By final count, BottleRock had piled up about $8.5 million in unpaid debt. It turns out one of Graham's close friends loaned the promoters bail-out money after the festival ended. Tapping into his financial genius to help his friend, Graham got a chance to take a look at the books and "saw a little opportunity there."
So in late January, he and his new partners in Latitude 38 Entertainment started booking bands — lining up headliners Outkast, Eric Church and the Cure — and now BottleRock 2.0 is only a few weeks out.
Taking a break from neighborhood awareness meetings and paying artist fees well ahead of time, Graham took time out to chat about his new music promotion career and his diverse musical background:
<strong>Q: Did you worry that maybe the name BottleRock was too tainted and you'd be better off starting from scratch?</strong>
<strong> A:</strong> We thought about that a lot and in our due diligence we found out that it was very much tainted within the music industry and in Napa. But outside Napa, people were like, "Yeah I heard about that festival and it sounded awesome" or "I went and it was awesome." We heard it time and time again.
<strong>Q: Give me a sense of your musical tastes and your musical history.</strong>
<strong> A:</strong> Well, you won't believe this — my dad was a World War II vet so I grew up listening to Glenn Miller. I can quote you songs like "In the Mood." So I transitioned from that to Elvis when I was 5 or 6. I remember the day he died. From there I got into KISS when I was 8 years old. When I started liking girls, the timing was perfect for Prince and "Purple Rain" and dance music. Then in high school, I kid you not, I was hardcore NWA — I know all the lyrics by heart. Then I got into rock in college — Black Crowes, Weezer, you name it.
<strong>Q: Do you see any of this reflected in the lineup this year?</strong>
<strong> A:</strong> For sure with bands like Sublime and Weezer. I started listening to Sublime in 1992 when I was at UCLA. But I also have to admit to being a huge Deadhead as well.
<strong>Q: What can you tell me about the booking process?</strong>
<strong> A:</strong> (Laughter) Oh man, it was tough. We started really late — it was January 27th. As you know, most bands are booked by that point in time and there are radius clauses (geographic booking restrictions) to deal with. You try to get them through routing (when they're playing nearby), because paying for one-offs is really expensive.
<strong>Q: And yet you got The Cure as a one-off, right?</strong>
<strong> A:</strong> Yeah, well we kind of had to do what we had to do. This is their only U.S. date as of right now.
<strong>Q: And they live in the U.K.. How do you pull that off?</strong>
<strong> A:</strong> (More laughter) Well, there's a lot of thought that went into that. A, it's a lot of money and B, you have to make sure you're hitting the right demographic. With the Cure, you get the 40-somethings who were alternative back in the day. They tend to live in the San Francisco area and tend to like wine and want to drive up to Napa. But with the Cure, there's also a sense of respect from the younger generation.