Looking Ahead To The Werk Out: An Interview With Rob Chafin June 08, 2016 16:11

 

Photo by Josh Timmermans: Noble Visions

Interview by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen

We recently had a chance to catch up with Rob Chafin (drums/vocals) of The Werks, in an effort to learn more about one of the summer's hottest festivals, The Werk Out Music & Arts Festival.  In addition to handling the duties behind the kit for The Werks, Rob also serves as talent buyer for The Werk Out, which is celebrating it's seventh anniversary in 2016.  The festival is scheduled for August 4th-6th at Legend Valley in Thornville, Ohio, featuring acts such as The Werks (three nights), STS9 (two sets), LettuceGreensky Bluegrass, DopapodTwiddle, and many more.  

Let's get started and talk a little Werk Out.  You guys started this festival in 2010, making this year number seven.  How did this idea come to life, and how have things progressed over the years? 

Rob: We started The Werk Out in 2010 at Zane Shawnee Caverns in Bellefontaine, Ohio.  It was an indian reservation with underground crystal caves, so it's not technically part of Ohio.  It was pretty ridiculous the first two years.  We quickly outgrew that area and moved it to Legend Valley, where the festival has been held for the past four years. Legend Valley is obviously historic with the Grateful Dead playing there, as well as bands like Pearl Jam, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and countless others throughout the year.  The Grateful Dead would have around 60,000 people out there.  It is literally Legend Valley.  It's an honor to be able to have our party there now.  This is certainly on the trajectory of being the biggest Werk Out, by far.     

It's great to see the universal growth of the bands on this lineup, like Dopapod, Twiddle, Greensky, and of course The Werks.  Last year you guys brought in Umphrey's McGee, and this year it's Sound Tribe Sector 9.  I look at this festival as a collection of the best bands in the jam scene. 

Rob: Well thanks man.  It's definitely great being a musician as the talent buyer because I’m able to be in the trenches, see who are absolutely killing it and bring them to the festival.  Luckily, a lot of these bands are our friends!  It's amazing to look back at all of the bands who have played The Werk Out.  Having STS9 and Umphrey’s at our event is truly an honor.  Even GRiZ played back in 2013 when he was getting started, and he's absolutely huge now.  The Floozies are blowing up.  Greensky Bluegrass played back in 2012, and now they're back as a headliner...watching Dopapod grow every year.  It's absolutely incredible.  

 Watch The Werks perform "Onslaught" at The Werk Out 2015 here:

It really is.  Aside from the established acts and those you have known for years, how do you go about filling out the lineup with the up-and-comers?   

Rob:  I'm definitely always looking for the new up-and-coming acts. There is definitely a long waiting list, because while we try not to repeat everyone every year, but there are typically only a few open slots each year.  We try to keep it new and interesting.  We try to see who's been killing it lately and bring them to the party.  I'm always on the lookout for great musicians, songwriters, and of course great drummers, but I might be a little biased there (laughs).  

Click Here: Purchase Tickets To The Werk Out Music & Arts Festival

You guys have put together several epic tribute sets in recent years.  In 2014, it was The Werks, Papadosio, and Dopapod performing Dark Side of the Moon.  What other tributes have you guys done in the past?  Let's hear a little more about the Twerkapod Tribute to the 90's this year. 

Rob: Whenever we get to collaborate with our friends, it's always fun for us. We had a blast doing Dark Side of the Moon with Papadosio and Dopapod.  So of course with Dopapod, we already know it's gonna be fun to do this 90's cover set with them.  We went on tour for the entire fall last year with Twiddle, and we had some many epic superjams with them.  To be able to involve them and bring them to The Werk Out for their first year is really exciting.  We're gonna throw down and play some awesome 90's covers with some of our best friends!   

Photo by Josh Timmermans: Noble Visions

How do you go about selecting the setlist from such a diverse decade of music?  Have you finalized which songs will make the cut yet? 

Rob: Yeah, we already have the songs picked out.  It's top secret, classified information, of course (laughs).  I can tell you one thing though.  It starts at 2:30 in the morning, so get your beauty rest the night before! 

Wow...that's going to be epic.  So in 2014, the famous Furthur bus stopped by The Werk Out.  Is that something that has happened in the past? 

Rob: So they were doing a tour that summer.  They hit a lot of festivals, like Gathering of the Vibes and a lot of the really big ones.  We were lucky enough for them to choose The Werk Out as one of their stops.  We played "Cryptical" > "The Other One" > "Cryptical" and had Zane and Derrick come out and kind of bless the crowd beforehand (laughs).  It was really cool.  They had a blast, and we would love to have the bus come around again. 

Watch The Werks perform the Grateful Dead's "Cryptical" > "The Other One" > "Cryptical" at The Werk Out here:

 

I cant say enough about the quality of HD video footage from The Werk Out.  You guys really capture the essence of the festival and give those unable to attend a nice taste of what it's all about. 

Rob: Of course...Jeremy Sewell is one of the best in the business.  We're very lucky to have him on board. 

No doubt about that.  So aside from the music, what other activities do you guys offer at The Werk Out? 

Rob:  We have a lot of other things going on.  While it's a music festival, it's specifically a music and arts festival.  We definitely have a lot of interactive art installations.  We have over 50 live painters, and a lot of performers and fire spinners.  There's yoga in the mornings.  We have an entire workshop dome, where people are presenting workshops ranging from philosophical and introspective workshops all the way to how to make ice cream.  We also have the VIP room for meet and greets and what not. 

I think the biggest thing is that it's BYOB.  We don't sell alcohol at the festival, so everyone can bring in their own.  There is no festival of our size that does that.  We don't really advertise it, but that's how we want it.  It's one of the things I learned as a festival goer.  As an event producer, it's great to have the perspective of being in a band and an avid festival goer.  It's a rare opportunity to see all angles and try to accommodate as best as possible. 

The little things like that really go a long way.  Attention to detail and that type of decision making are a big reason why this festival has become what it is today.  You guys obviously know what it takes to throw a successful festival.  What do you feel are some of the most important factors of establishing a building an annual music and arts festival? 

Rob: First and foremost, it's crucial to have an amazing support staff and team.  We're lucky to have some of the best in the business.  The vibe is crucial.  The vibe starts with the staff and the artists, and it works its way to the fans.  When the staff and artists are all vibing, and everything is running smooth, I feel like that vibrates to the music, the crowd, and everything else.  I've always looked for that and making sure we have that strong core team.  We feel like the artists are family to us.  Listening to the fans is also crucial.  You have to talk with everyone and see what they want.  That's a big part of it, while still sticking to your guns.

Photo by Josh Timmermans: Noble Visions

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