INTERVIEW: John Reese – Co-Founder of Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival & COLDCOCK American Herbal Whiskey
Chris Loomis of SoCalMusicToday.com recently spoke with Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival co-founder and COLDCOCK American Herbal Whiskey investor John Reese. John discusses his involvement with the Mayhem Festival each year, his connection with COLDCOCK American Herbal Whiskey, the relationship between music and whiskey and his top career highlight.
COLDCOCK American Herbal Whiskey is the Official Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival Second Stage Sponsor for 2014.
John, you have been involved in the music business for many years and have been involved with bands, festivals, band management and tours. Tell me about how the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival came about and what your vision was for this festival.
It’s kind of a crazy story . . . in 2004 I met a person named Mike Kelso at Rockstar Energy Drink and they had been kind of shutout of the music space by Monster Energy and they wanted to launch a music festival. So Kevin Lyman and I started a festival in 2005 called Taste of Chaos and that was Rockstar Energy Drink’s kind of foray into music. So that was super successful as we had run it all over the world and then in 2007 Rockstar had kind of gotten shutout of the music space again and Ozzfest was in its free year were you registered on a website and got a free ticket . I had just signed Slipknot to my label with Ross Robinson and I was good friends with them and Mike Kelso called me and said can we do something in the heavy music space and I said why not – let’s do it.
So I called my partners and kicked the idea around then called Slipknot and then Disturbed and started having discussions and we were able to secure both of those bands to headline the first year of the Mayhem Festival and seven years later here we are.
How personally involved do you get each year with the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival tour – Choosing bands, etc, etc? Do you attend any of the shows or travel with the festival?
I deal with every single detail of the festival. Kevin (Lyman) and I start booking bands two months prior to the end of each year for the next year’s festival. We booked Rob Zombie for last year’s festival in April or May of the year before. So first we generally determine who the headliners are going to be and then start booking them. We generally have everything booked by December 1 for the next year’s festival.
I also travel with the festival. My family comes out with me – it’s like a metal summer camp. It’s pretty awesome as we have like 300 people, 20 trucks and 32 buses out on the road. It’s a hell of a lot of fun!
You are one of the primary investors in COLDCOCK American Herbal Whiskey who is sponsoring the second stage at Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival this year. How did you get in involved with COLDCOCK?
Well Rick Zeiler the CEO started the company with his wife Sarah, they were both with Sidney Frank which is Jägermeister and my company was their main agency who did all their music and activation. Rick and I just established a great relationship over the years. We had talked about creating a whiskey – there were a consortium of folks – about five of us – we wanted to get it started but we all had day jobs and were busy so Rick left Sidney Frank and started COLDCOCK and invited me to come along with him. I think there are no better people than Rick and Sarah Zeiler to launch this brand and so far it has just gone amazingly well.
We had sponsored Rob Zombie’s Great American Nightmare back in October 2013 and we sold 85 cases in just over 15 days which is just a massive number – especially for a new brand.
It’s just a fact that Rick and his team are super smart with launching a brand and like I said it tastes great so once you taste it and do all the marketing around it there is significant impact and it’s absolutely having an impact as a result.
What do you believe sets COLDCOCK apart from all the whiskey already out on the market?
Well I will tell you . . . anything in beverages or the food market – anything you put in your mouth has to taste great and COLDCOCK is that – it tastes great. I think we went through like 23 or 24 different formulas before we settled on the final formula for COLDCOCK. Like I said it just tastes great. Rick is a genius marketer and Sarah is amazing with publicity. COLDCOCK has a great staff, just a great team of people and I am so stoked they are part of the Mayhem Festival this summer.
COLDCOCK has been around for almost a year now . . . How challenging is it to get a new brand out to the public and how has social media improved or hurt marketing of new products.
Well look what Rick did at Jägermeister creating the Jägermeister music programs – he is a genius at marketing on a global scale. Social media plays a massive role. All the lifestyle activation and integration with music, extreme sports personalities and bands – that model just works. People are fans of all those entities and they want to play in the same sandbox or should I say drink in the same sandbox.
What is your vision of how COLDCOCK American Herbal Whiskey and music go together?
Well look . . . if you are into music who doesn’t love whiskey? If you look in a thesaurus for whiskey I think rock n roll is one of the primary words that come up. I worked with Guns n Roses in the late 80’s and early 90’s and Jack Daniels was in their first main publicity photo – Slash holding a bottle of Jack Daniels.
Whiskey and music, whiskey and rock n roll kind of go hand in hand so having COLDCOCK on the biggest traveling metal festival in the world is a great idea and I think it is going to keep having a geometric effect of building the brand.
Will we be seeing future COLDCOCK sponsored tours in similar fashion to The Jägermeister Music Tour?
I would say yes you will definitely see that. My company Synergy Global Entertainment, we produce many different things – you will see COLDCOCK later this summer on The Uproar Festival and we have several other things currently in the works. We work with other genres of music as well as comedy. One of my short term and long term goals is to continue to bring COLDCOCK in and brand the many lifestyles that come to our music festivals and comedy festivals.
What can fans expect this year at Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival regarding COLDCOCK American Herbal Whiskey?
Knock on wood – as it looks right know Mayhem is going to have its biggest year ever in 2014 so that is a perfect avenue for COLDCOCK. You are going to see a pretty badass activation for COLDCOCK. We are going to have guest bartenders, some of the bands are going to come out to do signings and meet fans, you will see a COLDCOCK blimp flying around the festival area. You will see lots of tasting stations and just a lot of activity and integration with fans that are coming to the show.
You have accomplished so many things throughout your journey in the music business. What would you consider your top career highlight to date?
Oh man . . . I would say my friendships. Definitely my friendship with Kevin Lyman is something I cherish. We have created a lot of great things together. There are times where we partner up and there are times where we do our own things.
When I was 29 yrs old I was the tour manager for the biggest band in the world (Guns n Roses) and that was kind of a tough place to start quite honestly because I will never see something that that again. The size and magnitude of Guns n Roses in their heyday – there has never been anything like it in rock n roll since then from a standpoint of ticket sales, album sales, merchandise, just everything – it was massive.
On one hand starting like that was a career highlight – like I said I was only 29 yrs old. I always look at every day as a new start, a new challenge. I look at obstacles not as armies but as individual soldiers and I think I can kick just about any of their asses. I just roll through it and deal with any obstacles and try to move on, try to carry it forward.
I would definitely say my relationship with people, like a few key people such as Kevin and Rick. Those synergies, those relationships are what allow you to do great things. There is no “I” in team – it sounds kind of trite but it’s the truth.
Thanks John it was great speaking with you and all the best with Mayhem Festival and COLDCOCK Whiskey.
Thank You and hope to see you at Mayhem Festival
About COLDCOCK American Herbal Flavored Whiskey and Zeiler Spirits:
Established in 2012 and based in San Diego, California, Zeiler Spirits LLC is the producer of COLDCOCK American Herbal Flavored Whiskey. The spirits importer was founded by liquor and entertainment industry veterans, musicians and action sports athletes who have collectively created some of the world’s most exciting lifestyle events and cross promotions. COLDCOCK American Herbal Flavored Whiskey is three-year aged American bourbon blended with a variety of herbs, including green tea, hibiscus, ginger, eucalyptus, cinnamon and gingko. Currently available in IL, AZ, CA, NV, NY, NJ, MD, DC, NE, TN, GA, IN, ND, SD, TX, and SC. COLDCOCK American Herbal Flavored Whiskey is 70 proof and suggested retail price is $19.99 for a 750ml bottle, with a 50ml size to be released in (SUMMER) 2014. For more information, please visit www.coldcockwhiskey.com.
COLDCOCK American Herbal Flavored Whiskey, 35% Alc./Vol. Zeiler Spirits LLC, San Diego, CA. Drink Responsibly.
2014 Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival Tour Dates:
July 05 – San Bernardino, CA – San Manuel Amphitheater
July 06 – Mountain View, CA – Shoreline Amphitheatre
July 08 – Auburn, WA – White River Amphitheatre
July 09 – Nampa, ID – Idaho Center Amphitheatre
July 11 – Phoenix, AZ – Ak-Chin Pavilion
July 12 – Albuquerque, NM – Isleta Amphitheatre
July 14 – Morrison, CO – Red Rocks Amphitheatre
July 15 – Maryland Heights, MO – Verizion Wireless Amphitheater
July 17 – Clarkston, MI – DTE Energy Music Theatre
July 18 – Milwaukee, WI – Eagle’s Ballroom
July 19 – Noblesville, IN – Klipsch Music Center
July 20 – Tinley Park, IL – First Midwest Bank Ampitheatre
July 23 – Saratoga Springs, NY – Saratoga Performing Arts Center
July 24 – Mansfield, MA – Xfinity Theatre
July 25 – Toronto, ON – Molson Canadian Amphitheatre
July 26 – Burgettstown, PA – First Niagara Pavilion
July 27 – Hartford, CT – Xfinity Theatre
July 29 – Darien Center, NY – Darien Lake PAC
July 30 – Wantagh, NY – Nikon Theater at Jones Beach
August 01 – Camden, NJ – Susquehanna Bank Center
August 02 – Scranton, PA – Toyota Pavilion
August 03 – Bristow, VA – Jiffy Lube Live
August 05 – Atlanta, GA – Lakewood Amphitheatre
August 07 – Oklahoma City, OK – OKC Downtown Airpark
August 09 – Dallas, TX – Gexa Energy Pavilion
August 10 – The Woodlands, TX – Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion