-- Metal Fun gets shredded --
Shortly after I’d begun the Belgian Metal Shredder I became acquainted with Guido Hoet and Isabelle Jonckheere, the couple and driving force behind the non-profit organization Metal Fun. As a means of promoting their annual Metal Fun Hard Rock Market they invited me over to their home to talk about Metal Fun’s origins, how Guido and Isabelle met each other and they share some of the awesome prices they give away during the Metal Fun Hard Rock Market. Do I have to say more? Check this shit out!
BMS: Hello Guido and Isabelle, tell me what Metal Fun is.Guido: I’ve been a passionate hardrocker and headbanger since my teenage years but I wanted to have a more active role in the scene. I thought about organizing concerts and other metal-related activities. So about 24 years ago I founded the Metal Fun non-profit organization and one of the first events I set up was the Metal Fun Hard Rock Market.
BMS: I see, was it easy to come up with the name Metal Fun?Guido: It certainly was. I just kept in mind that my brainchild would be dedicated to metal and that it had to be fun. So I put those two words together and ended up with Metal Fun. A short, simple name that’s easy to remember and gets straight to the point.
BMS: Indeed. The best names are short and simple. Now, tell me something about your early experiences with Metal Fun.Guido: In the beginning I worked together with a friend of mine to set up those Metal Fun events but he lacked the dedication and know-how to help me realize the vision I had for the organization, so we ended up going our separate ways. After that I pretty much did everything by myself, setting up shows, getting the Hard Rock Market established, etc. When I organized gigs I focused on introducing new, unknown bands to the public. But from time to time I did manage to bring in some bigger names to my show such as Caducity and Amortis. One of the last big events I organized during that time was the Metal Fun Race. It was a huge and ambitious battle of the bands event that I organized in collaboration with Studio Brussels. However, the entire cost of planning the event, printing flyers and posters, renting the venue, paying for promotion via various channels etc. did leave me with a serious financial setback. Still, I can’t complain about how the event itself went, people like Kloot Per W and Peter De Wint (best known from acts like Ostrogoth and Crossfire) were present as jury members and the heavy metal band Orthanc, from Bredene, were the winners of the competition and they released an album shortly afterwards.
BMS: What did you do after the Metal Fun Race?Guido: I decided to no longer organize concerts and to fully dedicate my time and money to expanding the Metal Fun Hard Rock Market. And eventually the Market became more and more successful. Nowadays, we can fill the entire Sint-Anna Music Hall in Aalst with vendors and get more than 300 visitors to the Market. We also do giveaways every half an hour during the Market and some of the prices we had on offer were true collector’s items. I recall we once had a limited edition leather-bound Motörhead LP among our prizes. Another great item that we give away during every edition of the Hard Rock Market is a canvas from the Alcatraz Metal Festival, autographed by all artists who performed during that year’s festival.
BMS: That’s some damn awesome stuff! I think I’ll participate as well, I love autographed material! Now, in addition to the Hard Rock Market you’re also head of a stage crew.Guido: That’s right! I’m the stage manager of the Metal Fun Stage Crew, a non-profit crew that consists of 8 people (Isabelle and I included). It’s not an easy job, since I need to be present at all times and always have to keep my eyes open to fulfill the bands’ needs as well as remain in close contact with the bands’ managers and event organizers. The most stressful moment for me personally is shortly before the first band starts playing. For me, it’s the moment of truth, to see if everything on stage is well put together. But as soon as the band begins, I feel warmth and satisfaction, knowing that the band is enjoying the show they’re putting up and the people in the crowd love every second of it. And then I get ready to help the band clean up the stage and set it up for the next band to play.
BMS: Very impressive! What would be your biggest ambition with Metal Fun?Guido: Should I have the practical and financial means I would establish my own Metal Fun Bar. A club wherein I would arrange frequent concerts for everyone to enjoy!
BMS: Interesting, I’d love to see that! But what future Metal Fun projects you do have in mind?Guido: We’re going to put up an online webshop where local bands can sell their CDs, clothing and other merchandise. The site is in its final stages and it will be online soon.
BMS: Awesome! Now tell me how you met Isabelle.Guido: A couple of years ago me and my crew were working at a charity metal festival in a small bar in Bruges, it was hard day at the office since nothing was well arranged for that show. The venue was small and little stuff was provided for the band. For instance, there was no water available on stage for the band members to drink during their performances. Yeah, it’s a small detail but it’s so important! Water helps in keeping the singer’s vocal cords intact and to help the other band members cool down in between songs. One of the venue’s assistants was Isabelle and she and her kids offered me to bring water to the stage. After the show she contacted me to meet up and so we eventually became lovers and professional partners. Isabelle has since then become my moral and administrative support. She keeps in contact with the bands, promoters and the other people we work with. I can’t thank her enough for her support!
BMS: Such a beautiful love story. Well, Isabelle, you’ve heard the man, you got anything to say about being part of Metal Fun?Isabelle: I’ve got nothing more to say than that I’m proud and thankful to be part of the Metal Fun community!
Guido: Isabelle has never been a woman of many words, but she more than makes up for that with pure intensity and passion for what we as Metal Fun do!
BMS: So, Guido, is there anything else you wish to say to your supporters?Guido: First and foremost, I want to thank my wife and entire stage crew. I’ve always had huge ambitions for Metal Fun and it wouldn’t have been possible to keep up this work rate without them providing me with practical and mental support. They constantly work their assess off for nothing but the passion for the genre and the appreciation we get from the people we work with. And that’s exactly what motivates me to continue this Metal Fun project. I’m not interested in money or fame, I only want to give my heart and soul to the metal scene and I’ll keep on doing that until the day I die!
Isabelle: And so will I. We’re in this together!