By Kris Peters
It takes dedication to travel from one side of the world to the other to go to a gig, but it takes something more to travel that distance and take part in a charity event at the same time. Meet Chris Maric, promoter, agent, and general music lover who has chosen to do just that, in order to be a part of the musical extravaganza’s that are Download Festival in England and Hellfest in France.
Not only is Chris an important cog in the mechanisms that promote and nurture metal music in Australia, he is also hands on in organizing and co-ordinating many of the tours to this country by your favorite bands.
“I don’t live in the real world,” he laughed. “Basically I am a P.R manager for all of the big metal bands and labels and independent bands and big metal bands all over the world. I look after many different labels. I’ve had a background in music forever, it’s pretty much the only job I’ve ever had. I started at University – the short bio is University, Channel 10, Sony, Universal, EMI, Riot, Maric Media, all in a row with very few breaks in between. I’ve always done this, it is who I am.”
As a result of this, Chris has made many contacts within the metal community. It was through these contacts that what started out as a regulation trip to attend a couple of music festivals, turned into a grueling push bike ride to raise money for children’s charities.
“The Metal Hammer guys have come out here for the last two years that Soundwave was around,” he explained, “and were part of the media outlets at these events and I got friendly with them there. I also service Australian bands to overseas media, so we kept in contact. I’m also good friends with the Editor of Metal Hammer, Alexander Milas, and I knew about this ride because he had talked about it last year. So when I said to him I was going over for a couple of the European festivals in their summer, he said why don’t you come and be part of the Heavy Metal Truants Bike Ride for charity and I thought why not? That sounds awesome to do as a group of guys with a common goal and the charities they are raising money for are really good, so I wasn’t entirely convinced but then I got a letter of confirmation with a training guide telling me things like four months out you should be riding 30 kilometers a day and it was then I thought what have I got myself into?!
“I haven’t been to England many times but I know the outlay of it so it wasn’t as daunting as I thought it was. It’s predominantly flat and what they call undulating, but that wasn’t what I was worried about. It was more time in the saddle until your ass gets numb and sore! Riding several hours end on end… No problem, I have that endurance…. But the seat…”
The ride has been going for four years now and has raised more than 170,000 pounds for charity, and is as much for fun and the uniting of a musical cause as it is for the end result.
“Basically the ride was an idea formed over a beer –as all good ideas happen – between Alex and Iron Maidens manager, Ron Smallwood. They are both avid cyclists and apparently, as the story goes, Ron had invited Alex to some bike ride in South America or somewhere and they did it and then they were discussing it and Ron asked ‘how are you getting to Download this year?’, then sugge
sted they ride to it. It’s 260 kilometers (162 miles) and they did it so then they decided to turn it into a group event for charity and it grew from there.”
The event grew to involve riders from other bands and media outlets and raised money in the form of individual and group sponsorship. Over the years a multitude of enthusiasts have taken part in the ride and other members of the metal community have pledged allegiance by way of donations, with Chris admitting that he has had financial assistance from artists ranging from local to international.
“One of the bands I worked with pooled in their money and gave me a couple of hundred dollars”, he said proudly, “and then this morning I woke to the news that even Judas Priest have donated some money, which is phenomenal!”
Aside from the opportunity to help a worthy cause, Chris admits there is also another motivating factor behind something which adds work to an otherwise holiday. “The satisfaction of knowing I can do something like that,” he offered.
“I’m 39 the day before the ride and it’s probably the biggest physical task I’ve ever done so it’s kind of a self-challenge. I’m always up for things like that. Anything challenging – not super challenging (haha) It’s not like I’m riding the entire length of the island in a week. That and being a father, anything to do with children’s charities tugs at the heart strings a bit. Someone asked me the other day, ‘why would you go to the other side of the world to raise money for kids over there, and I said ‘it doesn’t really matter where the kids are, does it?”
The Heavy Metal Truants IV – London to Download event is from June 8- June 10 and covers 265 kilometers.