As Justin Vernon prepares the official launch of his Eaux Claires music festival in his hometown of Eau Claire, Wisc., the Bon Iver frontman is thinking critically of the music industry — with some specific disdain towards other festivals.
In an interview with Grantland, Vernon targeted Lollapalooza specifically, along with the other big American festivals. He said, “Fuck Lollapalooza. That isn’t rock and roll.”
“I’m not going to sit and pretend that we aren’t charging people money to get into our festival,” he continued. “But … you can see it every year: Coachella, Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo — the lineups are the fucking same. It’s about numbers, it’s about bottom lines, it’s about measuring groups and cultures of people and the numbers that they represent on a bottom-line agenda. All the lineups are becoming more and more the same, the same fucking headliners.”
Bon Iver is playing Eaux Claires, but that’s the only plan the band has right now, Vernon said. So it doesn’t look like he has to worry about upsetting any bookers with this comment, at least for the time being.
“I’ve been taking it really slow,” he said of his songwriting. “I don’t mean to get all cerebral about my art, but I’ve been trying to collect improvisations and collect moments. Like, real moments, [and] put them in a pot and serve them up. I’m thinking more, I guess, like a painter or a sculptor, like Danny Goldsworthy or something, in the way I’m putting songs together. To be clear, I’m not doing that to try and be fancy. I just think maybe I ran my course with being able to come up with new moments on the guitar.”
Vernon also revealed one of his major career regrets: participating in that 2011 Bushmills advertising campaign. He said there were benefits to the ad — like getting enough money to finish his recording studio — but there describes the shallowness of brand partnerships like this.
“But the problem is that it isn’t just Bushmills,” he said. “It’s run by a corporation, and you kind of forget that they’re not interested in you or really what you’re doing. They’re interested in your popularity and your reach, and it felt really sickening after a while. Not badmouthing Bushmills the company, but I regret it. I regret it because it wasn’t us and they put my face on a fucking billboard, even though it was a cool billboard and I was with my brother and my sound engineer and we’re buds and we got drunk while we had the photo shoot. I just missed it. I missed the mark on that one and I let it all kind of get to me. It just doesn’t feel right after the fact, you know?”
Read the full interview here.