affairs are reported by the Australian media;

"I often get frustrated by the Australian media’s fixation on the fact that some tiny number of Australians might have died here or overseas, and then towards the end of the news bulletin we hear about hundreds or even thousands of people that died in Africa, or the middle east, or any other poor developing country. The lives of all people are equally valuable regardless of where they come from and so it’s important those in great need are given help, not just those with the same citizenship or skin colour as us'

Although Sonic Forge was always planned to be an event that raised money for Haiti, Charles selected the recipient of his funds wisely. The Center of Hope orphanage has been planned and developed for several years and finally opened its doors on October 20th. Due to the fact that many larger, more well known charities had already received large charitable donations, Center of Hope was a natural choice for Charles.

'Being able to make a real difference in these kid's lives would be a wonderful thing to achieve.'

Sonic Forge will be making a real difference at home too. Despite the majority of the lineup being relatively unknown outside of Australian soil, headline band Be'Lakor are no stranger to the festival circuit and have recently returned from Summer Breeze in Germany, where they rubbed shoulders with such metal luminaries as Obituary and Cannibal Corpse.

"It was extremely difficult to choose only 32 bands [for Sonic Forge]. We have a great depth of talent in the Melbourne and wider Australian metal scene. It’s great to be able to give bands a quality platform to show the wider public what they’re about. Hopefully we’ll be able to give more bands this opportunity in the future."

Charles's concern for issues affecting a country over 10,500 miles away, coupled with his aspirations to give local talent a genuine opportunity to showcase their abilities suggest he is somewhat of a heavy metal philanthropist; does he consider himself a bit of a Bono-esque character?

'Well I’ll leave those sorts of observations to others. I definitely have a strong social conscience, and do a lot of study and reading on politics and world events in general. My father used to be a politician in federal government here in Australia, so world events and the plight of those less fortunate than us has always been something I’ve been brought up to take seriously.'

And seriously he has taken it. Sonic Forge is an opporunity for Australian metalheads to support their local talent and contribute to one of the most deserving charitable causes there is, all in one fell swoop. It might not have Iron Maiden headlining yet but with this unique coupling of new bands and charity, Sonic Forge looks set to become a staple fixture in Australia's heavy metal calendar.