22 June 2015

Return To The Batcave Festival- an interview with Tomas Woodraf

In October last year I went to Return To The Batcave, a festival in Wroclaw, Poland. I had a ton of fun, and wanted to make a zine about the old school goth scene including an interview with the organizer, Tomas Woodraf.
The idea of the zine did not came to realization unfortunately, but I did make the interview and Tomas recently poked me to post it, which is great since I completely forgot about it.

So if you are interested about the DIY scene in Poland and the festival in particular, here is the interview. Return To The Batcave takes place in October again this year and I hope this interview will urge you to buy a ticket and celebrate with us all!

N.: Tell us about Return To The Batcave, how did it start, what was the original idea? 

Tomas: Since the beginning Return To The Batcave has been strictly related with Bat-Cave.pl webzine which was launched in 2006 – the main idea behind this webzine was the promotion of some not much known underground music genres like deathrock, gothic-punk, old school gothic, “batcave”, post-punk, cold wave and similar with direct origins in the 80’s and of course with some touch of art – there is soooo many ass-kicking music around that shouldn’t be forgotten and is just waiting to be discovered so as madcaps we had to do this and help a little bit to make our beloved sick music undead. 
Our second goal was to build the “batcave” community here in Poland, somehow with other folks at Bat-Cave.pl we hit on an idea to arrange Bat-Cave.pl parties in several Polish cities - to meet each other, dance, drink and have fun together during gigs organized by ourselves - it’s better to organize something yourself than complain about the lack of events. 
I was in charge of Wroclaw’s edition of “Bat-Cave Tour” – I called it “Return To The Batcave”  - it was in 2008. My editorial friend Mike “Mss” joined as a DJ from the first edition. I had some experience with organizing gigs during grammar school years and I’ve been a DJ since 2000 or something – so I knew what it looks like in terms of organization, it was quite natural for me. We had a lot of fun during the first Return To The Batcave, so we knew we wanted to continue it.

N.: How do you find the organization of such a relatively big event? Do you feel like the people from the scene are supportive?

Tomas: I think that organization of events like Return To The Batcave Festival is really cool, it’s a great opportunity to meet with people from many other countries – with music’s maniacs - people who think in a very similar way. It’s not really important where they come from – there are no borders – we are one big crazy family and should keep this spirit alive. 
It’s also a chance to meet artists, bands who perform music close to our hearts. A lot of people from the scene support us – they offer help with promotion, share their ideas and want to be a part of this event. They really care about it - that’s the point! It’s also some extra motivation for our crew. 
Taking the opportunity I would like to thanks for all our supporters for any help, for all the kind words, basically for everything – without you it would not be possible to organize this mad circus!

N.: How would you describe the alternative scene in Poland?

Tomas: If we talk about oldschool goth / dark / post-punk scene I have to say with regret that’s not so big and popular – it’s underground like probably everywhere! :) Alongside of the ocean of shit we happily have some active treasures like Wieże Fabryk, Alles, Już Nie Żyjesz, Hatesory, DHM, Chaplin&Chapman, The Proof, Kandahar, Hyoscyamus Niger, Augen X, Nacht Und Nebel, Ukryte Zalety Systemu, Schrottersburg, Cabaret Grey, This Cold, Deathcamp Project, Joanna Makabresku, 1984 or Psychoformalina (who are on hiatus now). These are not all the bands for sure since new bands also show up, but a lot of them die very quickly. 
There are not many regular events in Poland except the awesome Old Skull in Warsaw which is a real Polish goth-punk mecca for me, we are also quite active with Return To The Batcave events in Wroclaw. I also know about some other events in cities like Szczecin, Lodz, Poznan, Gdansk, Rybnik, Krakow, Lublin but these events aren’t regular, so if we’re talking about Polish “goth/post-punk” cities then these would be Wroclaw and Warsaw. 
A big “dark independent” (I don’t know who invented this stupid term :) ) festival having place in Bolków is also worth to mention – it’s the Castle Party Festival. It’s line-up is very varied and maybe not “killa” but it has an amazing, addictive atmosphere, it’s something like a dark carnival in the middle of summer – if you ever have a chance to come to Castle Party, don’t think twice – just come!

N.: What was the best moment for you so far in the festival´s history?

Tomas: There were a lot of fantastic moments – seeing and hearing fantastic gigs, meeting fantastic people – crazy and touching things I will never forget, but my favorite moment is every time I see smile on faces of all the people who come, often from various parts of the world. It’s a real honor to have them here and see that they really enjoy it.

N.: A lot of effort is being put in working behind the scenes, what is the hardest part for you when it comes to organizing the festival?

Tomas: I would lie if I said that it’s a piece of cake, organizing of a festival takes a lot of time – it’s logistics, promotion, agreements with bands, hotels, catering, venue etc. It all eats up a lot of energy and can also be stressful – you must be prepared for everything, for any worst-case scenario you can imagine, you have to keep an eye on every element and be ready to quickly solve any problems. Right now we have crystallized the Return To The Batcave crew – everyone here has his tasks and is focused on them – so it’s not that complicated at the moment. 
The biggest headache and heartache is with bands’ booking, it’s always a hard decision which bands to book – if it was possible I would book all these great bands contacting us about the possibility of playing at our festival, but it’s simply impossible. But when the festival starts there’s no time for cry – it’s party time! :)

N.: How do you see Return To The Batcave in the future, is there a vision you are aiming for?

Tomas: We are not planning any bigger changes in the future  – we will still spontaneously organize regular Return To The Batcave events with 2 or 3 bands from time to time - there is still a lot of ideas and great bands we want to bring to Wrocław. Lots of  new bands show up and it’s very pleasing – it’s good there is fresh blood because stagnation means death. 
Our crew is also in charge of oldschool afterparties during the Castle Party Festival in Bolków so you can join us there and feel the touch of the unique atmosphere of CP too. 
Of course have also started working on the next edition of Return To The Batcave Festival which is our main goal, it will take place in Wrocław on 16-18.10.2015 – I hope you will enjoy it, I want to see more and more happy faces there!  We will inform about our future projects at our page: www.return.to.the.batcave.pl.

I can tell you I am completely thrilled for October this year, since the festival will include bands such as 13th Chime, Masquerade, Elvira and The Bats, Kandahar, Frank The Baptist, Wieze Fabryk (fucking a!!) and many more. Here is the official FB event.

Hope to see some of you there (I am not talking only to you, Polish bloggers!).

N. Finsternis


  1. You know I'll be there :D (UNF, Wieże Fabryk, my local pride) Sooo looking forward to meet you again!

    1. yaay me too, we should hang out more! and I am thrilled to see Wieze Fabryk and 13th chime!!

  2. Super funny I'm from Rybnik :D My parents used to go to events like that in my city

  3. Definitely looking forwards to an article after that festival which you will hopefully do before I have to decide when next year I want to take my holidays since it sounds like something I would love to go to (plus first time Poland WITH a festival? WIN!)

    1. definitely will write a post, but this october is the last time the festival is taking place!!! :O