RANDY KASTNER "The Wizard of Watertown"

By Dr. Abner Mality

Here at Wormwood and also at many other music-oriented zines, we spend a ton of time talking about the great bands we all love, both past and present. But there's a lot more to a good live show than just the performers themselves. There's booking agents, roadies, soundmen...and the guys who put it all together, the promoters.

In Southern Wisconsin, Randy Kastner is a legend in promoting great metal shows.  From major names in the underground to up and comers in the local scene, he's done it all. I couldn't even begin to name all the bands he's worked with. He's also the mastermind behind one of the fastest growing fests in the Midwest, the NYDM Spring Bash in Milwaukee, which this year featured Possessed, Internal Bleeding and Master and which you can read about HERE. In 2013, Randy had to pass on promoting the bash. He could be forgiven for this, as he was fighting for his life due to a failed kidney. He got a donation from a fallen brother of the NYDM club and in 2014, he put on one hell of a show. Next year's edition is already taking shape and it features Whiplash, Midnight, and yes, Deceased.

What does it take to promote at this level, without some big organization backing you up? I decided to ask Randy, the man I call the Wizard of Watertown, just that. In this article, we get the lowdown on his battle for life, his war with the "carny" pay to play promoters and his philosophy of doing business. The old boy is a man of few words, but like Clint Eastwood, he makes them count. Read on for something a little bit different from Wormwood...

 WORMWOOD CHRONICLES: Randy, what was the first metal band you really got into, the one that made you identify yourself as a metal fan?

RANDY KASTNER: Kiss/Def Leppard
 WC: When did you get the bug to start promoting shows?

 RK :  Did a few in the 90's, got married and  then started back in about 2008 again after I was divorced ...

WC: Do you remember the details of the first real show you did and how it went?
RK: Waco Jesus gave me the opportunity in 2009.  It went well and I never looked back .
WC: What’s the key to making this work?

 RK: Busting your ass.
 WC: You’re pretty vocal in your opposition to “pay to play” shows. Here’s a chance to get on the soapbox and explain why you detest them so much. Go!

RK: It makes for a LAZY promoter that basically covers the touring band by having local support pay for it while fleecing the local scene should they not sell all their tickets ...FUCK THAT!

WC: You faced some tremendous physical challenges in 2013. How important was heavy metal to you in overcoming those problems?

 RK:  It really helped having people give a shit about me but my lady Robin comes first, she deserves much of the credit!

WC: The NYDM metal brotherhood came through for you in your hour of need…maybe you can tell in your own words how that happened.

 RK : A fellow regional president of the club passed on and by the luck of the draw his kidneys matched mine enough via tests that I could receive them and live on and continue to promote shows in his memory.

WC:  Of all the shows you have booked, what would you say was the most memorable?

RK: Metal Church, Possessed and Bloodfeast on separate shows ...Kind of surreal to know I brought them to town.

WC: Do you have a particular favorite band or performer from all those you’ve worked with?

RK : Vermillion, Memories Wither and Burial Ritual always help out hugely with the local scene. Watch out for them!
WC:What’s the most frustrating thing you deal with on a constant basis?

 RK: Laziness in local promoters and last minute cancellations by bands.

WC: How bad was the cancellation of Spring Bash III in 2013? Was there a point where you felt like your promoting career was done?

RK : Looking back I could have pulled it off but when my health went bad I had to do what I had to do ... I will get Deceased here at some point. (As always, he is a man of his word...Deceased is booked for Spring Bash 2015!--Dr. M)
WC:How great was the reaction to Spring Bash 2014, how did that make you feel?

RK : It went well despite being triple dickstepped on by the Behemoth, Nile and BLS tours ... Sucks when something you work on for a year gets stepped on by bigger tours ...
WC: It seems the guy who works the hardest putting the show together gets to enjoy it the least. Does that ever bother you?

 RK : Yeah , but it comes with the territory!
WC: Who would be the one band you haven’t worked with yet that you’d really like to bring in?

RK : Voivod.

WC: What’s the biggest change in the metal scene from when you started promoting?

RK: More and more shows, Tougher to book venues because of oversaturation of all scenes/
WC:  How would you rate the Wisconsin metal scene right now, both in terms of bands and fans?

RK : Good bands, good scene but too many shows, I wish all promoters would communicate and and not step on each others toes especially on certain shows coming through  ...Bands need to get paid and having like 3/4 shows on the same day can be a problem.

WC: If you could give advice to anybody starting to promote their own shows, what would it be?

RK: Don't!
WC: Outside of the metal world, what other interests and hobbies do you have?

 RK :  Spending time with my lady and dog, BBQ, baseball and football.

WC:Any funny “Spinal Tap” moments from your long history where things went wrong that you could share with us?

RK : Not really, we seem to run a tight ship. (Hard to believe NOTHING ever went haywire!--Doubtful Doc)

 WC:Last words to the public?

RK: Get out when possible and support your scene otherwise things will go away ...
Thanks for this opportunity, Mike, and thank you for supporting what you can when you do , It takes EVERYONE to make this happen!