Yet another Stumpfest has come and gone, bringing with it the usual sense of community and waves of jubilation. As is becoming tradition, I spent a lot of my time at Stumpfest talking with bands about their music. Before the festival began, however, I sent Rynne some questions about the festival she founded and her thought process behind some things. Enjoy this, the first in a series of interviews related to Stumpfest that will include thoughts from openers Prizehog, Muscle and Marrow, and Billions and Billions.
SSG: This will be the fourth year of Stumpfest. What are some of the biggest changes that you can identify from the first edition up through this year?
Rynne: Each year the challenges are a bit different. Of course, booking the gig is always the first thing to happen and this can become a jigsaw puzzle of scheduling bands, band interest and last minute changes. It’s like an exciting chess game! Plus, I never ever know who will actually end up doing the show so its like Christmas when it all finally locks in.
Every year has been challenging in its own way. My first show was one night and I really didn’t anticipate the gravity of the event. Stumpfest One turned out so well that I continued the following year, doubling my nights and talent, adding touring bands and artistic challenges. Last year, was triple and this year I’ve stuck to that format. Three nights and as many touring bands that are interested, coupled with local talent. I feel like I’m gradually increasing my game as things evolve each year whilst keeping the goal to be easy going and most of all FUN for everyone involved. I want this to be everyone’s favorite time of year and favorite gig. I want all the performers to feel the warm embrace of the the Stump sisters.
Has putting on a multi-night festival gotten any easier? Is this like riding a bike? Or are the challenges consistent?
As with all things, practice makes better. Keeping the format similar helps a lot, and knowing our venue and staff inside and out is a major key. We have limited time and space to changeover with sometimes up to 6 bands. So yeah, it’s definitely a challenge for our stage manager Matt Oliver, our bands and crew and the staff at Mississippi Studios to keep us on time and organized. The beauty is that we all work together, everyone contributes and that is a powerful form of bonding. We all have our roles in keeping the festival atmosphere fun, peaceful, loving and professionally run.
Sometimes it seems as if similar sounding bands are grouped together, giving each night a different “theme” or feel. Is this intentional or is the scheduling a dice roll?
It’s intentional, absolutely. I like the flow and cohesion of a show that has a main core but extrapolates and deviates with unique talent supporting. I think that’s the gift of a good booker, to open people’s minds to new artists that support the core of headliner. I’ve seen many shows that don’t do this and you end up at the bar waiting to see to see the headliner. That is not my intention with Stumpfest.
Black Pussy is playing on Thursday and they have been the subject of some interesting actions recently. Personal opinions about the band aside, if protesters do end up showing up, is there a plan for that?
I’m all about freedom of speech and peaceful protest. I can’t stop anyone from interpreting the name of a band. I do however find it completely ridiculous that there are so many horribly racist people, cops, sexists, and woman-hating situations happening every day in the world and certain people are deciding to attack a bunch of fun loving hippies in a groovy rock band. Seems like a huge waste of everyone’s energy and resources.
I’m sure many bands want to play Stumpfest every year. What is the selection process like for the event? Have you ever had to awkwardly say “…hmmm…no” to a band that asked to play?
Unfortunately sometimes i have to say no. I usually hunt for my bands, so it makes it less of an application process I suppose. I enjoy seeing the bands i book, it’s my own show that I want to attend every night! My selections are less of a business proposal and more of a kid in the candy store approach.
Will your band ever play Stumpfest? Is that too self-indulgent?
I would love to The Craig Elkins group to play Stumpfest. It seems a bit energetically involved running a show and actually playing it but maybe next year when I’m not preggers! We aren’t metal by any means, more mellow but maybe we have Mike Scheidt do his solo stuff and have a chill evening one night. It could work with the right ingredients.
You are now in the last few months of pregnancy. Coming up is a time filled with firsts. What do you think will be the first album that your newborn will listen to?
Lets hope it is the new TOOL record, for his college fund’s sake and our sanity! Hahaha.
In an interview with Kevin from Honduran last year I learned that you are from a small town in Michigan. What aspects of yourself do you think were shaped by that? Have you shed any of those tendencies by moving to the west coast and becoming a resident of LA?
Growing up in a small town forces you to be creative and resourceful. Plus, you stand out more being unique. you have to be really brave to be yourself in a small town. Ultimately everything you do stands out and is amplified because you are going against the grain. My sisters and I were raised to do what we wanted so that is exactly what I did, what the hell I wanted. I dyed my hair and wore whatever, and listened to all the good shit. I took mushrooms and connected to Pink Floyd and my inner self. I challenged my own identity early on to better know myself and reinforced my self confidence by doing so. I also took welding in high school and was the homecoming queen and captain of my soccer team so, you know, I explored the spectrum.
I think a lot people grow up with so much pressure to adhere to the herd, not me. All those skills of survival you keep with you at every turn in life.