Carolina Rebellion co-producer AEG Presents' Joe Litvag talks 2018 festival
courtesy photo

With the lineup for Carolina Rebellion 2018 recently revealed, the eighth annual event looks to deliver another notorious rock-n-roll punch. With more than 60 bands, including Alice In Chains, Stone Sour, Godsmack, Muse, Breaking Benjamin, Bullet For My Valentine and Sevendust, the three-day rock fest just may melt your face off.

Running May 4-6, Charlotte Motor Speedway will become Rock City Campgrounds, complete with four stages, VIP areas, a BBQ village, fan experiences and camping facilities. While transforming the Concord, NC, site into the Mid-Atlantic’s biggest rock fest is no easy task, neither is producing the huge event.

AXS chatted with Carolina Rebellion co-producer Joe Litvag of AEG Presents for the scoop (Rebellion is also produced by Danny Wimmer Presents). The AEG Senior Vice President dished additional details on the upcoming event, its musical mission, and more.

AXS: What was the goal for the 2018 lineup?

Joe Litvag: The goal for the lineup was to push the envelope a little bit and broaden the spectrum of acts that we had typically booked on this festival in the past. We didn’t want to abandon our recipe for success but we feel that rock is becoming a wide genre again, and we want to appeal to a wider range of rock rans. Our hard rock fans at Rebellion are our nearest and dearest fans and we want to make sure that we give a lot of what they like but also try some new things. It’s time for us to do that at this festival, that’s how we grow.

AXS: In a nutshell how do you narrow it down and decide ‘this is our lineup?’

JL: It’s a long, tedious process and between myself, and my partners at DWP (Danny Wimmer Presents) it’s a good six-month process just to get the lineup where we want it. We start off with lists of dream acts, start crossing some of those off based on their pricing or whether or not they’re going to be working in the month of May – it sort of starts narrowing down on its own. But then it comes down to getting that narrowed down list ….. once some of those acts start locking in, then it’s about what other acts do we book around those acts to complement it, and not have too much of any one thing. So it’s this long debate between the partners – and it’s fun. We have a great time doing it because we love music and we love these bands…… eventually we get to a point that is a lineup like this; that we all look at and agree on and are proud of and feel good about.

AXS: There’s the veteran Rebels (a.k.a. fest fans) and the newer ones - it’s such a great community – and the first time I experienced it, I understood the “addiction” to these (festivals)…..

JL: I like that you call yourselves Rebels! Each one of these festivals that we produce, Carolina Rebellion included, the people that attend really do become a big family. We feel that way as well, we feel very connected to, and we try to stay as connected as we possibly can, to our fan-base, and listen to them and hear what their opinions are…..we try to make changes every year to make the fans happy. It’s a very special relationship and it’s nice to hear the family aspect that comes together amongst the fans themselves.

AXS: What’s new for the 2018 fest?

JL: We’re continuing to make adjustments to the site, we’re continuing to expand our VIP amenities, and we’re probably going to reconfigure a portion of the site in 2018 to create more room for people to move around. We were really lucky in 2017 - we had great weather, it was just a great festival experience from beginning to end so it’s kind of hard to top that. We just want to try to make little tweaks along the way to keep improving the experience little by little as we can, year over year.

(See some of AXS.com’s exclusive coverage and musician interviews from Carolina Rebellion 2017 here)

AXS: Carolina Rebellion is more than music, it’s a full-blown experience – so what’s the vision for 2018’s experience?

JL: The experience to us is less of a visual, it’s more of a feeling. It’s a feeling of family, it’s a feeling of togetherness, and it’s a feeling of expanding fans’ musical horizons. That’s what our goal is. We love hearing that we’re creating this atmosphere where people are making life-long friendships, they’re planning their annual vacations to meet up at Carolina Rebellion; we get those stories a lot, which we love. We also take very seriously the responsibility of where the rock genre is and our part in growing rock. We get a lot of that we’ve helped fans open themselves up to new musical experiences - and that is something that we take great pride in.

AXS: As a music fan, what’s one of the bands that you’re most excited about?

JL: I’m really pumped to see Stone Temple Pilots with their new singer [Jeff Gutt]. That’s a band that I’ve been a big fan of from back when they first broke in the early 90s….. so to see them back is something I’m really excited about. I’ve always been a big fan of Halestorm – I think Lzzy (Hale) is an incredible singer and is the epitome of a star in the making. On Sunday we’re gonna blow people away. I don’t think people have any idea what they’re in store for with Muse, with the amount of production and theatrics that they bring to a festival. The Struts are a personal favorite of mine and everyone’s buzzing about Greta Van Fleet.

AXS: Can we just fast forward to May (laughs)?

JL: We’re not ready for that yet, we’ve got a lot of planning left to do (laughs)! You can fast forward to March, give me a good 60 days to get all the logistics ready to go (more laughing).

AXS: Any additional thoughts?

JL: We’re excited about the diverse lineup that we’ve presented at Carolina Rebellion this year. I think we surprised a lot of people with the mix in variety that we came with. There’s so many hits between all these bands each day at the top of the bill that it’s going to be an unforgettable weekend. And we’re excited about turning on some of our core Rebels - that have gotten used to a lot of the harder rock and 80s classic rock - turning them on to some of these bands that maybe they haven’t seen live before, like Muse or Queens of the Stone Age or Incubus. We think this is setting Carolina Rebellion apart even from all the rock festivals that we’re doing. There’s really no place else you’re going to see a mixture like this out there.

Related: Anthrax’s Charlie Benante talks with AXS.com at Carolina Rebellion

For tickets, visit Carolina Rebellion’s website here. For continuing news and coverage of Carolina Rebellion 2018 stay tuned to AXS.com.