By ERIC SCHELKOPF
During the summer, Chicago area residents have no shortage of music festivals to attend.
Setting itself apart from all the others is the inaugural Great American Lobster Fest, which will be held Aug. 16-17 at Navy Pier in Chicago.
Local H, Netherfriends, White Mystery, Bailiff, Santah, Hemmingbirds and Kinky Love are among the bands that will perform at the festival. A full schedule is available at http://www.americanlobsterfest.com/music-schedule1/
I had the chance to talk to Band Called Catch frontman Tim Frank and Paper Thick Walls frontman Eric Michaels about the festival. Along with organizing Great American Lobster Fest, their bands will also play at the festival.
Q - The festival features a diverse lineup. In putting together the Great American Lobster Fest, what were your goals?
Tim: While bringing a taste of the East Coast to Chicago was the main focus, we wanted to make it about more than just great food. When we started to plan the lineup, our goal was to make sure we had a little bit for everyone - a nice mix of local and national indie bands, while at the same time, bringing on some leading tribute acts for the songs we all know and love - and can sing along to.
Being that it's at Navy Pier this year, we expect a few more tourists to attend - so it was also important to make the music very Chicago based. Let folks know what we sound like around these parts and get some nice exposure for some of our favorite local acts.
Q - Did you reach out to any bands in particular or did any of the bands approach you wanting to be part of the festival? Were there any bands that couldn't commit to this year's festival that you would like to get to play in the future if the festival continues?
Tim: We heard from a lot of bands, and there were a few that had some conflicts that we hope to add next year. Since our fest was scheduled a little later than most fests, our prep time was limited - but we are extremely happy with what we've put together.
For the sake of not name dropping, we'll leave what we are considering for next year a surprise, but this is only the beginning.
Q - Summer brings out a countless number of festivals in Chicago. How would you like the Great American Lobster Fest to stand apart from other festivals?
Tim: First there's lobster - and other seafood - Chicago's first full-fledged seafood fest. Then there's Navy Pier - the amazing Grand Ballroom, and the stage we are bringing in for outside (it's the indoor/outdoor factor - rain or shine).
Then - oh yeah - the air and water show happens to be going on... and you're at one of the best places in the city to view it. Then on Saturday night you get get fireworks.
It's all sort of crazy how it worked out - it was destiny, I suppose. There's no other fest in Chicago that will give you loads of fresh lobster choices, an indoor and outdoor stage for 27 bands, carnival games, and fireworks - all while planes are doing tricks right above your head.
Q - Of course, your bands are also part of the lineup. What is going on with your bands these days? Are you working on new music?
Tim: Ha! - why not right? We used to do everything we could to get onto festival lineups and now we're producing our own - so it was hard to not toss our own bands onto the lineup.
Band Called Catch has been on a bit of a break as Jess has been touring with "The Man In Black Show" (playing the June Carter role), and I've been a bit busy with Foxhole - but we've still found a few spare hours to write some new stuff - we'll do a new one at the fest. Very exciting.
Eric: I have had to put some of the Paper Thick Walls projects on the back burner this past year to focus on The Foxhole and The Great American Lobster Fest, but the band is coming off of a successful headlining show at Metro and a recent WXRT spin of a track from our upcoming record, "Dead Cities." This summer we have been focusing on television and film licensing and are planning to release the "Dead Cities" in the fall.
Q - Would you like to see Great American Lobster Fest become an annual tradition? How do you see the festival growing?
Tim: Oh yeah - we've spent the last six months working full time to make this a reality - there's no question in our minds that this will be an annual tradition. We have some other plans for this fest and where it will go - but will leave them a surprise for now!