Camden Cruz is the guitarist for the power metal band Seven Kingdoms, based out of DeLand, Florida. Camden also runs the Deland Rock & Metal Festival. This Rock and Heavy Metal event will host it’s first multi-day, with camping event and will feature 50 bands. Media Mikes had a chance to chat about the festival with Camden, find out about the show and what’s next for Seven Kingdoms.
Mike Gencarelli: This November brings us the 5th Deland Rock & Metal Festival, how did this whole thing start?
Camden Cruz: Well, I was tired of not having a place to play in my home town of DeLand. So, when Seven Kingdoms was ready to release ‘The Fire Is Mine’ album, It was a perfect storm to try and host it right here in my hometown. We started talking to a few possible places, and realized very quickly that this was probably going to be an outdoors event. That right there made me think “Festival”. So after a long process of finding the Festival’s Home, we landed right outside the downtown at OB’s. It worked out very well and we have kept this thing running, and are always trying to improve over every year.
MG: What is the process for how you managed to find 50 bands for this amazing line-up?
CC: I still don’t have a ‘Set Protocol” for booking the bands, but usually we will go and book the headliners or biggest acts first. Once we have released that info, we set the date and put it online. I think people really dig being able to watch a festival develop, even if on an event page. We start to put it together right in front of everyone online. We have TONS of bands apply for the festival from the state, and it increases every year. We try to base our selections on if we have an established relationship with the band, talent and drawing capability. We like to book bands that can really get behind the event and push it.
MG: What else can fans expect from this 3-day festival?
CC: This is the first multi day year. We are offering camping for the first time as a package, so that will be very interesting to see how it changes from a one day deal, to a whole weekend. It’s only going to be better, as we have split the days up almost by genre, so its even better for the bands, and fans as far as who they want to see, and who they are paired up with. I think that having a three day deal, will start to get more people there all weekend, rather than just there for one day. There is a LOT of music, a lot of drinks and a lot of food here!
MG: What are you personally most excited about this year?
CC: The Camping feature really is a huge deal this year. Also the VIP packages are starting to really get solidified. We have a package this year that is a really good deal and it comes with a lot of free things and perks. I think people will be really happy at the end of the weekend. I am also very excited to see how it all turns out, as this is expected to be our biggest year by far. We also have a large promotional video package that we will be filming on site that day, to try and do a bunch of footage and promos to put online shortly after we shoot that weekend, almost in real time! Doing what we can so people at home can see what they’re missing!
MG: Besides running this show, you are also lead guitarist with Seven Kingdom; tell us you are juggling all these hats?
CC: Haha, this honestly is only my second item to juggle out of about 4 jobs that I have. I play and organize in Seven Kingdoms, I work full time custom painting at Chris Cruz Artistry, I launched CCE Presents this year in January, and we’re really starting to pick up the number of shows we put on in Florida. I also help manage bands and tours when the offers come in, but that’s more of a side thing. It’s pretty stressful sometimes, but I would not trade the mix I have for anything. I seem to have a really nice balance right now actually. I have been booking shows for years, but this is the first year that I really set out to make a big difference and make it something. I’ve already put on 20+ shows this year and two festivals. Along with day work, the band and these other things, I hope the only way to go is up!
MG: What was your first experience to metal that locked you in for life?
CC: I discovered heavy music around 2004, while I was in Highshool and racing Motocross. I raced all my life until that point, and pretty much discovered this side of music in the last years that I raced. It was a pretty tough time for me when I was 16-19 as my parents were going through a major divorce and it pretty much drove us to stop racing, along with injuries. Because of the seriousness of racing, I was very disconnected from people at the private school that I went to at the time, and didn’t have a lot of friends until I was at the track. When it all went down, I didn’t have a lot of local friends, and I didn’t want to be at home. I found a plethora of people in the scene that became my friends because of the love for music. I was able to ‘get away’ from all of that when I listened to this music, which turned into me in a band with a new set of friends. I was able to escape my life in away and go to this completely different and new thing. It really made that time, not so hard, because I was either discovering new music, playing in one of the first bands I was in, or just hanging out, not thinking of things at home. So, I suppose you can say that that’s what made me a lifer!
MG: You guys were born out of Florida but have a worldwide fan base including Europe in which you just completed your final tour to support the last album; how does touring abroad differ from here in the states?
CC: It is completely different, but not so different all at the same time. I believe that the fans in EU truly have a harder time trying to afford the shows. I believe that is why there seems to be more die hards over there, because people are literally budgeting money they probably shouldn’t spend on concerts for their favorite bands. There is also just not nearly the amount of opportunity for people in general over there as it is here in the USA, so we are very lucky for that. I think that fans are fans, anywhere you go. Just sometimes the farther away you are from home, sometimes it adds to the ‘stigma’ of a band playing in a certain area, and gets people more excited knowing you are from far away.
MG: Seven Kingdom’s last album was “The Fire is Mine” in 2012, is there a new album in the cards and what can we expect?
CC: There is a new album in the works as we speak. We will take all of 2015 to write and record the album. We have a lot of inner workings to figure out, on how the album will be released, and through who. We are really hoping for an early 2016 release, with a full and proper tour to be booked along side that shortly after, but we just need to see how it all works out. It’s still way to early to nail those official things. The music itself will sound much like a continuation of ‘The Fire Is Mine’ but with more experience and maturity. We all are always growing together as musicians so the music will always improve over time. With every album we do, we start to sound more like Seven Kingdoms, rather than a bunch of other bands mixed together. So, we are just focused on writing a very solid album that will top TFIM, make us happy and also make our fans happy!