Monsterfest – Interview with Organiser Mark Allison

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Monsterfest organiser Mark Allison chats to iGigs about this week’s festival.

This week Monsterfest roars back into town with another lineup that music fans in Inverness can get their teeth into. Whether it’s Mason Hill on Thursday night, Marco Mendoza on Friday or Gun on Saturday, there’s plenty to look forward to. Backed up by a host of quality acts it’s great to see local acts getting a look in again. Bad Actress are always hugely entertaining to watch (and listen to!) and it’s great to see Iain McLaughlin feature on a festival bill again.

The move to Eden Court is a big change from the Ironworks, are you able to talk about how this came about? 

It was back in 2019 that Ironworks future started to come into doubt, so we have been aware of that for a long time. After 2021 we decided that we had to look for a longer-term solution while there still was uncertainty surrounding the Ironworks, and Eden Court were happy to work with us. We had a great run at the Ironworks with a great team.

It’s another strong lineup (I’m still gutted I couldn’t go to the first one and missed Dan Reed Network!) and I appreciate this is like asking which is your favourite child, but there are any of the bands you’re really looking forward to seeing?

Monsterfest has been set up from day one not to be just a music festival with a bunch of bands, so for me personally, we have put in a lot of work into the 40th Celebration of Thin Lizzy coming to the Highlands with a set by former member Marco Mendoza, Phil Lynott’s former band Grand Slam playing and Graeme Thomson the author of the Phil Lynott biography ‘Cowboy Song’ doing a presentation (he went to Crown Primary School), we are also putting together a short documentary to run on the night as well, so long winded answer, but its probably that section, although Saturday has an absolute killer line-up as well.

Dan Reed Network at Monstersfest 2018 Ironworks Inverness November 2018 37 530x424 - Monsterfest - Interview with Organiser Mark Allison
Dan Reed at the first Monsterfest

The Highlands has always had a good selection of young rock and metal acts and you’ve included a few in this year’s lineup again. Do you see that as a key part of the festival, to give local acts a chance at a bigger stage when otherwise they’d be making the longer trek to the central belt?

Absolutely, we felt from day one it was always important to inject Highland talent into the line-up to give them a bigger stage but also for the many who travel to the festival to have the opportunity to see the local talent here.

You’ve chosen Rockin’ For Tots as your charity partner again this year, will there be opportunities for punters to donate during the festival?

We also for the second year have local charity Mikeysline involved. You will be able to donate to Mikeysline during the festival and buy raffle tickets for a signed guitar from Rockin’ For Tots.

How did the partnership with Developing the Young Workforce come about? Bad Actress visiting Tain Academy seems to have gone down well, and I can’t imagine a High School audience is going to be an easy gig! Are there plans to do more? 

We have been involved with DYW from the very first festival. In the first year we had Altered Sky from Glasgow play Culloden Academy, then in 2019, 2021 and this year we have our Education Day where speakers from various parts of the industry talk to about 50 students. This year we have nearly 80 students and the closing address will be done by Marco Mendoza. In another hat we work with the Chamber of Commerce which led to the partnership with DYW.

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You’ve given Geai Thompson his own slot this year and he’s a phenomenal talent. Are there any other young artists out there that you’ve noted down as possible guests at Monsterfest?

We always keep an eye out for local youngsters which also ties in to our education day. There are no specific youngsters on our radar yet but that will no doubt change.

One thing that comes up a fair bit is the gender balance at festivals. Rock and metal festivals tend to be a bit bloke-heavy both in attendances and lineups. This year you’ve got Bastette, Susanna Wolfe and the Hot Damn, was there a conscious effort to look for more gender balance on the lineup or was this something that came about fairly naturally?

First thing that we have to stress is, we are not a Rock and metal festival. Rock yes, but Rock covers everything from Coldplay to Metallica as you can see from Lional to Florence Black. There sometimes seems to be confusion over the name, but we take our name from our favourite resident Nessie, its nothing to do with metal music. To answer your original question, yes, this is something we are very conscious of and as such we have the three acts you mention and would have had more but its down to who is on tour etc. We have a very strong female team backstage.

I’ve done my fair share of events management and know full well how stressful it can be. Will you get any time to sit back and enjoy the music once the festival kicks off?

We will all see a bit here and a bit there, but we have yet to see a full festival as its 9 months of planning and organisation then 4 days of running around like mad to keep the machine going.

Monsterfest kicks off this week with Mason Hill headlining the Monster Fringe on Thursday followed by two days of music on Friday and Saturday. Tickets are still available online via the Eden Court website.

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Toby Stainton
Toby Stainton
I've always loved music and spent my late teens and early twenties playing guitar in various bands on Lewis and Aberdeen. Other than playing in some truly terrifying pubs in Aberdeen not much came of it and life became focused on family and having a 'proper' job. Inverness Gigs is an outlet for me to quell my inner frustrated musician and the caliber of local acts has even inspired me to take my own music more seriously again. Who knows, one day I might venture back on stage under the fierce scrutiny of an Inverness Gigs reviewer! You can contact Toby direct at

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