Curby Interview

The OBSCENE EXTREME festival started in a field on the outskirts of the picturesque Czech town of Trutnov back in 1999, and has played host to some of the most respected names in extreme music – as well as serving as the breeding ground for many new talents. Now, 14 years later, it is poised to become a global phenomenon, with festivals in Indonesia, Australia and Mexico – as well as the traditional Battlefield in central Europe.

Planet Mosh meets up with OEF founder Curby to discuss the festival’s past, present and future, and we start by asking him to explain the ethos/the philosophy behind OBSCENE EXTREME:

“Well, a pretty hard question to start with… I always try to create a festival that I dream of visiting… simply, a festival for myself. I’m just another loyal extreme music fan and I do my best to choose the best possible bands for the OEF weekend. Of course, we have our limits, especially financially, but we still try to create a good line-up, prepare a perfect festival venue, have a good stage, good sound, and so on.

What is really different at our festival is the love for stage diving and there’s some kind of ‘freak-friendly’ vibe. We’re a little bit out of the mainstream and so called ‘normal’ life… the fest is simply for music fans and not only for people that want to get pissed. We support animal/human rights and we only serve vegan/vegetarian food at the festival. There’s no pain-in-the-ass security and so on… of course we have some rules (zero tolerance for violence for example) – otherwise it’d be a mess: but OEF is different…

We have ‘FREAK Festival’ on the Wednesday and then the ‘HELL show’ – an awesome freak show. Those small things create a unique atmosphere every year…”

What first inspired you to organise the first festival?

“Actually it was a couple of festivals… I was pen friends with many people across Europe and the rest of the world. We traded records and so on… then I started my own label OBSCENE Productions and I was trying to help Czech bands play outside of Czech in Europe.

We went with MALIGNANT TUMOUR to Belgium for WEE LEWAAT Festival in ‘97 or ’98, which was organized by the ex-drummer of AGATHOCLES, Burt, and it was a great party. I saw CRIPPLE BASTARDS for the first time there and since that time we meet now and again. The same for AGATHOCLES and many other people…

The same thing happened to me in ‘98 at the German festival FUCK THE COMMERCE: it was such a great event. It had a good atmosphere and I was with so many friends… so then I was like, “come on I have my 25th birthday next summer let’s do a grind fest in Czech”… because there wasn’t anything like that back then. I just wanted to do one show: but the reaction from both the fans and the bands were marvellous so I had to continue.”

What are your memories of that first event?

“Ha ha… just great memories. During the following years I probably forgot all the bad experiences and I just remember an amazing weekend with my friends from all over Europe and a really unique and family size atmosphere…we had a trailer as a stage and people who had no tents were sleeping under the stage at night. It had a really nice and friendly vibe since the first volume.”

This year is the 15th OEF, and you’re celebrating that landmark with not one but four festivals, on four different continents: can you explain to us how this massive expansion has come about?

“I really love to travel and I had the idea in my head for quite a few years… during the last decade I was travelling a lot with some Czech bands in South America and South East Asia and when I went to Indonesia for the first time, I was like “these fans deserve their own good festival!” This year we will celebrate the 15th anniversary of the festival in Czech Republic so it’s the right time to come close to all of our loyal fans… I picked the countries for the American and Asian festivals very carefully. Australia was a sure thing haha… I believe that all those countries are missing a real DIY festival like OEF.”

Did you select the locations for the new events, and if so, why did you choose these particular locations?

“Yes, my partner in Mexico recorded some videos from several venues and then we chose Valley de las Monjas (Nuns Valley). Even the name is awesome for a metal/grind/crust festival haha! I was in Mexico in November/December to see the festival venue, do some plans, a press conference and so on… so I have seen this place and it’s a very nice area in the mountains close to Mexico City… like 30 minutes away from the city. It’s actually a place where Mexico City residents go on weekends to play gotcha, ride horses, drive four-wheelers or just to go walking in the mountains…

In Jakarta we hadn’t many choices, as places downtown are incredibly expensive for a country like Indonesia… so Alvin and Ade were searching and found Bumi Perkemahan Ragunan. I actually wanted to fly there for a little inspection, but I couldn’t do it in the end.

And Australia, it’s not as simple to do an open air. You need heaps of permissions and also a permission to sell alcohol – which is almost impossible to get – so we decided to do it in some good venues – and the ones we chose are both very important clubs in Melbourne’s scene: so OEF will be smaller there but still great, I guess.”

It must be a logistical nightmare organizing four different festivals in such diverse locations as central Europe, Indonesia, Australia and Central America: do you have teams of people working in each country or is it all handled centrally from Czech?

“Not really teams, but friends that are, like me, burning for this music. It’s even better because they have been in Czech and visited OEF several times, so they understand what we want to bring across. All that vibe and so on… it’s really a tough work to do festivals in Mexico and Indonesia… the mentality is absolutely different and what I am able to have ready in 10 minutes in Czech takes a month or two in Mexico, so this is a quite new experience for me. I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but the reality was even worse… ha ha."

Have there been any particular difficulties you’ve had to face in each of the different countries, in terms of local legislation, red tape, etc.?

“Sure thing! For example, in Indonesia they want 500 USD for a single foreign musician for a so-called working visa – but it’s nothing else than another opportunity to get money from us. We did the first budget and now we see we need police permission, we need those visas and I simply can’t believe how much it all costs in a country like Indonesia…

In Australia it is almost impossible to do have a legal open-air festival as you can’t get alcohol licences. To be honest, Australia is a real police state, so we simply decided we will rather do it in two small clubs with stage diving and all the OEF things than in a big venue that has no atmosphere and huge security where you feel like you’re in a prison!”

At a time when a lot of venues are struggling to makes ends meet, and even major festivals (such as SONISPHERE) are either being cancelled or scaled back, is it a testament to the strength of the underground scene, and the dedication of both the bands and the fans, that the likes of OEF is expanding in such a major way?

“Well, no big sponsor cares about festivals like OEF and to be honest it’s a good thing… we are here for our fans: they’re our sponsors and if they don’t come we will simply finish…and our OEF fans know it. We have that freedom to create a festival as we wish. No sponsors` flag on the stage and so on… and to be honest this is much more healthier than a big budget festival that is riding on sponsorship money only. To have such loyal fans like the OEF fans is something we are really proud of!”

You must get inundated with hundreds of demos from bands wanting to play OEF: do you listen to them all, or what sort of screening process do you employ?

“I do almost everything you can imagine.. I even pack tickets and send them to fans! So I listen to lots of demos, songs, stream lots of bands, lots of my friends recommend me good bands. Right now we are about to launch a new OEF website with an application form (unfortunately it’s not working yet) where every band can fill in all their info and our OEF community can talk about them and probably also vote what bands to choose for the next volumes!

You know, it’s a very easy thing though, I’ve been a fan of extreme music since 1986 or 1987 or something like that… I really love music, it’s my big passion and I always wanted to help the bands and I just want to continue to help our scene. It’s easy like that… there isn’t much chance for young bands to play on a big stage, so that’s what we do with OBSCENE EXTREME Festival!

It’s always good when I can see the band live, as playing live is something different than a record. I just want to choose bands that will kick our ass at the fest! I really love grindcore, but I like Swedish death metal as well, thrash, good gore grind, crust, d-beat, even punk and hardcore…”

As we mentioned, OEF is now in its 15th year: in that time, you’ve had more than 500 bands perform – over the years, what have been your personal highlights – the bands that you stop work to stand at the side of the stage to watch?

"NASUM last year!!! It’s such a great band and they’re such great people. Everyone knows what happened to the grind god Mieszko, and back then I didn’t have enough money to invite them, so this show was really an emotional one for myself. They played an amazing show and they played their smashing hit ‘Inhale/Exhale’ with a chorus ‘Obscene/Extreme’ as the last song of the night and I was as close to a grind heaven as you could get! One of the top three shows of my life! More than awesome!


Are there any bands you have booked that you wished you hadn’t?

Probably just one during all those years, and we’ve had 510 bands play at OEF! So it’s not really a bad score…

“I keep repeating this story, but I can’t help myself, as this is all true… I still can’t believe that a band like D.R.I. picked up a shitty manager… who then ripped me off. I paid all the travel expenses to them, I paid all the fee upfront (though the contract was 50% and 50%), but their manager pushed me to the wall and I had to pay the other 50% just before the fest… then just the singer and the drummer arrived and played with a Czech guitarist and their roadie Mike on bass. It was only a 20 minute show.

I was happy even for that though. Anyway, their singer Kurt told me they will figure out the fee when they return back to USA, but they just didn’t answer my emails and their manager called me a loser from the third world. This is a real lack of respect… I feel its just a rip off, shit happens of course I totally understand this…but taking all the fee with no sorry or an explanation as to what really happened? I still don’t know I can just speculate about it…”

Are there any bands that haven’t played OEF that are on your bucket list to do so?

“Sure!!! But usually my dreams come true – so I still believe…

BOLT THROWER! I try to bring them every year. They play one or two festivals during the summer season and so far their choice was other festivals. I must move the OEF to Germany and maybe then they’ll come! Also CARCASS is my fave band all the time: I even love ‘Swansong’ and listen to this album at least once in a week! And IMPETIGO for sure, or REPULSION…”

With OEF now taking place in four different countries, are there any other places you would like to take it to?

“Probably not: we’ll see what happens this year… that’s why it’s in America this year – so we can organize it in Mexico, USA or Brazil… Same with Asia: maybe it could be in Malaysia or Singapore next year – you never know. I really believe our choice was the best for the moment and hopefully we’ll be back in those countries in 2014!"

Thanks very much for your time Curby, and good luck with this year’s events…

“Thanks a lot. I hope to see you all in our festivals, if you like what we do then support us and come to the festivals. See you later!”

OBSCENE EXTREME 2013 takes place as follows:

Nun’s Valley, Mexico – March 28/30

Bumi Perkemahain Ragunan, Jakarta, Indonesia – April 6/7

Melbourne, Australia – April 12/13

Trutnov, Czech Republic – July 3/7

For up to date information on all the festivals, check out the official OBSCENE EXTREME website at

Want to know more about what to expect? Then find out more at the festival’s official YouTube channel:

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