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It’s PiL on the festival bill!

Public Image Limited, Maximo Park and Pop Will Eat Itself are among the big names set to play Camden Rocks

26 January, 2018 — By Róisín Gadelrab

John Lydon of Public Image Limited, who will be at Camden Rocks

WE’VE said it before but it remains the case that Camden Rocks founder Chris McCormack must be one of the hardest working men on the scene.

The former Three Colours Red guitarist, member of multiple bands, DJ, band manager, club night promoter – the list goes on – somehow manages to juggle his many, many commitments with organising Camden’s biggest annual music festival.

Camden Rocks returns on June 2 with another huge line-up of more than 200 bands across multiple venues. The first announcement for this year’s festival includes Public Image Limited (PiL), Maximo Park, Beatsteaks, Twin Atlantic, Pop Will Eat Itself, The Professionals, Raging Speedhorn, Urban Voodoo Machine and Sonic Boom Six. Since Chris revived Camden Rocks, the festival has become a destination for industry figures to spot new talent.

While he began focusing on planning for 2018’s event five months ago, the hard work continues throughout the year, significantly with his Camden Rocks club night.

Chris said: “I started approaching agents around the end of September.

“I basically take a couple of months off from the previous year to recharge, then get stuck into it. There’s so many bands playing the event that it takes up a lot of time. There’s a horrendous amount of admin involved so we try to spread it out.”

As Camden has changed, the festival has had to adapt.

“We’ve actually lost a few venues. Places like The Crowndale and The Forge have closed this year, which is why we’re looking at alternative options. It’s a real shame but venues are having a hard time at the moment. People buy these great venues and turn them into luxury flats, which rips the heart out of what Camden is all about.”

Still, the festival has grown significantly in recent years.

“The idea is the same, it’s just a lot bigger,” says Chris.

“In 2009 we used five venues and now we use every available space possible. It was started as a launchpad for new bands to hopefully get noticed and that hasn’t changed. This year, we’re hoping to close off roads and have more outdoor stages.

“Camden Rocks is about diversity. It’s high-energy guitars but that’s very broad. We have every genre playing and we mix it up, so not all the same genre of bands are playing the same venues. The idea is that people move around and experience Camden and what it has to offer on the whole. It should be an experience and fun.”

One particular act Chris is excited about signing up is PiL.

He said: “I’m extremely happy to have Public Image Limited playing this year. John Lydon/Johnny Rotten is a huge influence on me and I’ve always followed what he’s done. They were also the first band I saw live when I was 12 years old. He scared the hell out of me. I’m still recovering!”

He added: “John Lydon helped create what Camden became, if you think about it. He’s a local lad, from Finsbury Park. I think PiL were ahead of their time, they were fearless and pushed boundaries. They shocked a lot of people, too, as they were not what people expected or maybe even wanted coming from the ashes of The Sex Pistols. They stuck to their guns and made some fantastic albums. Not many bands last 40 years.”

Chris also picked out Beatsteaks, a band from Germany, as ones to watch.

He said: “They’re huge in Germany, they sell out arenas but haven’t done much in the UK. They should be big here. They have great songs and are a fantastic live band not to be missed.”

And, if you’re lucky, you’ll get to see Chris in action as he plays guitar with The Professionals on the day.

“I had so much fun jumping in last year that they convinced me into joining the band,” he added. “They’ve just released a new record which is doing really well, so there’s going to be more shows to promote that later in the year,.”

And keep your eyes open for surprises and collaborations.

“I always love it when bands collaborate on the day, and a lot of the bands know each other, so it’s easily sorted with all the venues being so close together. Let’s see what happens,” said Chris.

• Tickets and info from

The Camden Rocks line-up so far…

Brigade, Ryan Hamilton & The Traitors, The Red paintings, Towers Of London, The Main Grains, Shvpes, Massive Wagons, Freeze The Atlantic, Asylums, Ducking Punches, Riskee and the Ridicule, Carcer City, Hands Off Gretal, Duke Of Wolves, Moses, Press To Meco, Childcare, JB Conspiracy, Gold Key, Canvas, Screech Bats, Nightlord, Koyo, Black Orchid Empire, Skarlett Riot, Ramonas, False Heads, Los Pepes, Tequlia Mockingbyrd, Lots Holloway, The Bongo Club, Hvmm, Ryuketsu Blizzard, Death Remains, Better Than Ever, Healthy Junkies, The Kut, Rival Karma, The Muffin Heads, At The Sun, Toffees, Single By Sunday, Tarantula, Lupus Dei, Sisteray, Witchingseason, Charlie Manning, Black Sixteen and Dame Jean.


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